Introduction The State of Missouri in America is known as the “Show Me State.” Ronald Regan, the 40th President of the United States, often said, “Trust but verify!” Both Missouri’s slogan and Ronald Regan’s cautious approach represent our human tendency to be skeptical, and to not place our complete trust in what we see and hear until we have proof that what was declared or promised is true. It’s important to note that our God designed attribute of skepticism is a good thing because it can help us avoid harm. Without skepticism we would believe everything we are told—including lies. As such, throughout time, God has used various signs and wonders to overcome our skeptical nature. Akin to a “Certificate of Authenticity,” signs and wo nders may be defined as miraculous manifestations of supernatural activity that are intended to: Provide tangible evidence that confirms: o Spiritual authority. o Truth of what was spoken. Magnify belief in whom is glorified. Many of us do not fully recognize the multitude of signs and wonders God has demonstrated throughout time—all with the intent of facilitating our belief in Him. However, during the last days, in Matthew 24:24, Jesus warned, “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” To separate the wheat from the tares (discussed later), God will allow Satan and his minions to perform great signs and wonders that will facilitate belief in the beast. As such, Jesus’s warning declares our need for spiritual discernment during these dark times. Therefore, to fully understand the deceptive power of Satan’s miracles, this lesson will begin by discussing the miracles God demonstrated through Moses, Jesus, and the disciples. Thereafter the lesson will explain how to identify and discern Satan’s deceptive signs and wonders by false christs and by false prophets. God’s Signs and Wonders Moses In Exodus chapters 3 and 4, God revealed Himself and spoke to Moses from the midst of a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire (a sign and wonder). This is when God declared His identity, and His intent to free the Jews from Pharaoh’s bondage through Moses. Our disbelief and skeptical nature was exemplified by Moses when he expressed his fear in confronting Pharaoh. God then gave Moses manifestations of supernatural power (in various forms) to provide tangible evidence to Pharaoh that the words spoken by Moses are divinely true. Exodus 4:21 states, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.’” Because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, the miracles become progressively worse. Listed in order (Exodus chapters 4-11), the signs and wonders God demonstrated to Pharoah (via Moses) included: The staff of Aaron (the brother of Moses) became a serpent when cast to the ground. Turned all life-sustaining water in Egypt into blood—making it undrinkable. 3 separate plagues: frogs, lice, flies. Death of livestock via pestilence. 4 additional plagues: boils, hail, locusts and darkness. Death of firstborn. What’s interesting is that Satan (via Pharaoh’s magicians) was able to replicate the first three miracles demonstrated by Moses to Pharoah. For example, the magicians were able to turn their own staffs into snakes. However, Aaron’s snake ate the magician’s snakes (Exodus 7:8-13). They were also able to mimic the plague of blood (Exodus 7:14-22), and horde of frogs (Exodus 8:1-7). However, Pharoah’s magicians were unable to replicate the remaining signs and wonders demonstrated by Moses. The last sign and wonder by Moses broke the will of Pharoah: God caused the death of all firstborn. While there is some disagreement if the firstborn included males and females, the common belief is that firstborn males died from the plague. But as a sign and wonder to the Hebrews, God told Moses and Aaron to instruct the Hebrews to take the blood of a sacrificed unblemished male lamb and put it on the left and right doorpost, and on the top of the door frame (Exodus 12:1-11). “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:12-13 Referred to as the Lord’s Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), this miraculous act of God is celebrated by the Israelites today during an annual weeklong celebration. Once free from Pharoah’s bondage, God demonstrated additional miracles through Moses to convince the Hebrews that the words spoken by Moses are divinely true. Some of these manifestations (Exodus chapters 14, 15, 17) included parting of the Red Sea (to provide a secure escape from Pharoah). God also provided food (Exodus 16:15) for the Hebrews. Manna miraculously appeared with the dew each morning—thereby providing their daily sustenance. In addition, to quench the thirst of the parched in the desert, Moses miraculously converted bitter waters into sweet, and released water from a rock. But what’s more, God guided the Hebrews through the desert by a pillar of cloud during the day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). God’s miracles were intended to increase their belief and trust in Him. Jesus Jesus described our weaknesses and need for tangible proofs—which explains why God has demonstrated miracles—and why Satan will be given power to perform last day signs and wonders. “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” Matthew 16:4 “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” John 4:48 Therefore, Jesus demonstrated many miracles as confirmation of His messianic authority, such as: Turning water into wine. John 2:1-12 Healing a nobleman’s son. John 4:46-54 Healing a paralytic man at the Pool of Bethesda. John 5:1-11 Feeding thousands. Matthew 14:15-21, 15:32-39 Walking on water. John 6:16-21 Healing a blind man. John 9:1-12 Raising Lazarus from the dead. John 11 In response to angry Jews who rejected His words and sought to stone Him, Jesus pointed to His signs and wonders (His works) as validation of who He is when He said to them, “Believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” John 10:38 Jesus demonstrated additional signs and wonders that reinforces His promise of eternal life to those who believe in Him. After Jesus rose from the dead He was first seen by Mary Magdalene, Peter, 2 disciples, the Apostles, and more than 500 brethren at once. (1 Corinthians 15:6-8). Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles, did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead after His crucifixion. Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25 Before Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, He stood in the midst of them and said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27 Note the core purpose of His signs and wonders when He spoke to the angry Jews and Thomas: BELIEVE! Disciples Jesus imparted power to His disciples to perform miracles while He was alive, and after he died and sat at the right hand of God in Heaven. In Matthew 10:5-8, Jesus sent His 12 apostles to preach to the house of Israel. He instructed them to declare, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But before He sent them, Jesus gave them power to perform signs and wonders. In Matthew 10:1, Jesus “Gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” Imagine how the Israelites would have responded to His disciples if they were not given power to cast out demons and heal sicknesses. Their declared words would have been perceived as blasphemous and insane. However, divine miracles provided a “certificate of authenticity” that requires attention, analysis of what was said, and a decision in how to respond to the claims that were declared. This is why the false christs and false prophets will have the power to deceive via signs and wonders. After Jesus died and ascended, He continued to perform miracles through His disciples. “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” Mark 16:19-20 "And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” Acts 5:12-16 Satan’s Deceptive Signs and Wonders When asked what will occur during the last days, in Matthew chapter 24, Jesus described many last day signs. However, He added a specific indicator of unprecedented deception in verse 24: “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Throughout time God has used signs and wonders as a means to confirm His authority, His truth, and to magnify belief in Him. However, during the last days God will allow Satan and his minions to use signs and wonders to deceive and separate those who will spend eternity in the lake of fire. These miracles will not be simple magic tricks. But rather, as Jesus said, “… great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” To reinforce the strong deceptive power of these great signs and wonders, Jesus adds to His warning that these miracles will be so compelling—if it was possible—they could even deceive God’s chosen. Visualize video images of these unprecedented miracles—each broadcasted numerous times across every conceivable communication medium across the globe—as the multitudes are deceived into believing what was declared is true. However, Jesus also said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28 Why Would God Allow Deceptional Signs and Wonders During the Last Days? Jesus gave us spiritual insight into the purpose last day deception. The Parable of the Wheat and Tares describes the final harvest via the separation of the wheat from the tares (weeds that look like wheat). “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30 “And His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered and said to them: ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” Matthew 13:37-43 “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 False Christs As darkness overcomes light during the last days, consider the hope in the return of Jesus by those who are living at this time. Consider their challenges in sharing the Gospel of Christ—and the truth of His imminent return—with those who are lost. Meanwhile, the activities of evil entities will seek to diminish and dilute the Gospel’s influence as many will declare they are the returned Jesus Christ. Jesus warned: “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. Matthew 24:5 Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:26 Three types of responses to false christs will occur. (1) Those who believe in what they declare are deceived and doomed. (2) Others (who are also deceived and doomed) will consider them delusional and subject to public ridicule—thereby providing additional justification to reject their faith in Christ, and dismiss Christian warnings. (3) Christians will realize they are witnessing fulfilled prophecy. False Prophets Jesus said, “Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” Matthew 24:11 A prophet is defined as a person who is regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God; one who speaks divinely inspired revelations. A false prophet is one who professes to be inspired, who claims to possess a new revelation, and will lead hearers into false doctrine. Demonic entities will cause persons (who will make prophetic declarations) to spread deceptive lies. These persons will be in the “public eye” and will receive media attention. Their words and actions will not be based upon God’s grace and truth, but will be intended to cause greater division between the saved and non-saved. As such, their words and behavior will throw fuel onto the fire of anger within the hearts of those who follow the beast. These false prophets will provide justification for increased oppression—and even execution—of Christians who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. But what’s more, this Satan-inspired hatred will be exponentially magnified by the beast when he declares