THE LIE goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when the serpent (Satan) lied to Eve.
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
Eve, and then Adam, ate the forbidden fruit and instantly knew good and evil; their consciences exploded with the shame of depravity and unrighteous. Instantly they died spiritually, and death came to their physical bodies many years later. They had become very unlike God—no longer in His likeness!
When the children of Israel came out of Egypt and entered the Promised Land, Satan’s religion was waiting for them. It flourished under the names of Baal and Ashtoreth (Judges 2:11-13). This form of idolatry continued throughout the history of the nation, climaxing in the days of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31-33).
The women of Judah worshiped the Queen of Heaven and this particular idolatry is a primary reason for the seventy-year captivity (Jeremiah 7:16-19; 44:15-30; Ezekiel 8:14-18). Ironically, God removed His people to the very source of their idolatry, Babylon.
This mystery religion is Satan’s counterfeit for the real thing. It deceived people for thousands of years and it will again. Semiramis is the prototype of the “Woman” of Revelation 17:5.
It is of the system of iniquity of Mystery Babylon that Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:7:
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
Possibly, the Holy Spirit in the Church is the one who presently holds back this religion (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Once the Church is raptured, Mystery Babylon will take root as it has never taken root before under the False Prophet of the end times. He will point to the Beast, the Antichrist, as its king and god.
The rise of Satan’s counterfeit king will be spectacular and convincing according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12:
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
Satan will have notorious success since he tries to counterfeit everything God is and does.
Once the Antichrist has gained control of the world and established himself as Messiah of the Jews, Satan will be but one-step away from his goal. With his one world government and one world religion blended together, the stage will be set for his final move. His goal will be so close he can taste it—getting the world to worship him as God.
In the long history of mankind, however, there will be only one truly universal world empire, called “the kingdom of the world.” Revelation 11:15 predicts:
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
The last of the world kingdoms will be achieved by superhuman means at the hand of Satan’s own ruler, the Antichrist, whose brief span of world dominion will be definitely limited by God to exactly 1,260 days. This final empire will not be achieved without Divine sanction; for the Antichrist’s universal authority will be given from above according to Revelation 13:7:
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
Satan’s super-church will be short-lived. There are three things, which a super-church will do for Satan— unify Europe, bring him to power, and declare him “God.” Once that has been done, the church will be of no further use to him.
IN THE SPIRIT (17:3) for the third time, John is carried into a desert, a desolate wasteland, which is appropriate for this vision. False religion is a desert! It offers nothing to quench spiritual thirst.