Identifying The Beast

I’m sorry. Every time I think about this subject, or read about someone who has positively identified The Beast, I crack up. Or at least chuckle a little. The reason it’s so humorous is that the methods used for identification, and the results of the methods, are mostly based on personal feelings. Or perhaps what I call newspaper exegesis (interpreting by newspaper headlines). I haven’t seen a result yet that comes from an understanding of the Bible. The best method of identification is right there in black and white. Or black, white and red. Or whatever fruity colors are used in your version.

The Beast is the coming ruler spoken of in the Bible who will sway nearly the whole world to follow his lead. As a token of appreciation, he will cause all who do so to receive a mark on the hand or forehead, without which no one can buy or sell. His helper is the false prophet, one who looks like a lamb and is called the anti-Christ or ‘instead of’ Christ. This helper of The Beast is the one who causes all to receive the mark. These two will be backed by the serpent or dragon, also called the deceiver and Satan. This unholy trinity will unite much of the population in a rebellion against God and His Christ. They will not succeed, but while they have their run there will be much death, destruction and wrath poured out from God. The wrath part is why I think this is still future, though others think it has already happened.

The Beast has been identified as Hitler, or rulers/kings like him. Some have pegged President Obama as The Beast. This is funny to me because as bad as Obama is he isn’t a pimple on the butt of The Beast. Various other leaders from time to time have been sometimes hysterically identified as the Beast. At one time people in the Calvary Chapel denomination along with many others were all excited about a computer in Belgium (early ’80’s) that was called the beast (at the time it could have numbered every person on the planet). Lately some are pointing to a smooth-talking atheist in Greece that has got them worried.

The problem with identifying The Beast comes in when people look right past the obvious. Especially the church. We will look everywhere except in the mirror. We are so blinded by men’s teachings, traditions and philosophies that we don’t recognize an important fact:

The Beast will be just as acceptable to the church as to the general populace.

Yes I know. That will be a shocking statement to those who think that the “church” is taken away in a rapture before all the really bad stuff starts, like a fairy tale princess in a flying pumpkin coach. However, the rapture without question is appended to the resurrection, and that resurrection clearly doesn’t happen till the end of the Tribulation. See our video Whole Bible Prophecy: The Rapture for more explanation on this.

So “the church” will be here during the tribulation. That’s the first boo boo in the whole identification process. There will be many who don’t even realize it at first, and many who will be upset when they find out they’ve been lied to by their leaders.

Some people point to the absence of ‘the church’ in Revelation 4 through about 19 as proof that the church is gone. But here’s a fun fact for you: there is no church in the Bible. At all. It exists only in translations. The ekklesia (the Greek word translated by the English word ‘church’) is simply an assembly or congregation, and is found throughout history in the Word. A group of people. Ekklesia is used of Israel in the Septuagint translation, but isn’t translated as ‘church.’ It is just translated as congregation or assembly. So technically ‘the assembly’ is much different than ‘the church’ and includes all believers everywhere and everywhen. This explains the absence of ‘the church’ in Revelation. Especially the modern church. It was never there in the first place.

The typical church-goer can’t (or will not later) properly identify The Beast because they are not grounded on the Word, do not read it except for a few favorite verses, and refuse to do what it says. Instead they have crafted for themselves a seeker-friendly social gospel that only vaguely resembles anything biblical, with a hippie flower-child Jesus letting everyone behave as they choose. We have leaders telling us that hell doesn’t exist, parts of God’s Word are old and irrelevant, men’s traditions are the new covenant, and sexual immorality is really okay. If this doesn’t sound like “tolerating that woman Jezebel” or allowing the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans (Revelation 1-3) I don’t know what does. The church has watered down the message of God for themselves so much that it isn’t even recognizable as God’s. By and large they have removed the whole nutrition of His Law from the message, and are therefore not grounded on the Rock.

For these reasons and a few others I believe The Beast will look a lot like a mega-church pastor, and teach many of the same things. He will be so very acceptable to the majority of the church because He will look and act just like they do. The church looks the same as the world, acts the same, and believes the same except for a little different Jesus flavoring. The Beast will bridge the (very small) gap between the world and the church very easily.

That might sound hard to some of you. But truth is only hard to the hard-hearted.

It is written that The Beast has blasphemous names on its heads and is given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words (Rev. 13). If you do a comprehensive word study you will find out that blasphemy is, at the bottom, either attributing evil to God’s works or attributing the works of God to evil (Satan, the Beast, or the anti-Christ get the credit instead of God). I think this means The Beast will claim that he is the author of works that are God’s, and will blame God for evil he and his two buddies do and the evil that is in the world in general. Right will be wrong and wrong will be painted as right.

