In Chapter 13 of Revelation, we’re introduced to the anti-Christ.
I think it’s fair to say that of all the people mentioned in the Bible, none have caused as much speculation as the anti-Christ. For as long as I can remember, people have been conjecturing who the person might be, where he’ll come from, and how we’ll know it’s him. For all the mystery surrounding him, the Bible gives us a surprising amount of context and criteria with which to identify him. I think the challenge for most people has been that the descriptions of the anti-Christ have been spread across numerous books (of the Bible), prophets, and ages.
The best place to start is 2,600 years ago, in the Book of Daniel. In Chapter 2, then-king of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a statue, and God gave Daniel the ability to interpret its meaning. This image:
shows the statue, and the interpretation Daniel received from God: starting at the top, Babylon would be the greatest kingdom, but ultimately replaced by the Medo-Persians. Alexander the Great (and the Greeks) would conquer them, followed by the Romans. The Roman empire would then split into two parts, East and West. The feet – and the 10 toes – made of “a mixture of clay and iron” represent a loose confederation (clay and iron do not mix) of 10 nations that will come out of what was the Roman Empire. Geopolitically-speaking, in 2022, we are currently somewhere around the ankles – the Roman Empire is no more, and we haven’t yet seen the 10-nation alliance.
John sees the leader of this 10-nation alliance as a beast with “seven heads and 10 horns”. Somehow, it has features reminiscent of the earlier empires. (Later on in Chapter 17, we learn that the “seven heads” are seven hills, somehow related to the location/origin/home town/capital of the anti-Christ.)
Thankfully, John gets an interpretation of all this imagery when an angel tells him (Revelation 17:12-13) “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour [meaning, they haven’t been nations as of 70AD, but their kingdoms will be relatively new to the world] as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”
The angel explains to Daniel that “ten kings… shall arise from this [the Roman] kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He [this anti-Christ] shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings.”
Daniel (Daniel 7-8) describes how the anti-Christ comes into power. He and his country come up as one of the toes, and somehow take out three of the others. (We don’t know if his country conquers and absorbs them, or if he maneuvers politically to get them out of the alliance, but somehow he takes them out of the equation.) He then sets up his rule as a fearsome tyrant, unlike any the world has ever seen. (Yes, even the villains of the 20th century.)
No one knows which countries will be identified as the 10 “kingdoms”. It could be nations that have nuclear weapons – currently, there are 9 countries that do: United States, Russia, France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. Iran would be #10, but many of those countries were never part of the Roman empire.
Alternatively, the UK has recently been pushing for a D-10 collection of 10 democratic nations to counter China’s influence in (and theft of) technology. This would include:
- UK (part of former Roman empire)
- US (an offspring of the UK)
- Germany (part of former Roman empire)
- France (part of former Roman empire)
- Italy (part of former Roman empire)
- Canada (an offspring of the UK)
- Australia (ditto)
- South Korea
With these 10 countries controlling over 50% of world GDP – if they were to stick together beyond the protection of technology – it would represent one of the most powerful alliances of countries in the history of the world. There was a similar move by Trump, according to the NY Post, June 1, 2020, to primarily address China-related issues around the coronavirus. Again, who knows. But, as iron won’t mix with clay, these nations will be loosely held together and never truly unified as “one”.
So Daniel sees all of this, and his response? “And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days;” (I love the humanity. Part of me wonders if he first wrote, “Seriously, I threw up in my chamberpot,” and then scratched it out.) “Afterward I arose and went about the king’s business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it.” Poor Daniel, I’m sure, carried this in his heart for the rest of his life.
Daniel 9 goes on to describe more about this process. “Then he [the anti-Christ] shall confirm a covenant with many for one week [7 years]; but in the middle of the week [after 3.5 years] he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering…” We mentioned this before.
So…. at this time, this new leader will rise up. He’ll be a false leader, bringing a false covenant of peace for Israel, and half-way through, he’ll break it. He’ll go into The Third Temple, stop the sacrifices that are happening, and demand to be worshipped as God. Now for him to do that, a 3rd temple must be built. We talked about this earlier, too.
Here’s a quick recap of what will be going on as the anti-Christ is introduced:
- The Lamb Opens the First Seal of the “title deed” [scroll] of the Earth, the first step in redeeming it. The anti-Christ goes out and makes war. Lots of bad stuff follows.
- The anti-Christ sets up a peace agreement with Israel and the Middle East that will actually last. Many think it’ll allow Israel to build their temple on the location where currently resides the Muslims’ Dome of the Rock mosque. (Right now, this is geopolitically impossible.)
- The Israelites will resume their practice of animal sacrifice, after a 2,000-year hiatus.
- The peace agreement is supposed to last 7 years, but he’ll break it off at 3½ years.
- He’ll go into the temple and demand that the worship be of him.
Daniel 11:37-38 also gives us more information on him, as a person: “He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women” [Some see this as a reference to homosexuality, others feel it’s a reference to the dream of ancient Israeli women of bringing forth the Messiah.] “nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses [or forces]; and a god which his fathers did not know [some feel Islam] he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things.”
