Unlike the holy Trinity, the unholy Trinity of Satan cannot create, but can only counterfeit the true Trinity in order to bring evil instead of good, and to persecute and deceive believers.
It is helpful in in understanding these “visions of conflict,” to see how the members of the unholy trinity are identified and what they do. The dragon is Satan, who in the 1st verse of Revelation 13 looks out over the sea, over the Gentile world, to see how he can bring harm. He is the counterfeit of God the Father, but instead of creating good, he originates evil.
His human helpers are the beast of the sea (government) and the beast of the earth (false religion). When they align against believers, we can suspect the dragon behind them. False religion, which includes counterfeit Christianity, is also called the false prophet later in Revelation. Here is one chart to show the unholy Trinity and their roles.
In Revelation 12 we saw the dragon pursuing the woman (Christ and His seed). Now as the visions continue to unfold, we see how the dragon executes his evil plan.
- the dragon (Satan) originates the plan
- the beast from the sea (human governors) execute the plan
- the beast from the land or the false prophet (false religion or the counterfeit church) spreads lies.
We can see this unholy Trinity repeating this pattern throughout history, as early as the Greek leader Antiochus Epiphanes who demanded universal worship of himself and sacrificed a pig on the altar.
But after Christ’s resurrection, the dragon’s rage increases, for he sees his time is short. The pattern keeps repeating both in time and in pockets throughout the world and will continue until Christ’s return.
It helps me to put historical pictures to this, where I suspect, both because of the madness and atrocities, and also because I see the government and the false church aligning, that the dragon is behind it all. These are just three illustrations from the last century.
Nazi Germany: Inspired I believe, by the dragon, Hitler and his leaders got the worship of the people, and also began a false “German Church,” aligning the “beast” and the “false prophet.” (In the biography Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxis tells how Hitler’s German church proclaimed that the Bible said the Jews were an inferior race and used Jesus’ words against the Pharisees as evidence.) Just as the early Christians thought Nero might be the anti-Christ, many believers during World War II thought Hitler the anti-Christ. Each time they thought that must mean the return of Christ was near, as they didn’t realize this pattern would keep repeating over both time and geography.
The last 60 years in North Korea: Inspired, I believe, by the dragon, the family line of Kim Jong-un demands the worship of North Koreans. Huge pictures of his father and himself are in every home and there are stories of North Koreans risking or even giving their lives to save these portraits in a fire. This false government and religion spreads lies about North Korea being a utopia and Kim Jong-un being a wonderful cherished leader and even of supernatural origin. North Koreans are isolated and lied to without any access to news from the outside world. Christians are particularly persecuted, and Bibles are banned. People are starving, hundreds of thousands are in cruel labor camps, and conditions are primitive. (I recommend Escape from North Korea by Melanie Kirkpatrick.)
The LGBT+ Agenda in the World: Inspired, I believe, by the dragon, governments and deceived and nominal Christians have aligned in an attack against God’s plan for marriage and the family. (I recommend Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill.) You may think this is a stretch as an example, so feel free to say why!
(I was unable to upload a word document but will keep trying!)
Sunday: Getting Started
Today is the first Sunday in Advent. I pray for us all to stay close to our Lord. J. I. Packer says the Incarntion is the most important truth — for if God became flesh, then the miracles and the resurrection are not hard to believe!
- As you reflect on this Thanksgiving weekend, for what are you particularly thankful in regard to moments with God or with loved ones; anything new God taught you that is helpful, or something else?
- After reading the opening, can you explain the three parts of the unholy trinity, whom they counterfeit, and what they do?
- Comment on the opening and the three examples of “the unholy Trinity” from the last century. Do you agree or disagree and why? Can you give another example of the government and the false church aligning to persecute the true Church, those who are “in Christ?”
Monday: Introducing The Second Vision of Conflict
4. Last week we saw the first vision of conflict in the dragon. Whom does he counterfeit? How is he portrayed in Revelation 13:1 and what do you think this picture communicates?
