Saturday, September 30, 2006

What is the Mark of the Beast? Part 2

Let’s continue our discussion of the mark with another excerpt from Steve Wohlberg’s book Truth Left Behind – Exposing End Time Errors About the Rapture and the Antichrist.

Let’s review the mighty issues mentioned by God’s three angels, beginning with the all-important topic of worshiping the Creator. The first angel says with a loud voice, “Worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7). Then the third angel thunders, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:9-10). Here people are given the ultimate choice: Either worship the Creator or worship the beast and receive his mark. Thus, the issue of worshiping the Creator is central to avoiding the mark.

The next mighty issue is one few people are aware of. Most best-selling prophecy books and blockbuster Tribulation movies skip right over it. Those who believe the mark is a biochip developed by some high-tech firm like Microsoft or Intel usually miss it entirely. As we have already seen, immediately after the third angel warns humankind about receiving the mark, the very next sentence says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Here one group receives the mark, while the other group “keeps the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Thus, the issue of keeping the commandments of God is also central to avoiding the mark. In a little while we will place this hidden issue fully under the microscope.

When we take a close-up look at the three angels’ messages, we discover that the sweetest part of all has to do with a Person, the person of Jesus Christ. The first angel announces to the world “the everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6), which literally means the good news of Jesus Christ. The third angel speaks of “the Lamb”, in contrast with the beast (Revelation 14:9-10), which is another reference to Jesus Christ, pointing to His unfathomable love and sacrifice on the cross. And the very last word of the third angel’s message is “Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Thus, we discover a laser-like focus on “the gospel”, the “Lamb”, and on “Jesus” Himself. To summarize thus far: Those who believe in Jesus Christ, accept the gospel, follow the Lamb, worship the Creator, and keep the commandments of God – these will not worship the beast and receive the mark. These mighty issues regarding the mark of the beast are now rising up before our very eyes.

Jesus Christ is center stage, and so is the worship of the Creator. Therefore, when the first angel tells everyone to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7), this is a special end-time call to worship Jesus Christ, not only as Savior, but also specifically as the Maker of all life. Amazingly, this very issue is closely tied in with the Mark of the Beast, for we have already discovered that those who worship the Creator are placed in contrast with those who worship the beast and receive his mark. Yet what exactly is the Mark of the Beast? Is it possible to know for sure without indulging in wild-eyed speculation? I believe it is. We still have a few more pieces to put together in this awesome prophetic puzzle, yet when we are finished, it will become extremely clear what the Mark of the Beast is. In fact, there will be no mistaking it.

The deadly mark is the Mark of the Beast; it’s a mark that comes from the beast itself. John saw those who gained “the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark” (Revelation 15:2). Logic tells us that in order to understand “his mark”, we must correctly interpret who “he” is. Who is this beast? The Left Behind novels portray the beast as a super-powerful, devil-indwelt Romanian who gains control of the world after the Rapture. Yet what have we learned? Who did Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, the translators of the King James Bible, Sir Isaac Newton and countless other historic Protestants think the beast was? What power rose out of the Roman Empire, has spoken great words against God, has made war on the saints, has received a deadly wound that is now healing and has fulfilled every point of this prophecy? You now know the answer. It is the Roman Catholic Church. And the mark is “his mark”. Therefore, the Mark of the Beast must be something that comes from the Roman Catholic Church itself.

Not long ago someone handed me a copy of a very old Bible from the 1800’s that belonged to a Presbyterian lay pastor. Certain texts throughout this Bible contain footnotes reflecting the beliefs of Christians in the nineteenth century. I quickly turned to Revelation 13:16 about the mark of the beast, and I discovered footnotes that would probably not appear in a Scofield Reference Bible. I was stunned when I read: “Verse 16. A mark. Submission to the rites and ceremonies of the papal communion. In their right hand. By active obedience to the papal power. Or in their foreheads. By outward profession of its doctrines and infallible authority” (The New Testament: With Commentaries, References, Harmony of the Gospels and the Helps Needed to Understand and Teach the Text. 1895. New York and St. Louis. Thompson Pub. Co., p. 530). When those words were written, Bill Gates wasn’t born yet, nor was there a company called Microsoft. In the footnotes of that Bible, when it came to the mark of the beast, computer technology was a non-issue. What mattered was submission or resistance to the Roman Catholic Church!

