Loving Caesar

Discussions on the “Mark of the Beast” invariably focus on questions about what it is. Is it a medical implant, a barcode, or perhaps a tattoo? And what is the significance of its “number,” ‘666’? As important as these questions are, far more critical is the issue of how the believer can avoid taking the Beast’s mark or its “number,” or otherwise subjugating him or herself to it.

We tend to see the “False Prophet,” the “Beast from the Earth,” busily compelling everyone to take this Creature’s “Mark,” employing economic pressure, threats of imprisonment, or worse to enforce his agenda. Apparently, men will have no choice but to take the “Mark” or suffer deadly consequences. Submit or starve!

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
[Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash]

Almost certainly, when the “
Beast from the Sea” does appear, his reign will include the employment of coercion. However, the Book of Revelation does NOT free individuals from their responsibility for giving allegiance to it and the “Dragon” who is the real power behind the throne.

The “False Prophet” will cause the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to take the Beast’s “mark,” and he will deceive them into erecting an image of the “Beast from the Sea.” Since he will perform “great signs” to do so, his efforts will likely include religious deception of one sort or another - (Revelation 13:11-18).

WILLING PARTICIPANTS


The last statement indicates that the Beast’s “Mark” will be imposed by the “False Prophet” on both the willing and the unwilling. However, that is by no means the complete story. The “Beast from the Earth” certainly sets things in motion, but the recipients of its “Mark” or “number” are consciously involved. “Taking” its “Mark” is part and parcel of “rendering homage to the Beast.”

The “False Prophet” may use deceit and threats when needed, nonetheless, the “Inhabitants of the Earth” WILLING PARTICIPATE in this idolatrous endeavor.

In the series of the “Seven Bowls of Wrath,” the first bowl causes “a painful ulcer upon those who have the Mark of the Beast and those who render homage to its image.” Here, the English terms “have” and “render homage” represent present tense Greek participles that are in the ACTIVE VOICE. This means the subject performs the action, in this case, the “those who have the Mark.”

Thus, the “Inhabitants of the Earth” actively engage in taking the “Mark” and erecting the Beast’s image. THEY embrace the “Beast from the Sea” and the system it represents of their own free will.

This is why the “Inhabitants of the Earth” suffer the plagues unleashed by the “Seven Bowls of Wrath.” They bring this just punishment on their own heads - (Revelation 16:1-2).

In the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse,” the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” are cast alive into the “Lake of Fire” because they “deceived those who took the Mark of the Beast.” Once again, an active voice participle is employed. “Having taken” or lambanĊ in the clause means to “take,” “receive,” and even to “welcome” the “Mark” or “number” of the “Beast from the Sea” - (Revelation 19:17-21).

BELIEVERS MUST CHOOSE


Finally, those who reign with Jesus for the “thousand years” do so because “they DID NOT RENDER HOMAGE to the Beast,” and they “DID NOT TAKE its mark.” Once again, active voice verbs are used for actions NOT taken by the followers of the “Lamb.” His faithful disciples who persevere through persecution and tribulation do so by NOT compromising their allegiance to the “Lamb,” by refusing to give their allegiance to the “Beast” no matter the consequences.

Their decision to reject the “Beast” and its enticements is contrasted with that of the “Inhabitants of the Earth” who choose to give homage to the “Beast from the Sea” and its idolatrous image. They do so because they love what the Empire offers them - (Revelation 20:4-6).

When the “Beast” ascends from the Sea or “Abyss,” believers and non-believers alike will have a choice, whether to submit to and embrace the Beast or not. Every man will be held responsible for his own decision, to love and embrace Jesus or Caesar.

Thus, disciples of Jesus must exercise extreme caution before blindly embracing the societal values of the existing world order or submitting to the demands of the political machine that presumes to govern society, especially since doing so will detract from their loyalty to Jesus and his commission to his Church to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations.


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