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Living in the Age of Signs

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P. T. Barnum was an American showman of the nineteenth century who captivated American audiences with elaborate hoaxes that earned him a reputation as the "Prince of Humbugs." He didn't consider his shows to be underhanded because his audiences were willing participants in his ruses. In Barnum's words, "The people like to be humbugged."

During the Tribulation, there will be a new showman who surpasses every grandstander before him. Unlike Barnum, his tricks won't be lighthearted entertainment or freely chosen. Promising peace and prosperity, he will convince nations to disarm and grant him complete control. Together with his False Prophet, the Antichrist will convince millions that his government and his economic system is:

Everything you ever want
It's everything you ever need
And it's right here in front of you
[It] is where you wanna be.1

The price of admission to this world order will be a nonrefundable, mandatory mark worn by every citizen. It is known as the mark of the Beast, or simply "666."

What Is the Mark of the Beast?

In Revelation 13 we are told the Antichrist's right–hand man, the Beast from the earth (also known as the False Prophet), will introduce a mark to bolster his one–world rule. "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, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:16–17).

The word used in the passage for the mark is the Greek word charagma. In antiquity, this word was always associated with the Roman emperor. It often contained the emperor's name, his image, and the year of his reign. It was necessary for buying and selling and was required to be affixed to documents to attest to their validity. During the Tribulation, every living person will be required to take the Beast's mark. As in the days of Rome, it will be the only way to function in society.

Why 666?

Many have theorized about the meaning of 666. Goliath stood six cubits tall, and he wore six items of armor. Nebuchadnezzar's statue stood sixty cubits high, six cubits wide, and six musical instruments beckoned its worshipers. Some have named Nero, Hitler, various U.S. presidents and other world leaders as the Beast represented by the number. All these guesses are just that—contrivances that tell us nothing about the meaning of the number.

The most likely answer is perhaps the least intriguing. Revelation 13:18 tells us it is the number of man. We see this affirmed throughout Scripture. In Genesis, man was created on the sixth day. In the Old Testament Law, men were called to work six out of every seven days. A Hebrew could only be held as a slave for a maximum of six years. After six consecutive years of sowing a field, it was required to lay fallow. The number may not identify an individual so much as it identifies the human race.

We could sum it up to say the number 666 represents the ultimate in human ingenuity and competence. The Antichrist is the epitome of man's last attempt at ruling the world before Jesus overrules all those who oppose Him once and for all.

How Will 666 Miss the Mark?

The mark of the Beast will offer hollow promises and incomplete relief during the Tribulation. It will give people access to buy and sell goods, but many will barely earn enough money to buy food (Revelation 6:6). Worse still, the mark will separate its bearers from the love of God and sentence them to eternal judgment.

If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Revelation 14:9–11

Mankind yearns for completeness because God has put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The number 666 reminds us that there is something—or Someone—missing. Man's best efforts will never culminate in perfection. On our own, we will always come up short, and we will always long for the perfect completeness that can only be found in God.

Is There an Alternative to 666?

Those who refuse the mark of the Beast will suffer the Antichrist's wrath. They will be unable to buy, sell, work, or function in society. Anyone without the mark will be killed or starved (Revelation 14:9–11), and Christians will be martyred for their faith.

The only alternative will be to focus on what is unseen rather than what is seen. The apostle Paul endured beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, and more, yet he was not deterred from serving the Lord. In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul explained the source of his hope that sustained him through these trials:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16–18

Refusing the mark will cause temporary suffering, but the Bible assures us that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

Does God Have a Number?

Six symbolizes man, but seven symbolizes God. Seven is the number of completion. God created seven days in a week and seven notes in the musical scale. In Leviticus 23, He ordained seven feasts. Jesus made seven "I am" statements about Himself, and He made seven statements from the cross. One day He will be honored with a seven–fold doxology by every creature on earth: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Revelation 5:12)

The number seven appears more than thirty times in the book of Revelation. There are seven seal judgments that present the world ruined by man. There are seven trumpet judgments that present the world ruined by Satan. There are seven bowl judgments that present the world reclaimed by God. Complete destruction. Complete desolation. Complete redemption. Even God's judgment is meted out in perfect proportion (Proverbs 24:12).

Which Mark Will You Bear?

