There’s some news in our world today that is really causing a stir. We have everything from Bruce Jenner’s sex change to the Oregon bakery fiasco, to the FDA cracking down on the essential oils industry like my daughter who just saw a spider. It’s crazy! And it’s not unrelated.
The book of Revelation talks about the mark of the beast. Most people associate this with the number 666 tattooed on the hand or forehead. I’m convinced this is a wild goose chase. We’re focusing on alleged microchip implants in the hand or ID cards embedded in the glabella (the space between your eyes). I’m convinced that the mark of the beast has nothing to do with a literal mark, and everything to do with what we see in current events.
In the Old Testament, God told the children of Israel to bind His word on their hand and forehead. The priests took this literally and tied a small leather box around their wrist and on their forehead which contained the shemah from Deuteronomy, “Here O Israel, the Lord your God is one…” Throughout their history they wore these and throughout their history they were rebuked for their faithlessness. I believe this command had nothing to do with an outward appearance, but rather an inward reality. What God was commanding his people (everyone, not just the priests) was to let His word affect how they think, and how they live.
When it comes to the Revelation we see the same dynamic at work. People are identified as belonging to the beast by a “mark” on their hand and forehead. Likewise, the saints are sealed by the Spirit indicated by a mark on their forehead. This demonstrates the radical difference in the way the two groups think–their mindset and worldview. These differences will guide their decisions and responses to events. For example, the depraved will celebrate Bruce Jenner’s “courage” and “bravery” while the redeemed will recognize the perversion of God’s created order and mourn the tragedy of such a broken and deceived soul. Those marked by the Spirit of God will recognize homosexual union as an unholy departure from God’s intent and will not think to bring that before him as worship where those under darkness will celebrate their “freedom” and even seek to punish those who don’t conform to their version of “tolerance” and “diversity.” The idolatrous masses marked by the beast worship the almighty dollar and a version of power rather than God who causes the mighty to rise and fall. They will use their power and money to impose their will on any who try to live outside of their influence and ideas. Those marked by the heart and mind of Christ will live and use their money for the glory and purpose of God and seek not to contribute to those who dishonor Him. It’s the difference between living to gratify the sinful nature versus living to please God, the Giver of Life and Redeemer of Souls.
There’s more. We see the number 666, but often miss completely its significance. In Jewish tradition, certain numbers have certain significance: 3 is the number for God, 4 is the number for creation, and 7 is the number of perfection and completion. When something is repeated three times, for example, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” means that God is as holy as holy can be; it doesn’t get any holier than Him. 777 is complete and total perfection and completion. 6, on the other hand is incomplete and imperfection. Therefore, 666 is Satan’s counterfeit (“the beast that had the fatal wound that had been healed”), and is incomplete, imperfect, and unholy as it gets.
The mark of the beast is a twisted and depraved worldview that defiles how we see the world and the events of our lives. It is a perversion of the truth and all that is truly good. God created the world, saw his work (which included one man and one wife sent to procreate and populate the earth) and said “it is very good.” What followed … our sin, was not. This mark of the beast prevents the saints from being able to buy and sell and this is where we see the events of Revelation playing out in our day. A privately owned bakery is shut down and fined for not baking a cake for a gay couple’s ceremony (can no longer sell). The FDA isn’t coming down on people who make super tonic and claim home remedies for headaches, rashes, ADHD, and other ailments, but they are gunning for the essential oils industry. Why? Because it’s starting to gain traction and cut into the profits of big pharmaceutical companies that pad the pockets of politicians and their love of money is driving their campaign against a legitimate industry. It’s getting harder and harder to find a store or business that doesn’t support abortion or the homosexual agenda (the political aspect, not the people) which makes it hard for committed followers of Christ to give their money to those establishments (no longer buying). It’s getting more challenging to honor Christ economically and politically.
We need to be ready. We need to make a decision as to what side of the fence we’re on. I’m absolutely not talking about how we treat people. People like Bruce Jenner need to know true love and have people walk with them through their issues, speaking the truth in love, not just telling them what they want to hear and assuring them that their brokenness is “courage.” When you love someone, you don’t lie to them. The Bible is clear, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against power, principalities, and evil in the spiritual realm. What I do mean is that we, as followers of Jesus, need to count the cost and decide that we will honor Christ and choose holiness no matter what the cost, because we are in the thick of it right now, and it’s only to going to get worse. Our greatest witness is the our faithfulness–the perseverance of the saints in the face of great difficulty and sacrifice. And through our walk with God, we will see God rescue and redeem some people along the way.