Zechariah 11:17 also describes him as “A sword shall be against his arm and against his right eye; His arm shall completely wither, and his right eye shall be totally blinded.” So somehow, the anti-Christ has incurred injuries from violence that disabled his right arm and blinded his right eye. Could be an assassination attempt, could be something else.
Daniel is also given clear instructions on what to do when the anti-Christ goes into the temple to be worshipped: Run. The verses: “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
2 Thessalonians 2:3 also speaks of the event: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin [the anti-Christ] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” As mentioned in a prior post, “falling away” could be God’s sudden removal of the Church, others feel it’s the Church turning away from God’s word. Verses 9-10 continue “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.“
…and then what happens? For those who have hardened their hearts against God, Verse 11: “…God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” God will make it very easy to believe the lies of the anti-Christ that will ultimately condemn them.
Here’s a quick recap on how we know it’s the anti-Christ:
- a rising world leader
- blasphemes God regularly
- coming out of what was once the Roman Empire
- he’ll take out 3 other leaders around him
- his right arm and right eye is withered
- he’ll confirm a peace agreement with Israel for 7 years… this agreement gets the world to fawn over him, but half-way through, he cuts it off and demands to be worshipped
- he fiercely persecutes the Jews
But not to worry… God comes back and fixes everything.
One note: the Middle East peace agreement put forward by then-president Trump is probably the most viable one out there, as it has actually gotten traction in the area. This doesn’t mean Trump is the anti-Christ. It does mean that for the first time in recent history, we’re seeing a viable peace agreement that could hold with Israel and its neighbors. And as more Middle-Eastern countries wring their hands over the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan, we might see them more motivated to come to peace.
Again, the biggest signs that all of this is near:
- Israel is back in the land. None of this could possibly happen when Israel was still scattered around the world.
- Israel is looking for – and struggling to find – peace with its neighbors.
This may be a shock to some, but as a church, we probably won’t see the anti-Christ on Earth. Why? Because in Chapter 5, the Church was in the presence of the Lord, bowing down saying, “You are worthy to take this scroll and loose its seals,” and then Jesus opened the 1st Seal, and “The Conqueror” came riding forth… that Conqueror was the anti-Christ mentioned here.
And geo-politically, we’re not there yet, because we’ve never seen 10 kings that have reigned concurrently within the Roman Empire. Only then will the anti-Christ rise from among them, bump off three of them, consolidate his power, and then persecute God’s people.
And at the end, the Angel tells Daniel, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Basically, the angel tells him to keep it all a secret for the rest of your life. You think this had an effect on Daniel? I’m guessing it aged him terribly.
As the anti-Christ rises to power (Revelation 13), “It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.”
But wait a minute… “authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation?” Who’s the world’s strongest superpower now? The USA.
What would have to happen for another world leader to become the world’s superpower? The USA would have to relinquish that title.
In other words: this all can’t happen unless something happens to the USA’s status. That raises the question, “why don’t we see the USA stepping in and shutting this guy down?” A few guesses:
- 70% of Americans identify as Christian – they’re raptured out of the world, and between that and The Tribulation carnage, the USA is literally decimated and no longer anywhere near as powerful as it once was.
- There’s a strong falling away (as in, an anti-Israel administration); and at this future time, the US doesn’t care enough to get involved – similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or
- Our national debt or hyper-inflation breaks us economically and we’re not strong enough to do anything.
Take your pick. Those last two – which are very real possibilities now – once seemed as improbable as the first. So while lots of people are wringing their hands over what they see as the collapse of American Exceptionalism or the breakdown of our societal norms, I take a surprising amount of comfort in knowing that part of God’s plan – in some way – involves America someday being less than it is now. It’s a little sad, for sure, but it’s a good reminder to trust in God, not politicians.
After John sees the anti-Christ arise, he sees another “beast”… this is a false prophet that testifies about the “validity” of the anti-Christ and causes people to worship him. He can do great signs, like make fire come down from heaven… (verse 14) “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs… telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” Translation: he forces people to worship the anti-Christ. And if they choose not to? Verse 15: “as many as would not worship the image of the beast [shall] be killed.” How does he force worship? Verse 16: “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
And here we first learn of the “mark of the beast”.
Now, pause here, again, for just a minute. If you’re at this point in the world’s trajectory… you’ve already seen some amazing – and terrifying – things.
- every single Christian on earth strangely disappears… and all around the same time.
- 1/3 of all vegetation has died
- 1/3 of the sea turns to blood, killing 1/3 of all marine life and sinking 1/3 of all ships
- 1/3 of the drinking water goes bad because something fell out of the sky
- the sun, moon, and stars go dark by 1/3
- a giant pit opens up in the earth and out come these horrible, stinging creatures that are virtually indestructible
- and half the world’s population has died
For the people who have gone through all that… if any of them have been able to get their hands on a Bible and happened to turn to the Book of Revelation – which at this point, will read like a movie script to their real lives – how many of them do you think will repent and turn toward God? Got a number in your mind? … Now, how many do you think will have the faith to stand up against this new global system – one that’s threating to excommunicate you from normal commerce and threatening to kill you if you don’t take part? My guess: not many.
