Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Smallville and Satanic Counterfeiting

Most all of my favorite shows have come and gone - usually very quickly. The Unit - gone. Defying Gravity - gone. The longest running of my favorite shows was Smallville, which just ended its tenth and final season Friday night. It was awesome, and reminded me of truth that is so clear in Revelation - Satan mimics, poorly, God and his ways.

The main villain this season has been the sinister Darkseid. He's not a typical super villain - not a Lex or a ToyMaker or Mantis. He's darker, more evil, more supernatural. He isn't bent on money or power, but on corrupting humanity, destroying souls and eventually bringing Apokolips - his home planet that will destroy earth.

Interestingly, the finale was filled with biblical language and images - destroying the soul, Savior, Rapture (those who turned evil and followed Darkseid would be raptured away), light and darkness. There was even an unholy Trinity of Granny Goodness, Desaad, and Godfrey and a resurrection of Lionel Luther, now quickened by Darkseid - oh, and of Lex Luthor now powered by Lionel's exhumed heart. Good TV, but not that original. See the book of Revelation for a lot of the same stuff.

Satan mimics, counterfeits, God's work. The list of counterfeitting activities exposed in the book of Revelation is long (I'm indebted to Vern Poythress and his commentary
The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation for putting this major theme on display for me). Here's a short list:

- Satan (the Dragon) creates/calls forth the Beast, which by John's description is an almost exactly replica of the Dragon (compare 12:3ff and 13:1ff). What's going on here? Satan is mimicking God, creating in his grotesque image.

- The Beast becomes a 'son' of the Dragon, a counterfeit Christ.

- Satan also counterfeits the person and work of the Spirit through the person and ministry (false, obviously) of the False Prophet (identified in 16:13) who performs miracles (13:13), promotes worship of the Beast and exercises all authority on behalf of the Beast (13:12). Again, poor counterfeits. Whereas the Holy Spirit guides us into the truth (John 16:13), the False Prophet deceives (Rev. 13:14).

- These three together form an unholy, counterfeit trinity.

- Poythress really does a good job explicating how the Beast mimics Christ:
The Beast has ten crowns on his horns (13:1). In Rev. 19:12 Christ has “many crowns” on his head. The Beast has “blasphemous names” (13:1). Christ has worthy names (19:12, 13, 16). The Beast has great power (13:2). Christ has divine power and authority (12:5, 10). The Beast experiences a counterfeit resurrection. It seemed to have “a fatal wound,” but the wound was healed (13:3). The counterfeit character of the Beast is clear in this feature. The Beast did not actually die and come to life again. He did not experience an actual resurrection. But he had a wound that one would think should have led to his death. His recovery was marvelous and astonishing, so astonishing that it was a big factor in leading people to follow him. Just as the resurrection of Christ is the chief event that astonishes people and draws them to follow Christ (John 12:32), so here this counterfeit miracle, a counterfeit resurrection, leads to following the Beast. The Beast receives worship (13:4); Christ receives worship (5:8-10). The worshipers offer a song of praise to the Beast, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” (13:4). This song blasphemously counterfeits the song offered to God at the exodus, “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exod. 15:11). The Beast has a seal that is put on his followers (13:16). In parallel fashion Christ seals his followers with the seal of his name on their foreheads (14:1). At the last day people from all nations will worship Christ (5:9), and he will exercise his authority over all. Meanwhile, the Beast “was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation” (13:7).
- Lastly, at least for this post, Satan counterfeits God's people. In Revelation and elsewhere, the church is portrayed as Christ's bride, pure and holy. The counterfeit image of the bride is the prostitute of Rev. 17-18. Satan's whore is impure and unholy, corrupt and immoral, representing his false worshipers.

I'll allow Poythress to bring it home with some good application:

The fact that Satan engages in counterfeiting helps us to understand and prepare for the spiritual war. Counterfeiting implies both danger and hope. The danger lies in the fact that Satan may fool people. The counterfeit is close enough to the truth to suck people into its grip.

But hope lies in the fact that Satan and his cohorts will surely be defeated. In fact, their defeat is implied in the facts about who they are. Satan aspires to be god. But he cannot succeed. He is not the creator or originator, but only an imitator. He is constantly dependent on God. Similarly, the Beast is bestial, subhuman, and his kingdom must submit to the kingdom of the Man, the last Adam.

Revelation also gives us a key for escaping Satan’s deceit. Though Satan continues to deceive the world, Revelation unmasks his devices in order to arm us to resist him. The world is in awe of the Beast and willingly worships him (13:3-4, 7). But when our eyes are enlightened by Revelation, we see how hideous he is. We may still be tempted to fear him because he looks so powerful. But, having seen him for what he is, can we honestly want to have him as our master?

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