“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.”
How this scripture will be fulfilled has been debated for many years. There are even some who question if it is possible at all, but Bible prophecy assures us that it will happen. It was unimaginable that these things could occur in the United States, let alone throughout the world. But recent events have shone a whole new light on how this scripture will be fulfilled.
Over recent decades, we have watched as our monetary system has gone from cash to credit. Life has become conveniently easy by the introduction of the credit and debit cards. You now can withdraw money from your account almost anywhere in the United States and in most other countries in the world. There is no need to carry cash if you have one of these cards guaranteed by Visa or Mastercard. I admit that I enjoy this convenience myself.
The problem is not having and using the cards per se, rather it is what we do not see behind the scenes. It allows the control and transfers of monies on a digital level by the Treasury Department and banking industries. This is convenient, providing ready cash when you need it. But what happens when a bank or country takes away a person’s access to their own money? We now see clearly that the overreach of this system can seize and control an individual’s rightful wealth.
Recently, the United States and other countries have waged a financial war on Russia because of their aggression against Ukraine. Russia has committed horrible atrocities against a fellow nation which sparked outrage throughout a large part of the world. In retaliation for this aggression, many nations have placed sanctions on Russia to keep them from being able to “buy or sell” products and using the banking system to support their war effort. Although, many wealthy oligarchs and their families have had their bank accounts seized, these sanctions are hurting the Russian people more than the Russian government that started this war.
When we read about the second beast power (Protestant America) in Revelation 13 wielding the power of the first beast power (papacy—Roman Catholic church) to enact laws and decrees and set up an image of the first beast, it is worth noting that it goes far beyond just the spiritual aspect of the “mark of the beast.” The Roman church has been involved in monetary businesses and other commerce, as well as spiritual doctrine and decrees, for millennia. We read in Revelation 18 that at her end, the merchants of the world will mourn her destruction because of this commercial sector connection they have with her.
“And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.” Revelation 18:11–13
As sanctions are laid upon Russia, it shows the power of countries or entities to subvert the livelihood of nations and peoples, to bend them to their will, and to coerce them to abide by worldwide edicts. For example, there are several nations that are still doing business with Russia. The United States has been actively “coercing” them to stop on threat of being hit with sanctions themselves. Since the banking industry is now mainly digital, whole bank accounts can be suspended or even seized and utilized for other purposes. Using these same methods, you can see how the beast powers can leverage this power to seize our accounts in the future if we do not adhere to their doctrines.
As we see prophecies of the last days unfold, the two beast powers will work hand in hand to create policies that will not allow people to buy or sell unless they adhere to these policies or doctrines. These same doctrines are moving the world closer and closer to more authoritarian forms of government. Even in the United States, we see more authoritarianism being used through executive orders and proxy wars. The president can start a military action these days even without the authorization from Congress, which used to be illegal, but in the last 50 years it has become more of a norm than an outlier. The most interesting part is that most Americans have no idea what all this is leading to and do not comprehend the end result of all these actions! Even the truth is subject to one’s own interpretation.
The truth of God’s commandments has become subordinate to the events of the day. We have become wrapped up in wars, disasters, famines, and politics. Everything Satan can think of to captivate our minds, he has pushed out into the news on radio, TV, social media, and newspapers. He has captured the spare time of the average person through movies, sports, and television shows. From the air waves and print, our minds and time are filled with commentaries about the policies of government and the atrocities of war, the latest movie, or the sport of the season, but Jesus is scarcely on our lips. Not to say that things happening around us should be ignored, yet applying these things to our spiritual life would be more important. As we see these events happening, it should drive us to a deep sense of urgency for those around us and those in the world who do not know the truth of the results of the policies of the two beasts.
“The people of the world are so engrossed in temporal affairs that eternal realities seem of subordinate importance to them. They cannot distinguish truth from error. In spirit and in practice they are repeating the history of the Jews, and in these last days the chosen of God who keep His commandments will be objects of contempt, both to those in high position and those in the common walks of life. ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’ ” The Signs of the Times, June 11, 1894
Eventually, we will see these policies culminate into massive persecution. “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” Revelation 13:14, 15. Many people will be persecuted and killed because they will not adhere to one of the following: the mark of the beast, which is Sunday worship; the name of the beast, which is not only the Roman Catholic church, but all of secularism; or the number of his name, which not only identifies the pope of the Catholic church as the leader of the beast power, but is the number of mankind in its carnal and secular condition.
