In Revelation 13 it is prophesied that at the end of the age there will be a false prophet that arises to prepare for and give power to one called "the beast." This "beast" deceives the nations and requires all to take a mark, 666. Without this mark no one can "buy, sell, or trade." This "mark of the beast" has been a dominant subject in eschatology (the study of Biblical prophecies of the end of the age) since the first century, and many things have been called this that turned out not to be so. However, we know it will come, and it may be upon us.
Few events in history have so remarkably fit the Biblical scenario of this mark as the potential U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. As bizarre as this may sound, this is an uncanny parallel to the Biblical prophecy. Even if this is not the actual mark of the beast, it is at least a precursor, a "dress rehearsal" that sets up the world for this ultimate test.
Understanding "The Beast"
First, taking the mark of the beast is not the sin, but rather worshipping the beast. The mark is just the evidence of what one is doing. So to understand the mark, we must first understand the beast.
This "beast" has been presumed by many Bible scholars to be an individual, such as the "antichrist" figure. He is also called the "man of sin," or "abomination of desolation" prophesied by Daniel. Others have seen it as a system, a world power such as a world bureaucracy. Some have believed it to be the spirit that dominates the world at the end of the age. Some have concluded that it could come in all of these forms. There may be some merit to all of these assumptions, but the principles given in Scripture for identifying the nature of the beast are clear enough for any seeker of truth to discern it, regardless of the form in which it comes.
This beast "comes up out of the earth," which is a term for "earthly mindedness." Such is the root of what is popularly referred to as "secular humanism." This is the philosophy, perspective, or "worldview" promoting the exaltation of man, his wisdom and abilities, above God. This philosophy presumes that man does not need God and should not consider Him as a factor in human affairs even if He does exist.
Because man was created at the end of the sixth day, the number six is often symbolic of man in Scripture. For this reason, many have presumed that the number 666, or three sixes, was man's attempt to displace the Trinity, and could fit with this belief.
The "abomination of desolation" that was prophesied by Daniel, Jesus, and the first century apostles could have been translated "the abomination that desolates." Because homosexuality is referred to as an abomination in Scripture, and its impact on Western culture is so quickly and profoundly desolating the moral fabric of Western civilization, it is to be expected that many will start to consider this "the abomination that desolates."
Who could have dreamed just two decades ago that we would have major cities celebrating "Days of Decadence" with all manner of perversions being performed and flaunted openly in our streets? Who would have thought that such a moral and religious nation could fall so quickly to the ultimate national depravity spoken of in Isaiah 5—calling what God calls "good," "evil," and what God calls "evil," "good," while the dishonorable are honored and the honorable are dishonored? Is that not precisely what has happened to America in just the last generation?
The meltdown of morality in our military could be happening even faster. Just a few years ago, the U.S. military was such a bastion of morality and integrity that adultery was considered grounds for dismissal because one's vows had been broken. "Don't ask, don't tell" was the handwriting on the wall that a devastating change was coming. But who could have foreseen the pace of the desolation of our military since homosexuality was openly allowed in the ranks? It moved quickly from everyone having to accept it, to everyone having to celebrate it if you expected any further promotions, to now being forced out if you do not celebrate it.
Christians are now openly discriminated against, if not persecuted, in the U.S. military. Not only are some of the best and brightest leaving the military, they are no longer choosing it as a possible career.
The same is taking place throughout government services on all levels, as well as corporations, education, and the media, as was once the case for a long time in arts and entertainment. Now, with a single Supreme Court decision it could be that Christians, Muslims, and Jews that honor their books as the Word of God will not be able to "buy, sell, or trade" in America without the constant threat of losing your business, or your position and livelihood, because of an offended homosexual.
Even if this is not "the mark of the beast," it will be for those who are now losing what they, in some cases, have given their lives to build, because they would not compromise their religious convictions in order to buy, sell, or trade. If the Supreme Court decision falls the way it is expected to, we can be sure that very soon every Christian in America will have to make a similar choice between obeying the Word of God or this beast.
The Great Awakening
The good news is that few things have begun to wake up the sleeping giant of the Church like this issue now before the U.S. Supreme Court. A growing number of the most influential leaders across the spectrum of Christianity are now calling for civil disobedience if the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right to be enforced throughout America.
