It [the second monster or beast] performs great signs, so that it even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of the people, and it deceives the people who live on earth by the signs which it has been allowed to perform in front of the monster, instructing the earth’s inhabitants to make an image of the monster who had the sword-wound but was alive.
~New Testament For Everyone
One thing we have not discussed in our look at Revelation so far, is the fact that it contains so many allusions to the Old Testament. If you don’t have decent handle on the OT, then Revelation can be even more confusing.
That the monster performs great signs shows that he is a Satanic counterfeit of the prophet Moses, who also performed great signs (Exodus 4:17, 30; 10:2). That this monster makes fire come down shows him to be a counterfeit to the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:38-39; 2 Kings 1:10-14).
From G.K. Beale’s commentary:
The allusions to Moses and Elijah cannot be accidental, given the same allusions to the two witnesses in 11:3-12, who, taken together, represent the church (cf. Luke 9:54)….The second beast is a counterfeit of the church and the Spirit who empowers and indwells it.
Jesus of course predicted this: “False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
We also see this predicted in Daniel (11:30-39), a book revelation alludes to a lot.
Here is the take-away by G.K. Beale that I found so piercing:
When purported Christian teachers take their primary cues from the surrounding culture instead of from God’s word, they corrupt the covenant community spiritually by encouraging it to live by norms and a faith that ultimately oppose the reign of God and Christ.