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 13:14 NKJV)

To understand this image, it’s good to understand who the two beasts are. You can review that study for better understanding and clarity of this study.

What is this image, that the second empire will cause the people to build? First, we must understand that these things, in prophecy, are symbolisms of a something. Once we understand that they are symbols, we can better understand what is going on.

Many people believe there is going to be a literal physical image built that all the people of the world will worship. I have two questions about this thought process. First, if an image was built in, say, America, how will people in China bow? Second, we see that John was careful to tell us that the second empire will DECEIVE the people of the Earth, through signs and wonders, and that will cause the people to make the image (The KJV says they SHOULD make an image). This is far different than the verb John used for the fire, which has the second empire MAKING fire come from Heaven, which is a forcing. Since the second beast is not forcing a worship of this image, what one idol would the Christians, Buddhist, Muslims, Atheist, Hindu’s, and the likes all freely worship? This is key to understanding this image.

Let’s look at what an image is for just a moment. Most have this picture of something like a statue that looks like a man; but, if I were to say, “your ruining my image”, that does not mean you are actually writing on my face. Besides a literal image, the image is also defined as a simile or metaphor, or the general impression that a person, organization, or product presents to the public. It is this definition that is used in Revelation.

There are many idols in the contemporary culture. We have movies and actors; sports, sports teams, and players; motorcycles, cars, and racing; among many other things. None of these are really a tangible idol, but they are an idol just the same. If we see someone dress like Elvis, and we do often in Memphis and Vegas, this person is worshiping the image of Elvis; even though they may not have an actual image they are bowing to. Paul tells us that Israel was worshiping idolatry by eating, drinking, and getting up to play.

And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play
(1 Corinthians 10:7 NKJV)

In verse 15, we see the first empire gives the second empire authority to bring this image to life; which, understanding this is symbolism here, this would mean to bring this image to reality.

So, we have the question of the day... what one idol would all religions be willing to freely worship? When presented like this, it all of a sudden becomes simpler and most people get it... money. We are warned over and over, from Old Testament to New, that money is an idol and we can not serve both. We are told to not horde up, give to the poor, give up all for Christ, do not love the things of this world, and the likes.

So, the second empire will build, by authority of the first empire, an economy that is based on materialism and money, and the whole world will worship it. It will get to the point that if you do not worship this system, you will not be able to afford to have the abundance of technology and you will not be able to eat; thus you will die. Anyone who does not embrace this idol, the system will watch as they die, not trying to help because the people refuse the system.

Remember that all prophecy is a warning with consequences based on our decisions from the warning. Revelation is giving us the comparison between the church that is the light of the world, in Revelation 12, and the church that is materialistic in Revelation 17. It’s a warning to those who are a peculiar people of God versus those who look very similar to non-believers in the world. Revelation is not a warning to the non-believer, it’s a warning to a church that is strayed from putting God first and worships the things of this world. This idol of wealth and material things will hit the mainstream church teachings, and those in the church will seek after God only for what God may provide them with the things of this world. They will count their riches as blessings, as warned in the church of Laodicea, and will not help people in need, or at least give the very least of what is needed to make themselves feel better about their abundance.

This really cannot be hard to understand. Look at the technology of today, the materialism, the church, and the way the world desires this life. The further we move into it, the more dependent we are becoming upon it. I drive a truck and we are now having brokers who will not give us a load unless I have a cell phone. We are becoming more and more dependent upon smartphones and computers. Biometric scanning is becoming more prevalent, and even some of the new smartphones cannot be accessed without a fingerprint scan. If anything were to happen to our technology in this world, we would surely fall. It is not the technology that is the image, its the money, and the money needed for the technology, and soon it will be such that one will not be able to live without being plugged into the system. If I were to stick to only my flip phone, there are many things I would miss out on. That will bring many to the technology, they are missing out. Others will come when they can not survive without it.

When we understand that money, and the material world, is the ONLY idol that all would, and do worship, it changes everything on the way we are looking at the picture of Revelation; and the beast, the timing of the end days, and the warnings of Revelation prophecy come to life.