Distractions, Part Two, Mark of the Beast

Continuing the thought started with Distractions Part One, this time I’m looking at the mark of the beast.


A large chunk of Christianity is getting all fired up over things like ID chips under the skin and credit cards with bio metric data on them or similar stuff. They are getting other people all fired up and even suing to stop the makers. Sorry to inform you (and at least a little inform would be a good thing for you to have) but you aren’t even close to the mark. Pun intended.


According to the Bible, there are at least two kinds of marks – outside and inside. The outside mark can be a brand or tattoo or even a badge. The inside mark, however, is much more telling. This mark is on the heart, and comes out in attitudes and behavior. And believe me, this mark is far more obvious to the spiritual forces of wickedness, God and heavenly angels than some superficial paint or a chip that tracks your money movement.


Eight times in Revelation (13:4, 12, 15, 14:9, 11, 19:20 and 20:4) the emphasis is on those who worship the beast. The mark is simply evidence of this worship. A key part of worship is obedience. Those who receive the mark of the beast are those that obey him, those that do what he says. The outside mark is just evidence of the inward condition of the heart. These people seek the mark and wear it proudly, and worship the beast and his image. They don’t just accidentally get a chip from their banks. It’s not a mark from tripping and falling down on the sidewalk. It is deliberate and with malice for God right up front.


The mark of God is on the hearts of those who follow His commands. Don’t get distracted by stupid red herrings thrown out by hysterical people ungrounded in the Word. It’s a waste of time to chase these things. Follow God, obey His commands, eat and drink His body and blood, abide in the living oracles, and you won’t be distracted by shiny baubles like chips. Let His mark be on your heart and there won’t be room for the mark of the beast.


For more see Christian Faith and Practice through the Mark on the whole Bible website.


Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12, ESV)

Left Behind is a Good Thing

In Matthew 24 and Luke 17 Jesus gives us an outline of what will take place at the “end of the age” as the apostles asked. At one point Jesus says, “Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one left.” Most Christians think these are verses about the rapture. There was a nifty song in the ‘70’s that spoke of people being taken as being raptured (I Wish We’d All Been Ready by Larry Norman), translated into imperishable bodies to be with Jesus forever. The people remaining were “left behind.” It’s a good thought, but wrong. It is clear from the context that ‘taken’ means destroyed.

Jesus compares this time to the time of the flood, when people were going about their daily living as sudden destruction came. “They were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away.” If the proportion (50%) is intended to be exact, that means at least half the world’s population will be destroyed.
There are other places where ‘taken’ is obviously related to destroyed or killed.

Therefore I am full of the wrath of the LORD; I am weary of holding it in. “Pour it out upon the children in the street, and upon the gatherings of young men, also; both husband and wife shall be taken, the elderly and the very aged. (Jeremiah 6:11, ESV)

To be “taken” is not a fun thing. To be consistent with the rest of the Word, ‘taken’ in the context of what Jesus is talking about is not fun at all.

‘Whole Bible Prophecy’ manuscript by Bruce Scott Bertram

The U. S. in Prophecy

Some people are puzzled that the United States doesn’t show up in the Bible anywhere. Since we are arguably one of the most powerful nations ever, if not the most powerful, how come we’re not mentioned in Scripture like most of the others?

But actually, we are mentioned. Very prominently too. You just have to know where to look. We are part of the old Roman Empire, the west leg of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. The Roman Empire split into two parts (or was always sort of that way) around three to four hundred years after the birth of the Christ. It was roughly split between the west part (what is now Europe and North Africa) and the east (Turkey, Asia, Greece, Israel, Egypt). Rome ruled the west, and the east was ruled from Constantinople (which was supposed to answer to Rome). It went back and forth for a while, but that’s basically how it played out. So from Europe (the west part of the Roman Empire) and Africa most of the settlers of the United States have come.

