And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Revelation 13:16-17).
Three historical time markers are helpful in understanding the significance of this prophecy. The first one is 2000 years ago when it was written by the apostle John. The context of the passage is an action that will be taken on behalf of the person of the antichrist in the last days. In particular, John was writing about a seven year period of time foretold first by ancient Jewish prophets of the Old Testament and then expanded upon by the Apostles. Commonly called The Tribulation, it is a description of what the Bible teaches of world events immediately after the present Church Age is completed.
Along with many other details, John saw a total control exercised over all financial transactions. Only by submission to the antichrist (“beast”) will anyone buy or sell. This is what it says. In the history and broad scope of Bible prophecy study, many have tried to explain it away, interpret it away, or simply ignore it. How could such a thing as John wrote happen? Yet, that is what is says, as part of a prophecy of the last days.
That was 2000 years ago. This week I have been reading a book written by a Christian Bible teacher 100 years ago. The writer, Clarence Larkin commented on this very passage. In a reference to the mark of the beast (that he called the “BRAND OF HELL”), he offered this insight. “This is what the world is fast coming to. The time is not far distant when the ‘Trusts’ and ‘Combinations of Capital’ will be merged in to a ‘FEDERATION OF TRUSTS,’ … at the head of which will be THE ANTICHRIST, and the producer and consumer will be powerless.” (Capitals his)
He believed John’s prophecy would be literally fulfilled and saw the time approaching. He viewed the financial institutions of his own time as being possible instruments that could be used to facilitate this total control of money transactions by the state.
Now consider the present. We have seen technological advances such as implanting electronic chips in the human hand. It does not take a great leap of imagination to see how this could be used to implement the program of the beast of Revelation. We have also seen the sudden and wanton freezing of funds belonging to freedom protesters. Not only can they not do transactions; they have lost all access to what belongs to them. They have been mugged by political figures for political reasons, and the financial institutions we call “trusts” have themselves betrayed them.
There is a fourth time frame also to consider, the time of the full and literal fulfillment of John’s prophecy of total commerce takeover, as well as the other horrors of the Tribulation. Read the Revelation to get a proper sense of the time that surely cannot be far away. There are two reasons to personally accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for sins now. The first reason is to escape the horror of the Tribulation Period that current events suggest is at hand. The second reason is the eternal punishment of the Lake of Fire the Bible warns of for all who die without forgiveness of sins. Being there with no exit for all eternity is horror beyond comprehension and beyond words. One Person alone can secure us, Jesus Christ.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come (II Timothy 3:1).
The Bible speaks of benefits that will accrue to a people even in this world when Christian principles are embraced by society and by government. It also warns of the societal ruin that will follow as nations turn from the righteous ways of God. The context of II Timothy is the great departure from the truths of the Word of God that is foretold to take place in the professing Christian world.
This means that the “last days” spoken of in this passage are the declining days of the present Church Age. It is a prophecy being fulfilled in the present time. Now is the day of perilous times. The apostle said the times shall come; we can say they have come.
The passage goes on to declare the spiritual, moral, and societal conditions that underlie the peril and that give it its character. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (II Timothy 3:2-5).
This is a list of departures from Bible values and commands. This is what has got our country to the place it is today. There is an inherent hedge of protection in obeying God’s laws and there is the preserving hand of God where He is honoured. No amount of human ingenuity can overturn this essential law of blessing. Sin is the root of peril.
The first evil of last days society is self-love. The two tables of the Law command us to love God supremely and to love others as ourselves. The entrance of sin in the Garden of Eden corrupted the natural heart of man to a takeover by the self-life and self-love. We all know intuitively that living for self and being in love with self is ugly and reprehensible. Attach the “self-prefix” to almost any word and it becomes a slur. Yet in these last days, the message of our world is to live a life devoted to self with a promise of fulfillment and happiness – that never comes.
This emerging societal norm parallels the rejection of the Bible and has left us with the perils of our times. Every strata of human behaviour has forgotten that being in love with self is depravity and we have been exposed to dangers from the very institutions and people we once could trust to do us good.