Christians stand in the way of his plans to “fix” all that is wrong in the world. As the days become increasingly dark, Christians will explain the gospel to anyone who will listen, and will declare Jesus is coming soon. However, Jesus said regarding these times, “For there will be great tribulation, such as not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor shall ever be.” Matthew 24:21 “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.” Revelation 20:4 Take a moment and consider the degree of transitional darkness that will occur to reach the depths of this unimaginable human depravity. But in truth, it was not long ago that millions of Jews were murdered based upon the same lies and justifications—for the same evil spirits that influenced Hitler and the Nazis—will also drive the behavior of the beast and his followers. Indicators of a False Christ and False Prophet Satan is a masterful liar. Jesus declared, There is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44 Skilled liars will use a little truth within their lie. Skilled liars know a little truth (1) grabs attention, (2) breaks through protective mental barriers, (3) gains entry into their mindset, (4) enables insertion of the lie into the thought process so that it takes hold and germinates, and (5) skilled liars will repeat the lie until it becomes truth in the minds of the deceived. It is possible the false christs and false prophets will “package” their deceptive lies with a “holy portrayal” and scriptural references—lies that are reinforced as being true as they perform great signs and wonders. Meanwhile, the “germination of the lie” continues to take root within the masses as they use flawed rationalization to justify their belief in and compliance with what was said—because what they just witnessed is unexplainable and uncommon to man—and therefore must be true! God is allowing the final separation of the wheat from the tares for the harvest. “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 There are three primary means to identify if someone’s declaration is from Jesus or Satan: 1 . Are their declarations based upon God’s word? 2 . What is their Persona? 3 . Who is glorified? God’s Word It is imperative for every Christian to study and internalize Bible scripture to prepare for the last days. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25 For example, Jesus was very specific regarding false christs in Matthew 24:26. He instructed us to not seek nor believe anyone who declares they are the Christ. What’s more, Jesus declared how He will return to destroy the beast and his armies during the battle of Armageddon: “As lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west.” “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:26 The above and following scripture depicts the return of Jesus, and what He (and His armies) will do upon His return—which provides scriptural truth that dispels the lies of someone declaring they are Christ. “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.’ And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Revelation 19:11-21 Persona A persona is commonly defined as a: Person’s character, nature or personality—that is different from their real or private character. Personal façade that one presents to the world. A combination of a person’s behavior and words they speak. Each of us can relate to an experience when we felt uncomfortable with someone. A degree of “uneasiness” rose within us because of the words that were spoken, mannerisms and/or behavior did not align with what they attempted to portray, and as our God-enabled attribute of discernment allowed us to see through their façade. Meanwhile, additional “red flags” of warning would arise within us as we continued to listen and watch, and our discomfort increased. Jesus said you will know them by their fruits (words, behavior, persona, etc.). “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:15-20 Because a false christ and false prophet are not filled with the Holy Spirit; the grace of God has not changed their heart; and the righteousness of God does not exist—they are under the bondage of darkness. As such, their persona will demonstrate consequences of sin—including telltale signs of anger, hatred, caustic words, disconnected mannerisms and behavior, and so forth—which indicates clandestine evil intent. However, it is important to understand that the false christs and prophets will be influenced by demonic spiritual entities who will possess skills of deception that far exceed the capabilities of humans. Even if the words they speak are based upon scripture, their persona displays righteousness, and it is difficult to ascertain truth—there is one final test: Who is glorified? Who Is Glorified? The purpose of using great signs and wonders by the false christs and prophets is to create a “Certificate of Authenticity” that will reinforce the validity and acceptance of their deception. Their objective is to direct the lost into believing and following the beast—and to reject Jesus Christ. Their miracles are not for entertainment. Therefore, after all is said and done…whom do they glorify…Jesus or the beast? “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.” Deuteronomy 13:1-3 For example, if one who claims to be Christ or false prophet actually heals a person of an infirmity, casts out a demon, or even brings a dead person back to life—and then uses the miracle to glorify the beast (i.e. follow and serve another “god”)—then stop listening and run away. Their attempt to glorify the beast is the best indicator they are a deceiver and an instrument of Satan. The Two Witnesses God will not give Satan complete control during the entire 7-year Tribulation period. God will send His two witnesses who will prophesy and demonstrate divinely-appointed signs and wonders for 3½ years. “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.” Revelation 11:3-6 Although not stated in the Bible, it is likely their prophetic words and testimony will encompass one or more of the following: The true nature and intent of the beast. The consequences of worshiping the beast and accepting his mark. How God will pour out His wrath upon the earth. Jesus Christ—the King of kings and Lord of lords—is the only means of salvation. