Daniel 9:26-27 - According to the prophecy of Daniel, Jesus, Israel's Messiah, would die for the sins of the world (1 Jn. 2:2), and then the Roman Empire would destroy the Temple and Jerusalem (Mt. 24:1-2). Then, at some point in the distant future, a leader, a descendent of the Roman Empire, will come to power, and he will offer his protection to Israel for seven years. However, after half that period [forty-two months (Rev. 11:2); or 1260 days (Rev. 11:3); or a time - times - and half a time (Rev. 12:14)], he will break the covenant, and will attempt to destroy Israel (see Mt. 24:15-29). The Beast, as he will be called, is described by the Apostle John:
"Then I saw a beast rising up out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns, with ten crowns on its horns. And written on each head were names that blasphemed God. This beast looked like a leopard, but it had the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion! And the dragon gave the beast his own power and throne and great authority. I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast. They worshiped the dragon for giving the beast such power, and they also worshiped the beast. "Who is as great as the beast?" they exclaimed. "Who is able to fight against him?" Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering His name and His dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation" (Rev. 13:1-7 NLT).
John then described the "enforcer" for the first beast; he wrote:
"Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching. And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world. He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die. He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666" (Rev. 13:11-18 NLT).
There is good news, however, because born again believers, genuine Christians, will not be here on earth when this all takes place (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:50-55; 1 Th. 4:16-17; Rev. 4:1)! For those of us who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we will be safe with Jesus in heaven! The bad news is, the vast majority of human beings are not born again, and sadly, that includes many "faithful church-goers!" If you have never trusted in the Jesus of the Bible, today may be your last opportunity - don't wait! Trust Him, not only for what He did for you on the cross, but for what He wants to do for you in this life, and the life to come!