And “fire from heaven” is a powerful persuader…
- when Moses and Aaron set up the tabernacle, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice to God. The people fell down in worship.
- when Solomon dedicated the First Temple, he said a beautiful prayer, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. The people fell down in worship.
- when Elijah the Prophet challenged prophets of Ba’al for the hearts of the Israelites, he prayed to God, and again, fire came down from heaven… and again, the people fell down in worship.
- when King Ahaziah sent troops to try and kidnap Elijah the Prophet, he (Elijah) called down fire and burned up his would-be abductors – twice. The next “abductor” that came to bring Elijah to the king fell down before Elijah and begged – not forced – Elijah to return with him. (Elijah did.)
- in Chapter 11 of Revelation, the two prophets in Jerusalem can call down fire, and many people see it and believe.
So guess what… when this false prophet calls down fire from heaven… lots of people will start worshipping him as God. BUT, they’re believing in the wrong thing, and it’s going to cost them their eternal souls.
If you knew (most of) your Bible, you’d think that every time fire came down from heaven, it would be from God… but it’s not. The one place where it comes from Satan is in the book of Job, Chapter 1. When Satan asks God for permission to destroy Job’s belongings, he does it with (drumroll) fire from heaven.
So… The Mark of the Beast
Believe it or not, something like this is actually in place now in China. China’s Social Credit System uses big data to track what people do. If you “behave” (donate money, give blood, engage in charity, “praise the government on social media”) you get rewards: work promotions, priority status for kids’ schools, access to credit, tax breaks. If not, if you don’t “behave” (not regularly visiting your parents, “cheat in online games”, “make insincere apologies for crimes committed”, or “spread rumors on the internet”), you get excluded from flights or train tickets, flagged as ineligible for certain jobs, restricted from access to public services, public shaming on TV and social media, etc. (Read the article – it’ll make you really appreciate not living in China.) In 2018, people with low scores were prohibited from buying plane tickets nearly 18 million times. Five million times, people were denied bullet train access.
We also see this happening now by major credit card companies: “Visa, Mastercard and American Express have announced they will suspend all operations in Russia in protest at its invasion of Ukraine.” So by flipping a switch, people can be “turned off” from their local economies.
And, who you contact is no longer private information. Thanks to the coronavirus, the first Google/Apple-based contact-tracing app is now a part of life. Developers have created software for your phone to automatically identify – and keep track of – who you interact with.
And if you want to talk about this type of technology reaching the most remote corners of the Earth, check out Sovereign Sky, a space-based crypto currency that, in their words, is “designed to redistribute the world’s wealth & financial aid from the developed world to the world’s poorest & remotest areas to help reduce extreme global poverty” The mission is admirable – help remove some of the friction in the process of getting donations directly to the people in need. But in their promo video, they say, “cover the entire planet with a private, globally encrypted wifi network. A global, new digital currency, built and deployed upon the SovereignSky satellite constellation network, in the jurisdiction-free arena of space.” Instead of bureaucracies taking a cut of donations, this allows donors to give directly to the poorest in need.
Sounds far-fetched? SpaceX is already working on it. The headline: “SpaceX launches 58 more Starlink satellites in ride-share mission.” From the article: “The mission brings the total number of Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit to more than 500… SpaceX’s Starlink aims to eventually include tens of thousands of orbiting routers that’ll blanket the Earth in broadband internet access.” Sidenote – this will make it even easier for “all nations to see two prophets dead in the streets of Jerusalem” 3.5 years into the Tribulation.
Also from the article, “The first-stage booster had previously flown twice, both times on Dragon cargo resupply missions to the ISS.” Interesting that the scientists use something called the “Dragon” to make these flights possible…
But that’s still in other countries and developing 3rd world economies, right?
From Forbes magazine: “Mitre Corp., a government-linked Skunk Works, has been making bleeding-edge breakthroughs for U.S. agencies for more than six decades… Among the government’s wilder Mitre orders: a prototype tool that can hack into smartwatches, fitness trackers and home thermometers for the purposes of homeland security; software to collect human fingerprints from social media websites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the FBI [it would work like zooming in on the hand of someone who’s waving in a photo]; support in building what the FBI calls the biggest database of human anatomy and criminal history in the world.”
And recently, Facebook (now “Meta”, which, oddly enough, is the Hebrew word for “dead”) launched its own currency. In an open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg, author Steve Forbes advises “You realize the fundamental importance of a currency that’s stable in value. Money measures value the way a scale measures weight or a clock measures time…With cryptocurrencies, it’s steak one day and dog food the next. But if you can invent a truly stable cryptocurrency that can actually be used for day-to-day transactions and for longer-term contracts and investment vehicles, you’ll be a winner.” By fixing Facebook’s Libra (their current crypto-currency offering) to gold, “that fixture will gradually make it the most desirable medium of exchange around the globe. People hunger for trustworthy money.” Here’s an interesting note: “And, by the way, you might consider changing the Libra’s name. The ‘Libra’ was a measure of weight from the Roman Empire, and we know where that ended up. Don’t be bashful; call it the “Mark.” … A gold-backed Mark would be a transformative move in the history of money. It would blow Bitcoin out of the water and would generate an enthusiastic “Like” from billions of businesses and people, now and forever.”