The second heart-failure of our times is covetousness, or the love of money. Once there were patriots, family members, community leaders, and church leaders we could turn to for help with a confidence that they would act for our best interests. Now money rules. The average person goes through life making every decision according to what seems to offer the best bottom line. This goes far beyond just good business sense in its place to a craven lust and enslavement to the dollar bill.
The answer to these heart problems is a re-creation work by God, the new birth. This is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is still willing to forgive sins and make you God’s child if you are willing to face up to these problems at the personal level and accept Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross as payment for your sins. He is risen from the dead and gives eternal life to those who believe in Him as a free gift, without any contribution of works or merit on your part. The problems of the world today can only be solved one person at a time.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44).
The great conflict of all human history came to a crescendo when God’s Son came to earth, the battle between lies and truth. The father of lies is also the father of murder and lusts, the devil. He was the very first being to turn away from the truth and the God of truth, the first apostate.
This verse looks all the way back to “the beginning.” which corresponds also to his impact and involvement in human history. Mankind fell from its original estate of innocence because it turned a deaf ear to God’s truth and believed the devil’s lie. From the Garden of Eden right up to this day the earth has been an arena for the battle for truth.
Basic Theology tells us that God is true; if He were to compromise the truth in the least He would lose His moral authority to rule the universe. He wouldn’t be perfect; He wouldn’t be God. On the other side is the devil, the father of lies, Satan, the old serpent. When a lie of the devil is believed, it brings ruin to that life. When some believe lies and others believe truth, conflict arises.
Jesus Christ is truth incarnate, and the Bible is a written transcript of eternal truth. It is God’s testimony of reality, a standard that reveals what is false. Because of this, attentive Christians have known for some time that the mainstream media are addicted to lying. When the Bible says such-and-such is right, the media say its wrong. When the Bible declares something to be evil, they say it’s good. God pronounces a woe on this very thing. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).
CBC’s shameful disregard for truth has come abruptly to the attention of large segments of society in their handling of the protest in Ottawa and throughout Canada. People who never noticed media lies against the Word of God are now noticing how their message contradicts the facts on the ground in Ottawa. Some see it with their own eyes. Some watch a video posted by a next door neighbour. The result is the conviction that they are being lied to.
I have heard the media called out for news items that are completely false. Often there is simple avoidance of what is really happening, the real news. By a news agency. Isn’t that a lie? Little children know the issue, but highly paid media figures cannot find it. They are like a reporter at a game seven Stanley Cup final that never tells us Toronto won. Their headlines features a fan unhappy with his popcorn. Worse, the politicians also restrict their comments about the game to the same (real or imaginary) disgruntled fan. They are in a kind of trance, a disconnect from reality. They seem incapable of comprehending Toronto won. Okay…
And ever since Donald Trump’s election win, the power brokers of Big Tech have learned they also have to muzzle social media. Why, why, why would anyone suppress truth? And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). Darkness and lies are a cloak to throw over evil. Satan is the father.
Lies we see in current events are a pointer to the true character of the present world order and so many of its institutions. Lies are a form of violence against the hearer. A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin (Proverbs 26:28). The final disaster is the soul of the liar himself. … and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Acts 21:8b).
Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
(II Kings 5:1)
The Bible was left here by God to guide us in every stage of human history; it is always current; it is heaven’s media. It deserves to be heard in the present circumstances of our country and world events. The very name Freedom Convey automatically invokes the great Bible theme of deliverance from bondage.
Among the many lessons we learn from this man Naaman, we are taught to think right about national deliverance. Not all countries enjoy liberty, either in their daily lives or from the aggressions of other nations. Where liberty exists, it is from the hand of God. This is true even in this Old Testament reference to Syria, though God’s special nation Israel is primarily in view. God had an interest in the nation of Syria too, and had extended to them national deliverance and freedom from their enemies.
We also see in the text that God used someone to bless the nation with this liberty, a man named Naaman. He was God’s man of the hour, raised up by him for Syria’s good. So God was the deliverer and Naaman was His soldier that fought the battles. And for his participation in this good work, Naaman was was a great man with his master, and honourable. The King appreciated Naaman’s service.
Liberty in a nation is its greatest blessing, for it is the foundation and protection of all other blessings. Freedom is one of the heritages of a people with laws, values, and traditions rooted in belief of the God of the Bible. While Satan is the slave master, the Lord is the Deliverer-God. … there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me (Isaiah 45:21b).
