Mark of the Beast??

Yesterday I wrote a blog about Christians wearing masks and the biblical reason to obey the government, respect others, and follow health guidelines. A friend of mine from church responded that I should take on the issue from the “other side.”

What’s the other side? It’s the argument that we are in the beginning of the end times and what we are seeing now corresponds with the signs that will usher in those end times. That means that the government mandating things such as church closures, masks in order to shop, social distancing and the rest are a step toward Armageddon!

As you can probably tell I am not in that camp. Personally, I believe that every generation has believed that they were seeing the beginning of the end times. If any generation had a right to believe that it was the World War II generation where Nazi Germany was exterminating the Jewish race and was bent on world domination. Hitler clearly could be seen as an anti-Christ! Yet, as horrific as it was even that was not the end times.

When studying end times most go to Daniel’s prophecy regarding the 70 weeks or the book of Revelation. Good places to go to be sure but I like to start with Jesus. Let’s take a look at what Jesus said would happen to usher in the end times and compare that to what we are seeing today.

Let’s start with Matthew 24 beginning in verse 23:

“As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be of your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus said to them in reply, “See that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. 6b You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. 7c Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. 8 All these are the beginning of the labor pains. 9d Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; 12 and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. 13e  But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. 14f  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Here are the key signs to watch for:

  • Many will come in Jesus’s name claiming to be the messiah and many will be deceived
  • There will be wars and reports of war yet that is not the end
  • There will be famines and earthquakes
  • Christians will be handed over for persecution and will be killed
  • People will betray and hate one another
  • Many false prophets will arise and deceive many
  • People’s love will grow cold

Okay, what do you think? Do our times meet these criteria? I’m not feeling it.

While there has been the occasional crackpot claiming to be Jesus we not seeing many claiming to be the messiah.

Yes, there are wars and rumors of wars but that is not the end. And there have been famines and earthquakes but I don’t think in the number, frequency, or severity that Jesus describes.

Are Christians being persecuted and handed over to be killed? In some places certainly!! But not throughout the world. Christianity is not a hated religion everywhere and has two billion adherents around the globe.

Yes, there are false prophets who are deceiving many – I’ll give you that one! But there have always been false prophets. Read Ezekiel and God’s rebuke to the prophets He did not call and their messages He did not give.

Yes, people are betraying others, hating others, and love is growing cold. But which people? Believers or unbelievers? I don’t see true followers of Jesus being deceived, hating others, losing their love for God and others, or betraying anyone. I do, however, see that in the unbelieving community which is no surprise given they are blinded by Satan, know not what they do, and do not have the Holy Spirit within them to reveal to them the truth.

I’m just one guy but from my reading of this first set of criteria I just don’t see it happening right now.

Let’s go to Matthew 24:23-25

23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

Here again Jesus tells us what to watch for:

  • There will be false messiahs and false prophets
  • They perform great signs and wonders
  • Even believers may be deceived into believing Jesus has returned
  • We are not to believe it

The important one here for me is someone performing great signs and wonders. Do you see anyone out there performing great signs and wonders? We’re talking miracles such as Jesus did – healing the lame, making the blind see, raising the dead. Certainly, there are the charlatans out there claiming such miracles but really folks it’s just not happening. The anti-Christ of which Jesus speaks that ushers in the end times isn’t here yet because we’re not seeing the signs of which Jesus spoke.

Here’s an interesting verse from 1 John 2:18 –

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore, we know that it is the last hour.

I found a pretty good explanation of this verse from a website called Tomorrow’s World:

“The word antichrist in this verse means “against Christ” or “instead of Christ,” or refers to a false Christ who “opposes” the true Christ (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). The Apostle John warned that many opponents of the true Christ and His message had already come. Some had infiltrated God’s true Church. John continued, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (v. 19). John goes on to confirm this, providing more details.

“Notice what John wrote in the very next epistle: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 7). Here, John describes an antichrist as a deceiver.”

I believe that many anti-Christs have come and will come! There are plenty of people who oppose Jesus and are spurred on by Satan himself to deceive, divide, and destroy God’s word. But are these people THE anti-Christ? No. Let’s look at more scripture describing what we should be looking for in the true anti-Christ:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

Daniels 7:25

He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

Revelation 13:5-8

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

1 Timothy 4:1

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…

Daniel 11:37

He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all.

Revelation 13:7

Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation

Daniel 11:36

“And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.

Revelation 13:16-17

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, 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.

Daniel 8:23-25

And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise. His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.

Revelation 13:13-14

It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

When you study these verses, you get a pretty clear picture of what we should be looking for. Look around you today – do you see any of this? Granted you may see bits and pieces here and there but that is not the end. Jesus tells us that all these things must be in place for it to be the end times.

So, no, I don’t believe we are seeing the end times due to the pandemic, government intrusion into our personal lives, or rules regulating how we go about public meetings. I do, however, know that we are moving that way because scripture says we are. It’s just going to get worse and my Christian brothers and sisters you ought to be prepared for it. The time is coming when we will be persecuted. The time is coming when we will either submit to the authority of the anti-Christ or be killed. The time is coming when Christians will be hated and basically hunted down. Count on it. But it’s just not happening yet.

Thanks, Clay, for challenging me to address this issue from the other side. I hope that everyone studies scripture to know what signs to look for as our world heads toward the end times and people don’t get caught up in non-biblical guess work based on personal opinion.

One comment

  1. Mary Ann Gunselman · · Reply

    Thank you, Tom, for this incredible piece of study and work. I appreciate the information you have presented and will do more studying. I am just so glad to have Jesus in my life and the peace which I was give 28 years ago still stays with me, no matter the circumstances. I owe everything to Him.

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