Is it possible that the whole world could be deceived by miracles? That is exactly what the book of Revelation predicts will happen in the last days of this world’s history. There is only one class of people who will not be deceived and this class does not include the scientists or the philosophers. When Jesus spoke about the last days as recorded in Luke 21, He said there would be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.
The book of Daniel predicts a time of trouble that will come on the world as never before. Daniel 12:1 says, “At that time Michael shall stand up, the Great Prince Who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.”
This same period of time is anticipated in Revelation 12:12: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
“Fearful are the scenes which call forth this exclamation from the heavenly voice. The wrath of Satan [spoken of throughout the Bible] increases as his time grows short, and his work of deceit and destruction reaches its culmination in the time of trouble [described in Daniel 12:1].” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 441.
“Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons.” Ibid. The Scriptures plainly predict in Revelation 16 that demons will go out to fasten all the world in deception to join Satan in his last battle against the government of heaven. This event is described in Revelation 16:13, 14: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” These spirits of demons are going to go out to the whole world, especially the leaders of the governments of the world, to gather them all to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. These “unclean spirits” will deceive the whole world by performing signs, that is, miracles. The most intelligent, the most highly educated, those in government and commerce, the leaders of our world, will almost, without exception, be deceived.
In Revelation 18:23, last part, it says, “By your sorcery all the nations were deceived.” This text emphatically says “all nations” will be deceived. Revelation 13 describes how some of these signs or miracles will be worked out. “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” Revelation 13:13, 14.
When this event transpires, the whole world is going to be involved in this deception.
The purpose of these deceptions is to lead the whole world into uniting with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. Remember, these are deceptive spirits. Jesus said that the devil was a liar and the father of lies. He said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because 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. The people who are deceived by this deception will not think that they are following the devil and going to war against the God of heaven. They will think that they are worshiping Christ. They will believe that they are following Christ and exalting Him and that they are involved in the greatest religious revival, and having the greatest religious experience that they have ever had.
But as the apostle Paul cautioned the Corinthians, “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it.” II Corinthians 11:4. Some may think they have the Holy Spirit, but in reality it is another. These are the people that Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:21–23 that will be so sure they are saved that they will actually get into an argument with the Lord when He comes and try to convince Him that He is mistaken, that they know they are saved. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ ” Matthew 7:21, 22.
These people are not atheists; they are not infidels. They are Christians. These are people who call Jesus, Lord. Jesus is talking here especially about the Christian world, those that live in Christian nations, in Christian communities, in Christian families, and who call themselves Christians. They go to church. He is speaking of those who say, “I have received the Holy Spirit. I have been working miracles in Christ’s name.” These people have been working miracles in His name, but they did not know that the spirit motivating them was not the Holy Spirit. It was as the apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 11:4, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” KJV
Notice what Jesus said He will say to them in Matthew 7:23: “Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Tragically, although they think that they are saved, they have been under such a grand deception that they thought they had the Holy Spirit. They believed that the miracles they had worked were by the power of Christ, but find out too late that it was a different spirit. They thought they were the loyal children of God and called Jesus, Lord, but He will say to them, “I don’t know you. I have never known you. You did not have My Spirit. You had a different spirit. You are not loyal citizens of My government.”
There must be a way of knowing for sure which spirit controls us. A loyal citizen of any country keeps the laws of that government. A loyal citizen of God’s kingdom keeps the commandments of His kingdom. Notice that Jesus will say to many Christians: “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
The book of Revelation describes a mammoth, worldwide deception that will affect almost the whole world. It says, “The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of the bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.” Revelation 18:23. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:13, 14. And in Revelation 13:13, 14, it says, “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs [the means of those miracles, KJV] which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” The majority will be deceived; kings and the leaders of the governments of the whole world and the common people, because of the great signs and miracles that are manifested.
Jesus repeatedly spoke about the last days, warning His disciples to be careful that nobody deceives them. He said, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24.
Persons are going to arise in the future who will claim to be Christ Himself, claiming the title and the worship which is due only to the world’s Redeemer. These imposters will perform miracles. The deception will be so great that Jesus said if it were possible, even the elect, His chosen ones, would be deceived. The only way to be protected from the deceptions that are coming on this world is through the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are one of God’s elect and you are reading and studying His word and following your Bible so that you listen and apply what the Bible says, in spite of what you see and hear, then there is safety.
These false christs are going to perform not just regular signs and wonders, but they are going to perform miracles of healing. There are millions of Christians worldwide who will assume that it is by God’s power that these miraculous healings are occurring. That is one of the ways the devil will succeed in deceiving the whole world when he comes. Through these false christs and false prophets great miracles of healing will be performed. Once they have established trust, these same imposters will profess to have revelations from heaven that contradict the testimony of the Scriptures.
O, friend, study your Bible like never before. Do you know what the Scriptures say? Can you determine the truth from error if a preacher, teacher, priest, or religious leader comes and tells you something that is directly contrary to the word of God? Will you recognize truth from error?
Eventually these false teachers and miracle workers are going to be superseded by a deception that will be almost overwhelming to the whole world. “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” II Corinthians 11:14. The devil can transform himself into an angel of light so that he appears as a heavenly being and thereby deceives people. “As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will impersonate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation (Revelation 1:13–15). The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air. ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming His name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion. Like the Samaritans who were deceived by Simon Magus, the multitudes, from the least to the greatest, give heed to these sorceries, saying: This is ‘the great power of God’ (Acts 8:10).
“But, the people of God will not be misled. The teachings of this false christ are not in accordance with the Scriptures. His blessing is pronounced upon the worshipers of the beast and his image, the very class upon whom the Bible declares that God’s unmingled wrath shall be poured out.” The Great Controversy, 624, 625.
There will be a small group of people who have studied their Bibles and will not be deceived. They know that this coming of Satan is a counterfeit and is not in the manner of Christ’s second advent and that the blessing Satan pronounces as he impersonates Christ is not according to the Scriptures. Therefore they know that he is a false Christ.
Jesus clearly foretold the manner of His coming and strictly warned His people against deception on this point. He said, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. 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 24:24–27.
The second coming of Christ will be an event that is witnessed by the entire world. “Behold He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7. The apostle Paul, talking about the second coming of Christ said, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” I Thessalonians 4:16.
When Jesus comes, the dead will be raised. All of His children from all over the world, from all lands and from all ages, will be raised up. Then, this united company, the raised dead and those that are still alive who are followers of Christ in the world, will be lifted up off the earth into a cloud. That cannot be counterfeited. The devil does not have the ability to raise all the dead people in the world at one time. The second coming of Christ will not be something that you will see on television where Christ is in Jerusalem, or Rome, or Paris, or Africa, or some other place.
We have been warned of this deception by false christs showing great signs and miracles with their hypnotizing influence on the world. Paul said, “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.” II Thessalonians 2:9–12.
Everybody who does not receive the love of the truth will be deceived. Those who have pleasure in unrighteousness will be sent a strong delusion and they will believe the lie. Do you love truth and will you be able to detect the deceiver in his disguise? The decisions you make today will determine your future tomorrow.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.