There’s even a digital Drivers Licenses already in the works (Sept. 1, 2021).
The purpose of sharing these isn’t to outrage you about government surveillance overreach. It’s to prove that the technology required to mandate “that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast” is already here. When John wrote this 2,000 years ago, this was unfathomable. Now, it’s 100% possible.
The increase in popularity and acceptance of crypto currencies shows that (and how) a “revised” global financial system would become part of everyday life. (El Salvador recently recognized Bitcoin as official currency and is giving $30 worth of Bitcoin to each citizen who uses its new digital wallet app.)
I recognize that the block-chain technology that serves as the basis for crypto currencies is a little more complicated than this, but if you own technology, you can dictate policy by threatening to exclude people from commerce with the flip of a switch. Look at how technology has become such a part of our lives, from internet shopping and credit cards to using your smartphone as an airline boarding pass. And as I just mentioned above, China is already doing this. And even as little as 30 years ago, no one had any idea what this might possibly look like.
From a timeline perspective, remember that the anti-Christ confirms his peace agreement, then 3.5 years later, he rolls out this global financial system. Use that as a marker and work backward: If you look at modern technology – and you think a global financial system like this could be rolled out in the next 3.5 years – that means we’re at the point where, at any time, the Tribulation could be kicked off, beginning with (drumroll) the removal of the Church.
We have no idea how restrictive or demanding the anti-Christ’s system will be, but I would venture to say that, in pretty much every way imaginable, it’ll be worse than China’s Social Credit system.
Again, all these things – Sovereign Sky, Facebook, Bitcoin – these are not the mark of the beast. … I’m saying that currently, we already have the technology to roll out the kind of system “the beast” will eventually use. Look back at the world in which John lived and wrote… at any time between then and ~30 years ago, was this stuff possible? No. It must have blown John’s mind to see people transacting by waving a hand or scanning a forehead.
Okay, so what is the Mark of the Beast? What does it look like?
For a good 40-minute explanation, click here. The actual verses in Revelation identify it as “a mark on [the] right hand or on [the] forehead, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”
The Greek word used here for “on” actually has two meanings: “on” or even “in”. So it’s possible that the mark of the beast could be in people’s hands or in their heads. In order to take part in this global system and not be killed, people will need to have either 1.) the mark, 2.) the name of the ruler, or 3.) the number of his name.
Revelation 13:18 “…Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”
Okay, but what’s the 666 mean?
Nelson Mandela had a number: 46664
This “number” he wore like a badge of honor, and it was assigned to him at one of the prisons where he was incarcerated as a political prisoner. At that time in South Africa, they numbered prisoners by: 1.) the order they were brought in, and 2.) the year they were brought in. Mandela was the 466th prisoner to be brought into that prison in the year 1964.
Did Nelson Mandela wear the mark of the beast? No, of course not.
Well, what else? The logo for Google Chrome kinda looks like three “6’s”, interlocking on top of each other.
Does that mean Google Chrome is the mark of the beast? At this point in time, no.
What about the RFID chips? Even as of the 1990’s, they were about the size of a grain of rice and could easily be implanted under the skin.
Or, if it had to be attached to the outside of the body…
This was from back in 2012, from the Wall Street Journal.
What if it’s literally the number? Well, in the Greek language, “six-hundred, sixty-six” is written
“Chi, Si, Sigma”. On a shirt, it looks like this:
Or, lower-case letters:
Apparently, people have already been ordering “666” shirts, and a quick internet search will show you plenty of “666” face tattoos. The world is already primed to the idea.
The hard part for us, on this side of prophecy, is that we really have no idea what “666” will look like when it’s being coerced onto hands and foreheads. Given how many people have at least heard the expression “mark of the beast” associated with the number, I can’t imagine it will actually looking like “666”… maybe it does, and those left on the Earth at that point in time either don’t know the backstory or don’t care.
BUT, for those who are still around on the Earth at this point, if you see a political leader create a lasting peace agreement within the Middle East, and somehow, there’s a number of 666 associated with his name/identity, you’ll know that he is the anti-Christ.
To me, the most troubling part of all this is going to be the social pressures that come up in support of this. Anecdotally, I waited a long time to get the COVID vaccine just to see what those social pressures would be like. Perspectives of people around me ran the gamut from “okay, your call” to “children are still dying from this every day because of people like you.” I was amazed (but not altogether surprised) that the strongest “encouragement” came from people in my life who were also the loudest advocates for “my body, my choice.” Go figure.
I wasn’t the only one feeling the pressure. Several countries, states, and localities began testing the waters of requiring proof of vaccination to enter places like grocery stores. (The idea was not well-received, and thus short-lived.) But as the virus spread, the idea of “vaccine passports” gained more and more popularity. In Africa and other areas suffering from high disease rates and extreme poverty, organizations are experimenting with connecting medical and financial records to one centralized system. Paraphrasing from the Activist Post, (July 15, 2020) Mastercard, along with a major vaccine alliance organization, and an identity-security company have created “a novel approach towards linking a biometric digital identity system, vaccination records, and a payment system into a single cohesive platform.”
I will be the first to admit that it was born out of good intentions, for sure. And in no way do I believe that the COVID vaccine is the “mark of the beast”. What I’m pointing out here is that, judging by “how far we’ve come” (for better or worse), in the last decade or so, societies and technologies are all teed up to accept a global financial system with biometric-only access in a way that has never occurred before in history.
Okay then, so how soon does this all happen? Well, remember, you have to have a beast – in power – before you have a mark of the beast.
In Chapter 6 or Revelation, Jesus broke the first seal and allowed the rise of the anti-Christ. Then came war, famine, and pestilence. Before that (Chapter 5) – Jesus takes the scroll from God the Father, and there’s a group of people bowing down saying “you are worthy to take the scroll and loose the seal, for you were slain, and you have redeemed us by your blood and you have made us kings and priests unto our God.” That group was the Church, worshipping Him in Heaven before the first seal was broken. And before that was Chapter 4, where John hears a loud voice saying “come up here”. And that’s the last time the word “Church” is used in the Book of Revelation until the Church comes again with Jesus in Chapter 19.
In other words, if you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and asked Him to forgive you for all the stuff you’ve done wrong, you’ll be watching this all unfold from the safety and comfort of God’s presence as though you were watching a play on a stage. Don’t sweat it.
Revelation 14 is another parenthetical chapter that shows what’s going on behind the scenes in Heaven. John again sees the Tribulation Saints (the 144,000 Jews who were martyred for coming to Jesus.) John also sees three angels going forth from heaven (the Greek wording for “heaven” refers to the atmosphere, not the residence of God), bringing three messages to the people who remain on the earth, “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”
Angel 1: “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” A final warning, making sure everyone hears the Good News and has a chance to turn to Jesus.
Angel 2: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” This is notice that the world system set up by the anti-Christ has failed, and all the world economies that relied on it are suffering.
Angel 3: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
We’re not sure if this is a literal angel, supernaturally sharing a message, or if it’s a reference to some sort of satellite communications. If the latter, it’s already alive and well. Check it out.
Here’s the takeaway: if you accept the anti-Christ’s system – either by taking his name, number, or mark, you have rejected God’s lifeline of salvation. As a result, you’ll get (at most) 3.5 years to live, then eternal torment. Seems like an obvious decision, but remember, if you don’t take the mark, you can’t buy food for your family, you can’t function in normal society, and you’ll likely be threatened with death.
But what about that “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God” part? What’s that about? Luke 22:42: Remember when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane? “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” The “cup” that Jesus is referring to is God’s Wrath. When Jesus died on the cross, He took all the punishment that you and I deserve for our sins so that 1.) God can be just and not treat good and evil the same way – He can punish for offenses, and also 2.) so you and I could have a way to square our books with God.
After that warning goes out, (verse 14) “one like the Son of Man, having a golden crown and in His hand a sharp sickle.” The description matches earlier descriptions of Jesus. But now, He’s wearing a crown, which He wasn’t in Chapter 1 – almost like it’s time to set up His kingdom.
“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’” (The Greek language speaks of “over-ripe” or “dry”, as in “last possible minute.”)
The way it’s written, it seems as though God is sending Jesus a message saying, “It’s time.”
Remember Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells the parable about a farmer (God) who had weeds (bad people) growing among his crops (good people). The servants (God’s angels) offered to pluck out the weeds, but the farmer didn’t want any crops to be plucked out too soon, so he says to wait until harvest. What we see here is that harvest.
“So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.” (About 184 miles.)
This “blood that comes out of the winepress” is a foreshadowing of what’s coming in Armageddon. You also see it in Joel 3.
Chapter 15 of Revelation foreshadows it as well, along with seven angels coming forward with seven bowls of God’s wrath, manifested as plagues. I’ve heard that the Greek language here refers to the “final seven”, as in, “after this, God’s judgement and wrath on the Earth will be satisfied.”
Chapter 16 begins with God telling these seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”
We don’t really get God’s tone in saying this, but I have to believe it’s as forlorn as possible, more like,
go, and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God… on the… Earth…”
filled with a heavy sorrow that very few unfortunate humans can understand. Here is the same God who loved the world enough to give His only son as a scapegoat sacrifice, so that the sinful people of the world can come and be with Him. It’s the same God who, for thousands of years, has said, “If you turn away from Me, this will happen…” And now, after trying everything to coax his lost children home to Him, He knows exactly how this next and final judgement will end: some will repent and turn back to Him, and others, still, will stand and shake their fist at Him… and God’s heart will break.
Ezekiel 33:11: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” For thousands of years, God has been begging people to come back to Him – for their own good.