Citizens of the Antichrist's empire will be distinguished by the indelible mark of the Beast. Citizens of Christ's kingdom are also identified by a mark: God marks believers as His very own by sending His Holy Spirit to live in them.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13–14

Some people try to put on a show for God. They go to church. They read their Bibles occasionally. They try not to swear or drink. They want God's blessings without His judgment. This might seem to work for a little while, but it is impossible to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Each of us must decide whose mark we will bear. As Joshua challenged the people of ancient Israel, each of us must choose "this day" whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15).

1Hugh Jackman, et al., "The Greatest Show," The Greatest Showman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Atlantic Recording Corporation, 2017, CD.

Daily Devotions

Today’s Devotion:
The Whitest White

How do paint companies find their colors? According to livescience.com, engineers are looking at the little-known Cyphochilus beetle found in the sugarcane fields of Southeast Asia. The bug has remarkably white scales and studying the natural shade of the creature has helped paint companies begin to create the whitest white color.

Imagine a white so white and bright that it’s blinding.

In the Gospels, Jesus was transfigured, and for a few moments He revealed His intrinsic glory. Matthew 17:2 says, “He was transfigured before them. His face shown like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” Revelation 19:11 pictures Christ coming again on a white horse; and the eternal throne of judgment is described in Revelation 20:11 as “a great white throne.”

According to Revelation 21 and 22, the city of New Jerusalem will be illuminated by the Lamb Himself, who radiates light. The city will shimmer, gleam, and flash with supernatural light.

Since all this is true, let’s grow in holiness and reflect the glory of the Lord to a darkened world. Others should see in us the whitest white.

Break down every idol, cast out every foe. / Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

James Nicholson

Why would anyone agree to be marked with a number that has evil implications? Even people who have never read the Bible are generally uneasy with the number 666 because of the press it receives. Films and novels use it to invoke terror and mystery. Some even make jokes about the mark, but Satan's demonic activity is no laughing matter.

So why will the world accept this mark during the Tribulation? To answer that question, we must understand the power and persuasion of the Antichrist. Let's examine how and why the mark will be implemented.

The Implementation of the Mark

Many Christians are surprised to learn that the mark of the Beast will not be implemented personally by the Antichrist—the Beast that arises from the sea (Revelation 13:1). Later in the same chapter, John explains that this mark will be initiated by a second beast, the "beast coming up out of the earth" who is later identified as the False Prophet (Revelation 16:13).

While the False Prophet will be the implementer of the mark, he will be acting on authority that comes from higher up. As John tells us, "He exercises all the authority of the first beast" (Revelation 13:12). And where does the first beast, the Antichrist, get his power? "The dragon [Satan] gave him his power, his throne, and great authority" (Revelation 13:2). Satan himself will instigate all the terrible evil of the Tribulation period with the Antichrist and the False Prophet acting as his diabolical agents.

The False Prophet, working on behalf of the Antichrist, will use the mark to subjugate the world during the Tribulation period. John tells us that "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, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:16–17).

As the word prophet indicates, the False Prophet will be a religious leader, the kind Jesus warned of when He said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15). Many false prophets have come and gone, but none have had the devastating impact on the world's population that the False Prophet of Revelation will inflict. He will use religion to deceive the world, and once deceived, he will use the mark of the Beast to enslave all people economically, forcing them to endure the unrelenting tyranny of Satan and the Antichrist.

The Purpose of the Mark

Revelation 13:17 tells us what the mark will do on a day–to–day basis: "No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Only those who have the mark or the Antichrist's name or his number, identifying them as his followers, will be able to sell goods and services to support themselves and secure what they need. Anyone refusing to wear the mark will struggle to survive.

It's notable that the word mark is translated from the Greek charagma. The charagma was a symbol used somewhat like notary seals are used today. The symbol consisted of a portrait of the emperor and the year of his reign. It was required to complete commercial transactions and was stamped in wax on official documents to authenticate their validity. The mark of the Beast will function in a similar way, identifying those who bear it as worshipers of the Beast and permitting them to conduct financial transactions.

This fusion of government and religion will put the squeeze on rebels, leaving them nowhere to turn. Those who refuse the mark will be shut out of society altogether. No one will buy their products or services. Barred from employment and from shopping in stores or online, they will face bankruptcy and starvation.

Given our modern financial system, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Christians are shut out like this. But the Bible is clear that Satan's intent is not only to keep them from means of survival, but also to force them to a decision: Will they continue to stand for Christ, refusing the mark despite the hardship promised? Or will they succumb to the loyalty demands of Satan and take on the mark to relieve that hardship?