The third angel’s message is now crying out with a loud voice to everyone, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:9-10). Now think about it. Would Jesus tell us in Revelation, “The mark is coming, so watch out. It will be tricky, almost deceiving the very elect. I love you, and died for you, yet I can’t tell you exactly what this mysterious mark is. If you get it, you’ll be lost. You’re on your own.” Does this sound logical? Would Jesus show and not tell? Why would God send a message to the whole world about the mark, and then keep its identity a secret? How could such a message be given with a loud voice? Again, think about it. Can we know for sure who the beast is? Yes. Therefore, we must be able to find out from the Bible itself exactly what the mark is. Logic, reason, and the integrity of God’s loving character require this.

We are about to make another amazing discovery. I believe the Bible contains a golden clue to this mystery. We can find it by carefully comparing Revelation 13 with its Old Testament counterpart, Daniel 7. These two chapters fit together like a key fits into a lock. The connections are easily seen. Both chapters talk about beasts from the sea, a lion, a bear, a leopard, a dragon, ten horns, a mouth speaking great things, war on the saints, and a specific time period of three and a half years or forty two months. Interpretations may vary, but almost all Protestant, Catholic and Evangelical scholars, including the authors of Left Behind, agree that the little horn of Daniel 7 and the first beast of Revelation 13 refer to the same thing – the Antichrist. Yet there is something many people have missed that is right there in God’s Word. And not only does it tie in with the mark of the beast, but it is a golden clue as to what the mark really is.

The very first time the mark of the beast is mentioned in the Bible is near the end of Revelation 13. Now, if other aspects of the beast in Revelation 13 find such a perfect parallel in the little horn of Daniel 7, then what about the mark? Could there be something near the end of Daniel 7 that parallels the mark near the end of Revelation 13? Yes, there is. It is in verse 25. Daniel 7:25 says the little horn will speak great words against God and this idea is also found in Revelation 13:5. Daniel 7:25 says he will wear out, or make war, on the saints and this idea is also found in Revelation 13:7. Daniel 7:25 says the horn will rule for three and a half years, and this point is also restated in Revelation 13:5. Thus, every point of Daniel 7:25 finds a perfect parallel in Revelation 13. Yet there is one point in Daniel 7:25 we have not yet touched upon. Most people miss it, few ever explain it, yet there it is. It is our golden clue. You may not believe this, but the final destiny of the world is connected with it.

Are you ready? Here it is. The little horn will also “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). What does this mysterious sentence mean? Most have no idea. Notice that little word “change”. The horn will “change” something, then the beast will enforce his mark. Could this change, whatever it is, be connected with the mark? Let’s think about it. Can a change be a mark? Has anyone ever entered your life and changed you so deeply that it can truly be said, “He left his mark?”

What will the little horn think to change? He shall “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). Because the antichrist comes during New Testament times, it is evident that some of God’s “laws” must still exist this side of the Cross. When Jesus died, He put an end to the sacrificial laws of the Old Testament, which pointed forward to His death, and this is why we no longer sacrifice lambs. Those laws are gone. What about the Ten Commandments? Do they still apply to us?

