Sunday, September 21, 2014

The False Prophet outside Revelation

This shall be the first part of an ongoing study I shall do on the subject of The False Prophet.  The post I intend to be part 2 I actually posted a while go, with no long term plans for this subject in mind then.  I'll link to it at the end of this post.

The False Prophet is a key figure in The Book of Revelation, it's number three villain. "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet." Forming a sort of counterfeit Trinity. He's first clearly introduced as the "beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon." After Chapter 13 this figure is called The False Prophet.

The only reference to either of the Beasts prior to chapter 13 is chapter 11:7 "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. " Chapter 17:8 makes the beast who " shall ascend out of the bottomless pit" synonymous with the Beast who has 7 heads and 10 horns, and thus the first Beast of chapter 13. But the symbolism of the Beast is complicated, the 7 headed 10 horned Beast represents the individual of the Antichrist but also his Empire, his political system. Which is the Roman Empire, the Fourth Beast of Daniel 7, which is now being rebuilt via the European Union but also via Western policy in the Middle East. The False Prophet as his both religious and economic overseer is part of that system, so you could argue during any section that seems to only have one of them The Beast could be seen as both together.

I also believe the "ascendeth out of the bottomless pit", to be a characteristic of his resurrection.  And based on both The beast and the False Prophet being cast into the Lake of Fire without dying first, I think it's possible that both individuals are early partakers of the Second Resurrection.

We commonly discuss a lot of verses outside Revelation that are presumed to be about The Antichrist. But I don't see any other verses commonly taken to refer to The False Prophet. False Prophets, plural, appear often as do False Christs. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."-Matthew 24:24.

Many characters who serve as foreshadowings or prototypes of The Antichrist do have a False Prophet figure with them. Adonijah had Abiathar the Priest, Ahab had the unnamed False Prophet who had that dramatic scene with Micaiah. Also if you study the history of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees, there is Menelaus, the Benjamite Apostate High Priest who presided over the worship of the Abomination of Desolation.  As Lionel Luthor said in season 2 episode 22 of Smallville "Every Author has his Merlin".

However, actual specific Prophecies of this figure outside Revelation are not well known. I have seen it suggested that maybe many Prophecies assumed to be about The Antichrist really refer to the False Prophet, or even that some refer to both together in some way. But those suggesting this usually don't  elaborate on it.

This apparent lack of reference outside Revelation was a problem for me.  I firmly believe Revelation does not really introduce anything entirely new, it unlocks the mysteries of what came before.

Then I noticed this little detail of Isaiah 9, in verses 14&15. "Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail." The word translated "ancient" really means "elder". So we have a political leader being paired with a lying prophet.

Small little reference, but once I had noticed this I started getting all kinds of ideas.

 Some interpret "out of the Earth" as meaning Jewish, while "out of the sea" for the first Beast means Gentile, based on Daniel 7:3. And bring that into how they interpret passages outside Revelation. Passages that seem to make him Jewish (chiefly John 5:43, to me this is hypothetical in context and thud not good to build doctrine on,) they assume to be the second beast.  And those that seem to make him gentile they assume the first.  I think that doctrinal assumption is hard to prove however.

I saw one study recently suggest the "He" of Daniel 9:27 is The False Prophet, not the first beast.  "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate".  They argued that Revelation 13 makes clear it's the second beast who actually sets up the Image and enforces it's worship.  My view on this verse has changed lately.

Key I think is II Thessalonians 2:3. No words are mistranslated here, but it's one of those occasions where the translators felt the need to change the order of the words for the sake of English grammar. Which is often needed, but here I would render it this way.
 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and the unveiling of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition.
 It appears we have two titles of the Antichrist listed side by side. He had many titles, often more then one used in the same chapter or even same verse, but simply listed in succession is unusual.

What if it's really referring to the unveiling of two people? The following verses are clearly talking about a single individual man deifying himself in the Temple. But maybe that person is the first mentioned, and the second is his supporter facilitating him in this act? If the Son of Perdition is the False Prophet rather then The Antichrist as assumed, that could be interesting.

