images.duckduckgo.com

Someday, many people will bow down to and worship an image. This will not be just any image, like an idol made of stone or wood. This will not be a hologram, a 3D projection.

It will breathe.

It will speak.

But first, let’s talk about beasts. Yes, beasts.

The first beast that arrives in the Book of Revelation is a nasty, blasphemous, violent being. The Church will suffer under its power (Revelation 13:5-10). If that weren’t bad enough, however, John soon sees another one: “Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon” (Revelation 13:11).1 I don’t know what a dragon speaks like, but it looks like one day people will know. This second beast will be a being that is difficult for us to imagine. It will have great power, both secular and spiritual:

It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666 (Revelation 13:12–18).

This second beast will perform miracles. Perhaps that is why, when the image is given “breath” (pneúma), it seems reasonable. This image will be animated without electricity, projected lighting, or any other earthly power, which holograms and robots require today. People will worship it. But what does “worship” mean? Will people raise their voices and sing hymns about it? Well, worship is much more than singing, like Christians do in church. Here is BDAG’s definition of “worship” (proskunéō):

προσεκύνησα (Trag., Hdt.+. Freq. used to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before persons and kissing their feet or the hem of their garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or someth. holy.) to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure, (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully…2

So, no singing or raising of hands will be necessary. People will acknowledge that they are dependent upon this image and the beasts for their very lives instead of the Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth.

If they do not worship it, they will die.

This is the devil’s great triumvirate. This is the unholy trinity. Three blasphemous beings. (Only two of these, it seems, will have existence, because only the beast and the false prophet, also known as the antichrist and the lawless one, will be thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 19:20.)

However, those who worship this unholy trinity will face a terrible end themselves. They will die without God.

I wonder if the second beast, who will perform miracles, or perhaps all three, will say something like this:

“Look upon me. Bow to me. I am the one for whom you have been waiting. You have seen the miracles I have performed. You have seen that I control nature itself by the miracles I have done. How have I been able to do these things? I am god but not-god. I have purged from me all genetic imperfections. I am the height of all perfection. I know no race but am every race, the offspring of every people, of all people, of even ancient alien spawn races, of whom you know not but will know. I am born, not of woman, but of man-woman. I am star and starfish and lion and lamb and all living things. I bring my peace to the world. Indeed, I am peace. But I have all power and shall give my power to the world. Indeed, I am power. I know no laws. I need no laws. I am free from laws but the fulfillment of every law. I am freedom. If you do not give all to me, you will have no freedom. I have water and will give water to the whole world. No more will anyone thirst. Truly, I am water. I have food and will give food to all the world. No more will you hunger. Truly, I am bread. I am light and life, as you can see in this living image. You will joyfully give all to me, and you will know of me. I am wealth and will take your wealth to make you rich beyond measure. You must submit to me, or you will have no life.”

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

2Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 882). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.