The Arrival of the Antichrist (Revelation 12–14)
As Revelation 12 begins, John has a vision of a woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head” (Revelation 12:1). The woman was pregnant and in labor.
John also saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with crowns on each head. He saw a war in heaven, as Michael and his angels defeated the dragon — identified as Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — and his angels and threw him out of heaven (Revelation 12:9). When the dragon realized he';d been kicked out of heaven, he pursued the woman and her male child, but she was protected from the dragon (Revelation 12:13–14).
Then John saw a beast rising up out of the sea — a beast with seven heads and ten horns and ten crowns on its horns, and on each head were blasphemous names. The beast looked like a leopard but had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. The dragon, who had waited on the shore, gave the beast his own power and throne (Revelation 13:1–3).
The beast was allowed to blaspheme God and to do whatever it wanted for forty-two months, including wage war against God';s people and even to conquer them. The people who were of the world — not those whose names were written in the Lamb of God';s Book of Life — worshipped the beast (Revelation 13:5–8).
Then John saw a second beast, one who came up out of the earth. This beast had two horns like those of a lamb but spoke with the voice of a dragon. He had the same authority as the first beast and required all people to worship the first beast, with anyone refusing to worship being put to death.
This beast “required everyone — small and great, rich and poor, free and slave — to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666” (Revelation 13:16–18).
The apostle Paul also makes mention of the beast — or the Antichrist — referring to him as “the man of lawlessness — the one who brings destruction” in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. This was because Paul wanted to deal with some confusion on the part of the Thessalonians about the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Things don';t look at all good for believers in the world at that time, but John gives them some hope, telling them about 144,000 people who refused to take the mark of the beast but instead took God';s seal (Revelation 14:1– 5). Three angels arrived — the first announcing the need to fear God and give glory to Him, the second proclaiming the fall of the city of Babylon because of her immorality, the third warning all who could hear that those who worship the beast or accept his mark would face God';s wrath (Revelation 14:6–12).
Then came a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13). What followed was the deaths of the wicked people of the earth as God';s judgment came down (Revelation 14:14–20) as well as the rewarding of those who refused to worship the beast or take his mark (Revelation 15:2–4).
How are the destinies of those who “die in the Lord” different from those who are wicked?
Why do you think those who “die in the Lord” from this time on are blessed?