The word Eschatology is derived from two Greek words, Eschatos (which means “last or ultimate”) and Logos (which means “study, knowledge, or understanding”). Thus, eschatology means “the study, knowledge, or understanding of last things.” Christians should study “last things” (such as Hell and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ) for several reasons, such as:
• God’s word is faithful and true, these things must take place, and by keeping His word we are blessed (Revelation 22:6-7); and
• Knowing the truth will help us to not be deceived by any of the many false teachers in the world (2 Peter 2:1).
The Unholy Trinity
The “unholy trinity” consists of the dragon (who is Satan), the beast from the sea (who is most likely the AntiChrist), and the beast from the earth (who is most likely the False Prophet). They’re unholy because they aren’t set apart by God for Him; they’re explicitly opposed to God. They constitute a trinity because they, in some ways, will individually attempt to counterfeit different persons of the Godhead. The dragon (Satan) will attempt to counterfeit God the Father through directing the activity of, and empowering, the AntiChrist and the False Prophet. The AntiChrist will attempt to counterfeit God the Son (Jesus), for example, by having the appearance of having been mortally wounded and raised from the dead. The False Prophet will attempt to counterfeit God the Holy Spirit, for example, by teaching people to worship the AntiChrist.
The Woman and Her Child
Revelation 12 begins with a vision of a woman (Revelation 12:1) who is with Child (Revelation 12:2,5). Through comparison of this text with Joseph’s vision in Genesis 37:9-10, it’s clear that the woman is Israel. The Child, through comparison with others texts (such as Psalm 2:7-9), is clearly Jesus Christ.
• is great, fiery, red, with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 12:3) [This complete description is unlikely to be literal, but figurative imagery];
• is the leader of 1/3 of the angels or “stars of heaven,” and he was opposed to Jesus even prior to His birth (Revelation 12:4);
• and his angels (fallen angels or demons) fought a war in heaven with Michael and others (Revelation 12:7) [Compare Revelation 12:4 and 12:9. The implication (from the perspective of recapitulation) is that this war occurred prior to the 1st advent of Christ.];
• was cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:8-9);
• is the Devil / Satan (Revelation 12:9);
• is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10);
• has great wrath and knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12);
• persecuted Israel (Revelation 12:13);
• is the serpent (Revelation 12:15 ; Genesis 3);
• is enraged with Israel and is at war with her and with Christians (Revelation 12:17);
• will empower the beast from the sea (Revelation 13:2); and
• will be worshiped (Revelation 13:4).
The Beast from the Sea
The Beast from the Sea:
o has seven heads and ten horns with ten crowns and a blasphemous name (Revelation 13:1) [This complete description is unlikely to be literal, but figurative imagery];
o was like a leopard, bear and lion, with a power, throne, and great authority (Revelation 13:2);
o appeared to be healed from a mortal wound, as if he was resurrected from the dead, thereby attempting to counterfeit Christ (Revelation 13:3);
o will be followed and worshiped by those people whose names aren’t written in the Book of Life (Revelation 13:3-4,8);
o will be blasphemous (Revelation 13:5-6); and
o will receive (implicitly from God) authority to make war with the saints and prevail (Revelation 13:7; see also Luke 22:31-32) [This concept is troublesome to many. For more info, check out Why Does God Give Satan Authority?]
Quite possibly the Beast from the Sea is also known as the man of sin or the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).
The Beast from the Earth
The Beast from the Earth:
o had two horns like a lamb (Revelation 13:11);
o had the authority of the Beast from the Sea and caused people to worship him (Revelation 13:12);
o will perform miraculous signs (Revelation 13:13);
o will deceive the world (Revelation 13:14; Matthew 24:24);
o will have power to kill those who refuse to worship the Beast from the Sea or his image (Revelation 13:15);
o will require a mark on the hand or forehead to engage in economic commerce (Revelation 13:16-17); and
o is a man, and his number (possibly the numerical equivalent of his name written in Hebrew or Greek) is 666 (Revelation 13:18).
A Caution Regarding Numerology
Although the Lord has given us “the number of the (2nd) beast” (Revelation 13:18), we need to be extremely cautious about trying to devise numeric schemes in an attempt to identify this man, who has been “positively identified” as Nero, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and countless others! Remember, he has many characteristics other than this number!
The unholy Trinity will one day be permanently cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10)! Prior to that time though, dear Christian, the Lord has instructions for us (2 Peter 3:2-18):
“that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen!”