Revelation 13:15-18: “The second beast was allowed to put breath into the statue of the ⌊first⌋ beast. Then the statue of the ⌊first⌋ beast could talk and put to death whoever would not worship it. The second beast forces all people—important and unimportant people, rich and poor people, free people and slaves—to be branded on their right hands or on their foreheads. It does this so that no one may buy or sell unless he has the brand, which is the beast’s name or the number of its name. In this situation wisdom is needed. Let the person who has insight figure out the number of the beast, because it is a human number. The beast’s number is 666.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: What is the mark of the beast in the book of Revelation? If you Google this question, you will find page after page of possible explanations. My thought today is not directed toward defining it, but rather gleaning an important principle from it that is relevant to our current situation in the world, and in America today. It is the choice between freedom and control, between liberty and governmental control. Listen to what the Apostle John writes in the book of I John.
- “Children, it’s the end of time. You’ve heard that an antichrist is coming. Certainly, many antichrists are already here. That’s how we know it’s the end of time.” (1 John 2:18 GW)
Was John suggesting that there would not be an ultimate “Antichrist”? How could there be “many antichrists” who were already there? I believe John was writing about the “spirit” of the antichrist. The “spirit of antichrist” is the spirit of control, the spirit of domination. This is the spirit that wants to take away man’s freedom and liberty and make them dependent upon, and controlled by government. This is the spirit we see active in the world and our culture today. And the frightening thing is many are quick to get in line to take the mark.
The Bible calls us to liberty – with responsibility. It calls us to freedom – with character.
- “Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm ⌊in this freedom⌋, and don’t become slaves again.” (Galatians 5:1 GW)
- “Live as free people, but don’t hide behind your freedom when you do evil. Instead, use your freedom to serve God. Honor everyone. Love your brothers and sisters in the faith. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:16-17 GW)
The Bible always exhorts us to honor and obey authority, but it also calls authority to honor and respect our liberty and freedom. When citizens do not honor and obey authority – it is anarchy. When governments do not honor and respect citizens freedom and liberty – it is tyranny. What is needed is the fear of the Lord and the upholding of freedom and liberty. This was what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution of America. They wrote in the preamble of the Constitution:
- “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Note the overriding goal – “…to promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”. This was built upon the opening remarks of the Declaration of Independence.
- “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”
The original view of American Government reflected this Biblical view. It held high the principals of freedom and liberty. Since its inception, the spirit of antichrist has been working tirelessly to alter its course, to rob its citizens of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to make them dependent upon the very institution that was formed to make them free. We must use discernment in this election. We must prayerfully consider which platform and which candidates support the principles of freedom and liberty.
We must guard ourselves from anarchy, and hold our government accountable for tyranny. The spirit of antichrist is already at work. So we need to heed one more admonition from the Apostle John.
- “Dear friends, don’t believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world. This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every person who declares that Jesus Christ has come as a human has the Spirit that is from God. But every person who doesn’t declare that Jesus Christ has come as a human has a spirit that isn’t from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that you have heard is coming. That spirit is already in the world. Dear children, you belong to God. So you have won the victory over these people, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. These people belong to the world. That’s why they speak the thoughts of the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever doesn’t belong to God doesn’t listen to us. That’s how we can tell the Spirit of truth from the spirit of lies.” (1 John 4:1-6 GW)
Prayer and discernment are needed!
In Jesus Name!