Scripture indicates that the Beast who attains worldwide worship (Rev. Rev. 13:8+) opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2Th. 2Th. 2:4). But there is a catchthe Beast is not God. In particular, he lacks Gods unique attribute of omnipresence. So as long as he himself remains sitting in the Temple, he is unable to venture forth on the various campaigns which are associated with his activities at the time of the end. This seems to be the motivation behind the instructions by the False Prophet that the earth dwellers should make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived [#1-#19] (Rev. Rev. 13:14+b). Having established the image, the False Prophet is granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed [#18-#19] (Rev. Rev. 13:15+ cf. Rev. 14:9+). This is perhaps one of the most remarkable statements in all of Scripture as it appears that the False Prophet is allowed, by the sovereignty of Gods permissive control of evil, to give the image life. Although we cant be sure, it seems reasonable to think that one purpose of the image is to continue to occupy the holy place within the Temple allowing the Beast to venture forth to attend to his many responsibilitiesleaving an icon present as the focal point of worship. Notice that both the Beast and his image are the objects of worship (Rev. Rev. 13:15+; Rev. 19:20+). Those who refuse to worship the image are killed [#19-#20]! Although the man of sin himself first sits in the Temple (2Th. 2Th. 2:3-4), Jesus infers that something inanimate is set up in the holy place: Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place. . . (Mtt. Mat. 24:15). The abomination in this verse is not a person (masculine or feminine) but a thing (neuter). Perhaps it is the image of the Beast?1 It is impossible to know for certain. Yet, this would help explain one purpose of the image of the Beast. Following the judgments of the sixth trumpet the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols . . . [emphasis added] (Rev. Rev. 9:20+). Interestingly, the image of the Beast is the ultimate work of their hands since the False Prophet deceives those who dwell on the earth . . . to make an image to the beast (Rev. Rev. 13:14+). Thus, they themselves make the ultimate idol (icon) of their own worship! The image of the Beast is typified by Nebuchadnezzars gold image which his subjects were required to worship on penalty of death:
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, Is it true, . . . that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? . . . if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands? (Dan. Dan. 3:14-15)
In the same way that Nebuchadnezzars image received worship on his behalf, so will the image of the beast receive worship together with the Beast himself. See Tribulation Temple. See commentary on Revelation 13:14. See Symbols of Kingdoms.
1 The gender of the words used is not a foolproof means of determining the nature of the image because the gender of words does not always match their object. For example, although Jesus says to watch for the abomination (neuter), that which the earth dwellers make is an image (feminine) of the Beast (neuter). Still, Jesus words imply that an object rather than a person will stand in the holy place.