We know the mark of the beast is the great conflict between obedience to the law of God, specifically the Sabbath commandment, or disobedience, following the doctrines of Satan which state that everyone can rule his or her own life and passions. The first beast of Revelation 13 received its power from the dragon. “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ ” Revelation 13:4. Those who will follow the beast and its image [likeness] will be worshiping the dragon, who is Satan (Revelation 12:9). These deceived people will believe they are following God! It is our duty to reach out and warn them of this impending danger that will be so deceptive even the people of God could be deceived if they are not watching and praying for deliverance. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24
Addressing the idea of being saved by grace and not under the law, Paul clearly states, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Romans 6:15, 16. And again, he reminds us that we must become slaves to God, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” Verse 22. We are slaves or servants to whom we obey. It is through obedience we show our allegiance, whether to righteousness which leads to eternal life, or to unrighteousness which leads to eternal damnation.
The religious arm of the beast power will push Sunday sacredness and the idea that salvation is available to all simply by believing in Jesus. They will state that there is no way that a man can overcome sin, so they claim that just resting on the merits of Jesus is enough for salvation, and there is no need to strive for holiness. Speaking of faith and salvation, James reminds us, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:19, 20. As we read in Revelation 18:13, the beast and its image are involved in the “souls of men.” Revelation 17:5 states, “Babylon the great, [is] the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” Since the majority of the Protestant world has taken Rome’s doctrine of Sunday as a new sabbath and are deceived into believing that the dead are all either in heaven or in eternal burning hellfire, and that our dead loved ones can visit them and are watching them, they have joined with the false doctrines of Rome. They have “fornicated” with her and “drank her wine.” (See also Revelation 17:2; 18:3.)
They have been convinced of her “righteousness” through their desire to become rich with her trade goods and global economy. On the individual level, Babylon (the first beast of Revelation 13, who is the papacy) has seduced the world with her rituals and grandeur. She puts on a spectacle that bedazzles and bewitches the mind and drives the heart to believe in her lies and deception. Because the people of the world desire to have freedom from all responsibility to God, they now can live life in error and still have confidence in their false god, the church of Rome, to save them from hellfire. What a delusion! It is true when Paul wrote, “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12
While the religious arm of the beast power is working on men’s souls, the secular arm will be working on men’s pocketbooks. It will lay down economic policies that will entice the world to follow the beasts and their agenda. They will blend religious and secular decrees to keep men from “buying or selling” unless they adhere to the policies they lay out. This is already happening to a degree today. Recently I saw an interview with Daleep Singh, national security advisor for the Biden white house and the designer of the new sanctions that were laid out on Russia. He stated that they could virtually cripple any economy using the new digital world of banking and commerce. He said he turned to the “currency trade” where “the dollar is still the operating system.” The Biden Official Who Pierced Putin’s “Sanction-Proof” Economy — The New Yorker, March 25, 2022. It was quite a striking interview.
As we see the events of earth’s history come to a close, Jesus is still commanding His four angels to hold back the strife of total destruction. He is urging upon the hearts of men, women, and children to look at His goodness and what He has to offer—peace, love, satisfaction of life, happiness, and eventually eternal life. This is in stark contrast to the life that the adversary offers—greed, selfishness, strife, and unhappiness, eventually leading to death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Even though there will be strife in the world, Jesus offers us a lighter “yoke” or burden to carry. He promises that if we will give our lives to Him, obey His commandments through the power of the Holy Spirit, love one another as He loves us, that He will work a miracle in our hearts and purge all sinfulness that may abide in it. He will replace it with His laws and secure it with His Spirit that we might be ready to meet Him in the clouds on His return. His way is narrow and straight, but much easier to navigate than the ways of sin. His way brings a calmness in the midst of the storm of life. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7
Michael C. Wells is the director of Anointing Oil Ministries.