Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name… So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” Revelation 13:1, 4
In the future context of Revelation 13, a beast rising up out of the sea represents the world's final governmental system. We know this is a governmental system because of the consistency in the symbolism used between Daniel 7-8 and Revelation 13, which portrays the beasts as representing literal, physical kingdoms. This could represent a coalescing of regional power blocs within a global organization like the United Nations. It has seven heads (regions of authority) and ten horns (seats of power), and ten crowns (people who sit in these seats of authority). Thus, a small body of ten leaders governs a multi-regional system united under some overarching governance. The Antichrist, who then comes from out of this group, is able to subdue three leaders (seats) and secures a majority rule, which he ends up taking over completely. (Rev. 17:9-14)
It is at this particular point in time, the people will actually come to worship the beast (the government and its leader) as a god. While leader-worship is not exactly a new phenomenon (e.g., Egyptian Pharaohs, Adolph Hitler, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un, Barack Hussein Obama, etc.) this coming system will be different from all that came before it. So what makes it different? It seems there is both a breakthrough and a convergence with regards to technology and an unleashing of unrestrained supernatural activity. The former presumably come via breakthroughs in quantum technology and artificial intelligence. The latter, in the form of two men; the Antichrist and his False Prophet whom Satan will supernaturally empower to conquer the world.
Nevertheless, it seems odd that people would resort to that sort of thing in our modern, civilized age of reason. I mean, I wouldn't condone it, but I can understand how some poor, illiterate villager in the year 1500BC, who probably never traveled further than 40 miles from where he or she was born, could come to worship a pharaoh as a demigod. It is even understandable to see in recent history, the meteoric political rises of men like Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, and Castro as possible. They were charismatic men leading revolutions.
However, given the Age of Information's relentless deluge of non-stop information bombarding us on a second-by-second basis, it's hard to fathom how anyone today could come to worship another human. I could pick any leader in the world and do some kind of google search to see what they like to eat for midnight snacks. There is no privacy anymore, and these men and women who willingly thrown themselves into the spotlight will have it exposed, warts and all.
Now, aside from North Korea, which mandates Kim-worship on pain of death, we really don't see that level of devotion to politicians anymore because of how hardened, skeptical, and just lazy these last few generations have become. Leader worship also doesn't exist anymore because of how incompetent and corrupt governments have become...and the people know it. So it is hard to wrap our minds around this slavish devotion to this final world government during the Tribulation. This leads to my point that something will have to significantly upset the applecart of normalcy in those days, to see this return back to the level of pharaoh worship. More on this in a second.
Futurists like Ray Kurzweil (Google's Director of Engineering) have long threatened/promised this grand and glorious future where Singularity becomes the earth-shattering technological breakthrough revolutionizing human life. For those who do not know what the Singularity is, Kurzweil describes it as:
The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today—the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.
It could be this Singularity, but whatever shape this final technological breakthrough comes in, we know this final system comes up out of the sea of humanity…meaning, it is a transnational system. As revolutionary as this might be, technology alone would not completely change human trust and opinions on government. In fact, it would likely make it worse, considering how Orwellian they have turned out to be with issues like the War on Terror and COVID-19. There needs to be something else that both bridges the gap as well as seals the delusion...something spiritual...something otherwordly.
So given this introduction, we know according to Scripture, the world is going to head in the direction of a one-world government. We also know it is not until the mid-way point that Satan actually comes down to inhabit this man we know as Antichrist. However, why does Satan wait until the midpoint? Clearly, the Antichrist is Satan’s ‘go-to’ man from the outset, but I believe (along with many others) that it is only at the midway point that a number of different events transpire simultaneously forcing Satan’s agenda in a direction he doesn’t want to go. The public death, resurrection, and rapture of the Two Witnesses, the Antichrist’s “miraculous” recovery after an assassination attempt, the angelic war in heaven, and their subsequent expulsion. After Satan is bound to earth, and then (and only then) does he personally possess this man Antichrist.
Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. Revelation 12:12 (emphasis mine)
Undertow: noun un·der·tow \-ˌtō\
1. the current beneath the surface that sets seaward or along the beach when waves are breaking upon the shore
2. an underlying current, force, or tendency that is in opposition to what is apparent
Given that premise, we should know that the frustration amongst many prophecy teachers, particularly over the past 21 years, is the frustrating mixture between the seeming immediacy of clear prophetic events such as a one-world currency/ religion/government, the Psalm 83-Ezekiel 38 wars, etc., and then the lack of fulfillment of these same prophetic events. It seems as if some prophetically significant technological breakthrough or some geopolitical event happens, and then it drops off the radar just as soon as it comes out. Juxtaposed to this, is the unstoppable march forward, making these events more of a matter of when not if. It seems then that there is a war to both move the satanic agenda forward, but also a satanic attempt to frustrate the prophetic fulfillment by trying to circumvent it through these demonically-driven machinations.
It appears to me that there is a bit of foot-dragging by Satan in wanting this all to play out. On the surface, he wants to thwart God’s plan by destroying and/or corrupting humanity, however, he has also read the Book (see Luke 4:9-11) and at least peripherally understands where this is all headed. So under the surface, it would seem that he is just as engaged in slowing or reversing man's mad dash for a global government because he knows that is the end for him. This might explain the confusing prophetic signs and signals we see coming out, but then going away as if nothing happened. It might also explain Satan's massive propaganda campaign to stamp out prophetic teachings from the pulpits.
Now, I am not saying that Satan agrees with the Bible, understands it, or even believes it…but at the very least, he is aware of what it says. Revelation 12:12 confirms that he knows after his heavenly expulsion, he has very little time left to fight.
For instance, we know that Satan cannot see into the future, so he always has to have a man in the wings ready to play the role of The Antichrist. During the 1920s-1940s, the man seemingly being groomed for that position was Adolph Hitler. It seemed initially, that the tide of time and events were on his side until God raised up the United States to thwart his (Satan’s) plans to exterminate the Jewish race via the Final Solution. However, despite Hitler’s best efforts with the Holocaust and six million dead, what his actions really brought about was the prophetic fulfillment of the Jewish state of Israel. Had he not attempted to exterminate an entire race, the world would not have supported the political rebirth of a once-dead ancient nation. In fact, the newly formed United Nations still only supported this initiative by a very slim margin…but it was just enough for God’s purposes to work out…as predicted! (Isaiah 11:11; Amos 9:15)
It was the same thing back in the first century when Satan stirred up the Sanhedrin to have the Romans crucify Jesus, not understanding, they were doing exactly what He needed them to do to conquer both hell and death (1 Cor. 2:7-8). Even the disciples had a difficult time understanding the Messiah’s true divinely appointed task and purpose, even though He told them beforehand on several occasions. They did not know because the Old Testament (OT) for the most part (one exception being Daniel 9:24-27) does not present the prophetic events linearly and/or chronologically. Prophecy in the OT is sort of all over the place, and it really does take God’s help for us to understand how the OT prophecies fit into and complete the events in the NT. This is why when Peter stated that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (Matt. 16:17). (my emphasis)
The main distinction from the OT, prophetically speaking, is how the NT presents the information. For instance, Matthew 1:21-23 points back to Isaiah 7:14 as the clear fulfillment of the arrival of the Messiah. Jesus outlines the order of end-times events chronologically in the Olivet Discourse. In his letters to the church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul clearly outlines the order of events regarding the Rapture and the Tribulation (chapters 4-5) and again in his second epistle to them (chapter 2). The Rapture always comes before the sudden destruction.
The Apostle John was given the Revelation in a highly symbolized, but also decidedly chronological and structured order of events beginning with the things he saw (the resurrected and glorified Christ), the things which are (the seven churches), and the things after this (after the Church age), which include the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl Judgments (Rev. 1:19). Then that is followed by Armageddon, the visible Second Coming, the millennial reign of Christ, and eternity-future.
So compared to the OT’s Major and Minor Prophets, the New Testament is very clear, both chronologically, and contextually. True, there are still some concepts and doctrines in the NT that are not completely understandable by us mere mortals such as the Incarnation, the Trinity, and the timing of certain events, but there is definitely order and a chronological method to the makeup of the prophetic NT Scripture.
Given what the Bible has to say about Satan, we know that he was the highest order of creation before God created Adam out of the dust of the earth. We also know that he is exceedingly intelligent, deceitful, and crafty (Gen. 3:1-2, Ezekiel 28:12, Rev. 12:9). Remember that at the beginning (tower of Babel), this one-world concept was initially his. It was his evil plan then because he did not understand what God’s plan was yet.
