Hello, and welcome to this teaching from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray that God uses these messages to reach people around the world, and we're thankful to hear stories of lives being transformed by his love. If this message impacts you, we'd like to know. Email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving.
As we continue our series What's Next? we learned that a religious deceiver will aid and abet the Antichrist, who will force the world to worship him strengthening his global leadership. Now, we invite you to turn in your Bibles to Revelation 13 as Skip begins the message "The Coming Deception."
Good to see you. Good to have you. Would you turn in your Bibles please to the book of Revelation, last book in that Bible. Turn to Revelation to the 13th chapter. We looked at part of it last week, we're going to look at the rest of that chapter this week. This series is called, What's Next? It's a question everybody asks. Revelation chapter 13.
So at the airport there were some baggage handlers who went to the luggage bay to take out one of those animal carriers, and they discovered that the dog inside the animal carrier was dead. So they panicked, and they thought of a lawsuit that would come their way. And so to mitigate against that, they called the owner of that pet and said, hey, your dog has been sent to a different destination, but we promise we'll retrieve the dog and bring it to your house. She said fine.
In the meantime, they found a living dog that looked very similar to the one that had died, and they put it in its place hoping to fool the woman. Well, when they came to our house and delivered her living dog in that animal carrier, she took one look at it and said, that's not my dog. My dog is dead. I was bringing it home for burial.
It's hard to deceive somebody who knows the truth. You don't trick a dog owner who knows its dog, because he or she knows its dog and knows what's not the real dog. And when it comes to Christ, we who know the true Jesus Christ also know that there will be a false Jesus. Jesus said that in the last days many Christs would rise up, false messiahs would rise up. Now, we have discovered in our studies of the Scriptures, not only in Revelation but throughout the Bible, that the Bible predicts a ruler to come to the Earth who will be a false messiah, a false Christ.
A few years ago in Florida during Christmas season when people put nativity sets out-- some of them do-- on their front lawns, a couple had their baby Jesus stolen. This was in Wellington, Florida, a wealthy community. And this was a very expensive nativity set. To replace baby Jesus cost them $1,800. So it was an expensive nativity set. It was stolen one year.
The second year the replacement Jesus was also stolen from the nativity set. The third year they decided to employ a clever tactic, they put a GPS tracker inside baby Jesus just in case. Well, sure enough, Jesus got stolen. And they went to the thief's home. They found Jesus at her house, an 18-year-old young woman who stole Jesus three years in a row.
It didn't just happen in Wellington, Florida. It also happened in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This was not an expensive Jesus, this was a plastic Jesus. He was stolen, along with the chain attached to the plastic Jesus, along with the cement block attached to the chain attached to the baby Jesus, all there to prevent somebody from stealing the baby Jesus. It was stolen.
Come to find out, there's actually something called the stolen baby Jesus syndrome. You can look it up. Google it, not now, but at home. But every year, there's some wise acre who wants to either play a joke or is against Christmas who steals baby Jesus. Sometimes when one is stolen, a replacement is put in the crib, a little doll, a stuffed animal, a substitute Jesus. The Bible predicts a coming leader who will be a substitute messiah and deceive the world, if that's even possible, to deceive the whole world.
It was Abraham Lincoln who said, you can fool some of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time and all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. But the Antichrist will do a pretty good job of deceiving most all of the world as we saw last time when we were together. And we made a discovery, and that is that the devil's primary plan for the last days is to raise up two individuals, one that we typically call the Antichrist, along with somebody else called the false prophet enter-- instruments of deception sent to this world.
Now, I'll tell you right off the bat as we get into the rest of Revelation 13, this sermon is going to be a controversial one. Not that the other ones aren't, but this one especially will be in light of our current environment, in light of what's happening in the news these days and with a politically correct environment that we live in. So what I want to do in looking at in this chapter is give you three categories regarding the future, and they're simple divisions. What we know, what we're told, and what we hope. What we know to be true from the Scripture, what we're told by some we're going to see in the future, and what we hope.
Let's begin with what we know, and let's go and look at Revelation 13 verse 11. Then I saw, John said, then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs so that he even makes fire come down from Heaven on the earth in the sight of men. He deceives those who dwell on the Earth by those signs, which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the Earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.
He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both great and small or small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads. And that no one may buy or sell, except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666. Without speculation, here's what we know. We know that someone that we call Antichrist is coming. We know that for sure. Jesus predicted it. Daniel said it.
