The Coming Counterfeit
About $62 million in bogus U.S. bills made it into circulation in 2006, largely due to technology that makes digital printing of fake money much easier. In fact, USA Today reported that counterfeiting has increased 69 percent in three years.1 Unfortunately, to people who cannot tell the difference, a counterfeit appears to be the genuine article.
Satan is the master of the counterfeit. And in the last days, he will possess such power over Earth that most people will not realize they have placed their faith in a fake. In an attempt keep the earth in its corrupted state for eternity and thus avoid his own eternal judgment, Satan will establish a visible, political form of his kingdom by using a counterfeit Christ (messiah). Then he will use the political control to seek the elimination of Israel.2
Israel is critical to Satan’s endtimes strategy because if he could eliminate Israel, then Messiah could not return to Earth to rule on the throne of King David, as promised in Scripture (Isa. 9:7). Thus Satan would prevail over God and prevent the Almighty from completing His plan of redemption for humanity. Of course, he will not prevail. But he will deceive millions before he plunges to his defeat.
Signs and Wonders
Just as Jesus had great power from God to perform miraculous signs and wonders while on Earth, Satan’s counterfeit messiah will use his demonic power to do miracles. Just as Christ was able to communicate effectively and influence the common man, Satan’s pseudo messiah will possess remarkable communicative and persuasive abilities. Just as Christ was killed, rose from the dead, and promised to return a second time, so, too, will Satan’s man be killed. His mortal wound will be healed, and the world will believe that he died and was brought back to life. And most important, just as Christ came to be worshiped, Satan’s counterfeit will also be worshiped.
Satan will begin by introducing his counterfeit messiah, the Antichrist, who will come “with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Th. 2:9). The Rapture of the church and ensuing removal of the restraining work of the Holy Spirit will pave the Antichrist’s way (vv. 1–12). Without the restraining work of the Holy Spirit, the world will fall away from God into worldwide apostasy (v. 3). Satan will seize this opportunity and move quickly to establish a visible, political form of his kingdom and seek to make it permanent.
According to the prophet Daniel, this kingdom will be a revived form of the Roman Empire (Dan. 2:41–44; 7:7).3 It will be a federation of 10 regions or divisions of nations that will rule the world (Rev. 13:7). The Antichrist will rise to power and seize control of the entire revived Roman Empire (Dan. 7:24; Rev. 13:1). And as Satan’s human agent, he will be empowered to perform amazing wonders “with all unrighteous deception among those who perish” (2 Th. 2:10).
In other words, the Antichrist will use unbridled satanic power to deceive the world into believing he is the Promised One.
Initially, Satan will align the revived Roman Empire with the apostate religion of the Western world to gain worldwide support for the Antichrist’s leadership. However, the alliance will be temporary until Satan’s counterfeit Christ has consolidated his power. Eventually, the Antichrist will break the alliance and replace the apostate religion with the worship of himself (Rev. 17:16).
These events will occur over a sevenyear period known as the Tribulation. At the midpoint, Antichrist will be killed, and it will appear this mighty man of peace was cut down before his work was finished (13:3). With the pseudo messiah now dead, Satan’s scheme to stymie God’s plan of redemption would seem to be in jeopardy.
At the same time, Satan will suffer another loss: a defeat in his war with Michael the archangel and the angels of heaven. As a result, Satan and his demons will be cast out of heaven permanently and confined to Earth (12:7–12). Knowing his time is short before Messiah Jesus will return, the Devil will increase his wrath on Earth, using all means possible to prevent Jesus from coming (v. 12).4
First he will heal the Antichrist’s deadly wound (13:3–4). The counterfeit messiah will then have died, “risen,” and come a second time. Moving swiftly to consolidate his political power, he will kill three of the 10 kings in the revived Roman Empire (Dan. 7:24). The remaining seven kings will pledge allegiance and submit to the Antichrist. To complete his coup, he will break his alliance with the Western apostate religion and eliminate it (Rev. 17:16). He then will have control to rule the world.
Next, through Antichrist, Satan will establish a religion to exalt and glorify himself, aided by the False Prophet who will act as a counterfeit Holy Spirit (13:11–15). Empowered by Satan, the False Prophet will perform signs, wonders, and miracles to deceive the world and force humanity to worship the Antichrist. It is he who will require everyone to take the infamous mark of the Beast:
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 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 (vv. 15–18).