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is imminent. Some will attempt to harm the two witnesses, but they will be able to destroy their enemies and perform miracles as proof of their divinely-spoken words and appointed purpose. Their prophetic words and demonstrated power will strengthen the resolve of the saints to hold onto their faith and resist the beast and his mark—and will reinforce the hatred of those who will perish. Meanwhile, due to the testimony of the two witnesses and the efforts of the believers in Jesus Christ—the message of Jesus Christ will reach the entire world. God will seek to save every possible “grain of wheat.” Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 T he Ripple Effect A physical phenomena called the ripple effect—which is a continuation and spreading of an event or action—occurred between people as a result of the words of Jesus combined with His signs and wonders. Via word-of-mouth, His miracles magnified the propagation (spreading, broadcasting) of what He taught and what He did amongst the Jews and Gentiles. These ripples continue today, and will continue their influence into the future. Two thousand years ago word-of-mouth is how information was transmitted from person to person. Now consider the power of today’s communication channels, how (and by whom) they are controlled, the core messaging that is disseminated, and how they will influence the ripple effect as last day events will instantaneously grab the attention of the masses. As darkness and division increases, it is likely the communication channels will increasingly portray the amazing newsworthy signs and wonders by false christs and prophets—including their declarations—in a manner that supports and aligns with the beast. Whereas, messaging that conflicts with the beast will be positioned with a caustic and negative spin. Messaging Intended To Divide and Destroy Here are examples of possible messaging (by false christs, false prophets, the beast, and media sources) that will be targeted to those who will follow the beast, are based upon lies, and will provide justification for Christian oppression. Jesus was just a man. Those who hope in Jesus are delusional. Christians are hypocrites, filled with hatred, and a scourge to society. Christians are in the way of returning a “normal life.” The influence of Christians must be stopped. Believe and follow the beast. The above messaging may be compared to what was used by Hitler to cause the murder of more than 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. This same satanic spirit that used Hitler, will also use the beast to divide the masses and murder the innocent—but he will be destroyed when Jesus returns. “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human means. And the vision of the evenings and mornings which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future.” Daniel 8:23- 26 Today: Truths Are Becoming Lies, Lies Are Becoming Truths It is important to understand Satan’s strength and power is based upon his ability to deceive and lie. God nor Satan forces people to do things against their will. As such, every sinful act that has occurred throughout time began as a willingness to believe a lie. Satan’s skill in deceptional lies was demonstrated in the garden; and has manifested itself throughout time via wars, murders, interpersonal strife, and whenever a decision is made to not obey the will of God. However, unlike the past, God will allow Satan to fully use his persuasive skills during the last days to separate the saved from the non- saved. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 Fables are defined as a fictitious narrative or statement. Today, we have seen a multitude of fictitious narratives (such as conspiracy theories) that have influenced the perceptions of many. Fictitious narratives are lies that have been propagated by various persons and media sources; and has resulted in a great division between those who believe the lies, and those who recognize the lies. This trend will worsen as those who have itching ears (those who prefer lies over truth) will actively seek sources that reinforce the fictitious narratives. Once a person believes a lie…it is very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to change their mind…even when they are provided with factual evidence of the lie. They will form “mental protective walls” and will “close the eyes and ears” to anything that does not support their delusions. Final Separation of the Wheat and Tares: The Mark Because of the eternal costs, the final separator of wheat from tares will occur when the mark of the beast is required to buy and sell (purchase food, pay for rent, buy gasoline, and survive). “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16-17 However, those who receive the mark are the tares who will be bound together in bundles for eternal burning in the lake of fire—where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’” Revelation 14:9-11 To fully understand the power of the beast’s mark to effectively segment—and visually identify—the wheat from the tares, take a moment and think about the emotions and thoughts of every person who will evaluate the significant costs of continuing to follow Jesus, as they ask themselves, “How will we survive if we are unable to buy and sell?” Tares (those who “look like” or profess to be Christian—but live to