16 And it makes everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name. Revelation 13:16 – 17
After all the press its gotten, who in their right mind would take the mark of the beast? The answer is pretty plain for anyone who cares to look…
Let’s Face It…
The Church hasn’t exactly been silent about this thing called the mark of the beast. Ever since John first penned the Revelation, the people of God have proclaimed that one day an evil ruler would arise and demand absolute and total allegiance. One sign of allegiance would be having his name, or the number of his name, transcribed on your right hand or forehead. Since that time, thousands of sermons have been preached and hundreds upon hundreds of books and commentaries have been written about this phenomenon. There have even been all kinds of movies made about it (anyone recall seeing A Thief in the Night back in the ’70s?). So, with all that press, and all those warnings, how is it possible that people will actually fall for it when it comes around? We have to turn to the Scriptures to find the answer.
The Second Beast
The antichrist (called the Beast in Revelation 13), does not act alone. While he himself will impress a lot of people, there is another beast (whom scholars commonly refer to as the false prophet) that will act as his chief spokesperson. Notice what it says about him in Revelation 13:11 – 17.
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf and compels the earth and those who live on it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13 It also performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of people. 14 It deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that it is permitted to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 It was permitted to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 And it makes everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name.
That’s some pretty impressive firepower (no pun intended)! Regardless of how this is all going to play out on the world stage, everything this individual does is to point to the first beast (the antichrist) and make him look legitimate. In a society that is all about the thrills and chills, it’s easy to see why a lot of people will be drawn in by the show he puts on. Yet again, this is nothing the Church hasn’t warned about for ages and decades. It has been proclaimed from the pulpit, in print, and in movies that a false prophet will arise with the power of “lying signs and wonders.” So, why will people still fall for this act? We have to look a little further to find the answer.
The apostle Paul writes about the coming of the man of lawlessness (the antichrist) in his second letter to the Thessalonian Christians. In chapter 2: 1 – 3 he writes about the arrogant nature of this individual. Then, in 2:9 – 12, he very clearly lays out the reason why people will be deceived by him and his cohort.
9 The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with every kind of miracle, both signs and wonders serving the lie, 10 and with every wicked deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe the lie, 12 so that all will be condemned—those who did not believe the truth but delighted in unrighteousness. (emphasis added)
According to Paul, people will fall for the deception because they failed to embrace the truth that God has proclaimed in His Son, Jesus Christ. What is that truth? Paul tells us in Colossians 1:15 – 20.
15 He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
16 For everything was created by him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through him and for him.
17 He is before all things,
and by him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that he might come to have
first place in everything.
19 For God was pleased to have
all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile
everything to himself,
whether things on earth or things in heaven,
by making peace
through his blood, shed on the cross.
Jesus Christ, the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, the One in whom all the fullness of Deity dwells, is the One appointed by God to be the only means by which He reconciles all things to Himself. Those who reject that truth will be given over by God to believe the grand delusion offered by the antichrist to their own destruction. This is God’s judgment on their unbelief. How sad and how needless.
Our Only Protection
My fear is that there will even be Christian people who are sucked in by the high jinks of the antichrist and his lackey for the same reason as outlined by Paul in the Thessalonian letter. Our only protection from this deception is the cling, heart and soul, to Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the pages of God’s Book. That is our only security, and the only way to stay living in the Reign.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.