OF MARKS AND MISSES – 666

At the turn of every century, Christians have always been confronted with challenges that placed them at crossroads of their lives; spiritual and physical. The choice of highway or His way leaves them grappling for readymade answers from the Bible. New Technological advancements are particularly troublesome for the Christian, scepticism and suspicion greets every newfangled gadget and others such. We’ve feared the EPIC, and debated at length about the evils of the ATM card and now another ‘enemy’ of our beliefs ( i reserve the use of the word faith for later) has come knocking; the Aadhaar number/card. The reason behind such phobias is usually attributed to the book of Revelations. We pick a passage, swing it around and lo and behold on the computer is the dreaded 666. Even the telephone was once upon a time considered the instrument of the beast. It is but natural that every changes henceforth will undoubtedly in one way or the other stand in stark contrast with our understanding of the “last days’, and will raise more questions about our role as citizens of this State and His State.

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As Christians we are right to be sceptical and thereby to consider this new system of identification very carefully. I for one, confess i do not fully know the implications of being “tagged” for such a purpose. Neither do i herein lay down concrete evidences and commandments of “thou shall nots”. My sole intention is to present a viewpoint that might perhaps help you to know where you stand as those who have faith (there’s that word) in God.

Rev 13:16 : He also forced 1 everyone… to reciece a mark on his right hand or on his forehead.

Rev 14:19 : If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury…

Rev 19:20 : But the beast was captured and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs… with these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image.

Rev 20:4 : …They (the righteous) had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark.

The above clearly emphasises the way in which the ‘mark of the beast’ is received by people. First of all in Chapter 13, the entire section from v. 11 ff, we see that the second beast performed great and miraculous signs to deceive the people, to make them worship the image of the first beast. Then the section (v 16) goes on to say that the second beast will “also force” everyone, to receive a mark either on his right hand or his forehead. Therefore, there are two things to be noted here; one, the second beast will perform great signs to deceive the people and will entice them to worship the image of the first beast. And the other, the second beast will then force everyone to receive the mark.

From these then we can deduce that the second beast will manage to win some followers by simply performing signs but there are those who will not succumb so easily, then the beast will force the remaining ones. Again in 19:20, we find that the false prophet was the one who ‘deluded’ people with wondrous signs. Which is to say, that only those who were deceived by the miraculous signs received the mark gladly. This indicates that there will be those who refuse to worship the image of the beast (20:4).

It is to be noted that the word “worship” accompanies the ‘mark of the beast’; this implies that a spirit of obeisance is usually required on the part of the recipient. The beast’s sole purpose is to seek homage. Warren Wiersbe mentions that Satan has always wanted worship2. Those who receive the mark gladly are also those who worship gladly. The motive behind the ‘marking’ is to gain worshippers. So integral is the element of worship to the beast’s plans, that it guillotines those who do not worship (13:15 ; 20:4). Before the mark is to be received, obedient worship must be given to the image of the beast. So the mark is secondary to worship. The third angel in Chapter 14:9 warns, “if anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury…” indicating that it is not so much receiving of the mark but the spirit behind such an action that matters more.

Worship is defined as deep respect for a God or gods and also as a great admiration and respect of someone or something. The Greek root as used in the selected verses is proskuneo, meaning to prostrate oneself in homage ( even as a dog licking his master’s hand) 3. It is not therefore an act indulged by those who have no respect for the ‘someone’ or ‘something’. It is not merely a show of obedience but a deep seated admiration and reverence. In other words, it cannot be enforced, for it requires awe, respect and reverence and not motivated by fear of punishment (the Christian may well remember here that God promised salvation not damnation; John 3:16, so the concept of ‘fearing’ God has positive connotations, besides it is not Jesus’ imperative to impose anything on anyone). Again, worship may be understood as a continuous exercise of obedience and a continued faith in a belief. It is not something we put on and off like a used T-shirt. Worship demands the offering up of oneself; a sacrifice to a higher being. Thus, it is a conscious and continuous effort on the part of the believer. So it amounts to saying that those who worship and subsequently receive the mark have within them such a sense of awe and devotion to the beast. And that they continue to bow down before its image deliberately and consciously, simply because they wholeheartedly accept the beast as their god. They choose to continue to worship! It is a conscious choice.

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What about those who are forced to receive the mark? No doubt there shall be a forced enlistment of sorts (13:16) but it does not mention that those who were so ‘forced’ to receive the mark also worshipped the beast. What then? Am i damned because i receive in ignorance? To be or not to be? It is here that i am stumped as you are. I can only place the following :

  1. Are you forced4 to receive the mark?
  2. Is Worship part of the deal?
  3. Are you deceived and deluded by miraculous signs?
  4. Do you worship the beast or have any future inclinations to?

These are questions for you to answer. As for the ‘mark of the beast’ and the subsequent and impending punishment and damnation for those who receive the ‘mark’, well let’s not play judge and jury here, rather let’s leave that to God. The very same God who sent his prophet Jonah to redeem the adulterous Ninevah and of course the very God who sent his only begotten son to save us. That God, who does not desire that any of us should perish (2Pet 3:9).

