And it deceives those dwelling on the earth because of the signs that were given to it to perform before the beast, telling those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast, that has the wound of the sword and has lived. And it was given to it to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should also speak, and should cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast would be killed. And it causes all the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the servants, that it should give them a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and that no one should be able to buy or to sell if not having the mark – the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here the wisdom is. The one having understanding let him count the number of the beast. It is indeed man’s number. And the number of it is 666.
We spoke briefly previously about this image. The signs are warned of in Matthew 24:24 and parallels. Paul tells us to watch out for false signs in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. Something beyond dubious signs should be expected. It isn’t enough to consider that this man will come out claiming Satan to be god, and here is the proof! We can’t simply expect a Muslim Antichrist, and therefore these things will be done in the name of Allah. These signs are warned against. It would imply, therefore, that there is a seduction that can take place in beholding these signs. They aren’t fake. This man truly calls down fire from heaven.
The people who flock to televangelists and other phenomena, whether true or not true, are in danger at this point. What is it within the human mind that miracles and signs are the signet ring of heaven? There is something here that needs to be burrowed out. We identify heaven by the character, and not by the miraculous. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will give every sign of being authentically in God the Father, yet are not. They somehow are able to deceive, thus we have warnings of their coming, but at the same time blaspheme the very name of God and they who dwell in heaven. What is it that is so drastically neutered in our thinking to be so placated?
One thing is certain: they who are cheap in their walk with Christ are in far more danger than the devout. To read the Bible, whether New Testament or Old Testament, and to still be searching for what it says ‘to me’ is a grave disgrace. Herein lie the glory of eternity, and we would rather see ourselves. There is something calibrated within our souls. We hope to find a mirror instead of a pool. A mirror will reflect back to us what we are, and we’re happy with that. A pool reflects us, but also reveals what is beyond the surface. It is much better to find self in the Scriptures than to find God, for in finding God we are confronted with something much more grand than ‘me’.
The deception comes when we are not lovers of truth, as Paul would tell us in 2 Thessalonians 2:10. To love the truth is more than desiring truth. We can desire truth and hate it. We can seek truth and not love it. We can be content to ‘know’ truth, and yet not live by that truth. We might even delight in the knowledge, but as soon as requirement hits to live by that truth we show the reality of our condition. In the olden days, back when you used gold and silver for currency, one of the ways you knew whether it was true silver was by throwing the coin to the ground. It would hit the floor and make a *ping* that resonates for time after the incident. If the coin be fake, it would hit the ground with a *thud* and the ring would instantly stop.
Either we are true through and through, or the truth is not in us. Truth is something that we live, and not simply something we ‘agree’ with. Doctrine is a strange thing. It goes beyond what we believe. It reverberates into the very soul itself. It finds lodging in the deepest cracks, and from there it shows forth its reality. Whether we are truly believers will come through in all instances in life. For example, when you are in the midst of joy, that joy will overflow into praise unto God. When you are in the midst of trial, no matter how adverse the trial, that will drive you into the loving arms of God the Father. If you be true, you find in all things, in all moments, Christ is there. If you only have the outward appearance of silver, but lack the actual thing, you will find that no matter what circumstances life brings to you, you will continue to emanate your ‘self’, and not a new creation either.
I have often found it bizarre that in the midst of the Charismatic miracles and healings there is always a personality. In the midst of the prophetic, there is rarely a word. It is almost always characterized by ‘getting the Bible out of the way’. You give the quickie sermonette so that people will hear what the Bible says, but the real action is within the healings. The real action is within the prophetic word. Why do we so quickly pass by the Scriptures in order to come to something ‘more glorious’? Could there truly be anything more glorious? This isn’t a critique against prophecy or miracles, but against our mindsets.
This sort of quick grab-bag mentality stinks. It comes up into the nostrils of God and reveals our inner hearts. We don’t truly want Christ. We want manifestations. We want prophecy. We want excitement. We want something bigger, louder, more ‘hit you in the chest’. Our desire is tangibility, but the reality is not found there. How is it that the two witnesses perform signs explained in Revelation 11, and yet just across town people are lining up to get marked? Does this not blow the whistle on the whole thing? The true is abandoned because it is true. The false is embraced because it is easier.