The answer is yes. The following New Testament verses tell us that the laws still apply to us: Ephesians 2:8-9, Ephesians 6:1-2, Ephesians 4:28, James 2:11, Luke 16:17-18, John 14:15. It is clear in the New Testament that although there is a new covenant through Jesus Christ that puts an end to the sacrificial laws, we are still to obey God’s commandments. What does this have to do with the mark of the beast? You are about to find out. First, let me summarize some major points. Just as there are Ten Commandments, even so there are ten fundamental facts in our Bibles about the Mark of the Beast. These facts do not represent Left Behind fiction, but real truths found in God’s Word:

1. The Mark of the Beast is deceptive, not obvious (Revelation 19:20).
2. The mark will be received on the forehead, which represents the mind, or on the hand, which represents actions (Revelation 14:9, Deuteronomy 11:18).
3. The three angels reveal a comprehensive message from God before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to all the world to help people understand the mark (Revelation 14:6-16).
4. Those who worship Jesus Christ as Creator will not get the mark (Revelation 14:7, 9-11; John 1:3, 10).
5. Those who keep the Ten Commandments will not get the mark (Revelation 14:9, 12).
6. The mark comes from the beast, which represents the Roman Catholic Church.
7. The warning against the mark will be given with a loud voice, thus it must be clear and easy to understand (Revelation 14:9).
8. The mark involves a special sin against God himself, for those who receive it will drink the wine of His wrath (Revelation 14:9, 10).
9. The mark has something to do with the changing of God’s law (compare Daniel 7:25 with Revelation 13:16).
10. The mark of the beast has something to do with the changing of the times and laws of God (Daniel 7:25).

Let’s take a look again at our little-known golden-clue text, he shall “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). Now notice that word, “times”. We know that the word “laws” has to do with the Ten Commandments, which continue after the Cross. What about “times”? You are about to discover something you will hardly believe. It shatters all false interpretations, which may sincerely, yet deceptively, hide the real issues. If you pray and humbly study this out, you will know for sure it’s true. Are you ready? There is only one of the Ten Commandments that has to do with “time”. There is only one that has to do with the Creator of heaven and earth. This single, solitary commandment is the only one of the Ten Commandments that the Roman Catholic Church specifically says it has changed. It is the commandment that says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Before we go any further, I want to share with you a very important thought. The Bible says, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4). This verse tells us that in the final times, God will be giving new light to His people. This especially applies to an increase of knowledge of the book of Daniel, which includes our golden-clue text: He shall “think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). In the final days, God will help His people understand what this changing of “times” is really all about.

God Almighty did not write the ten suggestions, but the Ten Commandments. The fourth says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work,….For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).

Where do we remember the Sabbath? In our foreheads. With what do we work? With our hands. Thus, the Sabbath commandment deals with both the forehead and the hand. The “seventh day” is specified as “the Sabbath of the Lord”. It is not the Sabbath of the Jews, but of the Lord. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day”. These words are directly quoted in the first angel’s message (see Revelation 14:7). And who is this “Lord” that “made heaven and earth”? As we have already seen, according to the New Testament, it is Jesus Christ. Thus, the Sabbath commandment, in a unique and special sense, reveals Jesus Christ as Lord and as the Maker of all life.

A well-known Roman Catholic catechism declares:

Q. Which is the Sabbath day? Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday (The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, by Peter Geiermann, 1946, p. 50).

The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday (The Christian Sabbath, p. 29. Printed by the Catholic Mirror, the official organ of Cardinal Gibbons, Baltimore, MD, 1893).

The Pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, change, or interpret even divine laws (Farraris’s Ecclesiastical Dictionary. Article, “The Pope”).

Of course the change [from Sabbath to Sunday] was her act…and the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters (Signed by H.F. Thomas, Chancellor for Cardinal Gibbons, in a letter dated, November 11, 1895).

Thus, the Catholic Church claims the pope has power to change God’s law, just as Daniel 7:25 says. This church claims to have changed the Sabbath into Sunday, which is a changing of “times”, just as Daniel 7:25 says will occur. Papal Rome also calls this change a ‘mark’ of her authority, which makes this a perfect fit with Revelation 13!

