20 July 2019

The Universal Extent of the Beast's Reign

The Beast
Some prophecy teachers contend the extent of the Antichrist’s reign will be geographically or politically limited. Some even suggest that some nations will opt out of the Antichrist’s empire and resist the imposition of his rule. Most commonly, the United States of America and the modern state of Israel are assumed to be exceptions to the otherwise global reign of the “Beast.”   
     This proposition conflicts with the book of Revelation’s usage of the term “all,” its cosmic scope, and its apocalyptic mindset that divides humanity into two groups:  those who follow the Lamb, and, those who render homage to the Beast. Revelation nowhere suggests any third category.
     For example, in Revelation 1:7 there is a verbal allusion to and reapplication of Zechariah 12:10-12. In the original prophecy, “all nations come against Jerusalem” while the “house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” look to the one “whom they pierced and wail over him.” In Revelation, this prophecy is transformed into “every one who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will wail over him.”
     One of the seven heads of the Beast from the sea is mortally wounded, then healed (Revelation 13:1-3). In reaction, “the whole earth marveled after the Beast and rendered homage to the Dragon…saying, ‘Who is like the Beast and who can make war with him?’”
     The Beast is given “authority over all tribes and peoples and tongues and nations” (Revelation 13:7). This language parallels the redemptive activity of the Lamb who “redeemed unto God by his blood men and women out of every (Greek pas) tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 13:7).
The Lamb redeems men and women “out of” every nation and ethnic group. In contrast, the Beast is granted authority to impose its rule over all those nations and ethnic groups.  If this language was limited geographically and ethnically when used of the Beast, the same would hold true for the extent of the Lamb’s redemptive activity (compare Revelation 7:9).
     Additionally, “all (Greek pas) they who are dwelling upon the earth will render homage” to the Beast and its image. This group is identified further as those “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb” (Revelation 13:8). All those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book render homage to the Beast.
     Whether one’s name is written in the Book of Life is not limited or determined by geography, national or political affiliation, but by how one responds to the Beast. The statement, “all who dwell upon the earth will render it homage,” cannot be limited by geography or ethnicity.
     Another beast appears, this one “from the earth,” the “false prophet.” He uses religious deception and economic pressure to “cause the earth and its inhabitants to render homage to the first Beast” (Revelation 13:11-15). Elsewhere, “inhabitants of the earth” refers to humanity as a whole in rebellion against God and the Lamb (e.g., Revelation 3:10).
     A day is coming when God will judge the “inhabitants of the earth” because they killed His saints (6:10). In the series of Seven Trumpets, an eagle cries out, “Woe, woe, woe, for them who dwell on the earth” (8:13). The judgments unleashed by the Seven Trumpets target the “earth dwellers” that refuse to repent. If those “who dwell on the earth” refers to a group limited by geography and not to all fallen men and women, then logically the effects of the Seven Trumpet judgments are likewise limited.
     The “beast from the earth,” the False Prophet, “deceives them who dwell upon the earth.” All the “inhabitants of the earth,” whether “small or great, rich or poor, free or slave,” take the mark of the Beast. In contrast, those who follow the Lamb “wherever he goes” have his and his Father’s name inscribed on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1-5). Humanity is divided into two camps:  those who give their allegiance to the Beast and willingly take its mark, and those who follow the Lamb and have his name. There is no neutral ground or “opt-out” option.
     In Revelation chapter 14, an angel announces an “everlasting gospel to them who dwell upon the earth, even to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” All are called to fear God because the hour of his judgment has arrived. If anyone renders homage to the Beast, “he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:9-10). This warning anticipates the final judgment of the whole earth, the time to “gather the vine of the earth and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God.” This describes final and total judgment, not a partial one.
     The final battle is portrayed again in the vision of Jesus arriving from heaven upon a white horse to “judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11-21). He is followed by the “armies of heaven.” The Beast, the “kings of the earth and their armies” are gathered to make war with the Lamb. But there is no horrific or prolonged battle; as soon as this force is assembled, the Beast and the False Prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire and the rest of the assembled summarily destroyed.
     Nowhere does Revelation describe or suggest that any nation will opt out of the Beast’s reign or resist it militarily. In light of Revelation’s universal language, its global and cosmic scope, its apocalyptic perspective that divides all humanity into two groups, the suggestion that “all nations” does not mean “all” is excluded.

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