Don’t think that by ‘easier’ it means without hard preaching. They who speak harshly against cults and leaders can be quite easy. Condemn the outward sin, but let’s not talk about the inward problems. Talk about death and death and death, but let’s neglect resurrection. Crucify the leaders who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, but let’s not mention that we too have our struggles. The preacher who stands on a platform lies to you. Any elevation is a lie. They are ‘over’ you only in their imaginations. The elevated platform perpetuates the lie, but Jesus has said that we’re all one. If that is true, that we are all one, then the person behind the pulpit is no greater than you are. To perpetuate that lie is to give yourself over to deception. It is the love of truth that will raise the banner. I cannot give myself to that performance. It is blaspheme to continue in the system called ‘church’ when we know good and well that it is only a building and a service. Calling it church doesn’t make it church. Gathering together doesn’t mean Jesus is in the midst. The whole thing is based off of pretense and error, and to continue in that is dangerous.
The False Prophet makes a monument unto the beast. This is much like when Absolom made a monument unto himself in 2 Samuel 18:18. The Davidic kingdom was orchestrated by God. It was given from heaven, and blessed by God. Yet, this man in his arrogance attempts to steal the kingdom with force. So it is today that they who would call themselves the ‘head’ of any congregation is perpetuating a lie. It is an Absolom anointing, which ultimately is an anointing of Satan. It is antichrist at the heart. We have kicked out the people of God in order to continue in our games and events and programs. We have neglected the Jewish people, some even calling them cursed, and in that have rejected David as king. We have run out the prophets and apostles from our midst, because they won’t allow the pretense. They who are Davidic, whether Jew or Christian, are shunned – even from the Messianic congregations.
The Davidic character is one of tears. It is one of authenticity. It desires truth in the inward parts and will not allow the lie to be perpetuated. David is humble. He is gentle. Yet, when you oppose the Lord his God, you will find that he can also be a man of war. For this reason they are considered rude and bringers of division. They goat kick and wolf back, but to the sheep they are lovers beyond what can be worded. They protect the flock and destroy any who devour. For this reason they are opposed most strictly by the leadership within the walls. They are an affront to anyone who would claim leadership as a job instead of a function in the Body. To receive income for your ‘calling’ is an abomination.
We see in Daniel 3 the story of Nebuchadnezzar building a statue. Why is it that only these three men were caught opposing it? The same question can be asked of chapter 1. Why is it in Daniel 1 that these four men are the only ones unwilling to eat the defiled meat? Did no one else know the Law? Or, more correctly, could no one else discern the abomination? Here it is that the other Israelites considered themselves as blessed and being taken care of. Daniel and his three friends could see that this meat is anathema. What was it that Daniel and his three companions had that the rest of the nobility lacked? What wisdom did they draw from?
I speak quite harshly in this post concerning the religious system that we’ve made. The reason for this is to shock you into reality. By what wisdom do you know whether what you are doing is right or wrong? How is it that you know that wherever your attending is not an Absolom? How do you know that the meat is not defiled? Is it because you pray? So did the rest of the nobles. Is it that you read the Bible? So did Absolom. What makes you so different? This is the heart. This is the nub of the argument. How can we discern whether the miracles are true or false? How can we know and recognize this deception? It is by knowing intimately the culture and character of heaven, because we’ve spent time with God in heaven.
Heaven is the place of intimacy with Christ. It is where you and I are one. From that place, where Christ revealed Himself to you, you are united unto Him and all the holy brethren. If you are unable to love the brothers and sisters of Christ, then you do not love Him. You cannot love Him and then despise His brethren. They who claim they love Jesus and then hate their brother shows themselves to be a liar, and the truth is not in them. This is your antidote. This is the litmus test. The man or woman who would willingly cast out or oppress someone else because they don’t get along together is antichrist. It is true that some people are difficult to get along with. Are they your brother? Are they your sister? Are they truly of Christ? If yes, then you have no excuse. If no, then you cast out the unbeliever from your midst. This is what is important, and not whether you all play nicely.
What will distinguish the Antichrist and False Prophet will be their words. With their lips they’ll claim one thing, but with their actions show fruit of something else. Anyone who opposes them will be vehemently opposed. How is this possible if the love of God is within them? Did not Jesus show us that God’s character is one of servanthood and gentleness? Does not David show us that he was unwilling to harm the Lord’s anointed? This is the character of God. He is willing to endure suffering on behalf of the other person so that they might receive greater glory. If that character is lacking, then there is a problem.
I’ll pick up next time examining the mark of the beast more specifically. Until then, grace and peace in Christ.