This issue of Sabbath or Sunday is now the hottest, most intense, and most explosive issue facing the Christian world. An entire book could be written on this topic alone. Let’s look at ten key Sunday facts found in the New Testament:

1. Jesus Christ rose on Sunday, “the first day of the week” (Mark 16:9).
2. The New Testament refers to “the first day of the week” eight times (Mathew 28:1; Mark 16:1, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; 1 Corinthians 16:1; Acts 20:7).
3. Five of these references are about the Resurrection (Mathew 28:1; Mark 16:1, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
4. One Sunday text refers to a fearful gathering of the disciples on that day before they knew Jesus was alive (John 20:19).
5. One Sunday text refers to a special collection of money on that day in the city of Corinth for a group of poor believers in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; Romans 15:25-26).
6. One text refers to a solitary instance in Troas where believers gathered late one Saturday night as a farewell to Paul (Acts 20:6-13).
7. None of these references even remotely suggest that Sunday is now holy or that it has been set aside in honor of the Resurrection.
8. Jesus Christ never said a word about Sunday in any of His teachings.
9. Jesus Christ gave His Church authority to teach only what He taught (Mathew 28:19), which forbids any emphasis on Sunday keeping.
10. The New Testament is as silent as a cemetery about any change from Sabbath to Sunday.

By way of contrast, here are ten key Sabbath facts found in your own Bible:

1. Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16).
2. Jesus taught much about the Sabbath (Mathew 12:1-14).
3. Jesus said He is “Lord of the Sabbath”, thus revealing that it is His own special day in honor of the fact that He is the Creator of all life (Mark 2:28; Mathew 12:8).
4. Jesus often healed people on the Sabbath, revealing His love and power (Mathew 12:9-13).
5. Jesus freed the Sabbath from the burden-some traditions of the Pharisees (Luke 13:10-17).
6. The Sabbath was kept by Christ’s disciples after the Cross (Luke 23:46, 54-56).
7. The Sabbath was kept in the book of Acts by both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 17:1-4; 18:4).
8. The entire Book of Revelation was given “on the Lord’s day” which is the Sabbath day (Revelation 1:10; Exodus 20:10; Isaiah 58:13; Mathew 12:8).
9. The Sabbath is not just for Jews, but is also for Gentiles (Isaiah 56:1-8).
10. The Sabbath will be kept in the new earth by all the saved (Isaiah 66:22-23).

I want to clarify something of the utmost importance. No one has this mark right now. Most Christians have never really studied this subject before. There are true Christians in all churches, including the Roman Catholic Church. Yes, God has sincere people everywhere. Yet one of these days, according to the Book of Revelation, this mark of Rome’s authority will be enforced by law around the world. Then, after people’s minds have been enlightened, the final time of choice will come.

This may shock you, but Sunday laws have been enforced in various degrees for 1,700 years. The first Sunday law was enforced by the Roman Emperor Constantine on March 7, A.D. 321. His famous edict declared, “On the venerable day of the sun [Sunday], let the magistrates and people residing in the cities rest, and let all workshops be closed” (Schaff’s translation, History of the Christian Church, vol. iii. p.75.). Why did Constantine pass this Sunday law? The reasons are both fascinating and relevant for us today. In the fourth century, the Roman Empire was disintegrating. Morality was at an all-time low. Yet religion was far from dead. Constantine himself was a dedicated sun worshiper, as were the majority of his subjects. In fact, the very name “Sunday” stems from pagan sun worship. By this time, a growing number of Christians were following the Catholic Church’s example of giving up the Sabbath and keeping Sunday in honor of the Resurrection. Constantine had already seen the moral strength of Christianity as revealed in the courage of its martyrs, and this gave him an idea. He thought to himself, “Why not unite the Christians and the pagans together through their mutual respect for Sunday?” That’s why he passed his famous Sunday law hoping to bring unity to his empire, thus saving it from ruin. His plan failed and Rome still went down.

After Constantine, the Roman Catholic Church continued to enforce the keeping of Sunday in Europe for over 1,000 years. Sunday laws were also enforced in England for centuries. Amazingly, this practice was continued in colonial America. In the 1600’s, if you lived in Massachusetts, Virginia, or Connecticut, you were required by law to attend church on Sunday. Disobedience was punished by heavy fines, whipping, confinement in a cage, and in some cases, even by death. Thus, Protestant America still followed the example of Constantine and the Catholic Church in the uniting of church and state, and in the enforcement of Sunday laws.

