Sunday, June 11, 2017

In Training to Receive the Mark of the Beast

Revelations 13:16-17

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, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or[a] the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
 I don't know what I believe about eschatology. It has always been the most unfathomable to me (along with early Genesis which I am finally convinced that I do understand) and I figured that I had a difficult enough time trying to live up to the parts that were easy to understand. I do know that when I was growing up it seemed very unlikely that we would have a one-world system, yet everyone was talking about it coming and how they would refuse to take "the mark of the beast", whatever it is or was. So much so that I can remember thinking "how could they get away with forcing people to take such a mark, too many people would know that it would be making a deal with the Devil?"

Now days it is very clear that the ruling class is pushing for a one world system, and it seems either plausible or maybe even inevitable. Yet no one seems to be talking about "the mark of the beast" anymore. It is amazing how much the world has changed since I was a teenager. The technological improvements have been wonderful. But more power has not made man better, and the noise has made us a lot less contemplative of life's larger questions.

One thing I have learned about evil over the years is that it does not describe itself as evil, at least until people are hopelessly sucked in. Rather, evil tries to present itself as good. That dishonesty is just a part of the evil. When and if the time comes they are not going to say "everyone who wants to deny God so we world rulers can try to take His place in league with Satan line up here to get your mark." It is going to be a lot more seductive than that. Not that truth can stay hidden to those who want to see. Despite an intense propaganda campaign with all kinds of claims about itself, I suspect the rottenness and corruption of the system will be plain enough to anyone who cares to see it.

But people will not want to see it. A lot of folks who consider themselves "good people" will line right up for, even if they don't buy the system's claims about itself. Why? They will tell themselves that they need access to the system so that they can do good with it. They will assume that they themselves will resist the corrupting influences of the system that they see in others.

Not everybody will be jaded. There will be some "true believers" who want to get wrapped up in something bigger than themselves (but not God). They will take the mark "on their foreheads". That is to say, it will reflect the state of their minds- they will really believe. Others though, will just take the mark on their right hand- they will do the things the system wants them to do in order to maintain their access to the system no matter what is going on in their minds. They won't necessarily buy into it- at least not at first. They may even think that they will just be using the bad system for some "good" purpose. They have to take it in order to stay "relevant", in order to be "players."

If Revelation is such a mystery to me, how do I know all of this? Easy. It is already happening. Right now I see this very thought process occurring in lots of otherwise decent people. People who think of themselves as the good guys, as decent people, will go right ahead and voluntarily put their name on an institution that they will privately admit is corrupt to the core. And they will do this for the very reasons that I described above. They will want "access". They have convinced themselves that they can use a corrupt institution to accomplish good things- things that the institutions leading lights are opposed to doing. And they think they can out-use those professional users without becoming tainted themselves- they thought that they might be never even seems to occur to them.

Yes, I am talking about the Republican Party, among other institutions. I don't think an institution has to be 100% pure or moral before I lend my name to it- once I was a part of it then it would not be 100% pure any more anyway. But I am opposed to joining an organization that I know is systematically corrupt and which tends to make those who join it worse instead of better. The generally upright people I know who are heavy into it are miserable, and the dirtiest and willingly deceived who are in it seem the most supportive of it as it is now. Why would any decent human being want to join an outfit like that? Why would they remain in such an outfit? For all of the reasons I outlined above.

I can't tell you how many people I have talked to inside it that admit to me that it is bad and getting worse. Some make excuses about trying to "change it from the inside" but mostly they don't say that anymore. They are too ashamed to because people have tried to do that my whole adult life-time and its only gotten worse not better. Anyway you might as well try and join the Gambinos and try to "change them from within". Mostly, they say just what I outlined above- they know it is rotten but they want to use it to accomplish some personal goal that they see as good. Well, the system is using you too, your name and influence, to give the cloak of credibility to what they are doing, even if you don't approve. You are supporting and enabling it by continuing to be a dues-paying member.

I visited with a guy the other day who once ran as an independent for a county position and did very poorly. Now he wants to run as a Republican. I told him that I knew lots of men who tried to use the system for good purpose without becoming either corrupted or miserable, but maybe he would be the first. He actually wrote back agreeing that in the past every single person he supported for leadership in the party let him down and went back on what they said they would do with it. I guess he considers himself made of finer clay than those other guys who went in and let him down. I don't think so much of myself. I want to be surrounded by people who will help me be better, not worse.

For a believer, this world is not our home. We hope for a better country, the land above. And as such we should not have the same compulsion to be a "player" in a corrupt system. Our spiritual forebears knew this. They were thrown to the lions because they would not burn a pinch of incense to the Emperor as though he were a god. Some folks who say most of Revelation has already happened think that this is the "mark of the beast" that Saint John the Revelator was referring to. They refused to pay homage to a corrupt institution, or lend their name to it. It finally crashed in on itself due to its own corruption. That caused a lot of hurt- mostly to those deepest inside it. The Christians could not have saved it anyway, because it was being judged by God and was not meant to be saved. All they could have done by staying in and supporting it was get in His way.

Sure, there were centuries of rebuilding required, but that rebuilding was on a firmer foundation than state-worship and Emperor worship. Their descendants built the political systems which became the Republics of the West, which granted mankind more freedom and stability than had ever before been known. Our refusal to participate any longer in a corrupt system may or may not have the same effect, but it is still the right thing to do. I am not advocating just giving up mind you, but leaving the corrupt system which offers you hope of personal advantage and "relevancy" and starting something new which is not mired in rot even though it offers you nothing but self-sacrifice. Both your grandchildren and your soul will be better off.

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