fulfill their flesh) will find it extremely difficult to overcome the compelling desire to accept the beast’s mark. Whereas Christians who seek Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind—will reject the mark, and step forward in complete faith and into the unknown that’s before them. The Coming of the Beast is Unstoppable All prophesies in the Bible will come true—including the beast—who will be used by God as a “tool” to separate the wheat from the tares. For those who think it may be possible to attack and kill the beast—to circumvent Satan’s objective—has a misunderstanding of who they are, and God’s objective. However, an attempt will be made. Scripture reveals one of the beast’s heads (himself, a country, a military stronghold, or some other entity controlled by the beast) will receive a mortal wound and will heal. This miraculous healing will be positioned to the masses as a sign and wonder of his authority. The messaging will declare they should follow and worship the beast—but worse—they should also worship Satan (the dragon who gives authority to the beast). “The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” Revelation 13:2-4 Conclusion Throughout time, God has used signs and wonders as a means to provide tangible evidence that validates His words as true. In addition, throughout time God has allowed Satan and his minions to use deceptional lies—but has not allowed the ability to use the persuasive power of signs and wonders. However, during the last days, God will allow unprecedented deception to occur via false christs and false prophets who will demonstrate great signs and wonders to separate and gather the saved from the non-saved. John the Baptist declared, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11-12 If you are like me…you may have an uncomfortable feeling deep in your stomach as you complete this lesson. The darkness of what’s ahead is mind boggling and gut wrenching. None of us likes to look into the future Tribulation and consider what will occur. The following scriptures will provide Christians who are living during this time of darkness with spiritual hope, spiritual insight, and spiritual strength to endure. Hold onto your faith! “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 Trust in our Savior who declared, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Luke 12:22-31 There will be no more pain, nor sorrow, nor tears, nor second death—for all of this will pass away. “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:1-8 Satan, the beast, and the souls of those who rejected truth will never die. But rather, they will spend eternity—along with death and hell—in the lake of fire. “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:10-15 For more information on last day indicators, read “21 Signs of the Last days.” May you be richly blessed as you prepare for the return of our Savior and Lord! H arold D. Thomas Bible Study Thought-Provoking Questions The purpose of the questions is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Bible, this Bible study topic, and ourselves. The questions may be answered by each reader, or used by a Bible study group leader or church pastor. The questions should be answered or discussed after reading “Signs and Wonders.” The following questions are designed to enhance learning via the determination of personal opinions and/or discovering how the lesson content illuminates our lives. As such, no answers are provided. Questions The lesson provided examples of possible messaging that will likely support Christian oppression. Imagine you are confronted by someone that speaks the following words to you. What would you say in response? Plus, can you identify at least 1 scriptural truth in the Bible that may be used as a response to each lie? Jesus was just a man. Those who hope in Jesus are delusional. Christians are hypocrites, filled with hatred, and a scourge to society. Christians are in the way of returning a “normal life.” The influence of Christians must be stopped. We must believe in and follow the beast. Consider the purpose and influence of the various signs and wonders God demonstrated through Moses, Jesus, the disciples, and will demonstrate through the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3-6). What degree of deceptional influence would false christs and false prophets have if they were not given the power to perform great signs and wonders (i.e. they are only given deceptional lies to declare). What type miracles do you think the false christs and prophets will use to deceive? The lesson states the best test to ascertain a false christ or false prophet is based upon whom they glorify. Do you agree or disagree? The Two Witnesses will be eventually killed by the beast, their dead bodies will lie in the street for 3 ½ days, they will be viewed by everyone on earth, and the doomed will celebrate their death. However, the Two Witnesses will come alive and ascend into heaven when a loud voice declares “Come up here.” A great earthquake will occur, a large portion of the city will fall, and many will be killed (Revelation 11:7-14) . Describe the impact of this sign and wonder upon the mindset and emotions of those who just celebrated the death of the Two Witnesses. Plus, how will believers in Jesus in respond? Revelation 11:9 states, “Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days.” o This prophetic scripture was written almost 2,000 years ago. Was it possible back then for peoples, tries, tongues, and nations (i.e. everyone on earth) to see their dead bodies? o What has changed that will enable the fulfillment of this last day prophecy? The lesson states the mark of the beast is the final “separator” of wheat from tares. Do you agree or disagree? Did you learn anything new, and do you now look at signs and wonders from a different perspective? You may download a PDF version of the questions by clicking on this button. C an you think of someone who may benefit from this lesson? If yes, CLICK HERE for more info.
