Miracles Leading to Deception
Revelation 13:13, 14

Strong evidence, but false

     "And he [the beast from the earth] doeth great wonders [signs], so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men," (Rev. 13:13)

   When we see a supernatural event, especially one with an apparently good result such as a healing, it is easy to believe that God has done it. It seems reasonable to assume that any miracles of Satan would be only illusions. Not so, according to our verse. God grants Satan power to do real miracles. In fact Satan, as a fallen angel, has had supernatural abilities from the beginning. See Matt. 4:5, for example mt0405.

   ". . . [The lawless one] whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." (2 Thess. 2:9)

   Thus we have reason to question the origin of supernatural events such as flying saucers, near death experiences, spiritualistic seances where supposed dead persons appear and soon, I expect, fire coming down from heaven.
   When reading our verse about the false religious power calling fire down from heaven, I used to ask myself why God would permit such a thing. After all, it was fire from heaven that convinced the people on Mount Carmel that Elijah's God, not Baal, was the true God. Satan will deceive many. Look at the verse we just quoted from 2nd Thessalonians again. The religious power of the apostasy Paul warned of would even counterfeit the coming of Christ. ". . . [The lawless one] whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders." Jesus warned about deception before His return mt2423.
   "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him. . . . (Rev. 1:7)

So how do we know the true from the false?
   The supernatural was quite evident in Canaan and it was a trap for the people of God. Here is the way He told them to know falsehood:
   "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 18:19, 20)

   We see that Satan will not be permitted to counterfeit the universal visibility of Christ's coming, but why is he allowed to copy the calling of fire from the sky? Also the evil one does a variety of miracles. Why did the Holy Spirit show this one to John as an example? Next we'll look more at the question, testing everything by the Word of God!

Truth is not proved by miracles
   "And he [Jesus] was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. . . .  And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation." (Luke 11:14-16, 29, 30; Also see lu2308f and jn0223
   "For they [unclean spirits] are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." (Rev. 6:13, 14)

One Elijah is an impostor

    "And he [the beast from the earth] doeth great wonders [signs], so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men," (Rev. 13:13)

Calling fire from the sky
   What miracle of the Old Testament is the earth beast trying to duplicate? Elijah's God answered with fire from heaven were the false prophets, the Baal priests, were unable to get any response 1ki18:17-19.

Malachi said that Elijah would appear in the last days.
   "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (Mal. 4:5, 6) mal-0405.

   As we looked at the larger context, we saw that the earth beast does its work of deception (Rev. 13:14) just before the day of the Lord's anger (14:9, 10). In other words it comes during the end time. So the miracle of calling fire from the sky here will appear to be a fulfillment of the prophecy. Does this verse mean that Elijah will appear in person? We have two reasons to say, no. (1) Satan apparently recognizes the end-time Elijah to have the role of a movement. He directs the earth beast in the role of impostor. The earth beast calls all to worship the sea beast at the time the true Elijah movement calls end-time people to faithfully follow Christ. (2) Jesus recognized John the Baptist as fulfilling the prophecy of the coming Elijah. He also said that Elijah (Elias) would come in the future for a work of restoration. This second fulfillment is necessary because the first one was not "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Here is Jesus' explanation:
   "And as they came down from the mountain [where they had witnessed the transfiguration], Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come [before the Messiah]? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things [an end-time work of reform]. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed [beheaded by Herod]. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matt. 17:7-13)

A movement
   Elijah called for spiritual commitment in the time of Ahab. We see how the true coming "Elijah" will be a movement like that of John the Baptist doing the work of Elijah. So at the end of time, we will see two movements of reform, one calling for conformity to the beast the apostate religion which has dominated Christianity most of the time since it was predicted by Paul (2 Thess. 2:3), and the other a restoration of "all things" which we may understand to be God's truth as Jesus lived and taught it the truth of the Scriptures. No wonder that the dragon would want to make war with the remnant of the woman's seed (Rev. 12:17).
   In the time of Elijah, Baal worship was popular. It seemed so good. At the end of time the popular religious movement will be the false one (Rev. 13:8, 12, 16). The call for reconciliation and restoration in the true spirit of Elijah will attract the minority the remnant.
   "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." (Isa. 58:12)

   I want to stay close to Christ no matter how unpopular the old foundations may be. I want to help restore the true paths. I believe you do, too. May God grant us His grace!