But now, Satan knows. You want to know why the world is as divided, violent, hateful, and broken as it is, it is because the last thing Satan wants is a one-world system. Do not get me wrong on this, the world has been given over to Satan (Luke 4:5-6; 1 John 5:19), and he hates God, hates Christians, and really hates the Jewish people. This is why one of the most prevalent and undisputed prophetic markers we see today is not some major war or supernatural phenomenon, but hard-heartedness, lawlessness, lovelessness, faithlessness, and apostasy. Satan realized early on, that persecution causes Christianity to spread like a wildfire…but spiritual and theological corruption…oh that was much more effective. It causes division, and his enemy is much more manageable when Satan can divide and conquer.
A one-world system is what man wants and has since Babel, and man is still a free agent in this ongoing game of thrones. Satan knows where this will all lead, and he will continue to attempt to frustrate this march towards a final, one-world system until it is inevitable. At present, he is being dragged kicking and screaming out to sea. The sea, which represents this final, global system and the closer we get to it, the more it validates what the Bible says about his impending doom.
Aside from the two key future technological breakthroughs happening now and into the future (quantum and AI), there have been three key technological inventions/discoveries in the past 200 years that have made this march towards globalism not only possible but inevitable. First, the harnessing of electricity. The second, the mapping of the human genome. Three, the invention of the Internet. Each of these has created monumental paradigm shifts in human history and has unlocked so much potential change, that it cannot be undone. Obviously, harnessing electricity has allowed the world to advance its technological processes. The mapping of human DNA has unlocked the potential for man to alter himself through some misguided ideals on progressive evolution. Lastly, the internet has leapfrogged man’s ability to gather, assess, and use information in ways never possible before.
There is also one geopolitical issue that is a clear reaction against globalism, and that is regionalism. I know that might sound odd given the recent rise in populism and nationalism, as well as the Brexit and Donald Trump victories. Nevertheless, the world is way too interconnected these days to ever go back to that type of pre-World War I global model. We (the United States and western powers) want to partner with like-minded nations. The same goes for Islamic, socialist, and communist nations as they help propagate other like-minded countries.
With that said, the march towards globalism has for the moment, swung back hard right to that of populism (and now back left again in 2021), which will lead right back to where the Bible said we would be…regionalism. This regionalism is represented by the seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns, but will eventually fall under one system led by a single man, the Antichrist. How does this happen, if Satan is actively working to postpone it? Well, like most everything else; God will force this change.
The Rapture will force a massive paradigm shift onto the world. Global and national powers will have to realign regionally in order to adjust to the reality that millions, perhaps even hundreds of millions of persons suddenly disappeared from the planet. The nation most affected by this will be the current world’s superpower, the United States.
In the post-Rapture world, a supernatural delusion will be divinely enforced on the unrepentant left behind. God does this…not Satan. We are unsure of what this actually looks like, but it will attempt to explain or dismiss the Rapture. 2 Thess. 2:9-11
The new geopolitical paradigm shift will recognize that global organizations like the United Nations are too cumbersome and bureaucratic to ever be truly effective, so the UN will move east (toward the Middle East-possibly Neom) and will break the world into regional governments based on similar ethnicities, economies, and languages.
We know that at some point between the start and the halfway point of the Tribulation, there is an assassination of one of the leaders, who is then miraculously “resurrected.” Satan is permanently kicked out of heaven and needs a body to possess (again, not his choice) a body, and three of ten regional leaders end up submitting/ceding their authority to him thus ushering in the era of an absolute, one-world system.
So take comfort in the knowledge that despite the chaos, despite the stop and go prophetic momentum we seem to be enduring, and despite the seemingly endless tide of evil that is flooding the world we live in…that God has us exactly where He intended us to be at this final juncture in history. My intent was not to give the devil any undue credit but to show that what we see on the surface is not always, what is really going on beneath. While I would attribute this to a Tribulation-era bible verse, it is interesting to note the fear that is rising around the world regarding the future of our planet. Also note, when it says to look up.
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth,for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:25-28 (emphasis mine)
I don't know about you, but it's looking awful stormy outside. Better start looking up.
Originally published December 2016. Updated 2021