Regardless of what caveats the Supreme Court may add to their decision to feign protection of our freedom of religion, an ultimate firewall that protects all of our freedoms will have been breached. Six thousand years of recorded history where marriage was always between a man and woman will have been overturned. Already there are applications for threesomes to be married, and polygamy at any level will have to be accepted. We also have applications filed for some to "marry" their animals. Voices within the gay agenda have declared that they see nothing wrong with pedophilia. One bad decision for our Supreme Court and America's slide into depravity will then have been greased, and we will go down fast, unless...
America's slide to this point of moral depravity seems to have happened quickly, but it didn't. It is the result of a very intentional, systematic erosion of our values that has been going on for almost a century. Only recently has the momentum of this evil strategy gained speed as we enter into the last phase of what the perpetrators boasted would destroy America from within.
This strategy has been very public on the part of several major groups, who will end up fighting each other over the spoils if they succeed. But for now, we must focus on what will stop and then reverse this momentum in order to restore the foundations America was built upon.
President Reagan was at least partially right when he said, "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." Our salvation will not come from the White House, or any other state house. It can only come from the Church house. If the Church in America does not rise up to become the salt and light she is called to be, there is no remedy, and an ever-deepening darkness will continue to spread over our land with increasing speed and devastation. The encouragement is that the biggest sleeping giant of all is starting to wake up.
When I was in Washington recently, a congressman said to me that there would be more courage in Washington if they saw more courage in the Church. He said they do not feel that the Church has their back. The Church in America must ultimately accept the blame for what has happened in America, but it can also be the solution.
Following are the four major crises in the Church that are also the basis of the major crises of our times, as identified at a recent roundtable of leaders of national and international stature:
• We have a crisis of courage.
This is the failure of Christian leaders to address the crucial issues of our times with clarity and boldness.
• We have a crisis of a lack of moral excellence in the Church.
This has robbed the Church of its moral authority.
• We have a crisis of Christian disengagement from our civic responsibilities.
This has robbed the world of the salt and light capable of preventing its corruption and dominance by evil.
• We have a crisis of a lack of the Church's preparation for the inevitable challenges of our times.
This will cost loss of lives, and it will cost many the greatest honor we can receive for our lives—hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (see Matthew 25:21 NIV).
The Church is called to be the salt and light in this world, and this meltdown has happened on our watch. We must take responsibility, and we must take action. If we will take responsibility, acknowledge our failures, which is repentance, and become what we are called to be, this great failure can become one of our biggest victories, and our nation can be saved. If the Church does not do this, we do not have much time left.
When the Iron Curtain fell, the Church was not ready. The cults and crooks were ready, and they filled the vacuum. The week following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, churches were flooded with their biggest crowds in history. The Church was not ready, did not have the answers, and another one of the greatest opportunities in recent times was lost. The next strike will be our third, and we cannot fail this greatest of all responsibilities and opportunities. If we do, it will very likely be our last chance.
What Do We Do?
We must decide now that we are going to obey God and that we will refuse to obey any mandate from any power that is in conflict with God's Word. We must be prepared to pay the price for obeying God, which is likely to be significant and can affect the rest of our lives. Of course, the price of not obeying Him will be much higher and eternal, so we need to determine now who we will serve.
For such a choice, we need to be clear about what God's Word says on these ultimate issues. As the Lord said through Isaiah the prophet, if we do not speak according to His Word then we do not have the light. Each of us must choose whether we believe His Word or not. Then we must choose if we will obey it or not. We can expect these choices to both prune and purify the Church. What remains of the Church will likely be much smaller, but it will be far more powerful.
Accepting that The Bible is God's Word to us is a major issue for all who claim to be Christians. Many have accepted the constant attacks on the validity of the written Word by the enemies of the faith. The very first lie of satan was to get Eve to doubt what God had clearly said, and this has been his basic tactic since causing the fall of multitudes. Make no mistake about it—this is the point at which we will fall or stand.
Let us consider that if Jesus, who was the Word, would take His stand on "It is written!" how much more must we? Now is the time for all Christians to decide this issue. If we are going to follow Christ, we must believe His Word, fortify ourselves in His Word, and obey it.
Many Christians have bought satan's lie that would cause them to doubt what God has clearly said. Doing so makes it even easier for them to buy into the teachings that blur what God has made clear on just about any issue. Those who have done this will soon fall away. This will be a major factor separating the true from the false.
