I know for many Biblical Christians, the title of this post sounds absurd, but for some, it can actually be a serious question, and for good reason.
Who or what is the Beast
The term “beast” is used in Scripture as a reference to the 10-nation confederacy prophesized in Daniel 2:31-35 and elsewhere. More important to this discussion, the word “beast” is also used to describe the monster of Revelation 13:1-5, Daniel 7:7-8, and Daniel 19-27. Most Christian theologians believe these verses are describing the Antichrist from 2 Thes. 2:3-4 and 2 John 1:7, 1 John 2:18,22, and 1 John 4:3. In the End-Times, he will appear as a benevolent world leader in the first half of the Tribulation. However, in the second half of his 7-year reign, his true evil nature and satanic powers will be revealed. The beast is an evil mimic of Jesus Christ, while the False Profit takes on that role opposite the Holy Spirit, and the Dragon is similarly a fake surrogate for God, the Father.
What is the Mark of the Beast
The “mark of the beast” is intended to initially be a sign of voluntary loyalty. However, toward the end of his reign, it becomes a sign of worship of this malicious and unholy Antichrist. Outlined in Revelation 13:11-15, the False Prophet ultimately demands all of mankind take the mark, which is literally a stamp or seal or perhaps a subcutaneous RFID device applied to the forehead or the hand. As a way of control, no one will be able to buy or sell anything without documenting the transaction using their mark (Rev. 13:17).
Why is the Mark of the Beast important?
Loyalty and, ultimately worship of the beast, as evidenced by the taking of his “mark”, is considered blasphemy toward God. Revelation 14 spells out the impact for those who choose to do so.
Revelation 14:9b-11 “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand… he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
But there will be others who resist.
Revelation 14:12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Reading verses 9-11 above, most Christians have been taught and firmly believe that taking the mark of the beast will seal their fate for eternal punishment. However, if one looks carefully at the verses, there is the suggestion that to remain eternally outside of God’s Heavenly kingdom, we must actively reject the Lord in three individual ways. Specifically, from verse 9….
- First, we must not “worship the beast”.
- Second, we must not worship “its image”.
- Third, we much not receive a mark on either our “forehead or… hand”.
Each of these hurdles toward an eternal “torment” are separated by the word “and” rather than “or”, suggesting they must be done in conjunction with each other. Further, in researching 25 major translations, only the NLT uses “or” when referring to eternal damnation from taking the mark of the beast.
in order to add credibility to this view, John MacArthur weighed in on the issue of the words “and” vs. “or” in this passage as well. Trying to clarify the controversy some years later, Pastor Phil Johnson, from MacArthur’s church, defended his view by saying, “The point is they could initially receive the mark but not be worshipers of the beast. According to Matthew 12:30-32 there is only one sin that is unforgivable and taking the mark of the beast is not listed.”
Clearly, neither worship of the beast, his image, or the taking of the mark are, nor would ever be God’s will. However, even in the relatively safe environment we live in today, our continuing sin nature falls far beyond His ideal. Certainly, mankind should never “test the Spirit” (Acts 5:9), nor should we “sin so that grace may increase” (Romans 6:1). Neither do I recommend testing the word “and” vs. “or” with my eternal future. However, it is important to study the Bible intently as we try to discern His perfect will for our lives, both today and as we approach an uncertain future.
Author – Jeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org
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