Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Signs >4th sign >The False Prophet
Another beast rises up to make a threesome. He serves the dragon and the beast from the sea. He is a False Prophet (Revelation 16:13) who deceives or coerces people into idolatry, and into being marked with evil. He makes an image of the Beast and forces people to worship it (Revelation 13:11-17).
From the earth An angel had announced, "Woe to the inhabitants of earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you..." (Revelation 12:12).
In the vision after that, a beast arose from the sea. This was followed by the vision we are now studying, in which a beast arises from the earth. He is the beast called the False Prophet.
Lamb and dragon The False Prophet has two horns like a lamb, but he speaks like a dragon. The resemblance to a lamb indicates priesthood, but his priesthood is false because his words are the false and lying doctrines of the Dragon. This is why he is called “the false prophet” (Revelation 16:13).
Authority Satan’s authority and "all the authority of the first beast" (Revelation 13:12) is given to this False Prophet, and exercised through him.
Satan gives authority that's never been given to him! His authority and power are of his own presumption. Satan the Dragon thus materializes his spiritual kingdom of darkness in the form of an antichristian empire with its own idolatrous religion. The king of the antichristian kingdom makes himself a god.
Great signs Satan provides the power to this false religion to do great signs and thereby deceive many (Revelation 13:13-14). This is a warning to us.
We should not treat every miracle, wonder, and sign as necessarily being from God. Paul warns us about "the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deception of wickedness..." (2Thessalonians 2:9-10).
Fire The vision gives two examples of the kind of signs that deceivers can do: "make fire come down from heaven to earth... and give breath to the image of the beast so that the image would speak" (Revelation 13:13,15).
Any magician worth his salt could do those things without even needing supernatural powers. The previous healing of the fatal head wound is somewhat more impressive (Revelation 13:3), but even that could be done by deception.
When Elijah asked God to bring down fire from heaven, he went to great lengths to show there was no trickery, and so did God (1Kings 18:30-39).
When Jesus died and was buried, and arose from the dead, the reported events precluded any element of trickery —those who claim it was a trick have to invent a different report and a different story.
image of the beast We have already noted the beast’s false priesthood. In this vision, the False Prophet makes an image of the previous beast and forces people to either worship the image or be killed (Revelation 13:14-15).
While this is only a representation of the character of false religion, it is sobering to remember that people have actually been threatened with death if they refused to practise idolatry. This happened to Daniel and his friends (Daniel 3) and it happened to the early Christians (Revelation 6:9).
Mark, name, number In the vision, all those who worshipped the image received a mark on their right hand or forehead. This mark was the name of the beast or a number representing the name (Revelation 13:16).
In the vision of the messages to the seven churches of Asia, Jesus had promised to write upon every one of his followers his new and heavenly name (Revelation 3:12-18 cf Revelation 14:1). Not to be outdone, the beast writes his own name upon those who follow him.
We cannot wear both names, nor can we reject both names. We must choose our mark —either the name of God and his kingdom, or the name of the beast and his kingdom. We are citizens in one or the other.
Buy and sell (Revelation 13:17). The antichristian kingdom comprises several powers —political, military, financial, judicial, and religious.
The wisdom of separating these powers is embodied in the constitutions of many nations, including Australia. However, in a corrupt kingdom they merge. This is illustrated in the vision. John sees that nobody was permitted to buy or sell who was not marked with the Beast’s name.
The False Prophet presides over false justice. He legislates that in order to buy or sell people must validate the transaction by showing their mark. If it is the mark of the Beast, they are okay, but if it is the mark of Jesus Christ, they are arrested and sentenced to death.
Whether such a thing has ever happened or will happen in the real world, I don't know. That's not the point. The vision shows us that antichrist will go to great lengths of injustice to further his aims.
Number The "number of the beast and of his name" (Revelation 13:16,18) is 666, which is the sum of the inferior Roman numerals in descending order: DCLXVI=666.