But yet, despite God’s attempts to offer people life, some people choose death. And so the final seven plagues are for them:
These are progressive warnings, where God is still urging people to repent and turn back to Him. What follows now are known as the “Bowl Judgments”:
- painful sores all over the bodies of those who have accepted the mark of the beast.
This probably makes it all the more difficult to hide the fact that you didn’t take the mark.
- the sea turns to blood (or, in this case, the Greek language could imply something blood-like), ”and every living creature in the sea died.” Can you imagine what that smells like washing up on shore… everywhere? And since most of our oxygen comes from the surface of the ocean, and the four angels have been told to hold back the wind, what will that do to air quality? Ocean-front property looks a little less appealing at this point.
- “the rivers and springs of water… became blood”
So now, drinking water is in short, short supply. Why turn the drinking water to blood? Verse 6: “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and [God has] given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” Remember the two prophets killed in Chapter 11? And most every prophet before them? Oh, and Jesus? This world – and the world of Revelation – seems to crave innocent blood, and so God gives them exactly what they want.
- the sun “scorched men with great heat”
According to Live Science, the magnetic interference from something like this “can cause widespread power outages across the world and permanently damage electrical infrastructure, such as power transformers.” Some researchers fear that a sufficiently large solar storm could also ravage the world’s undersea internet cables, resulting in an “internet apocalypse” that leaves huge chunks of the world population disconnected for months. So, no electricity, and no internet. And that new world currency that people with the mark of the beast are using? That’s now worthless.
This solar activity would also likely melt the icecaps, as well as the snowcaps on mountains, particularly on Mt. Ararat in Turkey. This is the site where some believe Noah’s Ark has been found. In 1949, the US was flying recon in the area and took pictures of what became known as “the Ararat Anomaly”, a boat-shaped object, comparable in dimensions to Noah’s Ark. The pictures were classified for some time, and it may be nothing more than a boat-shaped rock pile, but it may also be a well-preserved reminder that the God who is bringing these judgements against the people at this time is the same God who promised forgiveness through His son Jesus. And if you’re wondering where the Bible says the Ark landed, Genesis 8:4, “Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.” If the Ararat Anomaly turns out to be the Ark, that’d be a pretty tough sign to ignore, and highly visible, too, as people start trekking up mountains for the only remaining drinkable water.
And how did the people react? ”…and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.”
- Darkness – there’s some component of pain in this darkness (we’re not sure what), but again, 1.) everyone knows it’s from God, and 2.) they still don’t repent. This is the last time they refused to repent. Remember the Ten Plagues brought upon Egypt when Pharaoh wouldn’t let the Israelites go free? The final plague in Egypt before the Angel of Death ripped through the country was the plague of darkness. When Jesus was on the cross, darkness covered the land. It seems that “darkness” is God’s final warning before rampant death and destruction. Almost like He hides everything in the world to make it easier to focus on Him.
- The Euphrates River dries up “so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.” Daniel 11:40-45 also explains this part of the End, where several of the “kings” under the anti-Christ’s rule get fed up with the destruction and ruin that he causes, and they rise up in rebellion and attack him. As the anti-Christ is putting down this rebellion, “news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.” So, he starts to learn of an invasion coming from… across the Euphrates… and he goes to fight. Revelation 9:16 says it’s an army of 200 million. When John was writing this, an army of that size was unheard of. But, in 1965 (May 21, page 35. I don’t have a link for it.), Time Magazine said China would be able to muster an army of that size.
But okay, what does China have to do with any of this?
Ever heard of China’s Belt and Road Initiative? Google it. It’s not a conspiracy by any means – it’s China articulating their long-term economic growth plans. China is seeking to re-invigorate the old Silk Road, which goes from Sheng-hi to Europe… across the Euphrates and through Israel. (Boris Johnson is a supporter of it.) China is trying to “acquire” the land and build a “road”. They do it by offering high-dollar infrastructure projects, with money put up by Beijing, against collateral such as seaports or railway lines. When these developing nations can’t pay for the projects, China exercises their right to “reclaim” their money through access to the infrastructure they built or seaports the host country had put up as collateral.
Look at their map to rebuild the old “silk road” for trade with Europe. See the white line (New Silk Road)? Follow it west to the red “X”. That’s where it crosses the Euphrates River. (I watch China quietly siding with Russia during the invasion of Ukraine, and I can’t help but think about the long-term direction they’re headed – with Russia as an ally to China, a Russian-controlled Ukraine assures China of a connected “Digital Road” into Europe.)
We’re not sure exactly why the “Kings of the East” are coming to fight against the anti-Christ. They could come to fight against him because he’s wrecked the European/MENA societies and economies, and cost the Chinese lots and lots of money. See China’s crackdown on crypto: as of Sept. 24, 2021, China outlawed all crypto transactions.
If the anti-Christ sets up a crypto-like system of finance, and gains control over the wealth of the Western world, how do you think China will take it? My guess: not very well. Still, 7,000 miles is a long, long way to march an army of 200 million, and it would take a lot of motivation to get a country to commit to that type of military aggression.