In many countries now, Christians face persecution and even death when they stand for Christ, just as those without the mark will during the Tribulation. During that time, these questions will be put before the entire world's population, without exception. They will come in the form of the offered mark, supposedly to promote a good life, but with the intent to make clear who will live for Christ and who will yield to Satan.

This article is excerpted from chapter 25 of The Book of Signs. Order your copy today!

1. Are we living in the Apocalypse?

We are closer to the end than ever before. That's an obvious statement, but many who don't even believe in the Bible believe the world will one day end and that we are getting closer to that time. We don't know exactly when the end will come, but it will be triggered by the Rapture.

I believe the Church, those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Savior, will be raptured to heaven before the world experiences the Apocalypse. Seven years after the Rapture, Jesus will return to end the world as we know it.

Even now signs of the End Times are evident—signs that will only deepen and recur more frequently as the end draws closer. Jesus describes these signs in Matthew 24.

The Sign of Deception

Many people will claim to be the Savior of our troubled world. People will search for leaders to deliver them, and they will seek mystics and religious leaders who claim to have deeper knowledge. Ignorant of truth, they will be easily deceived. Jesus is the only salvation for this world, and He warns us not to be fooled by such counterfeits.

The Sign of Disputes Among Nations

Wars and dissension among people groups will rise. There will be constant talk of conflicts, border skirmishes, race wars, and national battles.

The Sign of Devastation

There will be more and more famine, "earthquakes in various places," and pestilence, the rise of disease (Matthew 24:7).

The Sign of Deliverance Into the Tribulation

Just before Jesus' Second Coming, there will be an explosion of antagonism toward God's people. Christians will be persecuted. Many will pay a high price for proclaiming Jesus' name.

Many of these signs are taking place today. In verse 36, Jesus explains that no one except the Father knows the time or day of the Rapture, but He gives us signs to watch for. As the Rapture approaches, we can expect these signs to grow exponentially.

2. Who or what are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Numerous movies and TV shows have dealt with apocalyptic circumstances, and many of us have heard of the four horsemen. Hollywood uses this symbolism for its own purposes, but the true meaning of the four horsemen can be found in the Bible.

Revelation 6:1–8 describes Jesus opening the first four seals of judgment at the beginning of the Tribulation. Each of these seals releases one of the horsemen who usher in various judgments on the earth.

White Horse

"And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer" (Revelation 6:2).

The rider on the white horse is the Antichrist. He is a representative of Satan who will unite the world under the guise of peace but will later wage war against God's people. His white horse is a forgery of Jesus' Second Coming (19:11–16). Satan's purpose always has been, and always will be, to counterfeit the work of Christ.

Red Horse

"Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword" (Revelation 6:4).

The fiery red horseman represents mortal combat between nations, regions, and even close relations. He ushers in war, murder, and bloodshed.

Black Horse

"I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine' " (Revelation 6:5–6).

Black is often associated with famine in the Bible. The standard daily wage for ancient laborers was a denarius. In the early days of the Tribulation period, food will be in short supply. Common people will have to work all day just to survive, yet the luxuries of the wealthy ("oil and wine") will remain untouched.

Pale Horse

"So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth" (Revelation 6:8).

Death is the pale rider with Hades (or hell) following behind. They will kill with the sword, hunger, diseases, and wild beasts—the four judgments prophesied in Ezekiel 14:21.

3. What does 666 mean?

During the Tribulation, every living person will be required to bear the mark of the Beast—the number 666.

According to Revelation 13, the Beast from the earth (the False Prophet) will introduce the mark: "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, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Revelation 13:16–17).

The False Prophet will be the Antichrist's right–hand man. He will introduce the mark to bolster the Antichrist's one–world rule.

Taking the mark will be the only way to function in society. Those who refuse the mark will be forced to go bankrupt or starve.

Why 666?

Revelation 13:18 tells us it is the number of man. We see this affirmed throughout Scripture. In Genesis, man was created on the sixth day. In the Old Testament Law, men were called to work six out of every seven days. In Israel, a Hebrew could only be held as a slave for a maximum of six years. After six consecutive years of sowing a field, it was required to lie fallow.

The Greek word used in this passage is charagma. In antiquity, it was associated with the Roman emperor. It often contained the emperor's name, his image, and the year of his reign. The charagma was necessary for buying and selling and was required to be affixed to documents to attest to their validity.

In man's last attempt at ruling the world, the number 666 will represent the apex of human ingenuity and competence.

4. What is the Battle of Armageddon?

The Battle of Armageddon marks the triumphant ending of the Tribulation period. It is the final battle between the forces of good and evil, with Jesus as the victor.