The next major factor that will likely cause many to fall away will be the fear of man, or caring more about what people think than what God thinks. The first group cast into the lake of fire at the end of the Book of Revelation is the cowardly. We can expect many who know the Word of God to fall into this category, because they fear men more than God. In Scripture that is an idolatry also called "an abomination," as is the one who turns their ear from hearing the Word of God (see Proverbs 28:9).
We must strengthen our own foundations, especially those under specific attack. The most important of these is the family. This is the most basic and important of all units within a culture or nation. Family is under relentless attack now, not just the definition of it.
A happy, functioning family is one of the greatest lights. Being part of a happy, functioning family is one of the greatest experiences we can have in this life. Being in a dysfunctional family is at the root of our most devastating social problems.
We must also teach and esteem manhood and womanhood, with all of the dignity and nobility they are given by God in the Scriptures. After getting one to disbelieve that The Bible is the Word of God, the devil's basic tactic is to blur the distinctions that God has made clear. If we are going to be lights in our time, we have to stand against the spirit of this age and esteem men who are men, and women who are women.
We must call what God calls "sin and wickedness," sin and wickedness, and we must repent of it ourselves. God does not forgive excuses—He forgives sin that is repented of. We're not repenting if we are making excuses, or blaming someone else for the way we are.
Homosexuality is called an "abomination" in Scripture. Abominations are weightier than other sins because they are so destructive that they bring desolation. Now let's consider some other things that are also called "abominations" in Scripture:
• spreading strife
• using unjust weights
• devising evil plans
• worshipping idols
• a proud heart
• the way of the wicked
• the devious
• acting unjustly
• those who scoff (ridicule)
• shedding innocent blood
• wearing clothing of the opposite sex
• those who justify the wicked while condemning the righteous
• sacrifices made to God by those living in wickedness
• those who choose (vote for?) those who are of "no account"
• those who oppress the poor and needy, rob, or fail to keep their word
Now, who has never committed an abomination? If you claim you have not, you are likely guilty of the abomination of lying. So what do we do? We do not say everyone is okay because everyone is guilty, which is an ultimate folly that we are warned against. The Word of God is clear in places like Galatians 5 that such will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
What we do is: We first get the log out of our own eye if we are guilty of, or are still practicing, any of these. Then we judge those who are trapped in sin for the purpose of their redemption, reconciliation to God, and their restoration from sin and its consequences.
This is not last because it is the least important, but because it is the most important. We must grow in love for God and one another. We are told, "Love never fails" (see I Corinthians 13:8), which could have been translated, "Love never quits." Anyone will quit at some level except for those who are in love.
We must love God above all to love all as we should. "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing," and this is the main thing we are called to do. This will be the main thing that determines if we will be successful human beings or not when we come to the great Judgment Day.
We are also commanded to love our enemies. The gay agenda has turned into the biggest enemy of Christianity in America at this time. Extreme elements within the agenda are resolved to drive Christians into "the closet," just as they were forced to live for so long. Other enemies of Christianity are joining with them in seeking to drive Christ out of our culture. This is the definition of "antichrist." Even so, we are told that our war is "not against flesh and blood" (see Ephesians 6:12), or people, but against the spiritual forces that have them in bondage.
We are also told that we, Christians, have been given divinely powerful weapons that can bring down every stronghold exalting itself against the knowledge of God (see 2 Corinthians 10:4). We will address this in a future Bulletin, but this is a battle we cannot lose if we follow "the Captain of the host," or the Captain of God's armies.
We must keep in mind that during the greatest times of darkness, the Lord raised up His greatest lights. Some of those greatest lights were those who came out of darkness, like Paul the Apostle. Paul was possibly the greatest enemy of the Church for a time, and he was transformed into possibly the greatest friend of God and builder of the Church.
Let us keep in mind that even those who, at this time, may be in the greatest opposition to God and His truth, if saved, can become some of the greatest champions of the faith. The transformation of the enemies of God into friends of God is the greatest victory of all. This will happen to many if the present followers of Christ will stand up as the champions of the faith we are called to be. We are here now for such a time as this, and it is now our turn.
Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than forty books, including The Final Quest, A Prophetic History, and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be. Rick and his wife, Julie, have five children: Anna, Aaryn, Amber, Ben, and Sam.
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