And those who bow down on the housetops to the host of heaven, And those who bow down and swear to the LORD and yet swear by Milcom, and those who have turned back from following the LORD, And those who have not sought the LORD or inquired of Him.
Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests.
Then it will come about on the day of the LORD’S sacrifice That I will punish the princes, the king’s sons And all who clothe themselves with foreign garments.
And I will punish on that day all who leap on the temple threshold, Who fill the house of their lord with violence and deceit.
“On that day,” declares the LORD, “There will be the sound of a cry from the Fish Gate, A wail from the Second Quarter, And a loud crash from the hills.
“Wail, O inhabitants of the Mortar, for all the people of Canaan will be silenced; All who weigh out silver will be cut off.
“It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good or evil!’
“Moreover, their wealth will become plunder and their houses desolate; Yes, they will build houses but not inhabit them, and plant vineyards but not drink their wine.”
Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly.
A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness,
A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers.
I will bring distress on men So that they will walk like the blind, Because they have sinned against the LORD; And their blood will be poured out like dust And their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD’S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Yes: we need another opinion regarding the mark of the beast.
But I suspect you’ll find this one a bit more palatable. I will not be talking about barcodes, RFID chips, or any other such elementary things. Instead, we’ll leave those details to the ones who don’t do much beyond converting surface material into foundations, who look for present-day evidence for clues to what might be coming in the future.
I’m going to take a more historical view of the material.
Where does the idea come from?
It comes from the book of Revelation; written by John in the first century.
Who Was it Written To?
That’s an easy answer:
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
Revelation 1:4 NASB
Who Were the People of the Seven Churches of Asia?
That’s a bit more difficult to answer, but let’s consider who they were not.
They were not people who had a copy of the New Testament as we know it today.
Their Bible was the Hebrew Bible, or what we commonly refer to today as the Old Testament. While that seems self-evident, it’s an important detail widely overlooked by those who would create eschatological interpretations of the Book of Revelation. It’s why you hear more about the physical characteristics of the Mark of the Beast than what the Seven Churches would have understood it to be.
What does the Book of Revelation say about the mark?
And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause all who do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
No, you shouldn’t. You should be looking for something else. The language of the letters and the book of Revelation is specific to the context and culture of the Seven Churches – specifically, the people of that era.
Due to who they were, when they lived, and the context of their scriptures, the assemblies of the Seven Churches of Asia would have understood things differently from us regarding ornaments of the right hand and the forehead.
What’s Special about the Right Hand and the Forehead?
What’s notable is that God commanded a particular behavior of Israel.
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
If we break it down a little further, we see that the ideas of God are to be in our hearts. We must teach them to our sons and daughters. We talk about His ideas when we are at rest, traveling, and throughout the day.
If His ideas are so often on our minds and part of our everyday conversation, then it quickly follows that we’re using God’s ideas as a foundation for our lives to varying degrees. As such, we have His word on our minds; we have His word as a guide to the works of our hands. His word begins to develop our worldview; it affects how we think, act, and converse.
We see this example in James:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
An Outward Representation, A Reminder of Inward Position
God said His word was to be bound to our hand and our foreheads “as a sign.” The literal act of binding these scriptures to our bodies is not what affects change. The change has already been effected in our hearts, so the visible bindings are outward representations of who we are, what we are made of internally.
In today’s vernacular, it is similar to inviting all of your unchurched friends to your baptism. It’s like inviting those same people to your house for Bible Study. It’s the explanation why we’re no longer interested in participating in the self-destructive behaviors we once indulged in.
A Bit About the Beast
When the Seven Churches read about the Beast of the Revelation, they were not confused about who or what it was. They simply looked to their scriptures and found where God had spoken of such a creature before. But specifically, they would have looked for a similar context. In this letter, John repeats what Daniel said…
The Beast as a Kingdom
Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.
Let’s just call out the elephant in the room: the act of simply going to church, singing songs, and listening to someone babble about this or that once a week is not worship. That is not to say some cannot find such an environment, a place where they can worship God to a limited extent.
Worship is so much more.
Worship encompasses the entirety of one’s life. It is the daily, continuing result of a surrendered soul, and our hearts disclosed to Him, declaring that God is among us.
… but if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.
Entire books have been written on worship. I’m certain that a few paragraphs cannot do it justice. Nevertheless, we have in error redefined worship, and that error needs to be corrected.
Worship of the State
In his 1944 work Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises defined Statolatry as being literally the worship of the State and analogous to idolatry.
Statolatry asserts the glorification and aggrandizement of ‘State’ or ‘Nation’ is the object of all legitimate human aspiration at the expense of all else, including personal welfare and independent thought. Thus, Statolarty can be observed to exceed simple patriotism, and it might best be described as super-patriotism or chauvinism.
People who worship their political party or State put their faith in an idea – or philosophy – that adherence to a given system of beliefs will solve society’s ills. When we do such a thing, when we trust the party’s philosophies or the State to care for us and solve our problems, we are practicing Statolatry – we are worshiping The Beast.