The lack of grounding in the Bible for the majority of self-named Christians will contribute to the acceptance of The Beast. The blasphemy practiced by the Church (calling God’s Law irrelevant for instance) along with sexual immorality (adultery, divorce, fornication, homosexuality) and watered-down teaching from the Balaams, Jezebels and Nicolaitans among us will combine to allow easy acceptance by stone-hearted people.

11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV).

Hey. I’m not saying this. I’m getting it right from the Bible. Read the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 1-3 if you don’t believe me. The people described in negative terms there have always been around and always a part of the so-called church. The door that Jesus is standing at and knocking is the door of the church. It’s just that in modern times a greater percentage of wolves in sheep’s clothing are present and the corruption is more prevalent than in the past. See our video The Whole Picture: Who Put the Church in Charge? at http://youtu.be/3dkxJTQCriI for more on this.

A part of identifying The Beast is helped by figuring out who is spoken of in Revelation 17. There we see a woman riding on The Beast who has a name of mystery on her forehead that is “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” She looks pretty, dressed in purple and scarlet (the colors of ruling or royalty), with jewelry to match, but her main claim to fame is sexual immorality and murder of God’s people. She is seated on many waters picturing peoples, multitudes, nations and languages, so this woman is everywhere on earth. She is riding The Beast but he and the kings who give him allegiance (the horns) hate her and destroy her.

The Catholic Church has been identified as mystery religion Babylon, but that is too limited. Catholicism has only been around for about 1,800 years, and has not covered the planet that thoroughly during those centuries. This mystery religion has been around at least since the time of the tower of Babel (Hebrew meaning gate of the deity; Babylon is Greek for the same city/kingdom), which is where we see the record of the first idolatrous behavior (although there was probably much before the flood too). I think it is more likely that this woman is all religion that leads away from God with idolatry, sexual immorality and blasphemy. This includes all paganism, all idolatry, all witchcraft and voodoo and the like. It can even include the church (otherwise Jesus would not be warning the seven churches of the teachings of Balaam, Jezebel, and the Nicolaitans). Idolatry is cheating on God, with or without a statue. The modern church is certainly cheating on God, which will put them right in the same chariot with Babylon on the Beast. The Beast tolerates the false religion for a while, but he wants the first place of worship so he destroys Babylon because she’s in the way. It’s like that movie The Highlander. There can be only one. The Catholic Church certainly is pagan and idolatrous, and part of the mystery religion Babylon, but does not carry the whole burden by itself. There are many other churches and synagogues that are joined to her in immorality.

So identifying The Beast is kind of an exercise in futility for the church. You can’t very well find his hiding place when you’re looking everywhere but in the church building. Inside, this guy will indeed be a ravenous beast, but on the outside he will appear as a fluffy little sheep. He won’t appear to be the big bad wolf that most people are expecting. He will speak beguiling words; words that are close to God’s but just a little bit off at first. Just like the words of most church leaders and followers of today. He will say things that sound good and appeal to our self-seeking pride, and because the average Christian will not be grounded in the Word of God they will be willing to accept him and his instead-of-Christ prophet even to receiving the mark. They will “believe in him” so much they will gladly do whatever he says. They will be enamored of his teachings on sexual immorality, tolerance and unconditional love because these teachings will mirror their own. He will be able to quote the Bible better than most Christians, albeit with his own twisted slant and matching almost word for word the text of many sermons. He will mix science with sorcery and probably claim to be the next evolutionary step for all mankind. The image fashioned by the anti-Christ could very likely be a clone who will speak as the serpent did in the Garden, offering a path to be “like God.”

Believers will need to be filled with the whole of the Word, have patient endurance, reject the teachings of Jezebel and her ilk, and hear what the Spirit says to the congregations that make up the Body. Start tuning your eyes and ears to see Him and listen for His instructions by taking in all of His Words and doing them. Now. While there’s still time. Repent, go through the open door, buy from Him gold refined by fire and white garments to cover the shame of nakedness along with some salve to anoint your eyes. Be zealous and repent.

Shalom
Bruce

Jeff Durbin on Street Level Apologetics

A pastor at Apologia Church in Tempe, Arizona, Jeff Durbin gives a great presentation on some general apologetic approaches. I like his energy, his use of Scripture, and his willingness to be bold. He’s also got a lot of excellent points you could incorporate into your own conversations. Even if you are not as bold as he.

