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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wreath against stone wall 4/21/13
A beautiful natural wreath hanging on our friend's stone farmhouse.

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"The Mark of the Beast"

"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead" (Revelation 13:16).

I accepted Christ in the early 70's. At that time there was a very popular interest in the return of the Lord with numerous books written on the topic such as Hal Lindsey's, "The Late Great Planet Earth" which was similar in popularity to the "Left Behind" series which was popular about ten to fifteen years ago.

It seems that the degree of this popular interest has varied over the last forty years. Those who have followed Christ longer than I or those who have studied church history realize this has always been the case. Of course earnest Christians should always have a firm belief in the return of the Lord and a well-balanced interest in the last-time events.

However there has always been a tendency to see significance in certain events as signs of the end. This sells books and draws crowds. Many will recall a book from 25 years ago titled, "Eighty-eight reasons Christ will return in 1988." The author, who is now deceased, had an elaborate conjecture as to the significance in a variety of signs and specifically predicted the return of the Lord. More recently a radio preacher, Harold Camping, and his fringe followers made a lot of headlines with very specific dates for the second coming just several years ago.

Having said that, I do believe there are bigger picture events and advances in technology that are very interesting to apply to what the Scripture says about the end times. For instance, of all the geography on the earth, why is so much of the turmoil in the Middle East, specifically in the very region around Israel?

Believers who seriously read their Bible have pondered the daily verse for centuries: "He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead."  This "mark" is known as the "Mark of the Beast." It's a very specific and unambiguous statement, but we wonder to what does it apply? That's a matter of numerous interpretations that have varied through the years, often depending upon current technology.

However there are amazing advances in technology that certainly again lend to conjecture on this matter. For instance small chips were placed in the shoes of runners in the Boston Marathon to track their progress and of course having the capability of pinpointing precisely where the runner is. If you carry a cell phone it can also do that which in some circumstances could be a great blessing. But I sure do wonder as I consider applications of this technology to the daily verse and end time events as foretold in the Bible.

Here's a note from a study Bible, "This mark has nothing to do with credit, as is often taught today. In a credit system, everyone must have a different number. In this case, everyone has the same number. The purpose of the mark will be to serve as a sign of identification of those who will own the Antichrist as their god. Only those who have this number will be permitted to work, to buy, to sell, or simply to make a living. The verse does not speak of credit cards, banking systems, a cashless society, a one-world money system, or computers, etc."

"It is certainly within the realm of possibility for the mark to serve both as a single identifier of allegiance to the Beast and a globally unique identifier. All that is required is to combine an outward visible mark (indicating shared allegiance) with an invisible digital code (indicating unique identification). The external mark would function to readily cull the obedient from the disobedient while the invisible code would provide the necessary means for digital monetary exchange in the controlled economy of the end. As is typical of Satan’s schemes, the unique identifier would provide numerous benefits which would also serve as motivation to take the mark. The cost of refusing the mark is not just the risk of one’s life, but also the inability to participate in the global market. The details of the mark are not revealed by Scripture."

Whatever happens God is in absolute control and His divine purpose will be fulfilled in prophecy. Our main call today remains as Paul stated in Acts 20:24, "the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." I read with interest events and technology advances that appear to have an impact on prophecy. But I know my main call has not changed and will remain right up to the time  that I am either called to heaven at my death or if I hear the "trumpet call of God" while I am still living on this earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  Let us all stay faithful!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we are at peace because You are in control. We thank You for the Word of God which prepares our hearts for whatever time period You have ordained for us to live. Above all, we must be diligent and faithful, serving You all the days of our life and all the while "testifying to the gospel of Your grace." How blessed we are! Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The King Is Coming"
 Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Midnight Cry"
 Video  Charles Billingsley

"I Wish We'd All Been Ready"  Video  

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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