On May 31, 1998, Pope John Paul II issued a lengthy pastoral letter, Dies Domini (The Day of the Lord), which contained a passionate appeal for the revival of Sunday observance. The pope said the prevailing neglect of Sunday reflects a spiritual crisis inside the Catholic Church and within Christianity in general. Notice his words: “The Lord’s Day has structured the history of the Church through two thousand years: how could we think that it will not continue to shape the future?” Shockingly, the pope then urged world governments to enforce Sunday laws! “In the particular circumstances of our own time, Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy.” Such statements are right in line with this official Vatican position: “Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, p.528, 1994).

Steve continues this chapter with additional examples of current Protestant Christian leaders who are also calling for America to keep the Sabbath.....on Sunday. So, does Scripture point to the Sabbath as the mark? It would appear that it could, but I have my doubts. I'm not going to say with 100% certainty that this is the mark because it is the political beast, the New World Order, that enforces the mark and requires the mark to buy and sell. This enforcement is also mentioned after the 'image' of the Catholic Church is created. The mark is created after the Catholic Church's judgement. Will this image of the Catholic Church demand Sunday observance of the Sabbath? Hard to say at this point.

We are given a clue in verse 17 that I believe will confirm what the mark is when we see it.

'He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17)

I have read many theories on the mark that say the mark and the number 666 are somehow tied to the Popes (if you add up all of the numbers following all of the Papal names, you get close to 666) and the Catholic Church. As Steve Wohlberg and others believe, it is certainly possible, but I believe the Catholic Church will be replaced by the image before the mark is introduced into the world. There is something here we are missing. When verse 17 mentions that the mark is 'the name of the beast or the number of his name', it is referring to the political (NWO) beast, not the religious beast. To me, this is very clear - the mark is related to a name and number (666) of the coming world government. It will involve complete submission to the world system/government while also denying Jesus Christ - so this is definitely a spiritual mark - as Steve mentions. I believe a key to discerning the mark is given to us here in verse 17 and another key is certainly the need to accept the mark to buy and sell. It is quite possible that we are seeing this name and number now and don't even recognize them for what they will become.

Remember, this freemason/illuminati beast is evil and deceptive and has been deceiving us for generations. They are arrogant and feel they control all things from the shadows. They feel they are untouchable and all-powerful. They tell us what their plans are (through money, architecture, hidden messages in public speaches, the media, etc.) and then laugh at our inability to see and understand. They feel they are the 'illuminated' ones, while we are in the dark as to what is really happening. They are the definition of pride. Because of who they are and who leads them, it would not surprise me if this name and number is already known to them and has somehow been shown to us....although we cannot understand its meaning.....yet.

The important thing to remember is that this coming world government is going to be taking orders from our spiritual enemy. Because of this, ever-increasing pressure will be placed on true Christians. This will eventually lead to the ultimate choice....worship our Lord or the beast and his mark. Whether or not it is the Sabbath, you can be sure that it will be deceptive. Those that don’t know Jesus Christ will not even be able to discern what it is. I have no doubt that God will raise up believers to preach the truth in a final attempt to save the lost, but without true faith, will they be able to stand? Most unbelievers will not. This is why it is so important for all of us to come close to Jesus now. Let Him comfort you, strengthen you, correct you and guide you. Do I fear the mark? No. Do I fear the coming beasts that will enforce the mark? No. Do I fear the men that are bringing this upon us? No. Why? Because God’s Word tells me not to fear anything in this world. His Word tells me that the Lord is a shield and protector of the righteous. The Lord is forever faithful and I trust Him. I’m going to spend time in a future posting discussing what the Bible says about fear, because I believe the enemy has used fear as the main weapon to bring about his beasts. You’ll be amazed at what the Bible tells us about fear. How relevant is it? The Bible warns us against the very thing that America is doing right now…and it will lead to the destruction of our nation and the emergence of the 2nd beast of Revelation 13.

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