I don’t agree with all his positions. He misses the point of the Law, and tends to question Christian orthodoxy while holding on to many of it’s tenets with “closed hand.” But he still seems to have a great deal good to say; worth listening.

Shalom,
Bruce

God Approaches

It’s morning, Yom Kippur, otherwise known as the Day of Atonement. I wake up thinking about the approach of God. He comes in clouds and thick darkness with lightning and flame of fire to judge the earth. I get up to meet Him.

I shower, but I still don’t think I’m clean enough. My clothes are some of my best, but they are not adequate to cover me. I am naked beneath His searching gaze. The earth shakes; the sky reels. Is this what they call a vision, or have I been transported to a mountain? The very air is heavy with the edge of His holiness and white with the light of His glory. I seem to see a flaming sword in one hand and stars in the other as He approaches from on high. I am terrified. I fall to my knees in supplication hoping that His judgment passes over me. As he comes closer my strength fails and I fall prostrate and blind before the majesty and might of my creator.

His voice is like a shout, like the blast of a thousand trumpets. A mighty noise, and then sudden quiet. There is a touch on my shoulder. Strength flows from that light contact. Still fearful, I open my eyes to see the dirt, and without moving look to the sides to see if I can see who touched me. The touch on my shoulder again. More strength flows in. A regular voice says, “Be not afraid. Rise and speak.” He uses a name for me that I recognize but have not heard before. I get to my feet to see a man standing. He is a little shorter than I, brown skinned and barefoot dressed in a white robe.

His darker skin is the canvas for the white scars on his forehead, light brush strokes on a smooth brow. He looks young, but his eyes are very still and I sense ancient depths. He holds up a hand in peace. His sleeve falls a little and I can clearly see a scar in his wrist.

“My lord and my God,” I say. “You sent for me?”

“I sent an invitation to everyone to meet me on this Day” He says. “I am glad you accepted.”

“But when,” I ask, “did you invite me here?”

He replies, “The invitation was in the book I gave you. You read it and agreed to meet with me here. Walk with me now, and let us talk.”

“As you wish,” I say. He speaks a word that makes me blink, and when I open my eyes I am at my house. But I can still hear Him talking.

“I am with you always,” He says, “though you may not be able to see me the same way all the time. We are together, you in me and I in you. Each word of mine that you take to heart will make your vision clearer, your hearing sharper. Soon you will see me in all my glory. Tell me what is on your mind. Share with me your fears and sorrows. Speak of your concerns for your family, your friends, your country. Let me hear what moves you. Let us walk together like this always whether I am seen or unseen.”

“Your will is my will,” I answer.

“It is enough,” He says.

Day of Wrath

Saturday is the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur. On this day, and this day only, when we had a temple the high priest would go into the holy of holies and apply the blood of the sacrifice to the mercy seat of the Aron Khodesh, also known as the Ark of the Covenant. He had to do it in a very specific way, with no deviation, or he would die. There was a time far back in history when the high priest had to go in with a rope tied around his ankle for fear he wouldn’t do things right and would die. If he did then others could drag him out without going in themselves and risking the same death.

 

The Day of Atonement was a day associated with wrath, smoke and burning. There are two facets to the smoke and burning. Either there was a sufficient sacrifice for sin, or there wasn’t. One type of smoke and burning was from the acceptable sacrifice, and God’s wrath was turned away. The other facet of smoke and burning was the wrath of God directed at people who did not have an acceptable sacrifice.

 

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. (Zephaniah 1:14–17, ESV)

 

Before the death and resurrection of Jesus the Yom Kippur sacrifice looked forward to the offering of His own blood on our behalf. Now we remember that work in humility, but we still look forward to that final day of judgment and fast and pray for those who aren’t prepared. Those of us who believe have accepted His sacrifice and God’s wrath on this day is turned away. Those who haven’t accepted Jesus are risking the burning anger of God. This is why we “afflict ourselves” (fast) as it says in Leviticus 16:29 and other places. We bow our heads in humility remembering the sacrifice, and the cost of that sacrifice for our sins. We also fast and pray for repentance that everyone would likewise accept God’s Word and humble themselves.

