The "Image of the Beast" Identified, At Last
In the future, an "image" of the Antichrist will be made for all the earth to worship (on penalty of beheading). This may sound improbable until you understand what this image is and how it becomes animated so that it can talk and turn people in who refuse to worship it.By Tim McHyde
The Prince of Wales is to be immortalized in bronze as a muscular, winged god dressed
in nothing more than a loincloth. The inscription on the statue in Brazil will honor him as
"Savior of the World."
What is an image? The Greek word there is eikon and is used for statues and other forms of images of something else. Context must be used to determine which form it is. "Statue" fits the grammatical and historic context best here and several translations render or footenote it as such (Amp, GW, HCSB, NJB, and NLT).
Why Not a TV Set? It Talks and Sees
This alone should disqualify a TV set or movie screen as some propose. I think we can rule out any technological trickery to make it talk that would not be sufficient to impress modern society that they are worshipping anything less than a supernatural power. It demands a miracle for that reason plus the fact that the text indications that it does more than just talk, it is animated and can also see. The Greek NT itself literally gives us a clue in its wording about how the statue talks to order the beheading of the noncompliant. It says that the False Prophet "gives pneuma" to the statue. Pneuma is the word used for spirits, both Holy and demonic, in the NT. For this reason the HCSB translates it as follows
Revelation 13:15 (HCSB) He was permitted to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image or statue of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
The only way a statue could be animated to "both" talk and report on people is through a living, deceiving spirit being put into it, to possess it just as they do animals and people as recorded in the Gospel stories. The modern world does not believe in or understand such things and would just consider it a bonafide miracle beyond explanation (including technical wizardry). Skeptic associations regularly offer cash rewards to anyone who will subject themselves to their rigourous tests and document that any paranormal or supernatural phenomenom is real. Only a possessed, talking and seeing statue would withstand exposure as a parlor trick or fraud and impress our technologically sophisticated skeptical society enough to take it seriously.
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary has an excellent explanation about the image as a statue:
As the power of Antichrist and the persuasiveness of the false prophet grow, Satan will escalate the false world religion of Antichrist worship. Humanity will eventually come to be so completely under the influence of the false prophet that people will obey his command to make an image to the beast. The world will engage in the most shocking, blatant idolatry ever seen. Like Nebuchadnezzar before him (Dan. 3), but on a global scale, Antichrist, aided by the false prophet, will set up a statue of himself as a symbol of his deity and worldwide worship. This blasphemous image will probably be set up on the temple grounds in Jerusalem (cf. 2 Thess. 2:4) and will be connected with the abomination of desolation (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matt. 24:15). It will be a tribute to the awesome power of Antichrist, who had the wound of the sword and has come to life (cf. vv. 3, 12), to seemingly conquer death.
The idolatrous image of the Antichrist will be different from any other idol in human history. The Bible scornfully denounces idols as having mouths, yet being unable to speak (Pss. 115:5; 135:15–17; Isa. 46:7; Jer. 10:5; Hab. 2:18–19). But in another display of his power to deceive, the false prophet will give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak. Breath translates pneuma, not zoe or bios, the Greek words normally translated life. The false prophet will animate the image of Antichrist so that it gives the appearance of being alive. —The MacArthur New Testament Commentary
There is further proof from history that this will a statue. This can be understood by knowing the nature of the abomination of desolation done by Antiochus Epiphanes IV to fulfill Daniel 11:31 (only a forerunner fulfillment of the abomination prophesied in Daniel 9:27). See here for why the image of the beast is directly connected with the abomination of desolation.
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Tim McHyde is the founder of EscapeAllTheseThings .com and a blogger on Bible prophecy since 1999. To read more from Tim and not miss a single new article, please sign up for his free newsletter below.
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