The words of Jesus Christ are in red text.
The words of Jesus are in red text.
Introduction The State of Missouri in America is known as the “Show Me State.” Ronald Regan, the 40th President of the United States, often said, “Trust but verify!” Both Missouri’s slogan and Ronald Regan’s cautious approach represent our human tendency to be skeptical, and to not place our complete trust in what we see and hear until we have proof that what was declared or promised is true. It’s important to note that our God designed attribute of skepticism is a good thing because it can help us avoid harm. Without skepticism we would believe everything we are told—including lies. As such, throughout time, God has used various signs and wonders to overcome our skeptical nature. Akin to a “Certificate of Authenticity,” signs and wonders may be defined as miraculous manifestations of supernatural activity that are intended to: Provide tangible evidence that confirms: o Spiritual authority. o Truth of what was spoken. Magnify belief in whom is glorified. Many of us do not fully recognize the multitude of signs and wonders God has demonstrated throughout time—all with the intent of facilitating our belief in Him. However, during the last days, in Matthew 24:24, Jesus warned, “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” To separate the wheat from the tares (discussed later), God will allow Satan and his minions to perform great signs and wonders that will facilitate belief in the beast. As such, Jesus’s warning declares our need for spiritual discernment during these dark times. Therefore, to fully understand the deceptive power of Satan’s miracles, this lesson will begin by discussing the miracles God demonstrated through Moses, Jesus, and the disciples. Thereafter the lesson will explain how to identify and discern Satan’s deceptive signs and wonders by those who claim to be Christ and by false prophets. God’s Signs and Wonders Moses In Exodus chapters 3 and 4, God revealed Himself and spoke to Moses from the midst of a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire (a sign and wonder). This is when God declared His identity, and His intent to free the Jews from Pharaoh’s bondage through Moses. Our disbelief and skeptical nature was exemplified by Moses when he expressed his fear in confronting Pharaoh. God then gave Moses manifestations of supernatural power (in various forms) to provide tangible evidence to Pharaoh that the words spoken by Moses are divinely true. Exodus 4:21 states, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.’” Because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, the miracles become progressively worse. Listed in order (Exodus chapters 4-11), the signs and wonders God demonstrated to Pharoah (via Moses) included: The staff of Aaron (the brother of Moses) became a serpent when cast to the ground. Turned all life-sustaining water in Egypt into blood—making it undrinkable. 3 separate plagues: frogs, lice, flies. Death of livestock via pestilence. 4 additional plagues: boils, hail, locusts and darkness. Death of firstborn. What’s interesting is that Satan (via Pharaoh’s magicians) was able to replicate the first three miracles demonstrated by Moses to Pharoah. For example, the magicians were able to turn their own staffs into snakes. However, Aaron’s snake ate the magician’s snakes (Exodus 7:8-13). They were also able to mimic the plague of blood (Exodus 7:14-22), and horde of frogs (Exodus 8:1-7). However, Pharoah’s magicians were unable to replicate the remaining signs and wonders demonstrated by Moses. The last sign and wonder by Moses broke the will of Pharoah: God caused the death of all firstborn. While there is some disagreement if the firstborn included males and females, the common belief is that firstborn males died from the plague. But as a sign and wonder to the Hebrews, God told Moses and Aaron to instruct the Hebrews to take the blood of a sacrificed unblemished male lamb and put it on the left and right doorpost, and on the top of the door frame (Exodus 12:1-11). “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:12-13 Referred to as the Lord’s Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), this miraculous act of God is celebrated by the Israelites today during an annual weeklong celebration. Once free from Pharoah’s bondage, God demonstrated additional miracles through Moses to convince the Hebrews that the words spoken by Moses are divinely true. Some of these manifestations (Exodus chapters 14, 15, 17) included parting of the Red Sea (to provide a secure escape from Pharoah). God also provided food (Exodus 16:15) for the Hebrews. Manna miraculously appeared with the dew each morning—thereby providing their daily sustenance. In addition, to quench the thirst of the parched in the desert, Moses miraculously converted bitter waters into sweet, and released water from a rock. But what’s more, God guided the Hebrews through the desert by a pillar of cloud during the day, and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). God’s miracles were intended to increase their belief and trust in Him. Jesus Jesus described our weaknesses and need for tangible proofs—which explains why God has demonstrated miracles—and why Satan will be given power to perform last day signs and wonders. “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” Matthew 16:4 “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” John 4:48 Therefore, Jesus demonstrated many miracles as confirmation of His messianic authority, such as: Turning water into wine. John 2:1-12 Healing a nobleman’s son. John 4:46-54 Healing a paralytic man at the Pool of Bethesda. John 5:1-11 Feeding thousands. Matthew 14:15-21, 15:32-39 Walking on water. John 6:16-21 Healing a blind man. John 9:1-12 Raising Lazarus from the dead. John 11 In response to angry Jews who rejected His words and sought to stone Him, Jesus pointed to His signs and wonders (His works) as validation of who He is when He said to them, “Believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” John 10:38 Jesus demonstrated additional signs and wonders that reinforces His promise of eternal life to those who believe in Him. After Jesus rose from the dead He was first seen by Mary Magdalene, Peter, 2 disciples, the Apostles, and more than 500 brethren at once. (1 Corinthians 15:6-8). Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles, did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead after His crucifixion. Thomas said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25 Before Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, He stood in the midst of them and said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27 Note the core purpose of His signs and wonders when He spoke to the angry Jews and Thomas: BELIEVE! Disciples Jesus imparted power to His disciples to perform miracles while He was alive, and after he died and sat at the right hand of God in Heaven. In Matthew 10:5-8, Jesus sent His 12 apostles to preach to the house of Israel. He instructed them to declare, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” But before He sent them, Jesus gave them power to perform signs and wonders. In Matthew 10:1, Jesus “Gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” Imagine how the Israelites would have responded to His disciples if they were not given power to cast out demons and heal sicknesses. Their declared words would have been perceived as blasphemous and insane. However, divine miracles provided a “certificate of authenticity” that requires attention, analysis of what was said, and a decision in how to respond to the claims that were declared. This is why the false christs and false prophets will have the power to deceive via signs and wonders. After Jesus died and ascended, He continued to perform miracles through His disciples. “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” Mark 16:19-20 "And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” Acts 5:12-16 Satan’s Deceptive Signs and Wonders When asked what will occur during the last days, in Matthew chapter 24, Jesus described many last day signs. However, He added a specific indicator of unprecedented deception in verse 24: “False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Throughout time God has used signs and wonders as a means to confirm His authority, His truth, and to magnify belief in Him. However, during the last days God will allow Satan and his minions to use signs and wonders to deceive and separate those who will spend eternity in the lake of fire. These miracles will not be simple magic tricks. But rather, as Jesus said, “… great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” To reinforce the strong deceptive power of these great signs and wonders, Jesus adds to His warning that these miracles will be so compelling—if it was possible—they could even deceive God’s chosen. Visualize video images of these unprecedented miracles—each broadcasted numerous times across every conceivable communication medium across the globe—as the multitudes are deceived into believing what was declared is true. However, Jesus also said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28 Why Would God Allow Deceptional Signs and Wonders During the Last Days? Jesus gave us spiritual insight into the purpose last day deception. The Parable of the Wheat and Tares describes the final harvest via the separation of the wheat from the tares (weeds that look like wheat). “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30 “And His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered and said to them: ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” Matthew 13:37-43 “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 False Christs As darkness overcomes light during the last days, consider the hope in the return of Jesus by those who are living at this time. Consider their challenges in sharing the Gospel of Christ—and the truth of His imminent return—with those who are lost. Meanwhile, the activities of evil entities will seek to diminish and dilute the Gospel’s influence as many will declare they are the returned Jesus Christ. Jesus warned: “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. Matthew 24:5 Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:26 Three types of responses to false christs will occur. (1) Those who believe in what they declare are deceived and doomed. (2) Others (who are also deceived and doomed) will consider them delusional and subject to public ridicule—thereby providing additional justification to reject their faith in Christ, and dismiss Christian warnings. (3) Christians will realize they are witnessing fulfilled prophecy. False Prophets Jesus said, “Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” Matthew 24:11 A prophet is defined as a person who is regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God; one who speaks divinely inspired revelations. A false prophet is one who professes to be inspired, who claims to possess a new revelation, and will lead hearers into false doctrine. Demonic entities will cause persons (who will make prophetic declarations) to spread deceptive lies. These persons will be in the “public eye” and will receive media attention. Their words and actions will not be based upon God’s grace and truth, but will be intended to cause greater division between the saved and non- saved. As such, their words and behavior will throw fuel onto the fire of anger within the hearts of those