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Recall from our previous study that the false signs and wonders that Jesus warns His disciples about in Mat 24:24 are a manifestation of the power of the false god of this age even as the true signs and wonders are a manifestation of the true God’s power.  Satan, the false god of this age, is represented as a dragon in Rev 13, and the beast out of the sea there represents the kingdoms of this world and their rulers that are a false Christ to men.  Who does the beast out of the earth represent to complete the unholy trinity of a false godhead?  See 1Co 2:12 and notice that this spirit of the world is described as having two horns (representing great power and strength) like a lamb (i.e., like the Lamb of God, Jesus) but he spoke as a dragon, i.e., like Satan; see Rev 13:11 and cf. Luk 9:52-56.  What is the significance that this beast is described as coming up out of the earth?  Think: how does that contrast with where the true Spirit of Christ comes from?  Cf. 1Co 15:47-49, 1Pe 1:12.  Think too: what physical image better represents the spiritual notion of the world than the earth?  See also Rev 12:15-16 and notice that the earth itself is defiled and full of the unholy spirit of antichrist, having opened its mouth to drink up the river of words which the dragon pours out of his mouth to sweep away God’s people in a flood of destruction; cf. Lev 18:26-28, Isa 24:5, Rom 8:21-22.  By what other name is this beast out of the earth also called?  See Rev 16:13, 19:20, 20:10.  What is the relationship between the spirit of this world and a false prophet?  See 1Jo 4:1 and observe that the spirit of this world is the spirit of a false prophet that misleads people away from the true God down the broad road to destruction by promising a worldly salvation that appeals to the carnal flesh of worldly people.  Should we assume that the nature of the great signs by which the spirit of this age deceives those who dwell on the earth (Rev 13:14) is necessarily miraculous in the same way as those of the all-powerful true God who is able to intervene in the natural order because He is not a part of His creation?  Or are those false signs actually just a counterfeit like those that Pharaoh’s magicians were able to perform by their “secret arts”, i.e., by “science falsely so called” (1Ti 6:20, KJV), by exploiting knowledge of the natural realm that is secret to others in order to deceive them for the sake of sordid gain?  See Exo 7:11,22, 8:7,18-19, Act 8:9-13; cf. Bel 1:1-22[1].

In what ways do we see the spirit of this world embodied in organizations like the United Nations, the World Council of Churches, the National Organization for Women, the National Education Association, as well as the music, sports and entertainment industries of the world, various scientific and academic societies, fraternal organizations, and sadly even many churches and denominations?  I.e., in what way are they an image of the beast?  In what ways does the beast out of the earth that is the spirit of antichrist in the world exercise all the authority of the first beast on his behalf through these social, cultural, religious, political and economic powers, and make those who are in the world look to the kingdoms of this world as their savior and deliverer (Rev 13:12)?  Cf. Eph 2:1-2 and consider the many ways that these manifestations of the dragon’s spirit in the world support the world system of government that embodies Satan’s kingdom.  In what way do such organizations, industries, and political structures reflect the nature and character of the kingdoms of the world and their rulers that people look to for salvation even as the true Church reflects the nature and character of the true Christ that is her Savior?  Cf. 2Co 11:14 and consider how like Satan these always appear under the guise of doing good, promising freedom and prosperity, while at the same time they are actually enslaving people by appealing to the lusts of their flesh, the lusts of their eyes, and the boastful pride of their lives.  How are these rich and powerful organizations like the golden calf which the Israelites made with their own hands to go before them, declaring it to be the god who saved them out of Egypt (Exo 32:1-6)?  In what way are such organizations “golden” in the eyes of the world?  How are they like the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar (who was himself a type of Satan, the god of this age; Isa 14:4,11-15) set up as an icon of his own magnificence for people to prostrate themselves (Dan 3)?

In what way has this image to the beast that the unholy spirit of the age tells those who dwell on the earth to make been given breath to speak and to cause as many who do not bow themselves to it to be killed?  Consider the power of the media empires of the world, and how this mouth of the image of the beast always speaks on behalf of the beast.  How does this help us to understand why the media can so easily speak out of both sides of its mouth for causes that seem completely contradictory, like radical Islam and feminism, but not for the true righteousness of Christ’s kingdom?  Consider too how the media has only recently in the history of the world become so very powerful as knowledge has increased as foretold in Dan 12:4 and given rise to printed media, then radio and television, and now the internet and wireless electronic media to which the whole world has become addicted.  In what ways are people today forced by the media to bow themselves to the image of the beast, and marginalized from being able to “buy or sell” if they refuse the mark of the beast as a brand of his ownership?  Is that different from how it has ever been in the world for His people?  Cf. Heb 11:37-38.

1. Bel 1:1-22  NRS Bel 1:1 When King Astyages was laid to rest with his ancestors, Cyrus the Persian succeeded to his kingdom.  2 Daniel was a companion of the king, and was the most honored of all his friends.  3 Now the Babylonians had an idol called Bel, and every day they provided for it twelve bushels of choice flour and forty sheep and six measures1 of wine.  4 The king revered it and went every day to worship it. But Daniel worshiped his own God. So the king said to him, “Why do you not worship Bel?”  5 He answered, “Because I do not revere idols made with hands, but the living God, who created heaven and earth and has dominion over all living creatures.”  6 The king said to him, “Do you not think that Bel is a living god? Do you not see how much he eats and drinks every day?”  7 And Daniel laughed, and said, “Do not be deceived, O king, for this thing is only clay inside and bronze outside, and it never ate or drank anything.”  8 Then the king was angry and called the priests of Bel1 and said to them, “If you do not tell me who is eating these provisions, you shall die.  9 But if you prove that Bel is eating them, Daniel shall die, because he has spoken blasphemy against Bel.” Daniel said to the king, “Let it be done as you have said.”  10 Now there were seventy priests of Bel, besides their wives and children. So the king went with Daniel into the temple of Bel.  11 The priests of Bel said, “See, we are now going outside; you yourself, O king, set out the food and prepare the wine, and shut the door and seal it with your signet.  12 When you return in the morning, if you do not find that Bel has eaten it all, we will die; otherwise Daniel will, who is telling lies about us.”  13 They were unconcerned, for beneath the table they had made a hidden entrance, through which they used to go in regularly and consume the provisions.  14 After they had gone out, the king set out the food for Bel. Then Daniel ordered his servants to bring ashes, and they scattered them throughout the whole temple in the presence of the king alone. Then they went out, shut the door and sealed it with the king’s signet, and departed.  15 During the night the priests came as usual, with their wives and children, and they ate and drank everything.  16 Early in the morning the king rose and came, and Daniel with him.  17 The king said, “Are the seals unbroken, Daniel?” He answered, “They are unbroken, O king.”  18 As soon as the doors were opened, the king looked at the table, and shouted in a loud voice, “You are great, O Bel, and in you there is no deceit at all!”  19 But Daniel laughed and restrained the king from going in. “Look at the floor,” he said, “and notice whose footprints these are.”  20 The king said, “I see the footprints of men and women and children.”  21 Then the king was enraged, and he arrested the priests and their wives and children. They showed him the secret doors through which they used to enter to consume what was on the table.  22 Therefore the king put them to death, and gave Bel over to Daniel, who destroyed it and its temple.

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