The Weekend Word
The Image and The Mark of the Beast
15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
- This is definitely a work of witchcraft where the evil spirits are able to talk through images statues, even trees, water and dead bodies.
- I don’t know how but these spirits cause those who do not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
- This is all under the guise of the religious beast. Why do Lutherans (and many Reformed) look at the pope as this 2nd beast? From the Book of Concord, an article titled A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope;
- ) The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].
- ) Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].
- ) And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.
- ) These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church. “
- Roman Catholics point to the pope as the only one who has the platform to unite the church. But we will see in v.16 that it is this beast that does just that – hey, talk about unity.
- If you define the anti Christ / the beast as the one who comes in the name of Jesus and actually leads people away from Jesus, then he fits the bill pretty well.
- This beast sits on the throne of the church and preaches a gospel that is no gospel at all, according to St Paul – turning people to misdirect their prayers to Mary and the saints.
- The pope can seem like a very nice person, the sheep with 2 horns, but as long as he is turning people away from faith alone in Jesus, and using his papal powers to do so, then yes he is also speaking the blasphemies.
- Now as a point of clarity – does this mean that all of your Roman Catholic friends are marked by the beast? No, but it does mean you need to keep up your guard.
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
- The followers of the beast are defined in economic and social terms – rich, poor, free, slave. It is a totalitarian state and can be described as the economy of the beast – not just monetary, but how things are run.
- Remember, in the Roman Empire, it was not unusual to tattoo or brand someone to show ownership. Those who receive this mark belong to the beast – they belong to the emperor, they belong to satan – all wrapped up in one.
- From the point of view of the church, this is an aping and mockery of baptism — those who God has marked with his name on their head and on their heart. That is THE GOOD NEWS – we belong to him.
- For those who do receive the mark, we ask – is this their proud moment as they line up to indicate that they do not belong to God but do indeed belong to the beast?
- Do we know what the mark is? Is it a branding? – I doubt it. Is it getting a micro chip bar code implanted? For whatever reason I would advise folks to avoid that for any reason – who needs the government tracking you… even for good?
- My guess, if there is an actual marking it’s probably the cell phone – it touches both the hand and the head – if so, then we are all hosed.
- The end point is these are those who do not belong to Jesus and are marked in a different way.
17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
- Now this is important – you cannot accidently receive the mark. The mark is you identifying with the system.
- See in this verse how pressure is brought to bear in our country. If you were to take a position to stand by your faith, by your principles how long could you hold out? If you owned a company that did not want to provide abortions in your health plan or if you were a baker and did not want to bake a cake for a same sex wedding (without judging right and wrong here) look at the scorn, the shunning, the legal weight of the city / state to come down on you.
- Those who want to comply to avoid the consequences, belong to the beast – even today. What do you do when the beast applies pressure for your church to perform any requested wedding?
- So what should a Christian say when confronted with “taking the mark” – however that works out? “I am already marked, thank you.”
- But say that the Left Behind books are right and the government is placing bar codes on your forehead and you get one, does that mean you are lost? Of course not as there is always hope until Jesus returns.
- So what happens, do we refuse the mark and prepare to starve to death? No, this is where the church is to gather together to take care of each other – huddle together, grow your own food – look for believers in need.
- Now we also need to remember that this is all apocalyptic, symbolic language, rhetoric, storytelling – beasts, dragons, images of beasts that come alive – all of the numbers etc. All driving to ask – are you going to follow Jesus or bow to the state and to the culture when things get tough? This is THE question.
- Now understand that this is easier to hear today if you live in the Sudan where life and persecution to the Christian is real. It is difficult to hear if your biggest issue is getting the AC to cool the car as you leave church on a hot muggy summer day. Do we fall into denial because of complacency?
18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
- John is saying much more here than simply making the statement ‘Nero is the beast’. He is saying something about the very nature of this beast. Notice in the text that John does not say “anyone with understanding would be wise enough to work out the name of this beast” – instead, John says that such a person could work out the number of the beast.
- The point is that John wants us to focus more on the significance of the number itself than who the number stands for.
- Pick a number, any number – what would be a good number? Whatever number, a human number for a beast who is the symbol of false religion and all anti God / anti Jesus activities and anti the church. I think John just picks 666 – the number of man who falls short of the number of God.
- So in this case, Nero would be a type of the beast or one who receives the mark of the beast. Therefore it does not have a onetime application but is something that is continually manifested until the end of the world – as all those who operated through history as Nero did and it has meaning for us today.
- 666 refers to the dragon, the political beast and the religious beast – all anti God – the unholy trinity.