 

Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. 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 2:1–3, ESV)

 

Some misguided people make a big deal out of exactly which day to have the holy days of the Lord. There is no procedure outlined for us in the Word, but there are people who want to help God out by splitting hairs about the new moon (which indicates the start of the month). They are missing the point about the whole thing. Majoring in the minors. Forsaking unity and brotherhood to push their “holier than thou” agenda. This kind of quibbling is proof that the Word does not dwell in their hearts, because love dwells with the Law and love is not in these arguments. I’ve seen many who not only quibble about this kind of minor detail but other non-biblical issues such as head coverings while at the same time ignoring more salient and weightier issues such as love and honoring others. It’s not just me, either. Watch them yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Remember the Law in its entirety with love and the Spirit in a heart of flesh. Don’t get caught up in quibbling with the quibblers. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the seven churches. Repent. Love God. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.

 

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:1–6, ESV)

The Wrath of God

I feel somewhat out-of-place in addressing this topic. Most messages from Christians are centered on a sappy Jesus who, to them, is like a refugee from the ’60’s hippie movement spouting one liners about human ideas of peace and love. They don’t read the Bible very much or we would hear a lot more about God’s wrath (hundreds of verses) and how it is surely building over the current state of the world’s culture. In my opinion it is also building over the church’s involvement in leading the way, too.

 

But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:16, ESV)

 

The reason for talking about God’s wrath is number one because it ain’t pretty yet it will surely fall; two maybe it will spur people to repent; and three that it might inspire those who are already elect to do good. Speaking of the wrath (or fierce anger) of the Lord is an act of love because we want people to stop despising His Words and scoffing at the prophets or messengers of God. If we keep on like we are there will be no remedy.

 

Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. 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 2:1–3, ESV)

 

The preachers of the false Jesus hippie dude whose teachings resemble those of Bill and Ted in their Excellent Adventure (“Be excellent to one another, and, Party on, dude!”) are presuming on the riches of His kindness. Obedience is not an option or a feeling. It is commanded by God that anyone who does not obey the gospel will be cast into outer darkness (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30).

 

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:4–8, ESV)

 

Jesus is coming back soon, and many will be shocked and stunned to the roots of their soul at the sword in His hand and the fury with which He treads out the wine press of God’s wrath (Revelation 19:15). Don’t you be included in that number.

 

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 1:5–8, ESV)

 

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14–15, ESV)

God’s Acceptance

There are a number of ways that God indicates His acceptance. In Leviticus 9, fire comes out from before the Lord and consumes the first offering in front of the Tabernacle. God approves of the presentation, and His fire consumes it. People made an offering to God, and God seals the deal with approving fire. There are many other sacrifices after this that do not get the same treatment, but this sets the pattern of acceptance. So as long as the others are done the same way they are also acceptable.

There are at least five times mentioned in the Word where fire from the Lord consumes a sacrifice. The other four are in Judges 6 (Gideon), 1 Kings 18 (Elijah and the prophets of Baal) 1 Chronicles 21 (David’s sacrifice) and 2 Chronicles 7 (Solomon’s sacrifice). These examples illustrate for us what happens when God approves. When God disapproves, fire destroys the person rather than the offering.

Fire from God can show acceptance, or rejection, and it doesn’t have to be in connection with an animal sacrifice. When fire rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, it was a rather obvious rejection of their behavior. Moses calls down fire on the Egyptians (Exodus 9). Fire from heaven also destroyed two captains of fifty and their men when trying to arrest Elijah (2 Kings 1). Fire pours from the mouth of God’s two prophets or witnesses of Revelation 11 if anyone tries to harm them. The second beast of Revelation 13 fakes a fire that looks like it comes from heaven, but it’s not from God. Not like the final fireworks that fall on the armies of Satan in Revelation 20.

If Nadab and Abihu had stayed within the Law, depending on God’s grace and doing exactly what He said when He said it, then there would’ve been no reason for the fire from God to consume them. Grace, in the Law, would’ve saved them. Just like it saved all the other priests who followed the rules. The grace was in telling them how to approach and be acceptable. Love, in following what God said, is the other way to look at, and observe, the Law.

Nadab and Abihu get toasted right after the accepted sacrifice of Leviticus 9. It was not only that they did the process wrong, it was also their hearts. They were willfully doing something they knew to be wrong. This is called a high-handed sin. When you’ve been told, warned, cautioned, and seen others punished for wrongdoing, and you do it too, there is no excuse. The sons of Aaron stepped out of God’s boundaries and tried to demand acceptance based on their own actions. Paul calls this “works of the Law” in Galatians.

From Berea at Whole Bible dot com – Manna, 26 Shemini

Pentecost

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. (Exodus 19:16–20, ESV)

Coming soon, the feast of Weeks also known as Shavuot or Pentecost.