Verse 13: “And I [John] saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
Remember, John is writing this in 90 AD, long before any Hollywood CGI movies, and what he’s seeing here are some type of lying spirits that go out and deceive the kings of the East to come to Israel for a battle.
But wait, they look like… frogs?
Large heads, big eyes, green skin, no ears, small nostrils, long padded fingers. Almost like…
Or this from the BBC…
If you were living in 90 AD, and you saw something like what’s on the left, how would you describe it to someone?
Verse 16: “And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”
So these lying spirits deceive the world rulers into coming to fight at a place called Armageddon.
“Armageddon” is a real place; you could go there today, if you wanted. The name actually means “the Valley [near the hill] of Megiddo,” and it’s about 80 miles north of Jerusalem. It’s also called the Jezreel Valley.
Here, the nations of the world will gather in this massive valley (which is about 14 miles wide) for a battle, and then, the angle pours out the seventh bowl.
- The Earth is Utterly Shaken – the angel pours out God’s wrath “into the air”… seems kind of general, right? All the others were poured out into very specific locations or things – human bodies, the sea, fresh water, etc. Why air? If you look at Ephesians 2, the Bible refers to Satan as “the prince of the power of the air.” In other words, this final bowl of God’s wrath is for Satan.
So what happens? A few things:
- First, an earthquake, (verse 18) “such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth,” and it splits Jerusalem into 3 parts.
- “Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” I have no idea what it means for islands to “flee away” (maybe sea level rise? tidal waves from the earthquake?). As for the mountains, there are a few cross references:
- “The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord,” Psalm 97
- “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low;” Isaiah 40
- “And tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys will split” Micah 1. So, volcanos, maybe?
- “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem” Zechariah 14
(You know, for a book written by 40+ different people, spanning three continents and 1400 years, the Bible really is pretty consistent…)
- (Verse 21) “great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. [That’s about 75-120 lbs. each.] Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.”
- If you remember Leviticus, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him.” And here we see men blaspheming God, and stones falling from heaven to kill them.
When you read about military invasions, the invaders usually begin by shelling the target with artillery before sending in troops. In the case of Revelation 16, this was the artillery, next comes the soldier.
Chapter 17 is another parenthetical chapter where John gets to see what’s going on in Heaven while God’s judgement is poured out on the world below. The chapter starts with one of the more confusing and strange passages in the Bible where John sees “the Woman on the Beast”:
“I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:
MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.
I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.”
Fortunately, the angel who showed this to John realized that his mind was blown and said, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns…”
First, the Beast: This is the same anti-Christ that we read about earlier.
As for the Woman: “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” In John’s time of 90 AD, this was Rome. The angel also clarifies the meaning of the seven heads of the Beast: “[they] are seven mountains on which the woman sits.” Rome was built on seven hills. (Before you latch on to that too strongly, according to Wikipedia, there are 91 cities built on “seven hills”. Some you may have heard of:
- Washington, DC
- Staten Island, NY (NYC)
- Yonkers, NY (NYC)
- Tehran, Iran
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Moscow, Russia
The angel goes on: “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”
One interpretation is that “the woman” is what’s left of “the Church” after all the true believers – people with hearts turned to Jesus – are removed in the Rapture. Once the real believers are out of the way, what’s left will be the building, the money (and LOTS of it), the real estate, and (probably) the political influence. Saying that it’s headquartered in Rome points strongly to the Catholic Church (though again, to be clear, what’s left of the Church after Rapture, and yes, I am Catholic). For support of the argument that Revelation is here talking about the post-Rapture shell of the Catholic church, Google “who wears scarlet” (result: Catholic cardinals in Rome.) Or, consider a Catholic mass, where priests always “hold a golden chalice”. In John’s day, “purple” was the color of the ruling class, signifying royalty or high government status. (It’s probably too American-centric to say that it’s a mix or Republican-red and Democrat-blue… but food for thought.)
And since the group of believers on Earth – the Church – is frequently referred to as “The Bride of Christ,” it makes sense that a false copy of “the Church”, or rather, “all the evil things about the Church” would be referred to as “the Harlot of Babylon”. During the Old Testament times when Israel was worshipping idols, God often referred to their behavior as “adultery”, or “spiritual harlotry”.
If you’re not familiar, the city of Babylon is historically thought to be the birthplace of idolatry, where people first began forming their own gods in protest of God not satisfying their every whim.
Babylon is where Noah’s descendants thumbed their noses at God who told them to disperse throughout the Earth. Instead, they decided to stay in one place and build a tower up to Heaven. They even attempted to make it Judgement-proof by covering it with tar – the same process that God told Noah to use to make the ark waterproof (Genesis 6:14). Here’s a 16th century artist’s interpretation of the tower:
This was painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1563.
And this is the EU Parliament building as it stands today.
Look similar? This isn’t a coincidence. The theme of the building is “many tongues, one voice”. The building design raises a really good question: If the EU is meant to be a secular state, why would it openly use symbols based on an ancient biblical model? And even then, why choose symbols that, according to the scriptural text, are spiritually dark and end up being destroyed? (I have my opinion.)