The blessings of home, enjoying the fruit of hard work, worship without interference, and many day-to-day little things are secured by a setting of national liberty. The progressive decline of respect and honour for God and His ways we have seen in recent years in Canada are the same mechanisms that lead to the gradual erosion of liberty. We have reached the point that judges are cutting parents off from access to the children God gave them because they opt out of an experimental medical procedure. This brutality takes place despite the mountain of statistics showing its inability to protect or stop transmission at this point.
The most important of all liberties is freedom from the power of sin through Jesus Christ. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). He died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again to impart new life to all that will receive Him by faith. But we also greatly value our national liberties, and appreciate and support patriots who are willing to sacrifice for their restoration and pray for the delivering hand of God to work through them.
From the “Bible Facts” Newspaper Articles, by Ian Kurylyk, January 2013
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12).
“You be the judge” may well summarize the responsibilities each of us now face as we sit in the driver’s seat of our lives. But the time will come when the judgment will be all God’s and we will take the place of defendants.
This is a rudimentary fact of theology. Just as God is revealed to us in the Bible as omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and infinite in all His attributes, so He is the Judge of all judges. “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world…” (Acts 17:31a).
The Book of Romans in the New Testament was written with the tremendous system of Roman laws as its backdrop. Thinking in legal terms helps us understand our relationship to the Creator. Words familiar to their justice system are used like “condemnation” (the guilty verdict), and “justification” (the judge’s declaration that the defendant is righteous). These are applied in the Bible to a man’s standing, not before a Roman judge, but before God.
The consciousness of this is largely lost today. We live in a society that has rejected Bible Christianity and largely embraced secular humanism as its religion. So no thought is given to the law of God, the consequences of human sin, or the fact that God is judge.
Nevertheless, God challenges us, as stewards of our own souls, to put life in perspective by contemplating our place as defendants before God the judge. What will I say? What will I plead when my life is reviewed? What will be my punishment?
The solution to our problem as guilty law breakers before God is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He offers pardon now on the basis of His suffering the penalty for our sins on the cross. The resurrected Lord invites you to receive Him as personal Lord and Saviour and so settle your sin problem out of court. Those who do will never have to stand in the terrible judgment spoken of in Revelation 20. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them … And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11, 15).
From the “Bible Facts” Newspaper Column, by Ian Kurylyk, January 2013
"Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right" (Luke 12:57)?
While God is the Supreme Court, He has made us like lower courts that must pass judgments on things that have to do with our lives and relationship to Him. We cannot escape this stewardship.
We must sort through the evidences and witnesses, and even lies, that we encounter and come to conclusions of truth. It is absolutely critical that we be right. God says to every individual He has brought into being; I am putting you over the matters of your life and your soul. You must sit in judgment over many matters that have to do with your present life and with the world to come. There are many decisions to be made, many conclusions, many choices, many judgments. You be the judge. You will live or die by what you decide.
The most important verdicts to be rendered have to do with our worship life. Does God exist? Who is He? What is He like and how may I be accepted by Him? How do I solve my sin problem? What is the way of salvation?
Many “outsource” these fundamental decisions. I’ve had people tell me, “I leave that to the wife”. Some rest entirely on the opinion of scientists and the theory of evolution. Others trust the matter to a clergy figure, or the consensus of their friends, or public opinion, or a media figure or some panel of experts. None of these must answer to God for you. You alone will be held responsible for your personal choices.
Could you imagine a person finding a website with a name like TRUST ME.com and sending all his passwords, PIN codes, credit card numbers, and personal identity information to them for safe keeping? But many people have the same naive approach to where they will spend eternity.
God has provided sufficient witnesses to enable us to come to right judgments if we will only have honest hearts and go to Him to find the answers. It is my absolute conviction that the essence of finding the truth is to come to a personal faith in Jesus Christ as Personal Saviour from sin.
There is a Part II to this study. It looks ahead to the day of God’s judgment and is called “You Be The Defendant”. One day You will.