A Forerunner to the Mark of the Beast
In late 2020 and early 2021, the world’s nations began mass manipulation, which was the idea that all people should be vaccinated and carry a card of such proof. People without evidence – the mark of obedience to a philosophy – would be denied certain services and privileges, such as shopping at the local grocery store or access to places of business and employment. This is precisely the idea and system that will be enacted during the tribulation:
… and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Revelation 13:17 NASB
The mark of The Beast is not as simple as a physical mark that will be forced upon people. It’s not simple as being injected with an RFID tag that links people to bank accounts and medical records. Instead, it’s about something seemingly more benign, something many people are unaware of.
It’s about the system that can manipulate the narrative, manipulate the thought.
The Mark of the Beast begins with mental slavery and bondage. After that, it is all about controlling the prevailing narrative. It’s not about the facts; it’s about what you’re being told to feel, what you’re being told to believe, how you’re being instructed to behave.
An age of Davids and Sauls is emerging. An anointing is being removed from the Sauls, and the Davids are emerging.
When observed from a Kingdom perspective, we can identify a variety of individuals in action at any given time.
As an example, we can look to the Wheat and the Tares parable and see two distinct individuals: those known by Him and those who are not known by Him. We can look to the believer clothed in the armor of God and see at least three distinct entities involved at any given time.
Discerning the Future from the Past
But if we want to discern the future or the present, then we must look to the past:
What has been, it is what will be, and what has been done, it is what will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.
When we look at the Seven Churches of the Revelation, we observe Five Churches that were rebuked and Two Churches clothed in sackcloth and ashes (repentance; Rev. 11:3-4). These seven churches represent the assemblies of the Body of Christ, expressing differing qualities of grace and glory at any given time throughout history. They are not indicative of various “church ages.”
Nevertheless, the quality I want you to see is that one group was under rebuke, while the other was not.
What has been, is what will be
Today, as it was then, the Five rebuked Churches are not aware of where they are in God’s timetable, nor are they aware of His schedule of impending judgment. They’re not aware of the devil’s schemes against them, who is trying to usher in his agenda before it is due on God’s predetermined, eschatological schedule.
These people simply see a repeating and foreseeable changing of seasonal colors. They expect to endure a few frosty events soon – but nothing they can’t weather for a while.
It’s Spring Time, in a Pot
The problem is that they’re not entirely wrong: a new season has sprung. But it is not a spring of pretty flowers and fruit trees emerging: it’s chaos and death sprouting forth, to be quickly followed by a scorching heat. The Five Churches today, as they were near the turn of the first century, are unaware of the sin among them, and worse yet, what is coming. They’re unaware that the heat is slowly being turned up, that they’re the proverbial frog in the pot on a stove.
Today the remnant are the Two Churches who are living in repentance, who have followed 2 chronicles 7:13-14, and who are partnering with God to bring in His final harvest at this very time. They’re aware that we are in a season that does not carry a passive, do nothing, “God is in control, we’ll just trust His unknown plan and wait” attitude.
The Davids are familiar with certain aspects of God’s plan (they know in part), and they understand there is a worldwide war afoot that requires specialized laborers and warriors. They’ve prayed in and contended for a period of grace and mercy for the United States, and they’ve seen it run its course. Lastly, they know that there is an undeniable, certain judgment about to fall.
These church members know that in order for the world to deny Him him by saying,
Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!
I don’t know what things will be cleansed with specificity, but I can assert with confidence that God’s cleansing always starts with His people.
Overall, the Two Churches will be separated from the Sauls. Consequently, some of the Five will find repentance and join the Two; others will find salvation. The Two Churches will be ready to begin bringing in the harvest and discipliningthem in Christ. But the Five Churches will remain stuck in their ways, using old patterns, looking to bolster their attractiveness through preaching, personality, and programs.
The non-believers, and the Sauls who refuse to repent, will likely be carried away in some capacity during the coming turmoil. Some of the Five Churches will deny the glory; others will attribute His good works to the enemy by saying, “God doesn’t do that anymore, He doesn’t need to, we have the Bible now: let them read that to find repentance.”
Such people are the Scribes and Pharisees of today: the cessationists, those who preach and teach God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Bible. We don’t need to look too far in scripture to find a prior example. We can look to what was done to the prophets before Jesus came, and we can also look to what was said of Jesus when He was here:
The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”
That’s bad enough, but when one interrupts the working of Holy Spirit and damages the heart of those receiving the Kingdom of God, there is an extra condemnation:
And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
The times and seasons have changed. We are in a period of time like never before witnessed. God is on the move, and things are changing, some for the worse, but much for the better. If your boat is not ready, then make it ready. The waters are stirring, the wind is moving, and a great shaking is upon us.
The season you were living in 2019, is over. There is a new Season upon us.
Those who are ready will be saved; protected.
Those who refuse to live in repentance, will be swept away.
I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things;
The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war He stirs up His zeal; He cries out, He shouts aloud, He shows Himself mighty against His foes. For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor.