Setting the Stage
For the past several decades, the beast and his ten angelic leaders have been influencing the affairs of men for a specific purpose. They’ve been setting the stage for the rise of the false prophet to become the world leader. Their efforts include the undermining of God’s truth, promoting a neo-Babel global agenda, and implementing a global commerce system that can be controlled by one person. All of these things began to be come about when the first seal was opened and the beast with ten horns was released from the abyss, presumably near the beginning of the twentieth century.
It has taken roughly a century for them to get their global agenda to where it is today. However, things will take on a quickened pace when the second seal is opened. The opening of the second seal correlates to when the ten human leaders decide it’s time to implement their new world order. I don’t think it’s likely that these ten human leaders realize that they are just being used by the ten angelic leaders for the beast’s purposes. I expect that they plan on being the rulers of this new world order of theirs for a very long time, but such will not be the case.
When the second seal is opened, the ten human leaders destroy the world’s capital per Revelation 17:15-18 and declare themselves to be the rulers of a new order. Their actions symbolize an “out with the old, in with the new” mentality that will shock the world. They have spent countless hours and resources designing and implementing a global economic system through which they plan to rule, and when the second seal is opened, they determine that the time has come. Their reign is brief, however, as they realize that they have lost control over that system before the dust even settles. They realize that they’ve been double-crossed and a time of war begins.
The ten angelic horns had planned all along to give control of the global economic system to the false prophet. Usurping the control of this system from the ten human leaders is the means by which he begins his rise to becoming world leader. Immediately after the ten human leaders destroy the world’s capital, the false prophet condemns their actions and declares them unfit to rule. He says that he has taken over their economic system and that he will now be in charge. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the ten human leaders and three of them decide to attack the false prophet, who is somewhere in the Middle East, with an overwhelming force. This is what is perceived as the fatal head wound in Revelation 13:3, the apparent death of the false prophet’s fledgling kingdom.
The three human leaders that attack him are seen as the aggressors in this confrontation because they are the ones who destroyed the world’s capital and now they’re attacking the person who took action against them on account of their atrocity. Other wars are breaking out around the world as well and order quickly descends into chaos. People are convinced that the end of the world has come and are worried over this sudden turn of events.
Just when he is surrounded by hostile forces and it seems that his days are over, the false prophet calls down fire from heaven and destroys the forces arrayed against him. He, with support from the beast, supernaturally revives his kingdom from its death throes. The whole world is amazed at this and concedes that no one else can perform the signs and wonders that he can; neither is anyone able to wage war against him. Consequently, the time of war comes to an end as he demands the restoration of order. He then goes to Jerusalem and takes his ruse to the next level by declaring himself to be God.
The amazing signs and wonders that he performs deceives everyone into believing that he actually is God and has come to save the world from certain destruction. They have no reason to doubt his claims. He performs amazing signs and wonders that no one else can and he has restored order to a world plunged into chaos. It is against this backdrop that the mark and the image are introduced.
Not everyone falls for this ruse, however. There are people who know the truth of the situation and are capable of unmasking him for the fraud he is. He sees them as a threat to his dominion so he wages war against them by calling on the deceived people of the world to collaborate on a code of conduct that will affirm his deity and dominion over the world. That code of conduct is the image of the beast and is made into a global law.
The mark of the false prophet will serve to expedite the decision-making process. If people want to buy or sell, they will need his mark. After a grace period, those who do not have his mark will be confronted and if they refuse to align themselves with him, they are to be killed. The mark will likely also serve as a means of monitoring people’s activities in order to ensure continued compliance with the image.
This time of persecution takes place when the fifth seal is opened and is known as the great tribulation, a time when a multitude beyond number will choose to die rather than worship the man of sin. At some point after everyone has made their decision, God brings an end to the great tribulation when the sixth seal is opened. The events of the sixth seal will cause those who have chosen to side with the false prophet, and put to death the innocent, to fear in anticipation of what is to come.
When the seventh seal is opened, the seven plagues begin to be poured out on those who chose to align themselves with the false prophet by receiving his mark and worshipping the image. The purpose of these plagues is to convince people that they have made the wrong decision and that they should repent.