From the “Bible Facts” Newspaper Column, by Ian Kurylyk, August 2012
"But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay" (II Corinthians 1:18)
The Apostle Paul had had to change his plans that he made about visiting the church at Corinth. There were people there that were only too glad to turn it into an opportunity to criticize him. Oh, with Paul its yes, yes, and then its no, no, they would say.
Paul responded to this accusation of instability by reminding them of the character of the message he had brought to them when he came to Corinth preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Our word toward you was not yea and nay.)
This is a warning of a kind of Christianity that has no absolute promises. It tells folk they might get to heaven, but there are no certainties – no promises. Or it teaches of a salvation that is yes (yea) today, but you could lose tomorrow (nay).
Paul preached salvation through Christ and it was a message of certainty. To trust Him is an absolute yes. “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea” (II Corinthians 1:19). How could anyone be content with a “yes and no” or “maybe” message of eternal life? How can anybody face eternity without finding a sure way of salvation?
Bible Christianity is based on an absolute promise. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (II Corinthians 1:20). The Scriptures contain many promises of God. The way to make God’s promise of eternal life yours for sure, and for good, is to believe in His Son. It is through Him salvation is made personal. The promises of God are not “yes and no” in Jesus Christ but are “yes and amen”. The matter of the welfare of your soul is settled in the Saviour.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
From the “Bible Facts” Newspaper Articles by Ian Kuryyk, November 2012
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14).
In the very first verse of the Bible we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. God’s original creative act brought into existence space, matter, and time.
Mankind is subject to time as part of the limitations placed on all created beings. We accomplish work by effort over time. God can do whatever He ordains by His infinite power without any such restriction. Before sin came into the world time was a blessing entirely, as it gave opportunity to mankind to accomplish their purposes.
When sin came and the curse fell on the creation, time became, in one sense, a great enemy. The death sentence that fell on this world of sin works now largely by the passage of time. The sure ticking of the clock ratchets every soul closer and closer to the grave and to eternity. Every good thing of this life is subject to the erosion and ultimate loss brought by time.
The Bible challenges us to stop and reflect on the brevity of life, since we go through our daily routines with our noses so close to the earth we seldom lift our heads to thoughtfully reflect on the clock’s moving hands. James says our life is like a vapour, like the steam that appears briefly over the top of our coffee cups and then is gone. The truth of this is harder and harder to avoid as the years pass, the flower of youth fades, and we see the preceding generation go to what the Bible calls their “long home”.
Time can still be a blessing when we pay heed to what the Word of God has to say about its proper usage. The first lesson for all is to seize the moment of opportunity given by God’s grace. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2b). The wise man realizes that God makes a bona fide offer of salvation in the present time to all who will trust His Son Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. God does not promise us a single day more in which we could claim the benefit. “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
From the “Bible Facts” Newspaper Column, February 2013
"And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence" (Luke 16:26)
In Luke 16 Jesus pulled back the curtain to the next world and told of what awaited two men after death. One poor man named Lazarus went to a place of comfort where Abraham also was.
His rich neighbour died and went to the fire and torment of hell. From there he begged Abraham to send Lazarus over and give him relief by a little water on his tongue. There are some important lessons in Abraham’s answer quoted above about a “great gulf fixed”.
1. Every man has one of two possible destinations after this life.
2. These places are worlds apart with absolutely no movement between them.
3. Our present state of wealth and well being is of little importance compared with these matters of eternity. Lazarus was a beggar but prepared for the next life. The rich man failed to.
4. The two men set forth the basic two-fold classification of human beings in this world. There is a great gulf spiritually between people now, depending on their relationship to Jesus Christ.
5. Since all are sinners and equally lost to begin with, Lazarus must have experienced God’s salvation to become part of the family of God before he died. The rich man did not.
6. The great gulf spiritually, then, can be crossed now. It is only “fixed” after death. Now is the time of opportunity. Once in hell or in heaven, there will be no change in estate for all eternity.
7. Death comes to the saved and unsaved. What matters is what comes after.
We today have no excuse. God has warned us of the danger facing us all by way of these two examples. He has also made a provision for us so we can be ready to die with confidence as to where we are going like Lazarus.
The way of salvation is simple. God’s Son has paid the price for our sins by His death on the cross. Those who turn from sin and receive the resurrected Lord and Saviour are made His children and promised a home in heaven.