Friday in the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Revelation 13:16-18

Demonic Economic Blackmail

Government is necessary for the cause of human sin.  Had we never fallen, we would not need it, at least not in order to threaten vengeance for breaking the law.  For this reason, the Apostle Paul demands that Christians be subject to the governing authorities as they are instituted by God to reward the ones who do good and punish the ones who do evil (Romans 13:1-7).  Indeed, Christians are to be the best citizens of the state, not only obeying the law but going beyond it to love their neighbors.  It is a great blessing in this life to live under a just government that protects its people and even goes the added step of seeing to the care of the poor and elderly.

Unfortunately, because governments are run by sinful creatures, they can also be vehicles for fleecing and coercing people to do their ill will.  This is what we see here.  The second beast or False Prophet now demands that literally everyone (“both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave”) receive a “mark” on the hand or forehead to buy or sell.  The purpose is obviously to force people into the demonic system of the beast, that is, those who govern the city or state that demands the allegiance and even the worship of its citizens.  It is truly horrifying when one considers the consequences.  How shall a man feed his family?  Economic blackmail has ever been one of the primary ways evil governments have coerced populations: Muslims have placed Christians under such economic stress to force them to convert ever since the Middle Ages, and white Christians in America held blacks down through economic discrimination long after slavery was abolished.  In other words, such wickedness has a long history.

I agree with those who see the mark of the beast not as literal but similar to the seal the 144,000 receive on their foreheads (7:3).  I say this because I have seen both publications and productions where 666 was tattooed on people’s foreheads.  But I think the mark is inward and a sign that one is unregenerate and uncircumcised of heart. I also agree that 666 represents not a specific name but, as 6 is less than 7, represents incompletion (Beale, NIGTC, 720-28).  The mark of the beast is Satan’s attempt to copy God’s mark upon His people, which again ends in parody.  Satan’s kingdom is one of slaves and lackeys and his rule is coming to a close.  In the end, all he can do is coerce, threaten, compel, and intimidate.  Even now, Christians in our own country are forced to choose between doing what they love or pursuing another career for fear of being forced to violate their own consciences.  These have a different seal on their foreheads—one of the 144,000.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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