Satan’s Trap for Israel
With his political and religious power consolidated, Satan will now concentrate on eliminating Israel.
He actually will put his strategy into motion three and one-half years earlier with the signing of a covenant between Antichrist and Israel (Dan. 9:27). This covenant will appear to initiate a period of unprecedented security in modern Israel; it also seems to open the door for rebuilding the Temple and resuming the Old Testament sacrifices. It will promise the peace and security Israel has long sought, as Antichrist promises to protect Israel from its enemies.
However, the covenant will turn out to be a deceitful trap set by Satan. As a result of the agreement, Israel will let down its guard and put its trust in Satan’s man. During the first three and one-half years of the covenant, Israel’s confidence in the Antichrist will appear to be well founded. When the kings of the North and South arrive to make war with Israel, the Antichrist will come to Israel’s defense with his armies and defeat them soundly (11:40–45). Subsequently, he will defend Israel at the battle of Gog and Magog, although God will intervene to destroy the kings’ armies before the Antichrist arrives (Ezek. 38—39).
After his “resurrection” and consolidation of power, Antichrist will violate his covenant with Israel, putting a sudden end to the sacrifices and offerings in the Temple (Dan. 9:27). Then he will desecrate the Temple by placing his throne there, declaring himself to be God and demanding everyone worship him (Dan. 7:8, 20, 25; 11:36–37; 2 Th. 2:3–4; Rev. 13:4–8, 11–17).
Those who refuse to worship him will be killed. Antichrist also will erect an image of himself in the Temple, which Christ referred to as the “‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Mt. 24:15). Antichrist will defame the sacred place where Israel worships; but that is only the beginning.
He will unleash a period of unparalleled persecution on Israel, referred to as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:4–7; Mt. 24:21–28). The Bible warns Jewish people to flee into the wilderness.
Antichrist’s purpose will be to secure Satan’s political kingdom on Earth by annihilating Israel and cutting it off from being a nation so that the name of Israel will no longer be remembered (Ps. 83:4). Without Israel, the Messiah could not return to rule on David’s throne (Isa. 9:6–7) and Satan would avoid his eternal judgment. Antichrist will carry out his anti- Israel campaign for three and one-half years, reaching a crescendo with the Battle of Armageddon, which is actually a military campaign that will last for several weeks or months (Dan. 11:40–45; Joel 3:9–17; Zech. 14:1–3; Rev. 16:14–16). Antichrist will assemble his armies from the nations of the world to complete the elimination of Israel.5
With Israel on the verge of annihilation, it would seem that Satan is poised to accomplish his objectives. However, God has a better strategy. He Himself will rescue Israel.
When there seems to be no hope, those Jewish people still living will turn to God with all their hearts and call on Him to deliver them (Hos. 6:1–3). During this time millions of Gentiles will perish. And only one-third of Israel will survive the Antichrist’s persecution (Zech. 13:8); but God will again have mercy on Israel (1:16).
Answering Israel’s cry for salvation, Messiah will return to Earth in the same way He left: in the clouds (Mt. 24:30; Acts. 1:9–11). The great Son of David will slay the Antichrist and destroy the armies of the world that sought to annihilate the Jewish people (Joel 3:12–13; Hab. 3:13; Zech. 14:12–15; 2 Th. 2:8; Rev. 14:19–20). The prayer of Psalm 122:6 seeking “the peace of Jerusalem” will finally be realized.
Neither Satan nor his counterfeit will succeed. Just as fake money is ultimately disposed of because it is of no value, so will they be. Their destination is the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20–21). But God will elevate Israel to a position of honor over all the nations of the world, and Israel will experience unprecedented and true peace and prosperity with Messiah as its Lord and King (Zeph. 3:20; Zech. 8:23).
- Barbara Hagenbaugh, “More counterfeit money changed hands in ’06,” February 27, 2007 <usatoday.com/money/2007-02-27-counterfeit-usat_x.htm>.
- Renald Showers, What on Earth Is God Doing? (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 2003), 114–8.
- In both visions where Daniel foresaw the Roman Empire, there are 10 kings who represent a kingdom composed of 10 rulers or divisions out of which will arise the Antichrist. Since the Roman Empire never was comprised in that manner, this part of the vision reflects a future, revised form of the Roman Empire.
- E. Guers, Israel in the Last Days of the Present Economy (London: Wertheim, Macintosh & Hunt, 1855), 105.
- Thomas Ice, “Armageddon,” The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, ed. Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2004), 36–42.