John, Paul-- they all predicted that some ruler, whom John called Antichrist-- 1 John chapter 2 verse 18, little children, you have heard that the Antichrist is coming. We know that for sure. Last week we took a look at him. John saw in the beginning part of this chapter, a beast rising up out of the sea. And we showed you that in the Bible, sea is often emblematic of nations, especially Gentile nations.
We also saw that he will be given a universal authority and adoration. We gave you a sixfold description of the Antichrist-- wickedness, world dominion, wonder, worship, words, and war. That was last week's outline. We discovered he's going to persecute God's people-- verse seven of Revelation 13. He will target Jews and Christians-- verse 10 even says killing them with the sword. And then we will discover in chapter 20 of the book of Revelation that they are beheaded for their faith in Christ.
Daniel chapter 9 tells us this world ruler will make some kind of a covenant for seven years with the Jews regarding their temple and regarding their land, and he will renege on that contract in the middle of that seven year period. Jesus called that event the abomination of desolation. He, Jesus, said in Matthew 24, that event will take place in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.
And he tells everybody in Jerusalem, every Jewish person, to flee to the mountains when that happens, because this ruler's headquarters will be set up in Jerusalem in Israel. Moreover, if you just think back a couple of studies, we noted that the Antichrist is depicted as the first rider in chapter six on the white horse. He comes conquering and to conquer. And we discovered that after he comes, though he brings peace at first, he will bring in carnage and devastation to follow.
So that we know. We know that for sure. Somebody is coming in the future. Don't know when, don't know who it is. Here's the second thing we know for sure, besides the Antichrist, he's not alone. He's going to have a religious counterpart.
I believe we see him here in the second part of Revelation 13. He is called the false prophet, not here, but three places in the book of Revelation. Chapter 16 verse 13, chapter 19 verse 20, and chapter 20 verse 10 all talk about the beast and the false prophet. The dragon, Satan, the beast, and the false prophet.
Now, we notice that this second beast rises up out of the earth, not like the first beast that rises up out of the sea. This rises up out of the Earth. Literally, the term Earth means the land, and that's why some Bible commentators have speculated that the false prophet, the second beast, is Jewish because the land often refers to the Holy Land, the land of Israel. So the Antichrist then, they say, rises up out of the sea of nations, the Gentiles, which is often emblematic in the Scripture of Gentile nations we discovered last time. But that the false prophet could be Jewish.
Moreover, notice his description. He has two horns like what? Like a lamb. This is a kinder and gentler beast. This is different from the first beast rising up out of the sea with seven heads and 10 horns. This has two horns like a lamb, but when he speaks he speaks deception. He speaks like a dragon.
Notice also, there's no crowns on his head like the first beast. And that is because his authority is not political authority. It's not governmental authority. This is spiritual authority. His primary role is to deceive people into a worship system. Notice it says, he deceives those who dwell on the Earth by signs that he is granted to do in the presence of the beast.
So his primary deception, or his primary role is deception. His primary means of that deception is by miraculous signs. And his primary incentive-- get this-- is the economy, because the economy will be so bad-- we've already discovered-- during that time millions, even billions of people will die on the Earth through a number of things that happen, including starvation.
People's vulnerability will be at an all time high. They will be willing to do anything if it means feeding their families, their children, et cetera. And so the incentive behind this is that you cannot buy or sell unless you take a specific mark. We don't know how that's going to turn out exactly. It could be much like the city requires a chip to be placed in your pet so they can keep track of it and tell the history of it. That could happen with humans.
Now, for years, prophecy buffs and Bible commentators have all thought that the empire that will rise at the end of days-- the revived Roman Empire they have said-- is probably going to happen in Europe, and they have even said with the European Common Market, the 10 nations at one time. Now, there are many more coming and going in the Common Market.
But for years, people have looked for a leader to come, a secular leader, out of the European nations because they say geographically that was the old Roman empire, the continent of Europe. But let me suggest a different direction and a different way to look at that this morning. When we talk about the revived Roman Empire, here's what we have to discover-- that whole idea came about with a vision that Nebuchadnezzar had in Daniel chapter two. Remember, he saw the polymetallic image-- head of gold, chest of silver, stomach and thighs of bronze, and two legs of iron, which represented the Roman Empire, the Roman Empire that ruled the world at one time.
But then, there were 10 toes of iron and clay, and they say that is the revived Roman Empire, just like the 10 horns that are mentioned in Revelation-- 10 toes, 10 horns. We can see the similarities. However, just like there were two legs on that statute that did speak of the Roman Empire, did you know that the Roman Empire like the legs split in 395 AD? That there was an eastern branch, as well as a western branch of the Roman Empire? And that the Western branch died out pretty quickly, but the eastern branch lived on for another 1,000 years, and its headquarters was Constantinople, modern day Istanbul, Turkey.
