Saturday, March 27, 2021

Beast Rising

The only safeguard against taking the mark of the beast is total allegiance to him and to his governmentI have a maxim when it comes to the Devil — He is a clever and cunning fellow, and whenever everyone is singing the same song, it is time to change the tune. The subject of the “Antichrist” raises understandable questions. Who is he? When will he appear? How do we recognize him? And so on… But since he is cunning, will he not do what we least expect?

Dinosaur Model - Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash
[Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash]

When I was sixteen years old, a serious young Christian warned us – “If you are looking for a Hitler-like figure foaming at the mouth while brandishing a ‘666’ branding iron, guess again!” You are looking in all the wrong places!

Contrary to popular interpretations, the “beast” wages war “against the saints,” not against nation-states or the modern nation of Israel. In Revelation, the focus remains on the efforts by the “Dragon” to destroy those “who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” And especially in the popular understanding, this insidious person will be a global political leader who uses overwhelming military and economic might to impose his will on the governments and populations of the world.

I remain unconvinced. The popular view may prove correct in the end. Regardless, already there is just such a creature on the world scene, a regime that employs its vast military and economic power to impose its agenda on other nations, groups, and even individuals, leveling sanctions, embargoes, property seizures, and blockades against its enemies, real or imagined, with no regard to any laws, national or international, and threatening and waging actual war at the slightest provocation.

Thus, whether the popular view is “correct,” even now, there is a very plausible candidate for the role of the “beast from the sea” that is striding across the earth to impose its self-serving agenda, one that fits the popular expectation ‘to a T.’ And it is the ONLY realistic candidate on the near horizon that does fit the expectation.

I am not going to name this “entity.” I remain unsure about how all this will fit together, and it would be premature for me to make any firm conclusions on the matter. But it does not take a rocket scientist or math genius to add ‘2 + 2’ and calculate the answer, let alone a prophet.

Unfortunately, many Christians already are compromised with this “beast-in-waiting,” having given their allegiance to it, at least, in the political arena. The 800 trillion-pound gorilla for which they have been searching, at this very moment, is sitting comfortably in our churches and home fellowships, yet we remain oblivious to the forest because of the trees.

Whether the popular interpretation is correct, we live in dangerous times. Our only safety is in knowing “in whom we have believed.” We need to decide exactly where and to whom we place our allegiance.

In Revelation, Jesus is the ABSOLUTE Lord of the Cosmos. His kingdom is not a “democracy.” He does not run for election or rule by consensus. In his realm, there is no concept of “dual citizenship,” no room for split loyalties.

Governments do not persecute Christians over doctrinal disputes, but because they give their allegiance to Jesus and his kingdom. “Caesar is Lord!” “No!”, the Christian responds, “Jesus alone is Lord!”

Humanity is divided into two, and only two, groups — Those who render homage to the “beast,” and those who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” There is no third alternative, no neutral ground. If you do not follow the “Lamb wherever he goes,” you will take the “mark of the beast” and find your name erased from the “book of life.”

Instead of trying to decode the number ‘666’ or worrying about barcodes and microchips, we must prioritize “following the Lamb wherever he goes” — Stress on the “wherever he goes,” which is often to places we would prefer to avoid. And we must give our allegiance to him alone.

Even now, this “beast is ascending from the sea.” One day, probably sooner rather than later, it may very well turn and bite a great many of us on our collective backside, and those believers who are heavily immersed in partisan politics are at the greatest risk. We need to remember just how clever and cunning the Devil is.