Q.

Are the miracles of Satan through his cohorts, as recorded in Revelation 13, real, or are they just sleight-of-hand imitation deceptions of real miracles?

A.
Revelation 13 deals with the coming Tribulation on the earth and with the two “beasts,” one of whom is called the Antichrist. While appearing suave, Antichrist will be an extremely powerful, wily, cruel, and dangerous worldwide ruler. As his name indicates, he will set himself against Christ and righteousness.

Writing in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and 9, the apostle Paul stated of him,

And then [after the rapture of believers takes place and the Holy Spirit is taken out] the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.

Revelation 13 reiterates that Antichrist, along with the false prophet (the other “beast”), will perform signs and wonders, or miracles (see verses 2, 7, and 11–16).

A question, then, naturally arises: the very question you have asked. Bible teachers and scholars have long debated the subject of Antichrist’s alleged miraculous power. We must be careful, on one hand, not to attribute to Satan power he doesn’t have, while, on the other hand, we must not minimize his power. For example, some writers have made much of the first verses of chapter 13, where it appears that the beast will be mortally wounded (v. 3) and then is supposedly resurrected. Some have suggested that the Devil will plan this event to simulate the death and resurrection of Christ. But does Satan have the power to raise people from the dead? Satan is not omnipotent, as God is. God can raise people from the dead. But unless God granted Satan the power to raise people from the dead, Satan could not.

Verse 3 describes the “death” “as if it [the beast/ Antichrist] had been mortally wounded.” Then the word “healed” follows. Thus this account seems to refer to only a near-death event in which the beast is healed. Verse 12 repeats the event, saying he was “healed,” not “resurrected.” Scripture reveals that God will allow Satan and his cohorts to have unprecedented power during this time so that God, Who is greater than Satan no matter how much He allows the latter to do, may ultimately receive all glory. It is interesting to discover that the words used for miracles here (i.e., “signs” and “wonders”) are also used for the miracles of our Lord while He lived on earth. So if we explain away Satan’s and his cohorts’ signs and wonders as merely pretense or counterfeit acts, we have to consider that the Bible uses the same words to describe the miracles of our Lord. The vocabulary used for humans who practice magic or sorcery in such passages as Acts 8:9—11 and Revelation 9:21, 21:8, and 22:15 is different.

We should also deal with a couple of specifics in Revelation 13: (1) the beast will make fire to come down from Heaven on the earth (v. 13), and (2) the beast will give breath to the image of the first beast (v. 15). Some writers have tried to minimize these wonders or make them symbolic. But in doing so, they merely create endless speculation of what these incidents mean. None of them provide a solid reason why we cannot accept the Revelation 13 demonstrations as literal.

What about satanic counterfeits elsewhere in the Bible, such as the incidents surrounding the ten plagues in Pharaoh’s time? Do they not belong to the same league as those in Revelation? We need to again remember that the ‘Tribulation will be a time like no other. Jesus Himself mentioned and warned about the coming signs and wonders of Satan and his cohorts. This mention suggests that these things will be unlike anything that has happened previously: “See, I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:25).

We know that, in times past, God has granted Satan more power than at other times. We see this in the account of Job. Further, Revelation 13 makes it clear that since Satan’s time will be about up, God will allow Satan authority as he never has had it before. If we doubt Satan’s power as we approach the end of time, we need to simply sit back and look at what has happened in recent decades, and we’re not even in the Tribulation yet. Certainly Satan stands behind the degeneration in morality, the apostasy in churches, and the violence upon earth. What we see is merely leading up to the most calamitous days Earth has ever witnessed.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (October 2003).
© 2003 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.