Day 13: 666

                As I was preparing to write my next blog, I had read a few passages in Revelation about the mark of the beast. Oddly I noticed that as of yesterday I had written 666 blogs. Oh, Oh! I did however smile when I saw this. Now I know what you are thinking, as I am pretty sure almost everyone knows the reference to the submission to satan and the number 666. I don’t put any weight on this number but I decided to write about this first and tomorrow’s blog will follow on Jesus giving the weary rest. In this day and age the end is near and you should be aware of what is happening so that you can prepare yourself and understand the massive deception in the church. Yes whenever you see 666, most people in the church and outside the church equate it with the devil. One dictionary defined it, “The number 666 is used to signify the devil, the antichrist, or evil in general.” If you watch the news and sadly you will find some in the church talking about conspiracy theories and the mark of the beast when talking about this pandemic and vaccines. Other cultures have differing meanings for 666, with some giving the number 666 a positive spin. Let’s just stick to the bible for now.
                Events like this pandemic can cause people to talk about the end times. Truthfully the church should be talking about the end much more than the church has. Paul said Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” For many in the church 666 is a bad number especially for the literalists among us. We had books like The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (1970), which is the viewpoint of a “literalist, premillennial, dispensational eschatology.” as one person described. One site I looked at said it was on prime time television with a viewing audience of 17 million people and another site said, “The New York Times called it the #1 non-fiction bestseller of the decade.” That should actually be a misprint, as it really is a fictional book. There was also a series of books called Left Behind (1995-), also on the New York Times Bestseller list. One site said over 80 million copies sold. One writer said, “The Left Behind series, a set of fictional Christian novels penned by Christian evangelist Tim LaHaye and writer Jerry Jenkins, has surpassed 65 million in sales. Once viewed as a complex theological system filled with wild and bizarre imagery, premillennial ideas have become mainstream end times imagery in America. The explanations for the popularity of books, movies, and theology that include the workings of one world government, a rising Antichrist figure, a world war known as Armageddon, and a future one thousand year reign by “true Christians” as well as references to “the Antichrist,” the number 666, or the Mark of the Beast all come straight out of dispensational premillennial theology.” Deuteronomy describes this following other gospels for us. Deuteronomy 32:17 “They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear.” Dispensationalism is a god that recently appeared. We also have all kinds of movies about the rapture and mark of the beast, even Nicholas Cage got in on it. All of these continue to promote the lies of satan.
                While the bible does talk about this, these writers have wildly exaggerated their viewpoints, which in the end are just fictional books and Hollywood movies. Many describe the end times like this, “Assuming rapture comes in rush hour — people driving to work and for conservative figures — 10 percent of the population are true believers in a certain area. If 10,000 people are driving, 1,000 drivers (excluding born-again passengers) will be missing at that time. What will happen when the cars are running 60 mph? Cars will crash with other cars and create a domino effect on the freeways and side streets. When police officers come to investigate, they will have problems because some of the drivers are missing. Another scenario — assuming 10,000 planes are flying worldwide, and the pilots and passengers are believers — 1,000 planes will be missing people and will soon crash. Media coverage will be at high levels and they will search to find what happened to those missing people. Some might speculate they were taken by UFOs, but others will say it is the rapture of the church. Left behind Christians will tell to the world that they missed the rapture because they were not born-again Christians.”
                Their doctrines and theology that became best sellers are not real but with Hollywood magic they have even come to life on the big screen. The unfortunate part is that millions have fallen pray to these false teachings and doctrines. As a young person I saw “The Thief in the Night” (1972) at our church. This was supposed to be an evangelistic tool to reach the lost but in the end it was satan’s tool to deceive the elect. Matthew 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Yes the elect can be deceived, hence the warning from Jesus. This movie was also part of a series that talked about the rapture and the mark of the beast. As a young person it was actually terrifying especially because they made the movie in a horror genre. You know, you come home, the house is empty; I’ve been left behind! These false teachings continue to this day and are even more widely spread than they were then. If I had known what I know now I would have saved years of uncertainty. No one really seemed to know for sure. Yes the dispensationalists knew for sure or so they think but those who did not believe in the rapture didn’t seem to really know why nor could they even talk about it. God said Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding,” and the church is in exile. I have spoken to great lengths about the dangers of dispensationalism and all that goes with it. These doctrines of demons (and many others) have infiltrated the church and have left us in desolation. I am not going to talk about the millennial kingdom but this is another belief that has ruined the church. God’s kingdom is already here, we just need to turn back to His word so we can see it.
                Today I am just going to talk about being marked. I find it interesting that most talk about the number 666, the mark of the beast on their foreheads but don’t talk about another option for a mark on their foreheads. One person said “For many people, seeing this number (666), or even saying it evokes fear, uncertainty, and mental images of the darkest of forms.” The problem with all this is because many in the church read the bible literally and that leads to danger especially in Revelation and Daniel. I will tell you up front that there is much in these books I am still asking God for understanding, but what I do understand is that dispensational teachings are doctrines of demons. If you listen closely you will see man’s doctrines interwoven through the scripture they use to verify their own ways. Here are two examples of reading the bible as led by the Spirit of truth. The first one is Malachi 4:5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” No Elijah is not coming. Jesus said of John Matthew 11:14 “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” It appears that the church has not accepted and the land has been destroyed. The second is as Joel said, Joel 2:28 “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Then Peter tells us Acts 2:5 “These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” This event has already happened and no you are not looking for blood moons.
