7. A Powerful Religious Figure Leads a Religious Revival
One of the definite “signs of the end-times,” which will herald the close of this present evil age, is the arrival on the scene of a great false religious leader, called in the Bible the “false prophet” (Revelation 19:19–21). This religious leader will possess great charisma, and will exercise a very powerful influence over a political power—the soon-coming “Beast” (Revelation 13, 17, 19). He will be the long-prophesied, influential head of a great, militant church in Europe. Together, this combination of personal charisma and awesome power to influence others, will have an enormous effect on the future of the nations of the Western world.
This coming false religious leader—a leader who is prophesied to sit astride the end-time “Beast” (the revival of a governmental system having characteristics similar to the old Holy Roman Empire, which was a combination of church and state) is described in Isaiah 47. “Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon” (v. 1). Notice this is a daughter of ancient Babylon. A modern sort of Babylon is to rise up! “Sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans! For you shall no more be called tender and delicate” (ibid.)
Who, then, is this “lady” mentioned in Isaiah 47? Scripture gives us a clear answer. “Sit in silence, and go into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for you shall no more be called the Lady of Kingdoms” (v. 5). This woman is called the “Lady of Kingdoms” because she has a fornicating political relationship with, and actually rules over, quite a number of different kingdoms or governments of this world.
Now, read on in this important end-time prophecy. God says, “I was angry with My people” (v. 6). Who are God’s people? There are two ways this can be properly understood: one is the Church of God, the other is God’s physical people, Israel—“You [Israel] only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). This prophecy is definitely speaking nationally, so this is not talking about God’s true Church. Clearly, this is speaking about the end-time nations that comprise modern Israel.
So God says, “I have profaned My inheritance, and given them into your [the Babylonish system’s] hand. You showed them no mercy; on the elderly [‘ancient’ people, Israel—KJV] you laid your yoke very heavily” (Isaiah 47:6).
Notice the word “yoke.” This is a yoke of slavery laid upon us by the daughter of the ancient Babylon. “And you said, ‘I shall be a lady forever,’ so that you did not take these things to heart, nor remember the latter end of them” (v. 7). And so this modern “lady,” this false religious system, will put a yoke on God’s birthright people—those who have received their tremendous national inheritances from God Almighty.
God speaks of this woman as being a “Lady of Kingdoms,” putting a “yoke” on the neck of God’s chosen people, Israel, and says this Babylonish “lady” will not think she is doing any terrible thing when she afflicts God’s people. Then He says: “Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me; I shall not sit as a widow, nor shall I know the loss of children’” (v. 8). “But,” God says, “these two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day: the loss of children, and widowhood” (v. 9).
That is what God says! But where is this explained in the Bible? How can we know that this is an end-time prophecy?
Turn back again to the book of Revelation, where He is talking about this same system. God says, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury” (Revelation 18:3). A great religio-political trading system!
Well, what is that trading system? Verse 2 says, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit.” Yes, this modern Babylon, which is now in the process of forming in Europe, will be a very sophisticated, wealthy system that will soon dominate most of Europe. Yet it will be heavily influenced by Satan!
Notice God’s warning to His people: “Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4). Dwelling in this Babylonish system will be some of God’s people (this applies both physically and spiritually)—and they are commanded: “Come out… lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (vv. 4–5). And so this Babylonish system and the people in it will be warned!
Now notice verse 7: “In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she [this modern Babylon] says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’” Do you remember those words? That is quoting directly from Isaiah 47. Yet modern Babylon will say those words!
“Therefore,” God says, “her plagues will come in one day [just like God said back in Isaiah 47:9]—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (Revelation 18:8).
But first, the modern descendants of ancient Israel will be brought down and punished by God through this system. These people will be punished as no peoples have ever been punished in modern history, because of their flagrant disobedience, and their going after every ungodly abomination.
A Great False Religious Leader
The great false religious leader will rise up very soon now—in our very day! He will deceive not a few hundred people—like David Koresh and his Branch Davidians—but hundreds of millions! Yes, prophecy indicates that hundreds of millions of people will be deceived! That is exactly what will occur before Christ’s coming.
The Apostle Paul, in a letter concerning the Second Coming of Christ, wrote: “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…” (2 Thessalonians 2:1). He then cautioned God’s people “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come” (v. 2). Some were even writing letters purporting to be from Paul. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [or son of destruction]” (v. 3).
Clearly, a great false religious leader will rise up before Christ returns to this earth. What will be the attitude and modus operandi of this great false prophet? “Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (v. 4).
This man will have supernatural power to deceive! He will have the ability to perform great miracles such as causing fire to come down out of the sky (Revelation 13:13–14). Will you follow such a man? Or, will you now begin to study and understand your Bible so you will know what is ahead? “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs [miracles] which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the sword” (v. 14).
This great false religious leader will have tremendous impact on the Western world—make no mistake about it! You need to watch for these things so that you will not be misled or deceived by him (the soon-coming great “false prophet”) or by any man! “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4)! Keep alert! Keep your eyes open! Be on the lookout for a great, charismatic false religious leader—a “false prophet”! He, like the early New Testament false prophet, Simon Magus (Acts 8:9–11), will deceive hundreds of millions into thinking he is a great servant of God.
If you know God’s word—and obey it—you will not be one of those many millions who will be deceived by the soon-coming, great “false prophet”!