Now here's something else to realize. When we talk about the Roman Empire that ruled the world, including Israel, et cetera, Europe, et cetera, what most people don't realize is that 60% of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus Christ-- the time of the New Testament-- 60% are lands that are today occupied by Islam. Most of the land mass of the Roman Empire today is occupied and controlled by Muslims.
Now, I understand something. It is not fashionable, first of all, to even talk about this in church. It is certainly not fashionable or politically correct to talk about this in the public square. It is fashionable to lump all religions in one little basket and say they're all the same. And whether it's Christianity or Judaism or Islam, it's all the same God with a different name, and it's fashionable to get the coexist bumper sticker and stick it on your Subaru and happily go down the road.
However, what is fashionable is not always Biblical. And I think we need to not only look at the Bible, but look at what's happening around the world at this time in our history and make a different suggestion. Do you know that today there is an Islamic revival like never seen before? And do you know that the revival in this country-- conversions to Islam-- have gone up and up and up since September 11, 2001? It's quadrupled.
Before September 11, 2001, 25,000 Americans every year converted to Islam. Since 9/11, over 100,000 Americans every year convert to Islam. Those are the going rates. Islam will pass Christianity as the world's largest religion in less than 20 years. According to one source, one half of all global births will be Muslim by the year 2055.
Now, as you look at the news-- I hope you do look at the news. I hope you read it. I hope you listen to. Have you ever wondered things like why am I hearing so much about Islam? I guarantee you have heard more about Islam in the last decade or five years even than you have your whole lifetime. And you wonder why. Why am I hearing so much about it? What's really happening in the Middle East? What's this deal with ISIS? Are they done yet? What's this idea of a caliphate I hear about?
I want you to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say, and listen carefully to the news that is coming out because you may be looking at the future. Now, that's what we know. We know what we have just stated-- Antichrist is coming, false prophet is coming-- we don't know when, don't know who. Let me give you a second category. This is what we're told.
This is what we are told by the fastest growing religion in the world-- Islam-- about the end times. Did you know that Islam has an eschatology? Let me back up. Do you know what an eschatology is? Eschatology means the study of last things, the doctrine of last things or end time events. We have an eschatology. The Bible tells us what's going to happen in the end of days.
Did you know that Islam has an eschatology? Most Christians really don't know much about Islam, and few Christians know little or nothing when it comes to Islamic eschatology. They have an end time scenario. Lately, that eschatology has been leaking out on the news with events like San Bernardino, California, and Brussels, Belgium, and Paris and ISIS beheadings. And now this talk about a caliph and a caliphate.
By the way, the caliphate is a real deal. There's a land occupied by ISIS today that is larger than Great Britain. It is controlled by them, and it is growing in that part of the world.
So Muslims look at you Christians, and they have a name for you. Well, they have several names for you. But one of the names-- the polite name-- for you is you are people of the book. We are people of the book. Jews and Christians are called by Muslims, respectfully, people of the book, because we hold to the Bible, the Old and the New Testament. So we are people of the book.
However, our books have been corrupted. The Old and New Testament were original words that have been corrupted by Jews and Christians, so thus, the only reliable source of revelation is the Quran. And Muslims have two sources for their authority. The Quran, which they say are the direct words of Allah. And second is the Sunnah, sometimes called the Hadiths.
The Sunnah are the words and the works of Mohammed the prophet. So between the Quran, the words of Allah, and the Sunnah, the words and works of Muhammad, they develop their authority for everything. According to Islamic theology, they see the end of days as being ushered in by three great signs, three great signs. And all three are in the form of a person that is coming, three persons.
The first sign, the first person, they say is the Mahdi, the Mahdi. M-A-H-D-I, if you're taking notes. The Mahdi is equivalent to the Messiah. The word Mahdi means the guided one. He is also called the awaited Savior, the Lord of the age, and the 12th Imam. What will the Mahdi do? What will their awaited Savior come to do?
This is what he'll come to do. He'll set up a new world order, an Islamic caliphate, that is civil, political, and spiritual. He will lead a world revolution to establish Islam throughout the world, throughout the world. They want nothing less than world domination.
And what if we refuse? What if anyone refuses? Here's their source. Quote: Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians. If they accept it, they will be spared. Otherwise, they will be killed. End quote.
