The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Th. 2:9-12)Not only will the False Prophet perform signs and lying wonders, the subjects of his deception, the earth dwellers, will be sent strong delusion by God to believe that which is false. It would appear that the signs themselves are bona fide, but what they attest to is false. Even the spirits of demons who collect the kings of the earth to Armageddon—one of whom comes out of the mouth of the False Prophet—convince by the signs they perform (Rev. 16:14+). Thus can be seen the demonic source of the signs which the False Prophet is able to use in his deception. We are offered a small hint of that which the demonic realm can achieve when Pharaoh’s sorcerers and magicians used enchantments to turn rods into serpents (Ex. 7:11), water into blood (Ex. 7:22), and brought frogs up on the land (Ex. 8:7).1 Let the reader attend to the importance of the matter before us: signs are unreliable indicators of a work of God! “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” (Mat. 7:22-23)
Christ’s miracles, as miracles, were no evidence of His Divine mission. The real evidence was that the miracles which He wrought were the very miracles which the Prophetic Word had declared He should work, and which were on that account the sign and seal of His ministry, and formed His credentials from on high. This is clear from Mat. 11:1-6. It was not that they were mere miraculous acts, but that they were what God had foretold, and the essence of their testimony was to the truth of God’s word, rather than the power of Christ. Hence it is that they are so generally called “signs,” and not merely “wonders.”2The earth dwellers of the end, even those who call themselves Christians, have fallen prey to that which is already at work in our own day: an unbiblical reliance upon signs as evidence of God. They have built their faith upon the wrong foundation!3—they have their truth which is real to them. Thus, when they see the truly miraculous signs provided by the False Prophet, they easily succumb to the desired conclusion: the Beast is god. When and if such “people of faith” are confronted with the Scriptures—assuming God’s word is available at the time of the end—they will bend the Scripture and reinterpret it to validate their experience. If God’s written word denies their experience, they will reject it over their personal experience. Thus, their experience will sit in judgment of God’s Word.4 Biblical believers are to be just the opposite. Their faith is based upon God’s inerrant Scriptures. Each and every experience is tested against its adherence to that which God has already revealed in Scripture. When and if an experience fails the test of Scripture, it is rejected for we know that the Spirit of God speaks consistently. That which is of the Holy Spirit is in agreement with that which is authored through the Holy Spirit: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1Jn. 4:1). Thus, the biblical believer evaluates the fruit of his experience against the measure of Scripture and avoids deception:It is by the signs that the False Prophet deceives the earth dwellers to receive the mark of the Beast and worship his image (Rev. 19:20+). Yet the signs are false—not in their miraculous ability, but in what they attest to.5 Signs alone are not trustworthy:
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. (Acts 8:9-11)
If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. (Deu. 13:1-4)makes fire come down from heaven
1 This also indicates the level to which occult magic had developed within early Egypt. However, they were unable to bring forth lice (Ex. 8:18). See 2 Timothy 3:8.
2 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 13:13.
3 We do postmodernism a favor here by calling it thought!
4 They are no better off than the Roman Catholics who are subject to the authority of the Magisterium of Rome over the Scriptures.
5 “These miracles are not counterfeit, but are used to establish false claims.”—Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), Rev. 13:14.