Deception as part of freedom

    "13  And he [the beast from the earth] doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
     "14  And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. (Rev. 13)

   We talked about deceptive miracles. Our verse implies that the people who "dwell on the earth" will rely on them. Recently books on angels have become very popular in Christian bookstores. I expect that most are very good, but there's a danger we need to remember. Evil angels (Jude 6) appear as angels of light. (2 Cor. 11:14). For a long time now popular evangelists have performed healings and have called the "Spirit" to "slay" people, thus attracting interest to their work. Most or all of these people may be sincere, but again it scares me a little. Observers likely assume the supernatural events to be a sign of God's leading. But God has given us His word, not supernatural manifestations, as a test of truth (John 17:17; Isa. 8:19, 20, Ps. 119:11, 105; Matt. 24:11).
   Of course God still works miracles. His greatest is in transforming corrupt human hearts (Jer. 13:23; Isa. 1:18). And this  miracle, performed in the privacy of our hearts, He uses it to draw people to Christ (John 17:21; 13:35).
   Notice, in our verse,  that power was given the earth beast to do miracles. Back in verse 5 we saw that the first beast had been given authority or power to prevail in making war with the saints for 42 months, and we noted that this was the same power granted in Daniel 7:25 under the symbol of the horn that persecuted the saints. Here, after the healing of the first beast, power again is given and used for an evil purpose. God allows these things:
   "Jesus answered [Pilate], Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. . . ." (John 19:11)

   Satan will never be able to accuse God of not allowing him to demonstrate his way. At the same time those of us who care about truth and have chosen to love it, will not be deceived. Notice again the passage about miracles in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12:

   In thinking of God's permitting deception, we remember that He placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden. He allowed Adam and Eve to choose, and He permits us to choose. Granting the earth beast power to do deceptive miracles is part of the freedom of choice. This world is our testing ground. It is our opportunity to choose to follow our Lord.
   "I [Moses] call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." (Deut. 30:19)

   By the grace and merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ we may choose the better way and ask for His strength to walk in it day by day.  It is the way of life and happiness. We can trust Him.


Earth beast earth people

   We have met the earth beast. Who are the earth people, referred to as "those who dwell on the earth"?

   "13  And he [the beast from the earth] doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
    "14  And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live." (Rev. 13)

The sun is setting on religious  liberty in the US.
   If doing miracles "in the sight of the beast" means that they are done with his blessing, then the calling down of fire "in the sight of men" is with their blessing. We apparently have a third group or entity here, "them that dwell on the earth." Remembering that the earth is where the second beast arose, those who dwell on the earth are the people of that nation or place, which I have identified as the United States. The term "men," being more general, may include the people from the sea, which gave rise to the first beast. We are discussing the future here (2003) so must wait for the fulfillment to understand well. Being able to see some of the details at the symbolic level will help us recognize the fulfillment.
   The earth dwellers are contrasted with "them that dwell in heaven" in verse 6. We identified the heaven dwellers as the people who looked to the heavenly sanctuary for their salvation (The sanctuary was also blasphemed according to the verse). We might also recognize them as members of the kingdom of heaven which Jesus described in so many parables. This kingdom we may choose to be a part of now he1228.
   You can go back and read verses 13 and 14 again with this understanding to see if it fits. The righteous remnant are not a part of either the "men" who support the fire miracle or of the earth dwellers who are deceived and who are commanded to make the image.

13:14 c
People from four different homes
   People of heaven, earth, under the earth, and in the sea appear in various passages (5:13; 8:13; 12:12; 20:13; and elsewhere). Our interpretation of these four location symbols, needs to be consistent and logical. In the end, there are only the saved and the lost. Each of these, however, is divided into categories. We discussed categories of the saved when we studied the seals. Here are the categories of the lost along with a single category for the saved as seen in the situation at the end of time. In a second column I will show who they follow.
    This may be an oversimplification but gives us a starting point. The earth may be considered as the domain of the earth beast but, in a more general sense, it is a home in contrast to heaven. Then we come to the new earth and the righteous will dwell their with God Himself.
People of the abyss  (under the earth, 5:3, 13) Follow the dragon (20:1-3)
People of the sea (17:15) Follow the beast from the sea
People of the earth (13:14) Follow the beast from the earth
People of heaven (13:6; 14:4) Follow the Lamb

May we each "follow on to know the Lord" (Hosea 3:6) and by God's grace be citizens of the kingdom of heaven.

Rev. 13 home
Rev. home
Commentary home