who follow the beast. These false prophets will provide justification for increased oppression—and even execution—of Christians who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. But what’s more, this Satan-inspired hatred will be exponentially magnified by the beast when he declares Christians stand in the way of his plans to “fix” all that is wrong in the world. As the days become increasingly dark, Christians will explain the gospel to anyone who will listen, and will declare Jesus is coming soon. However, Jesus said regarding these times, “For there will be great tribulation, such as not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor shall ever be.” Matthew 24:21 “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.” Revelation 20:4 Take a moment and consider the degree of transitional darkness that will occur to reach the depths of this unimaginable human depravity. But in truth, it was not long ago that millions of Jews were murdered based upon the same lies and justifications—for the same evil spirits that influenced Hitler and the Nazis—will also drive the behavior of the beast and his followers. Indicators of a False Christ and False Prophet Satan is a masterful liar. Jesus declared, There is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44 Skilled liars will use a little truth within their lie. Skilled liars know a little truth (1) grabs attention, (2) breaks through protective mental barriers, (3) gains entry into their mindset, (4) enables insertion of the lie into the thought process so that it takes hold and germinates, and (5) skilled liars will repeat the lie until it becomes truth in the minds of the deceived. It is possible the false christs and false prophets will “package” their deceptive lies with a “holy portrayal” and scriptural references—lies that are reinforced as being true as they perform great signs and wonders. Meanwhile, the “germination of the lie” continues to take root within the masses as they use flawed rationalization to justify their belief in and compliance with what was said—because what they just witnessed is unexplainable and uncommon to man—and therefore must be true! God is allowing the final separation of the wheat from the tares for the harvest. “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 There are three primary means to identify if someone’s declaration is from Jesus or Satan: 1 . Are their declarations based upon God’s word? 2 . What is their Persona? 3 . Who is glorified? God’s Word It is imperative for every Christian to study and internalize Bible scripture to prepare for the last days. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25 For example, Jesus was very specific regarding false christs in Matthew 24:26. He instructed us to not seek nor believe anyone who declares they are the Christ. What’s more, Jesus declared how He will return to destroy the beast and his armies during the battle of Armageddon: “As lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west.” “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:26 The above and following scripture depicts the return of Jesus, and what He (and His armies) will do upon His return—which provides scriptural truth that dispels the lies of someone declaring they are Christ. “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.’ And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Revelation 19:11- 21 Persona A persona is commonly defined as a: Person’s character, nature or personality—that is different from their real or private character. Personal façade that one presents to the world. A combination of a person’s behavior and words they speak. Each of us can relate to an experience when we felt uncomfortable with someone. A degree of “uneasiness” rose within us because of the words that were spoken, mannerisms and/or behavior did not align with what they attempted to portray, and as our God-enabled attribute of discernment allowed us to see through their façade. Meanwhile, additional “red flags” of warning would arise within us as we continued to listen and watch, and our discomfort increased. Jesus said you will know them by their fruits (words, behavior, persona, etc.). “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:15-20 Because a false christ and false prophet are not filled with the Holy Spirit; the grace of God has not changed their heart; and the righteousness of God does not exist—they are under the bondage of darkness. As such, their persona will demonstrate consequences of sin—including telltale signs of anger, hatred, caustic words, disconnected mannerisms and behavior, and so forth—which indicates clandestine evil intent. However, it is important to understand that the false christs and prophets will be influenced by demonic spiritual entities who will possess skills of deception that far exceed the capabilities of humans. Even if the words they speak are based upon scripture, their persona displays righteousness, and it is difficult to ascertain truth—there is one final test: Who is glorified? Who Is Glorified? The purpose of using great signs and wonders by the false christs and prophets is to create a “Certificate of Authenticity” that will reinforce the validity and acceptance of their deception. Their objective is to direct the lost into believing and following the beast—and to reject Jesus Christ. Their miracles are not for entertainment. Therefore, after all is said and done…whom do they glorify…Jesus or the beast? “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.” Deuteronomy 13:1-3 For example, if one who claims to be Christ or false prophet actually heals a person of an infirmity, casts out a demon, or even brings a dead person back to life—and then uses the miracle to glorify the beast (i.e. follow and serve another “god”)—then stop listening and run away. Their attempt to glorify