A gracEmail subscriber asks: “What is the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:16-18? Is it a RFID (‘radio frequency identification’) chip that will be implanted in the hand or forehead of those who follow the great adversary of Jesus Christ in the last days?”
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People sometimes call the last book of the Bible “the Book of Revelations,” as if it were a preview description of the details of earthly history. In doing so they are twice mistaken. It is not the Book of “Revelations,” but rather, as its opening words tell us, “the Revelation (or Uncovering) of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). We do not look to Revelation to learn the events of history but rather the meaning of history’s events. This book was written to assure persecuted Christians that, despite all appearances, the resurrected Jesus Christ is already the sovereign Lord over all earthly rulers, a reality that one day will be unmistakable to his followers and his enemies alike.
From time to time throughout history, a human government comes along and says, “The government stands in the place of God. You must give us total allegiance and obedience. If you do, we will take care of you and provide your needs. If you do not, you will pay the consequences.” Nebuchadnezzar did that in the time of Daniel and his three friends. Antiochus Epiphanes repeated it during the days of the Maccabees. The Roman emperors Nero and Domitian did the same just about the time John was writing the Book of Revelation. More recent examples include Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Kim Jong-il. We may be sure that other anti-Christian governments will arise until the end of time.
The number 666 reminds the believer that no government that usurps the place of God will have the final word, for 666 is the symbol for man. Such claimants to absolute allegiance are merely human, earthly counterfeits of the true King of kings and Lord of lords. God’s people must be faithful to Christ no matter when or where they live, and no matter what the consequences. When they know the meaning of 666 and remember “the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” they are emboldened to do just that.
The Book of Revelation assures believers that their faith is more precious than this life. They follow the Lamb that was slaughtered but lives again. They serve Jesus who holds the keys to Death and to Hades. They pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ and bow before his authority — authority achieved by obedience even to death, verified by his resurrection and confirmed by his exaltation to God’s side in heaven. They await Jesus’ coming in power, to judge their oppressors and to vindicate the faith of all who trusted in him.