                Many interpret the bible based on their own beliefs and if you listen carefully, you can hear it. They don’t interpret the bible with the bible or the Spirit of truth. There is a lot of filler. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” The problem is that everyone seems to have differing views especially about the end. That’s a problem according to God’s word. Many in the church seem to take numbers and say they literally mean such and such like 1000 years or the number 666. Revelation even talks about one hour and months. These books are apocalyptic which talk about the end. When reading Daniel and Revelation most interpret based on their doctrines but you have to be very careful to let the bible tell you what it means not the other way around. By that I mean, this is my doctrine and now I have to make the bible fit into my theology. Even though the bible doesn’t actually say what they are saying, they continue with their beliefs anyhow. Anytime interpretation is needed, great discernment is required. While the bible does talk about this mark of the beast and gives us a description, we have to be very careful in its interpretation.
                If you look, there are actually two marks talked about in Revelation. The first is the seal of God, which doesn’t seem to invoke any fear at all as the number 666 does. By not fearing God we are defeated by our enemies. Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” First of all we see this first mark in Ezekiel. Ezekiel 8:6 “And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable. 2 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.” 13 Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable. 18 Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.” Ezekiel 9:1 “Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring near those who are appointed to execute judgment on the city, each with a weapon in his hand. 4 Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it. 9 He answered me, “The sin of the people of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ 10 So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.” This shows us a distinction between the faithful and those who were not, just as we are seeing now. Revelation 7:2 “Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.” Again the number 144,000 is not a literal number. Revelation 9:4 “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.” Revelation 14:1 “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” This will be a lot more than 144,000! Revelation 22:1 “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
                We even see those who have suffered for their belief, which has already happened and will continue to happen. Revelation 20:4 “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Remember according to their teaching there is no church so that can’t happen but it can happen now. Their theology breaks down in a hurry. Hebrews 11:35 “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” Mark 6:27 “So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter.” Acts 7:57 “At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him (Stephen), 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.” Don’t listen to those who say you won’t see tribulation.
                So as you can see from these verses, the mark we are looking for is the seal of God on our foreheads. This is what happens when we truly believe God’s word and follow wholeheartedly. When we obey as Jesus said John 14:23 “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” And 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” As we can see, if we were truly following, the mark of our seal will be on our foreheads. Those who teach about the mark of the beast also say that they are sealed for heaven presently. Isn’t it odd that so much emphasis is placed on the false teaching of the mark of the beast, so much so that almost anyone you talk to is aware of it, as if it is something that will happen in the future but yet they believe they have been sealed already in the present. 
                Here is the frightening part of this. Yes when I watched that movie as a 9 or ten year old, I think, some where in that time period, it freaked me out. But what is even more terrifying than this deceptive movie, is that all those who have turned to false gospels like dispensationalism, yes the very ones who teach this nonsense have already taken the mark of the beast by not following the truth of God’s word. Those in the church are just like those Ezekiel saw in Jerusalem. Revelation also has given us a picture of what has happened to the church. Daniel was told about this future abomination; Jesus warned us about the abomination that causes desolation and Paul told us exactly what it would look like. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” Jesus warned us not to be deceived but in the end the church did not listen and was deceived and under delusion. Revelation 13:3 “The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4 People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” 5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear. 10 “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. (Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”) 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.” This has already happened and continues to happen whenever these false teachers and preachers teach and preach. Revelation 14:9 “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” The church in Smyrna was told Revelation 2:10 “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Revelation 2:24 “Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
                The problem with all these fictional stories is that when the so-called rapture happens as they talk about in the books and movies, the church will not be here. That means no God dwelling, no Holy Spirit filling and no word of God (Jesus) teaching. Nowhere in the bible do we get a second chance after Jesus returns, as when he returns, that's it. Most of the church has fallen and worships the beast and they don’t even know it. To say it another way Paul said Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” satan has led the church astray and has deceived the church into believing there will be a time down the road when these events will happen but in the mean time the church is missing the kingdom of God and lies in desolation. Just as the famine of hearing the word is already here, (Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.); the church has already been deceived. Today false prophets and teachers fill the pulpits, as do antichrists.  
                In these days of deception, we must stand firm. 2 Corinthians 1:21 “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” This only happens if we are standing firm on the word of God, not by standing firm on the teachings of men. 2 Timothy 2:19 “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” Many in the church think they have confessed but they have been deceived. If we return to God and His truth, we will have hope. Ephesians 1:13 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” For this to happen we must truly believe in God’s word and continue to follow Him wholeheartedly. It is not about believing in the Jesus created by man to fulfill his own doctrines but to follow God’s word wholeheartedly by giving ourselves wholly to God as a living sacrifice.