Whether or not “the harlot” turns out to be the gutted Church remains to be seen. It could also simply be some type of economic system. Either way, it “rides along” on the success of the anti-Christ. But ultimately, it gets destroyed too…
Remember the 10 kings that come out of the areas where the ancient Roman empire was? Well, as the angel explains to John, “the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” So there.
If “the harlot” is the Church’s “leftovers” after the real believers are Raptured, it’s a short trip to connect “make her desolate = take all the money”; “eat her flesh = kill the people”, and “burn her with fire = raze the buildings”. In other words, the 10 “kings” that form the loose confederation from which the anti-Christ rises eventually get sick of his shenanigans and turn on him.
Chapter 18 continues about the woman and the beast. This time, we see the economic influence of “Babylon”. Whether it’s just the economic reach of the gutted Church, or it refers to a modern economic powerhouse city, no one knows. Could be both.
Verse 3: “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”
So we don’t know where this “Babylon” is. It could be NYC, London, Rome, a city in Singapore… after the global shake-up that COVID is having on supply chains and political boundaries, it could be a completely different city altogether. Heck, it could even be a reference to the internet. Who knows.
Continuing into verse 4, we once again see the heart of God, pleading with people to turn toward Him and away from their sins, “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’” Still, after all this tumult brought on the world, God is still willing to forgive His people and bring them back to Himself.
My favorite prophetic verse from this chapter is verse 23: “The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.” In John’s day, the “great men of the earth” were either kings, warriors, or both. Merchants did okay for themselves, but it was the rulers who were rich – “great” men. Take a look at our world now, and the tremendous influence that the rich men of the world have over our lives, specifically around controlling tech and commerce. How could John have possibly known that societal norms and structures would have shifted that much? (Spoiler alert: God told him.)
How ‘bout that…
In Chapter 19, the first half remains a behind-the-scenes look for John. And it picks up right where 18 left off – Babylon destroyed. “After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.’”
All beings in heaven are praising God for destroying “Babylon”. (Three “alleluia’s” in the first four verses… )
As they’re praising God without complaint, they say, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (verse 7.) Up to this point, “The Church” is always referred to as “the Bride of Christ.” But here, for the first time, the “The Church” is referred to as “the wife” of Christ. Why the difference?
In John’s day, marriages were arranged by the fathers of both parties. After the engagement (which would often last a year to make sure the bride wasn’t pregnant… this is why Joseph was going to “divorce/break off the engagement” quietly when he found out Mary was pregnant), the groom spends time building an addition to his father’s house, where the couple will live. Once the groom has done enough building, the father will say, “Okay, son, go and get your bride,” and the wedding ceremony would begin… and last 7 days. Today, that seems pretty surprise-ish, and stress-inducing, but in a small hamlet without refrigeration or television, people would know because 1.) the son would be building on his dad’s house, and 2.) the father would start buying stuff for the wedding… in other words there would be signs.
So when Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2), this is what He was talking about. Culturally, the people reading this would have absolutely understood the marriage reference. Just as a bride gets ready for her wedding day, how would the Church prepare itself throughout time? Remember the beginning of the book, with the seven letters to the seven churches? …and those churches represent the seven “ages” of The Church on Earth. The Church prepared herself by coming into her fullness, and reaching all the people throughout the Earth that she was supposed to. And that “marriage feast” that was supposed to last seven days? …my guess is that’s going on in Heaven during the seven-year period of The Tribulation.
Okay, enough of the behind-the-scenes… getting back to what’s happening on Earth. Verses 11-13: Jesus’s Second Coming:
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” (Remember John 1:1? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The same Word.)
As a prelude to what’s going to happen next, an angel calls to “all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”
Again, Israel is a major bird-migration bottleneck. Interestingly, in the Bible, “birds” are often associated with Satan. Here, after the battle, the only ones satisfied will be, in fact, “the birds”.
Now remember, at this point, the “lying spirits” (that look like frogs… or aliens) sent forth from Satan have gathered the world’s armies into the valley of Megiddo, or, to use the Hebrew words, Armageddon. Initially, they come to fight against the anti-Christ having chafed under his rule. But, as Jesus appears, they turn and attack Him.
Revelation, verse 19 “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.”
If physically fighting a war against God seems… unwinnable to you, you’re not alone. Psalm 2:2-3 poses the same question: “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’” According to the Psalmist, the people still left to fight against God know exactly why they’re doing it – they just don’t want to be under His authority. Sadly, there are people in all our lives who feel the same way.
So how does this battle end, this great battle of good vs. evil, prophesied for thousands of years? Verse 20:
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
That’s it. Nothing like “the battle raged on for days/years/decades.” There was no “it seemed like all hope was lost,” or “the good guys were almost defeated”. None of that. Jesus shows up, says something like “done,” and it’s over. No battle, no collateral damage, no good-guy casualties, just one side obliterated.
The final verse in chapter 19 ends with “and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
Clean up on Aisle 666.
But this is not the end of evil. There’s still one battle remaining, but that’s for the next post.