Six major powers are involved in the final campaign: the revived Roman Empire, the northern confederation (Russia and her allies), the kings of the East (Asia), the kings of the South (Africa), the Lord and His armies, and the nation of Israel.

Israel will be at the center of the conflict. When the nations see the Lord's armies coming (the angels and believers who were raptured into heaven), they will forget their squabbles and band together to fight against the Lord.

Of course, they will be powerless against the Lord Jesus when He appears in all His power and majesty as the King of the universe. Revelation 19 describes His return: "His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.… Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.… He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (19:12–16).

He will slay nations with the sword as His armies stand together watching. The battle will be over before it begins. In one dramatic moment, He will throw the Antichrist and the False Prophet into the lake of fire at the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon.

According to Revelation 14:20, the bloodshed resulting from Armageddon will spread over a 200–mile area (approximately the size of Israel) and reach a depth of four feet (the height of a horse's bridle). "All the birds" will be "filled" with the flesh of the battlefield (Revelation 19:21) and it will take seven months to bury the dead and seven years to rid the earth of all the weapons which were gathered by the nations (Ezekiel 39:8–16).

The Battle of Armageddon will not be much of a battle. Evil will make its final stand, but good will win. Jesus will conquer without sustaining any losses. The nations and all powers of evil will be no opposition for His strength. The bloody battlefields will be all that remains of those who rejected Him.

5. What happens at the Great White Throne Judgment?

As Jesus sits on His great white throne, every unsaved person—the spiritually "dead" who have rejected Him—will stand before Him. Having been summoned from the grave and from the sea, each person will accept their final judgment. Jesus will read records of each one's life. Scripture tells us that every person's words, actions, and thoughts, no matter how secret or insignificant they appear in the moment, will be exposed and brought to account.

Those who placed their trust in Jesus and accepted Him as Savior will not be present. Cleansed by the righteousness of Jesus, they already will be justified before God.

People "small and great" will be represented (Revelation 20:11–15). Many people who did seemingly good things on earth and were admired by their peers will be there—even many who held offices in the church and were thought to be Christians. Matthew 7:22–23 says, "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' "

As each one stands trial, the only basis for judgment will be whether his name is in the Book of Life. No one judged on that day will be in the Book of Life, so each will be cast into the lake of fire. There will be no negotiation or second chances. The judgment is final, and the punishment—hell—is forever.

Is your name written in the Book of Life? Have you placed your trust in Jesus and accepted the eternal salvation He offers to you? If you haven't, make the decision today!

6. Is the Antichrist alive today?

The Antichrist could be alive today. There are no prophecies to be fulfilled or prerequisites to be met before his lifetime. However, it is impossible for us to know because he hasn't been revealed to the world. The Bible says that the Antichrist will not be revealed until after the Rapture, when the Holy Spirit is no longer restraining the work of evil on earth (2 Thessalonians 2:1–12). This individual will be revealed in his adulthood, ready and prepared to take leadership. Since the Rapture could happen at any time, the Antichrist might already be walking the earth.

While we can't be certain of his timing, we can be certain of his nature: He will be the incarnation of Satan, the great deceiver. He will present himself not only against Christ but instead of Christ. Second Thessalonians 2:4 describes him as one "who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." He will be the master counterfeiter.

Daniel 7 says the Antichrist will have "a mouth speaking pompous words" (verse 8). "He shall speak pompous words against the Most High" (verse 25). "And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies" (Revelation 13:5). The Antichrist will be a charismatic leader who will sway the masses with his speaking ability. Noted for his wonderful eloquence, this man will be able to capture the attention and admiration of the world. His ability as an orator will enable him to unite the world in one, all powerful government.

Through it all, God will remain in control. Because of mankind's stubborn refusal to accept His truth, God will cause people to believe the lies of the Antichrist, "that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Revelation 13:7 says that "it was granted to [the Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them." The Antichrist will come in great power, but only in the power that God allows him. And he will be revealed according to God's plan, after believers are taken into heaven at the Rapture.

7. Will everyone hear the Gospel before Jesus returns?

Now, this can be a tricky question. Yes, everyone will have the chance to hear the Gospel before Jesus returns to earth in the Second Coming, but there is no biblical evidence that everyone will hear it before the Rapture of the Church occurs. When Matthew 24:14 says the "gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world" before the end comes, it is referring to the Gospel being preached during the Tribulation period—which answers another frequently asked question…

8. Is there a second chance at salvation after the Rapture?

Yes, there will be a multitude of people living during the Tribulation who choose to believe in Jesus and are saved. Most of these new believers will be martyred for their faith during the Antichrist's evil reign. Revelation 7:9–14 describes these new believers assembling in heaven after the Rapture:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" … Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?" And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

How will these people discover the truth of the Gospel after the Rapture?