How will the Mahdi do this? Through a massive army called the Army of Black Flags and a series of holy wars with this army carrying black flags. He will lead the Army of Black Flags to conquer Jerusalem and kill the Jews. This is all their writings. Then he will establish rule, erecting black flags in the Temple Mount at Jerusalem. And they call the Temple Mount Haram al-Sharif. That is where he will set up his headquarters.
The black flags have one word written across it. Punishment. It's interesting-- is it not-- that not only does ISIS carry the black flags, but the Iranian army carries the black flags? Both are waiting as all Muslims in any form have an anticipation that someday the Mahdi will come. Now, here's what's amazing, the Mahdi according to them will make a peace agreement with the Jews and the West, whom they call Romans. And what's most amazing is the time frame for this peace agreement. Just take a wild guess. Seven year peace agreement.
They say the Mahdi will come, make a seven year peace agreement with the Jews and with the West, AKA the Romans, and they even have him riding in on a white horse-- their writings say as it is written in Revelation chapter 6, verses 1 and 2. Coming to conquer and conquering. So to sum it up, the Mahdi is a messianic figure, an unparalleled leader, he will take control of the world. He will destroy all who resist him. He will invade many nations. He will enact a seven year peace treaty with the Jews. He will conquer Israel. He will massacre the Jews. He will establish Islamic world headquarters at Jerusalem. He will come on a white horse. He will rule for seven years. And he will be loved by all on the earth. Does that sound familiar? Sounds like what we've been studying. That's the first sign.
The second sign following the Mahdi, is that Jesus will come. Yes, they believe in Jesus. Muslims believe, not only in Jesus, but they believe in the second coming of Jesus. I dare say, far more than some Christians believe in the second coming of Jesus. They believe he will come again. He will return. The call Jesus Isa al-Masih.
They say Jesus will come, but to them Jesus was just a man who didn't die. He didn't die on a cross. That's a myth, they say. Jesus didn't die, and if he didn't die, he didn't rise. And if he didn't die, he didn't make any atonement for sin. So what did he do? He was spared from crucifixion, and he ascended into Heaven like Elijah the prophet and is standing alongside Allah, waiting for Allah to send Jesus back to the earth.
Why would Allah want to send Jesus back to the earth? He's got a lot of prophets to choose from. Why Jesus? Allah is going to send Jesus back to the Earth to correct all Christians who have misunderstood who he is. He's going to come back, they say, as a radical Muslim. Imagine that. Jesus will return as a radical Muslim and help the Mahdi institute Sharia law on the whole Earth. They say he will come back to abolish Christianity. Their words to shatter, or to break, crosses. Why shatter crosses? Why break crosses? Because Jesus wasn't crucified, they say.
They have him coming from Heaven holding the two wings of two angels. He'll descend to a minaret east of Damascus at the time of Muslim prayer. The Mahdi will then ask Jesus to lead the prayer. Jesus will refuse to lead the prayer standing behind the Mahdi to show that the Mahdi is greater than Jesus. They say Jesus will be the greatest witness on the day of judgment against non-Muslims who believe that Jesus was God.
He will also kill-- I'll give you his name, and then I'll explain his name in a minute-- Jesus will kill the Dajjal, the Dajjal. He's written about many hadiths, many writings. The Dajjal is Muslims' version of Antichrist. Then Jesus will get married, have a family, die, and be buried next to Muhammad. That's how it goes down.
So two signs so far-- the Mahdi is coming. Second, Jesus is coming to correct everybody and enforce Sharia laws of radical Muslim. And number three-- the third great sign is the Dajjal is coming. He will try to vanquish Jesus and the Mahdi, and he will try to reign over the Earth. Now the Dajjal's full title is Masih al-Dajjal, which is the Messiah the deceiver written about, as I mentioned, in many different hadiths in the Sunnah.
The Dajjal will come as a miracle worker, a false miracle worker. He claims to be Jesus. He claims to be God. He will attempt to stop the Mahdi, and he will be a defender of the Jews. Well, it's pretty easy to see that the Bible's Antichrist is Islam's Savior. And the Bible's false prophet is Islam's Jesus Christ. And the Bible's returning Christ is Islam's Antichrist.
In the very least, this should be sobering to you. In the very least, this should pique your interest, especially since Daniel chapter 7 said, this coming world ruler Antichrist will intend to change times and law. Times and law. The Muslim documents say that when Mahdi comes, he will throw out all human constitutions, including the US Constitution, and enact a worldwide Sharia law. He will also change all the calendars back to the right calendar, the Islamic calendar following the migration of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. It's just interesting that the Antichrist intends to change times and law.
