Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton first performed the song “Anything You Can Do” in the Broadway production of “Annie Get Your Gun” in May of 1946. The lyrics say:
“Anything you can do, I can do better.
I can do anything better than you.
Anything you can be, I can be greater.
Sooner or later, I’m greater than you.”
When we read the story of Lucifer’s fall in the Bible, the words of “Anything You Can Do” seem to summarize his entire attitude toward God. We might say the devil drank his own Kool-Aid. He became so full of himself he was grievously self-deceived.
Christian author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa TerKeurst, has written: “Ignoring the reality of our situation or deceiving ourselves about our own character, motives, and actions is a slippery slope that can lead to destruction.”
Indeed, it can. Self-deception may be the most potent ruse, the most blinding, and the one that hardens us the most.
The Dragon, the Great Deceiver, first deceived himself. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we are careful to avoid this deadly sin.
One effective way to avoid self-deception is to be completely truthful and honest about our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s also critical to check oneself by seeking feedback from those who can provide a different perspective. We should try to keep an open mind and not be afraid to challenge our own assumptions and biases. Whatever one does, we must be willing to take responsibility for our actions, even if it means admitting we were wrong. Most importantly, we must always measure our beliefs and practices by the Word of God. The apostle James admonished:
“But don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the Word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like” (James 1:23-24)
In Revelation 13:1-10, the Dragon (the devil) empowers the Beast (the Antichrist) to deceive the world. The text says the Antichrist comes from the sea. In the Bible, the sea often represents chaos and instability. That is to say; the Antichrist comes on the scene when there is global bedlam and insecurity — everywhere all of life is being tossed to and fro. He is the mastermind behind a powerful, dominant, destructive political and military system meant to facilitate order and peace.
Then Revelation 13:11-15 says another Beast rises, and this one emerges from the earth.
When I visited the Holy Land, a guide took me to the many places where Jesus had walked. One day we boarded a boat and went out on the Sea of Galilee. When we were far out on the water, my guide said, “Today, you will not walk where Jesus walked.” Only Jesus could walk upon the water. The rest of us must walk on the land, where our footing is fixed and steady.
The earth symbolizes stability and permanence. In other words, this second Beast ascends to prominence as the one who applies the will of the Antichrist. He steadies this earth’s ship of fools, docks it, and lowers the gangway for the masses to walk off the vessel and onto dry land. By way of explanation, he represents a religiously and spiritually deceptive system that soundly deceives the multitudes into venerating and obeying the Antichrist.
Together these Beasts represent the mightiest forces of evil in human history, deceiving and controlling humanity.
A broader picture shows these two as part of a counterfeit Trinity. The Dragon (the devil) is the Father, the Beast (the Antichrist) is the Son, and the second Beast (the False Prophet) is the Holy Spirit. Just as God, the Father, has vested all authority in His Son, Jesus, the Dragon has vested all his power with the Antichrist. And just as the Holy Spirit exalts Christ and points people to Him, the False Prophet exalts the Antichrist and directs people to pay homage to Him. Here is what the Scriptures say:
“Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first Beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first Beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first Beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first Beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the Beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die” (Revelation 13:11-15).
This second Beast, also known as the False Prophet, is described as having two horns like a lamb but speaking like a dragon.
The “two horns like those of a lamb” indicate that he will have two significant places of authority. Since the horns are without crowns, his administration isn’t political but more likely spiritual.
In Revelation Visualized, Dr. Gary G. Cohen and Salem Kirban speculate that “his two horns may signify rulership over two great religions — the Christian and non-Christian religions such as Islam.”
With each passing day, much of Christianity today in the West is becoming more and more compromised, even apostate. Author W. Phillip Keller in his book, Predators in Our Pulpits, made an ominous statement that somewhat explains the way a religious leader of this kind is ushered onto the world stage. He writes:
“Peace has enormous appeal to most people. So, in the name of peace and under the guise of goodwill tempered by tolerance, Christians are everywhere urged and encouraged to accept all sorts of destructive ideas and false influences that may be their undoing.
“These take a hundred forms, far too numerous to list here in detail. But most of them come under universalism in religion, the belief that all spiritual concepts lead to God; the omniscience of the occult and mysticism; plausible political philosophies that provide for the welfare of all; academic and scientific humanism that exalts man’s intellect; gross materialism; scientific evolutionary hypothesis; the subtle appeal of hedonism as man’s chief end in life.”
The apostle Paul warned, “Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed — the one who brings destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
This means that during the end times, a rebellion and hostility to conventional Christianity will begin to grow until it climaxes into the coming of the Antichrist and his False Prophet.
As Cohen and Kirban suggested, could Islam be a part of the final days' equation?
According to a report by the Pew Research Center, Islam is projected to be the fastest-growing major religion in the world in the coming decades. The report predicts the Muslim population will grow by 70% between 2015 and 2060, while the Christian population will grow by only 34%.