Revelation 7:4 provides an important key: God will choose and seal 144,000 Israelites, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, before Christ sends judgment. They will be given the power and protection of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel during this time. They will be fearless because they will have the promise of God's protection—no one will be able to harm them. When their work is complete, they will be taken to heaven.

Revelation also mentions two people who will be empowered to be God's witnesses for nearly three–and–a–half years during the Tribulation (Revelation 11:3). Then, after the 144,000 are taken into heaven, an angel will proclaim the Gospel "to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water' " (Revelation 14:6–7). This bold preaching of both angels and men testifies to the strength of God's character, His grace and justice. While His judgment is being poured out on the earth, His message of mercy will continue to be proclaimed.

During the Tribulation, multitudes will be saved through the Gospel, but don't count on second chances. If you haven't already, surrender your life to Jesus and discover the abundant life He has for you today and for eternity.

9. Is there a difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming?

This is one of the biggest misunderstandings about prophecy. The Rapture and the Second Coming are often confused, but they are two distinct events on God's prophetic timeline.

First, the Rapture will occur when Christ returns to take every Christian from every era to heaven with Him. Paul wrote about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

The Rapture is God's protection of His saints from the Tribulation—the seven years of judgment that will be poured out on earth after His children ascend to heaven. There are some who argue the Tribulation will begin before the Rapture. However, the Bible says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). I believe this means the Church will not experience the judgment God has planned for that time.

After seven years, Jesus will return for His Second Coming. This time He will appear not as a humble child but as the powerful and glorious King of the universe, surrounded by all His saints. He will gain victory at Armageddon and establish His kingdom on earth.

At the Rapture, Jesus comes for His saints. At the Second Coming, He comes with His saints.

At the Rapture, Jesus doesn't come all the way to earth. At the Second Coming, His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives and He will reign on earth.

At the Rapture, Jesus comes with a blessing for His saints. At the Second Coming, He brings judgment for those who have rejected Him.

The Rapture can happen at any moment, but we know the Second Coming happens seven years later.

10. Will believers today be on earth for the Millennial Kingdom?

Not only will believers return to earth for the Millennial Kingdom—they also will rule with Jesus!

After the Tribulation, raptured believers will join the angels in Jesus' armies and return to earth with Him: "The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean" (Revelation 19:14, NIV). Jesus will gain victory at Armageddon, and believers will be given authority to reign with Him for a thousand years. Several passages throughout Scripture point to the believers' role in the kingdom:

Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 14–15).

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (1 Corinthians 6:2)

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20:4–6).

Believers today are rulers in the making. God is preparing us not only for heaven but also for administering peace during the Millennium. In this future era, God will establish the first truly righteous leadership we can trust. He will never make mistakes or wrong decisions. He will be the righteous King.

11. Will God destroy the earth?

Pop culture leads us to believe the world will one day be destroyed in a giant apocalyptic explosion, and the earth will be completely destroyed. But God is not going to destroy the earth, He is going to purify it.

Second Peter 3:10 says, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."

This passage could certainly lead us to believe the apocalyptic explosion theory. But when we study the original Greek, the word translated "burned up" more accurately conveys the idea of being uncovered or laid open. God is not going to burn the earth down to a heap of ashes, He is going to refine every element and atom all the way down to the earth's core. He's going to completely renovate the earth to a quality we haven't experienced. The beauty we enjoy in creation today is barely a taste of the vibrancy we will experience when God is finished purifying the world.

Again, in Revelation 21:1 it says, "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away."

God will not create a new earth like He did in Genesis. He will renovate His "very good" creation by removing all evidence of sin, decay, and disease. The earth will not be new in quantity but in quality—perfectly refurbished to its core.

Then the New Jerusalem—the city of heaven with streets of gold and pearly gates—will come out of the clouds, and all believers will reside there for eternity with God.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:2–4

Do you remember the days when everyone paid with cash or paper checks?

Credit receipts were made in triplicate—one page for the customer, one for the seller, and one for the bank. And there were knuckle–grinding machines that imprinted name and account numbers through two lightweight paper sheets and one tagboard sheet, each separated by carbon paper. Personal checks were written out at checkout stands, and then a clerk wrote down the payer's driver's license and home phone numbers.