The term can also be argued to apply to both Beasts equally, along with the phrase "goeth into Perdition" in Revelation 17. They're the two individuals who are sent into "The Lake of Fire" first in Revelation 19, before the Millennium rather then after it like everyone else destined to go there.

In verse 9 of II Thessalonians 2, it talks about his coming being "after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,". We know from Revelation 13 that the miracles are performed by the False Prophet. One could argue this reference to miracles is tied to how the Man of Sin is unveiled. I argue in the first post of this blog that the restrainer being removed refers to the unlocking of the Abyss is in Revelation 9, where Apollyon and many other entities are being restrained by chains.

That belief does not require identifying either beast with any personage in Revelation 9.  The point is nothing (save Jesus himself when he went there) can ascend out of the abyss before then. Which is a problem for Pre-Wrath.

Chris White objects to viewing Apollyon as a villain, or among those restrained in the Abyss.  He sees him as a good angel that God simply put in charge of overseeing this.  He compares him to the Angel that carried out the killing of the first born on Passover, or the plague that occurred after David's census.  He misses that for the first of those examples the LORD himself did it, Exodus 12:29.  And I would point out the Angel of Death himself inevitably goes into the Lake of Fire.

The word translated Perdition is Apoleia. Apollyon from Revelation 9:11 is a related word, derived from the same roots. Apoleia means destruction (perdition is a King James English synonym for Destruction) and Apollyon means Destroyer. It would be accurate poetically to call Apollyon the Son of Apoleia.

 The other name for Apollyon is Abaddon, his Hebrew name. Most people don't know that this name does appear in the Hebrew Scriptures, it's Strongs number is 11. The KJV always translates it "destruction" but it's not the only word for destruction, so it's important to differentiate. The verses it appears in are Job 26:6, Job 28:22, Job 31:12, Psalm 88:11, Proverbs 15:11, and Proverbs 27:20.

It's used as the name of a place, not a individual. Being frequently linked with Sheol (Hell/Hades) I take it to be an Old Testament name of the place the New Testament calls the Abyss/Bottomless Pit and Tartaros (Translated Hell in 2 Peter 4). So the ruler of the place could've become named after it, or visa-verse.

That Apollyon/Abaddon is called "the angel of the bottomless pit" causes a lot of confusion. We're used to using "Angel" as a technical  term for immortal created beings who are certainly not Human.  But it's really just a noun that means messenger, as is the Hebrew equivalent Malak. The KJV translators were rarely willing to translate it rather then transliterate it in the New Testament. But three passages where there was no denying that it refers to a human being rather then an Angel are Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27 which all quote Malachi 3:1 in reference to John the Baptist. The word is indeed also affiliated with Prophets who are also messengers of God, and False Prophets who are messengers of false gods. Revelation 9:11 uses it in the same form (there are many different forms of Angelos used in the NT texts) as those passages.  I also believe the Angels of the Seven Church were humans in those congregations that had the gift of Prophecy (not monarchical "Pastors" as some have argued).

Outside The Bible Apollyon was a Homeric name for Apollo, which many have read significance into.  Like in Aeschylus's play Agamemnon, where Cassandra says repeatedly.
"Apollo, thou destroyer, O Apollo, Lord of fair streets, Apollyon to me."
To me that identification fits Apollyon being the False Prophet rather then Antichrist.  Because Apollo in Greek mythology was never affiliated with Kingship but he was very much the god of Prophecy.

I think the difference between the resurrection of the false prophet and the resurrection of The First Beast is The World won't witness the latter.  I think The False Prophet died in the distant past and will after the opening of the Abyss be allowed to resurrect.  Perhaps one layer of meaning to the second Beast rising "out of the Earth" refers to the Earth his body decomposed into.

But both lives of The Antichrist are end times, one ends in the 70th week, the second plays out entirely within it.

Part 2 of the Study.

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