It’s an egregious error when people say Christians and Muslims worship the same God. There are stark differences in what the two monotheistic faiths believe and teach. Here are just a few:
- Muslims say God cannot be known in a personal way. However, Christians call God Father, “Abba.”
- Muslims say God’s covenant is with Ishmael’s descendants. Christians say it is first with Isaac’s, with the Gentiles grafted in.
- Muslims say Jesus was a messenger of God. Christians say Jesus is not only the most outstanding teacher in history, but He is the Son of God.
- Muslims say Jesus was saved from death and ascended to Heaven without being crucified and that He did not die for the sins of humanity. Christians, however, believe Jesus died on the cross and gave His life as a ransom for many.
- The vast majority of Muslims believe in a coming Messiah named Mahdi. Christians contend Jesus is the true Messiah.
- Muslims believe Christians have distorted the Scriptures, that Mohammed corrected them and provided the Koran. Christians believe the Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, and its writers penned it as God’s Holy Spirit moved them.
- Muslims believe one must do more good works in life than bad to be saved from Hell. Christians believe God’s grace saves us through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and not by our works.
Whatever the case, this False prophet, who seemingly has the character of a lamb but speaks persuasive words of evil like a Dragon, will mold all religions together into one — the worship of the Antichrist. He will perform great signs and wonders to deceive people into worshipping the first Beast.
A.W. Tozer once said, “The devil does not possess originality; he always has to mimic what God does.” Chuck Swindoll echoed the same, saying, “The devil is an imitator, not a creator; he perverts and twists what God has made for good.”
This is true in the miracles department, too. Pharaoh’s magicians in Exodus 7:10-13 replicated Moses’ miracle of turning his staff into a snake. But it’s unclear whether what they did was actually a miracle or simply an illusion.
In Acts 8:9-24, Simon the sorcerer performed shocking feats of magic, even claiming to be someone great. Nevertheless, Peter exposed him as a fraud.
A modern-day example is the Indian godman Sathya Sai Baba, who claimed to perform miracles such as materializing objects out of thin air and curing diseases. Later, he was exposed as a fake by skeptical investigators who found evidence of his trickery and sleight of hand.
This is not to say real miracles don’t occur. They most definitely do. Unfortunately, many today are like Thomas Jefferson. He believed the laws of nature were constant, and any apparent deviations were likely the result of a misunderstanding. Jefferson was inclined to only place his faith in reason and science. But if God exists, and He most definitely does, then miracles are possible.
The first verse of the Bible says that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). If we believe this verse, then we should have no difficulty believing in the power of God to heal the sick, feed the multitudes, give sight to the blind, and heal the disabled.
If God can make this vast universe with so many intricate details, worlds within worlds, then he can do anything and use people to perform unexplainable acts.
However, it is critical to understand that miracles are not common occurrences and should be scrutinized before being considered genuine. The rule of thumb is to remember that no miracle which leads people away from God or fails to recognize Christ as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), comes from God and, therefore, must be deemed duplicitous and dangerous.
The False Prophet is seemingly able to miraculously bring fire down from the sky like the prophet Elijah did. This ability is also similar to the Two Witnesses who defend themselves from their enemies with fire that comes from their mouths (Revelation 11:3-6).
He sets up an image, a statue of the Antichrist, but unlike other idolatrous images, he seems able to give it life, so it speaks.
How can this later phenomenon be explained? An idol that all of humanity must worship at the threat of death verbally converses with people and articulates the will of the Antichrist. There is no sure answer to the question.
Some theoretical possibilities might be the development of artificial intelligence and robotics. It is conceivable a lifelike statue could be made to move and speak through pre-programmed responses or voice recognition technology. With holographic technology, it would be possible to create the projection of a lifelike image that could talk and interact with an audience. Perhaps the statue comes to life through the deceptive powers of hypnosis or even some form of universal drug use (Revelation 9:21).
Still, these staggering marvels by the False Prophet may not be fake, after all. Instead, Satan retains his supernatural powers as an angel — powers he now illegitimately uses for duping and destroying the human race.
Some might think these things are too fantastic to accept — the thought of the whole world running after one man — the idea that another man whose primary role is religious or spiritual would convince the world to embrace his monstrous pretensions and bow down in veneration to the Antichrist.
Up until the present, it may have seemed too much. Nevertheless, with the rapid advances and popularity of totalitarianism, consumerism, social media and technology, wokeism, cancel culture, critical race theory, post-modernism, and progressivism, it appears we are being prepared for a grand delusion. For at the moment, the entire world seems to have lost their ever-loving minds.
Believers should hold fast to the faith, seek the truth, and remain vigilant against deceit and false teachings and practices. They should continue to pray, earnestly study the Bible, and faithfully attend a Christ-exalting church, in order to gain wisdom and guidance.
Unbelievers should swiftly run to Christ for forgiveness and salvation; mercy’s day for most will soon be gone.
Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.