In 2007, one of the most captivating displays of raw talent ever seen was aired on the primetime hit "America's Got Talent" in the voice of Terry Fator. Terry is ventriloquist, now residing in Las Vegas, where he signed a contract worth a reported $100 million to be the headliner at the Mirage Casino. He rose to fame after winning "American's Got Talent" with his turtle puppet singing a rendition of Roy Orbison's "Crying," a song which is not easy to perform even when you can move your lips!
I have always been fascinated by ventriloquists, most likely because I've never been able to throw my voice. Although I've tried my hand at ventriloquism, my lips inevitably manage to move and I sound more like a grunting gorilla than a seasoned entertainer. So much for my Vaudeville career.
In our text for today from Revelation 13, we are introduced to a strange character: "Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb" (verse 11). Throughout John's vision in Revelation, the image of a lamb has served to refer to Christ, "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). But this lamb seems to be of a different, if not even of a sinister, sort. And indeed he is. For John continues, "He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon" (verse 11). Satan, it seems, is trying to play the part of the Lamb of God. He "performs great and miraculous signs" (verse 12) and even dresses himself up like Christ. But Satan is not a very good ventriloquist. He may look like Christ, but he can never sound like Christ. For the lies and blasphemies that Satan utters can never sound like the truth and grace that Christ declares.
Jesus warns his disciples, "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible" (Matthew 24:24). John's vision in Revelation 13 is the fulfillment of Christ's prophecy in Matthew 24. And Christ warns that these false christs - these demons who look like lambs, but in reality are dragons - will try deceive even the elect saints of God.
How are we to keep ourselves from being deceived by such deluding demons? By listening to what they say. For although Satan may be able to fake Christ's appearance, he can never fake Christ's voice. As Jesus himself promises, "My followers will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice" (John 10:5).
Sadly, there are many false teachers in the world today. And, just as Jesus and John warn us, they teach untruths and half-truths about Christ and his gospel. Some teach that all paths lead to God rather than the path of Christ alone. Others teach that if you just have enough faith in God, you will no longer have troubles or trials of any kind. Still others teach trumped up doomsday versions of the apocalypse and the end of the world, meant to strike fear rather than to engender faith into the hearts of those who hear them. These are all false teachings. For these all contradict what the Lamb of God says in his Word. And no matter how lamb-like these teachers may look, it's what they say that counts.
Are you following the voice of the Lamb of God alone, or dissenting voices that do not parrot the voice of Christ? As Christians, we are called to listen and to learn from the voice of the Lamb of God alone. This is why we are to read the Scriptures. This is why we are to pray. This is why we are to receive wise counsel from trusted Christian friends. So that we never get taken in by a counterfeit Christ. And, by God's grace, we won't. For by God's grace, we know the Lamb's voice. My prayer is that you hear, follow, and obey his voice today.