Take a good look at our culture. We have laws and customs handed down from the Romans (who also borrowed from Greeks and others). They built roads and aqueducts that stand to this day. We build roads (many built on trails and roads from our colonial era) and large water distribution systems, which have also lasted. Romans liked to build huge stadiums where athletes entertained the crowds. Gee, that doesn’t sound familiar, does it? Most of our major cities have huge taxpayer-funded coliseums (some actually called ‘coliseums’) where athletes perform for the masses. Rome tolerated any religion and incorporated many of the pagan practices into their own. Our presidents have had Muslim Ramadan meals in the White House and churches are full of pagan bits and pieces. Yeah, I’d say it’s easy to see that we are just an extension of the old Roman Empire. That empire might’ve declined and fallen, but their kids live on and keep the family customs alive and well.

From the book in process, ‘Whole Bible Prophecy’ by Bruce Scott Bertram

The Mark of God

There is lots of discussion centered around the mark of the beast. But do you know what the mark of God is? It is mentioned in the Bible long before the mark of the beast. Bruce has an article about it at the Whole Bible Christian website. There is also a book in the works called ‘Whole Bible Prophecy’ where some of this is covered.

Christian Faith and Practice through the Mark

Cycles in Prophetic History

From the book, ‘Whole Bible Prophecy’

Complicating our interpretation of prophecy is the fact that some of it seems to keep happening in various ways over and over. Empires rise and conquer other empires, then dominate for a while only to fall back into the dustbin of history. Dictators come into power and behave exactly like their predecessors; so much that we can’t tell one from another without name tags. Hitler was not the first to try and wipe out the Jewish people. He was only the latest in a long string of murderers used by the deceiver who have tried to sidetrack God’s plans.

When Nebuchadnezzar got his dream interpreted by Daniel (chapter 2) he found out that his kingdom was only the head and was not going to last as long as he was thinking. In response he had an image made entirely of gold (Daniel 3) as if to say, “I repudiate the dream and my kingdom will last forever.” What a bummer for him that it only lasted a few years after his death. God was right and ol’ Nebby was wrong.

Prophecy has a cyclical nature because people keep repeating the same mistakes, and the deceiver keeps trying the same plans over and over (and so do individual unbelievers). People forget history and forget God and keep trying the same stupid plans time and again. The deceiver keeps jumping the gun trying to build his own world empire, and God smacks him down to make him get back into line.

The deceiver also has to start fresh all the time because he just can’t get his human puppets to live long enough. His kingdom is based on selfishness and greed among other weaknesses and his followers keep trying to knock each other off too. Truly the deceiver’s kingdom is divided against itself and cannot stand (Matthew 12:25-26). God keeps short-circuiting the deceiver’s plans because He has His own plan. A few paltry efforts by also-rans aren’t going to get in His way. The only reason the Beast has any kind of success at the end is because God allows the deceiver to do what he wants. Finally. For a while, anyway.

Rapture and Resurrection

Something from the other book we’re working on, ‘Whole Bible Prophecy,’ with some personal thoughts.

Trusting God. A while ago I converted from popular Christian fantasy of a rapture to the biblical reality that believers are going through the Tribulation. I’m a reformed dispensationalist. At first the realization is a terrifying prospect, like the second term of an Obama presidency. We know there’s a lot of bad stuff going to happen. We know the destruction will be worldwide. The prospect is enough to make a young person’s hair turn grey, and turn an old person’s bones to jelly. There’s a temptation to fling everything down and run for the hills. But we have God, we have His Son, and we have His Word.

We do not need to fear the conspiracies of men. The worst of them are but a vapor on the timeline of eternity. Men and their plans die. God’s eternal life is forever. I place myself in His care, trusting that He will guide and protect. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. My job is to trust and continue to work His Word, every part, into my life.

The undeniable fact is that the rapture will take place after the resurrection. There is not much Scripture on the rapture, but there is a great deal on the resurrection. For the righteous dead in Christ the resurrection will take place at the end of the Tribulation. The wicked are resurrected at the end of the 1,000 year kingdom. There are hints in the Word that believers will be protected through the “time of trouble.”

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. (Zephaniah 2:3, ESV)

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain. (Isaiah 26:19–21, ESV)

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:4–5, ESV)

The point is, whatever is going to happen, we have to trust God. We have to trust God in order to be able to hear Him when He tells us where to go and what to do. We refine our hearing now by doing all of His Word all of the time.