Sunday, May 17, 2009

Choosing Death

How's that for a title of a blog? Unfortunately, as you will see, it is soon to become the harshest reality ever faced in all believers lives. You will recall, I hope, the subject we have spoken of often in the past which concerns those believers who for one reason or another are reluctant to embrace the life God has chosen for them. These are the believers known as "Closet Christians", or those who wish to believe, but remain anonymous to the world by choosing to live as the world lives and not let their "light" shine as God desires. There is a time coming, however, where God has said that there will be nowhere to hide for those who truly believe.

Many are familiar with what is known as the "Mark of the Beast", or otherwise identified as the number "666". We are introduced to this mark in the book of Revelation where we are given a description of the beast, told of some of his powers, and also shown the plan he has for the world.

He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:16-18 NIV)

What we are told here is that at the mid-point of the 7 year tribulation period, the man of sin, or the anti-christ if you prefer, will institute a law which says that no one will be able to buy or sell without having this mark on their hand or forehead. Now at first glance, this may not seem to be all that "intrusive" considering what the world will be like at that time. There is, however, much more to it than that. The Greek word for "mark" here is "charagma" which literally means a brand or a seal (of ownership) You see, people are forced to choose to be "owned" in a way by taking the name of the anti-christ (666) on their bodies. In a sense, those who choose to take the mark will be pledging their allegiance to the anti-christ. This obviously is no small decision because although some believers might be tempted to take the mark just to survive, and not really "believe" in him, that decision is not, I repeat not an option. Lets look at another passage from the book of Revelation.

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur [or brimstone] in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-11 NIV)

I don't believe it can be made any clearer than that. Anyone, anyone who chooses to receive that mark is condemned by God for eternity. So you see, although right now many believers think they can get by with going to church once in awhile, and never really changing the way they live their lives, a time is coming when no believer on earth will be able to hide. They will be forced into making the choice to be open about what they believe, and either taking or refusing the mark. How difficult will it be? Look now at the penalty for NOT taking the mark.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4 NIV)

So this then is the choice that soon will come to those on this earth who consider themselves to be Christians and believers in Jesus Christ. Their choice will be to publicly declare that they worship God and be beheaded, or worship the anti-christ and receive his mark which then will condemn them to Hell for all eternity. There will be nowhere to hide, no way to camouflage themselves, no way to escape declaring what they truly believe.

My prayer is that they choose life rather than choosing death.