5. Read Revelation 13:1-10 as an overview of the 2nd member of the unholy Trinity.
A. According to verse 2, where does he come out of and who gives him his power?
B. How do you see him counterfeiting Christ in verse 3?
C. How does the world respond to him according to verse 4?
D. What does he use his mouth for according to verses 5- 6?
E. What power is he given according to verse 7?
F. What are true believers told concerning this in verses 8-10?
Tuesday: Corrupt Government
Prepare your heart today by praising the true Christ, whom the beast of the sea attempts to counterfeit:
6. In Mystery Explained, under “Revelation 13:1-10: SECOND VISION: BEAST FROM THE SEA read up to “John now sees a strange sight.” (Underline or highlight as you read.)
A. What Old Testament prophet first gave us the vision of the four beasts?
B. What do the ten diadems represent?
C. What does Campbell think the blasphemous names represent? Can you think of any world leaders who claim Deity as Christ claimed Deity?
D. How does the false beast corrupt God’s plan for government?
E. Why does Campbell think the horns and diadems show this is not limited to a few leaders?
F. Campbell says that not all governments are evil, but all are influenced by the false beast to persecute believers? Wherever you live, how have you experienced this?
G. How does Campbell contrast the diadems and crowns of Christ and what does this mean?
Wednesday: The Mortal Wound
In this section I kept remembering Paige Brown’s illustration of her bringing her tonsils in a jar to kindergarten show and tell and how the teacher threw up. She was illustrating how the devil thought he had won by inflicting a mortal wound on Jesus, but when He rose from the dead, the devil threw up!
7. Read again Revelation 13:3 and summarize what happens.
8. Read Dr. Campbell under “John now sees a strange sight” up to “the lost multitudes are deceived.”
A. How does Campbell support his belief that the mortal wound was given by the hand of God, rather than Satan?
B. How should this encourage us?
C. When Satan failed with Christ, he went after His followers. Campbell believes the “forty-two months” is symbolic, representing the church age. Satan can attack us physically, but not spiritually. What parallels does Campbell see between the wound that happened to Christ and the wound the beast will inflict on true believers, the Church?
D. Why does Campbell caution against identifying one particular nation or government as this false beast?
There is so much to reflect on in this, and I know every generation has seen governments persecuting the true Church in various ways. I know we cannot know, for example, if Covid is germ warfare from a government, but I do see how Satan has used it to persecute believers, dividing them, diminishing their attendance at church, and discouraging them. And the world thinks they are winning — and soon the church will be no more, that we, indeed, have been dealt a fatal wound! And they cheer!
9. In order to stand firm and be a force for good, instead of helping the counterfeit Trinity:
A. How do you think God would have you respond to believers with whom you disagree on masks or vaccinations?
B. How are you continuing with Christian fellowship despite the obstacles?
C. Why should you not be discouraged?
Thursday: Warfare Continues Under God’s Sovereignty
10. Read on in Mystery Explained from “The Lost Multitudes are Deceived” to “The warfare during the Church age continues…”
A. Who allows the demon to utter blasphemies?
B. How long is he permitted to do this?
11. Read and then summarize Revelation 13:6-8.
12. Read from “The warfare continues” to “Believers are now Exhorted”
A. Who is in control?
B. What do you learn about the “Book of Life?”
Friday: Perseverance of the Saints in Suffering
13. Read Revelation 13:9-10 and summarize it.
14. Continue reading in Mystery Explained up to 13:11-18 Third Vision
A. What shocking pictures are in these verses and what is their purpose?
B. What must we do as we face trial, persecution, and even death?
15. I know this is controversial, but I must ask. If this is all true, what is the danger of the teaching that assumes believers will be spared from all this?
16. What is your take-a-way and why?
Tomorrow The Gospel Coalition airs an Advent Musical Special — last year’s was wonderful!