29 December 2018

Taking the Beast’s Mark

The Beast
        Discussions on the Mark of the Beast focus on questions about what it is, its form, and the significance of its number, 666. Putting aside such issues, questions at least as relevant are: How is this mark implemented, and how does one avoid it?
       The tendency is to picture the False Prophecy busy compelling everyone to take the mark and 
using economic pressure, threats of imprisonment, or worse to do so.
        Individual men and women, apparently, will have no choice; take the mark or face deadly consequences.
        When the Beast appears, there may be an element of coercion but the book of Revelation does not free individuals from responsibility for taking it mark, Christian or not.
        The beast from the earth, the False Prophet, implements the mark on the “inhabitants of the earth” from all social and economic classes (13:11-18). He “deceives those who are dwelling upon the earth” so that they make an image of the first beast from the sea and render homage to it, and he “causes” everyone to take the mark of the beast. This last statement seems to indicate the mark is imposed on the willing and the unwilling by the False Prophet. However, this is not the complete story.
        English translations tend to render Revelation 13:16b along the lines, “he causes all, …to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead” (NASB). This is misleading. The Greek verb for “given” is in the third person, plural number and active voice. The clause more accurately reads, “that they should give to them a mark upon their right hand or upon their forehead.”
       The second beast certainly “causes” or sets this in motion, but recipients of the mark are consciously involved. Taking the mark is part and parcel of rendering homage to the beast. The False Prophet may use lies and deceit, nonetheless, the inhabitants of the earth are willing participants.
        The first Bowl of Wrath causes “a painful ulcer upon men, those having the mark of the beast and those rendering homage to his image” (16:2). “Having” and “rendering homage” represent present tense participles in the Greek with both in the active voice.
       The Greek present tense signifies ongoing or action in progress. The active voice means the subject is doing the action (as opposed to the passive voice when the subject is acted upon). This indicates individuals are actively engaged in taking the mark and paying homage to the beast. They embrace the system.
        The Beast and False Prophet that “deceived those having taken the mark of the beast and those who are rendering homage to his image” are cast alive into the Lake of Fire. Again two active voice participles are used. The verb translated “taken” (lambanō) is in the active voice, which means to “take.” If in the passive it has the sense “to receive” (19:17-21).
        Finally, those who reign with Christ for a thousand years are the ones beheaded because of the witness of Jesus, and because “they did not render homage to the beast or its image, and did not take its mark upon their forehead or upon their hand.” Once again, two active voice verbs are used, in this case for actions NOT taken by followers of the Lamb. This is in contrast to the inhabitants of the earth that choose to render homage to the beast and to take its mark.

When the Beast arrives on the scene, both Christians and non-Christians will have a choice, whether to bow to the Beast and to take its mark, or not.

       In the book of Revelation, the inhabitants of the earth are held responsible for their choice to follow the Beast rather than the Lamb. With this background in view, Christians ought to exercise extreme caution before blindly embracing the societal values of the existing world order or submitting blindly to the demands of the political order.
        Coercion may be applied in the future to compel the world’s population to submit to the Beast and to take its mark. On the other hand, millions may be more than willing to do so. Revelation lays stress on the Beast’s economic control. History demonstrates many men and women eagerly embrace almost any political system that promises prosperity and other economic benefits.
        As Jesus warned the church at Laodicea, “Because you say, I am rich, and have gotten riches and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; I counsel you to buy of me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe thyself, and that the shame of your nakedness be not made manifest; and eye-salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see” (Revelation 2:17).

No comments:

Post a Comment