So the first category-- what we know from the Scriptures. Second-- what we are told. But let's end with a third-- what we hope. And what we hope takes us back to verse 8 of Revelation 13. I want you to look at it as I read it. All who dwell on the Earth will worship him-- now, watch this carefully-- whose names have not been written in the book of life of the lamb slain from the foundations of the world. Now, that verse implies that even during that time, there will be some who resist the Antichrist and resist the worship and resist this takeover. And their names are written in the book of life. All those who haven't will capitulate. But there will be some who resist.
And just as the devil's plan in the last days is to raise up two men, God's plan throughout history is to give the world one man. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. And that was God's plan since creation. Notice at the end of verse 8, the lamb slain from the foundations of the world.
And there is a book of life, by the way. I don't know if your name's in it or not. Do you? Do you know your name is in it? You can live with assurance. And one thing you should make sure about above everything else is that your name is written in that book of life. And you know Christian, if you receive Christ, if you come to Jesus, if you're not a believer, your name can be written in the book of life. If you are a Christian, it's already written there. And you can live with the assurance-- you see, the assurance-- that when you die, you're going to be in Heaven because your name is written in the lamb's book of life.
Now, the sad thing is that Muslims live without assurance. Ask a Muslim, do you know for certain that when you die you'll go to Heaven? They can't say yes. They believe in a god that believes in abrogation. He can change his mind from one day to the next if he chooses, so they never live with assurance. There's only one way a Muslim can be assured that He will go directly to Heaven. That's by losing his life in the cause of Jihad. If he does that, in whatever way, whatever even twisted way, that guarantees that Muslim eternal Heaven.
Here's what you need to know, however. Yes, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, but do you know that there are people around this world in Islam whose eyes are being opened and are coming to Jesus Christ? Do you know here's from one Muslim sheikh who said in Africa alone there are over six million Muslims who have converted to Christ. That breaks down to 667 per hour or 16,000 a day. Many of them who have been illiterate are now starting to understand as the Quran is being read to them in its fullest and the hadiths are being read to them in the fullest, they're seeing the true face of their religion and they're turning to Jesus Christ. I've spoken to many of them in the Middle East.
Now, this is a kind of a message that could either produce fear or faith that overcomes fear. And I hope it will be the latter. Muslims are not the enemy. Muslims are not the enemy. Satan is the enemy, and his lies are the enemy. And how do you fight lies? With truth. That's how you fight lies, with truth. And what is the truth?
John gets a vision of Heaven. And do you remember? He sees people from every tongue, every tribe, every nation gathered around the throne worshipping God, worshipping the lamb. Every nation in my estimation means every nation. I think every means every. It means every Arab nation, every Muslim nation-- there are some who overcome and give their lives to Christ.
A few years ago, Christmastime, a family placed their nativity set out on the front lawn. I don't know if you've ever done that. I had one once. They put their nativity set out on the front lawn. I used to put mine out on the front lawn. It had light bulbs in it. Yeah, I was that guy.
But a baby Jesus got stolen from this family's nativity set. He was quoted in the newspaper by saying, do you know where my Jesus is? Please return him to me. What a statement. Do you know where my Jesus is? Please return him to me. I think the world is crying out, do you know where Jesus is? Return him to me. I think we need to give the world a dose of the real Jesus, the living Christ, living in us, powerful in us, loving through us, living through us, because the false Jesus is coming. The false Christ is coming. And make sure that your name is written in God's book of life, the lamb's book of life.
Father, as we close this service, there's that element of hope that penetrates even the darkest of revelation. You plainly tell us what is happening and what is going to happen. But Father, we hold on to the hope, just like we have discovered our names are written in the book of life, that many others will as well. So Father, we pray for those who don't know Jesus. They might be part of this service. Christianity to them has been a social club up to this point, a pep rally up to this point. It hasn't been meaningful. It has been zeal without knowledge.
Lord, I pray that they will come into an intimate relationship with you. And if you're here today and you don't know Christ personally, right where you're seated, wherever you are at, if you're listening by radio or watching a podcast or listening to one, eternal life can be yours if you simply agree with God that you need Jesus, agree with God that you are a sinner, and that you receive and accept God's payment for your sin if you do that by faith.
So wherever you are, you could say, Lord, I admit it. I am a sinner. I know that, and I'm sorry for my sin. I know that Jesus died on a cross for me. He shed his blood for me. And that he rose from the grave for me. And I turn from my sin. I turn from my past, I leave it behind. You know all about it. But I turn to Jesus to save me, and I want to follow him. Help me to do that. In Jesus' name, amen.
As believers, we know that the only person who deserves our worship is Jesus Christ. How will you share the truth that you've learned from this message? Let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.