Yes every prophecy will come to pass, but they are God’s plans not ours. He is the one who chooses to fulfil them or to alter them. And given a choice between saving or damning, my God will choose the former. Surely he will save you (Ps 91:3), I will save my people (Zec 8:7), Jesus came to the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15) Know that I the Lord, am your saviour (Isa60:16), and the list goes on and on. The future is His design, if you remember in Exodus chapter 39, there is a dialogue between God and Moses; God wanted to destroy the Israelites but Moses interceded on their behalf thereby placating God’s anger and God “relented”, changed his mind! This history is authored by God, and He has altered events in the past, maybe He’ll do it again in the future. That is His call, period. All we can bank on is His promises “And this is what he [sic] promised us-even eternal life.” (1John 2:25). Dear Christian please remember that the Lord is faithful to all his promises  (Ps 145:13) and He who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23). Our God keeps promises; He keeps his end of the bargain. Question is, do we?

Where does your concern lie? Are you fearful of the signs of this world? Do you worry because of your beliefs in these signs? Or do you have faith in God? I ask again, where does your concern lie?

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If it is with the world, then you’re dead anyway but if you have faith then there’s a way out: His love for you. In all the references that make mention of the mark of the beast, the author of Revelations also added alongside; patience, endurance and wisdom, on the part of the believer. Now these cannot be wished into existence (no Harry Potter’s wand is going to work, sorry Rowling). It takes a lot of work to learn to trust God. But you need these qualities to be counted as saints (13:10; 13:18; 14;12). All these qualities are the result of years and years of, what else, but worship!! Added to this is a dash of how much you love God. Then only can come wisdom of the saints (i suggest you read Ephesians 5 to know more about the kind of wisdom that is required of us, to ravel the mysteries of the dreaded number).

Keep yourself right with God and he will keep Himself right with you. Do not fear those who can harm the flesh but cannot touch the soul, but fear Him who has the power over both body and soul (Matt 10:28). Our Christian concern should be less about the great signs but about great faith. Things will, happen but not without the knowledge of God, and never without His Consent. If you remember, Satan cannot touch Job without God’s consent (Job 1:12 and 2:6). God cannot but love us, He takes the trouble to know us. He knows us like the back of his hand. He knows everything about you; your fears, your hopes, your lies, your truths, your inclinations. Yet He loves you still (Rom 5:8). Do you love Him? Who do you worship?

Answer the questions put in earlier, now, think of God’s love for you and then think of your love for God. You are afraid of the sealing of the mark of the beast, because that is all you keep looking for as the world turns. But do you even realize that you were in fact sealed much earlier by another mark? Ephesians 4:30ff says you were ‘sealed’ by the Holy Spirit of God for the day of redemption. Bet you didn’t know that. Do you know why? Because your fears have overwhelmed your hopes and your ‘beliefs’ have trumped your ‘faith’. What should your greater concern be? That you’ll be seal by the mark of the beast or that you’ll lose the seal of the Holy Spirit?

It is time; the days are indeed evil; we have to make ourselves right with God. If you fear this and that but do not change nor are willing to make the effort, then you do not have faith, but only a set of ‘beliefs’ that you measure your life with, and you’re at best a hypocrite. Things happen and maybe worse things will happen, but nothing’s going to touch you without God’s Knowledge and consent. Align now your heart with God’s . Do you have wisdom? Then seek to love Him more everyday. Love Him even as things around you fall apart and spiral out of hand. Do not be afraid of things you cannot control, but rest on the fact that God is in control. I have a saying i live by, and that i’ll share with you, ‘i do not know what my future holds, but i know who holds my future’.  So do not fear, only hope.

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

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1 The NRSV and interlinear Bibles translate this as “caused to” instead of “forced” but the implications are the same as the Greek word poiei has been used here in a negative sense.

2  Worship is the one thing satan has always wanted (Matt 4:8-10), and he will receive it through “the beast.” The second “beast”, described in the last half of this chapter, will organise and promote the worship of Antichrist, making it the official religion of the world! Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary : New Testament. (Colorado Springs : Chariot Victor Publishing, 1989).

3  Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary (Biblesoft Inc., 2006, CD-ROM). The others are like it; proskunetes means an adorer, all words from the root, however carries the meaning of worshipping absolutely. For details see New Testament Lexicon, translated and revised and enlarged by Joseph Henry Thayer ( New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889).

4  Supreme Court (SC) of India, in the third week of March 2015, reiterated the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) about negating the mandatory status of Aadhaar number or Aadhaar card in India. “No person should be denied any benefits or ‘suffer’ for not having the Aadhaar card issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India”, the SC stated. A Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar, S.A.Bobde and C. Nagappan at the Supreme Court reconfirmed that the Aadhaar card is not compulsory and further, officials who ask for it to avail their services will be taken to task. The programme of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to provide every resident a unique and mandatory 12-digit identity number had earlier been negated by the court on March 24, 2014. The SC had then directed the government to immediately withdraw instructions making Aadhaar mandatory for citizens to avail benefits or face contem12010751_1187090497971689_1397173848412782519_opt proceedings.

The Bench said that despite many orders directing the centre not to insist on Aadhaar cards, there were complaints against various governmental authorities asking for Aadhaar cards to avail their services. On September 23,2013, the apex court had passed an interim order that no public services such as LPG can be denied to public due to lack of Aadhaar. (http://m.indiatoday.in /education/story/supreme-court-nulls-the-mandatory-status-of-aadhaar-card-scheme-in-india/1/424229.html. Accessed on 10/08/2015.) The centre has said the consent of an individual is indispensable for Aadhaar. (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/aadhaar-cards-supreme-court-uidai-illegal-immigrants-anil-divan/1/311349.html. Accessed on 10/08/2015.)

 

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