Welcoming the Beast

The inhabitants of the earth willingly venerate the Beast and take its mark, although believers are not immune from its allurements. And discussions about the “Mark of the Beast” invariably focus on questions about what it is - a medical implant, a barcode, or a tattoo – as well as the significance of its “number,” ‘666.’ As important as these questions are, far more critical is the issue of how the believer can avoid taking the Beast’s mark or its “number.”

We tend to see the “False Prophet” or the “Beast from the Earth” busily compelling everyone to take the “Mark of the Beast,” using economic pressure, threats of imprisonment, or worse to do so. Apparently, men will have no choice but to take the “mark” or suffer deadly consequences. Submit or starve!

Seal of the USA - Photo by maria pagan on Unsplash
[Photo by maria pagan on Unsplash]

Almost certainly, when the “
Beast from the Sea” does appear, his reign will include the employment of coercion. However, the Book of Revelation does NOT free individuals from their responsibility for giving allegiance to it.

When he appears, the “False Prophet” causes the “inhabitants of the earth” to take the Beast’s “mark.” And he will deceive them into erecting an image of the “Beast from the Sea” - (Revelation 13:11-18).

WILLING PARTICIPATION


The last statement indicates the Beast’s “Mark” will be imposed by the “False Prophet” on both the willing and the unwilling. However, that is not the complete story.

The “Beast from the Earth” certainly sets things in motion, but the recipients of the “Mark” or “number” of the first Beast are consciously involved – “taking” its “Mark” is part and parcel of “rendering homage to the Beast.”

The “False Prophet” may use deceit and threats when needed, nonetheless, the “inhabitants of the earth” are WILLING PARTICIPANTS in this idolatrous endeavor.

In the series of seven “Bowls of Wrath,” the first bowl causes “a painful ulcer upon those who have the Mark of the Beast and those who render homage to its image.” And here, the English terms “have” and “render homage” represent present tense Greek participles that are in the active voice, and that means the subject performs the action.

Thus, the “inhabitants of the earth” actively engage in taking the “Mark” and erecting the Beast’s image. THEY embrace the “Beast from the Sea” and the system it represents of their own free will.

And that is why the “inhabitants of the earth” suffer the plagues unleashed by the seven “Bowls of Wrath.” They have brought this just punishment on themselves- (Revelation 16:1-2).

In the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse,” the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” are cast alive into the “Lake of Fire” because they “deceived those who took the mark of the Beast.”

And once again, an active voice participle is used. “Having taken” or lambanĊ in the clause means to “take,” “receive,” and even to “welcome” the “Mark” or “number” of the “Beast from the Sea” - (Revelation 19:17-21).

BELIEVERS MUST CHOOSE


Finally, those who reign with Jesus for the “thousand years” do so because “they DID NOT RENDER HOMAGE to the Beast,” and they “DID NOT TAKE its mark.” Once again, active voice verbs are used, in this case, for actions NOT taken by the followers of the “Lamb.” His faithful followers who persevere through persecution and tribulation do so by NOT compromising their allegiance to the “Lamb.”

Their decision to reject the “Beast” and its enticements is contrasted with that of the “inhabitants of the earth” who choose to give their allegiance and veneration to the “Beast from the Sea” - (Revelation 20:4-6).

When the “Beast” ascends from the sea or “Abyss,” believers and non-believers alike will have a choice - Whether to submit to and embrace the Beast or not. Everyone will be held responsible for his or her own decision - Whether to follow the “Beast” or the “Lamb wherever he goes – Christ or Caesar.

Thus, disciples of Jesus must exercise extreme caution before blindly embracing the societal values of the existing world order or submitting to the demands of the political order when doing so will detract from their loyalty to Jesus.


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