Now research shows that 46% of Americans don't worry about carrying cash. As of October 2018, 29% of Americans never purchase with cash and another 52% occasionally purchase with paper money.1 That means 86% of Americans are largely paperless when it comes to their shopping.

Credit and debit cards are just one option in a growing list of electronic payment options available today. Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay allow shoppers access their bank accounts for payment by scanning a code from their smartphone. Social, cash–sharing apps like Venmo, Cash App, and Google Wallet enable individuals to repay friends and split restaurant bills by sending money electronically with the click of a button.

Why is our cashless trend significant?

What does this trend toward an electronic and cashless society have to do with Bible prophecy and the End Times?

Scripture reveals that the Antichrist will unite the world under one government—one united economy. Every person will be required to take a mark in order to buy or sell goods of any kind.

This mark could be an actual physical brand, but it could very easily be connected to the technological advances being made today.

In early 2010, the Jerusalem Post reported that Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv had implemented a first–of–its–kind biometric security system to make air travel safer and security screening more efficient than ever before. The Unipass Airport Management System was developed by the Israel Airports Authority, and "was authorized as a voluntary system.... The move to make participation mandatory has been under debate ever since the database was proposed."2 On February 27, 2017, Israel's Parliament passed a law mandating their citizens to obtain a biometric ID card.

According to an article in The Times of Israel following the passing of the law,

"The biometric card is designed to digitally encode personal information, fingerprints, photo and facial profile. The data will be stored in a chip attached to the card, which will also contain the holder's name, gender and birth date. All information will be stored in a secured database.

The law requires all citizens to give high–resolution facial images to be stored in the national biometric database. They may, however, opt out of releasing their fingerprints to the database, though that information will remain on the card."3

The mandated use of this technology is a source of controversy. Many are worried about their privacy and information security for obvious reasons. But it has even more sinister potential: it is a perfect weapon in the arsenal of a tyrant bent on world domination. As we know from the Bible, a despotic ruler will govern the entire world during the last half of the Tribulation period, and he will likely use technology to accomplish his purposes (Revelation 13:16–17).

New technology for the internet is tailor–made for the Antichrist.

According to a WORLD magazine article titled "The Tower of Google," the internet is "society's brain, continually patrolled by cyber bots that make connections."4 The omnipresent search engine—whether Google, Bing, or some other—extends its reach through "search engine optimization." With this enhancement in the past ten years, Google can target marketing specifically to our interests by following us around the internet noting where we stop, shop, and search.

Not only can they figure out what we like and want; they create those very needs and wants for us! Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google, has expressed a somewhat frightening desire to see "the development of a wireless chip to be implanted directly into the human brain."5 That is the kind of control the Antichrist is all about.

Technology Advancing Toward the Mark of the Beast

The purpose of this elaborate technology summary is to restate one reality: technological advances are paving the way for fulfillment of end–time prophecy. These innovations are creating the environment that the Antichrist and False Prophet will need to wire this world together for their evil purposes. Even now it is well within the range of possibility for a centralized power to gain worldwide control of all banking and purchasing. With Tribulation–era prophecy beginning to take shape all around us, we can anticipate the Lord's return is not far off.

If it seems drastic to connect financial technology with the mark of the Beast, remember that prophecy was written with the words and from the context of human authors in their day. When the apostle John wrote of a mark, he naturally thought of the slave or criminal branding of his day, which would inflict a literal and permanent mark on the hand or forehead. We cannot be sure the mark of the Beast will conform to John's conception of it. The mark may be an electronic identification signature via cell phone or other device that will control one's ability to make purchases if the world becomes cashless by the time of the Antichrist.

1Andrew Perrin, "More Americans are making no weekly purchases with cash," December 12, 2018, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact–tank/2018/12/12/more–americans–are–making–no–weekly–purchases–with–cash/, accessed March 1, 2019.

2Jenny David, "Israel Adopts Biometric Database Despite Security Concerns," https://www.bna.com/israel–adopts–biometric–n57982084580/, accessed March 1, 2017.

3"Knesset approves making biometric ID cards mandatory" February 28, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset–approves–making–biometric–id–cards–mandatory/, accessed March 1, 2019.

4Janie B Cheaney, "The Tower of Google," WORLD, March 13, 2010, https://world.wng.org/2010/02/the_tower_of_google/, accessed March 5, 2019.


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