Saturday, July 9, 2016
In Revelation 12 and 13, the Apostle John described an unholy Trinity, an imitation of Triune God, consisting of the dragon or Satan, the first beast who is the Antichrist, and a second beast, the false prophet. The second beast makes all the earth worship the first beast, performing great signs and deceptions, and causes those who wouldn't worship the beast to be slain.
"Also it causes all... to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the number of its name. It is the number of a man, and his number is 666."
The most popular theories about the mark of the beast pop up in end-times fiction. In the old film, "A Thief In the Night," the mark is a binary code for 666. In the Left Behind series, it's a computer chip in the back of the hand or the forehead.
But is it possible this mark is not something physical but spiritual? Notice the beast causes all people to be marked, and the mark is on the right hand or the forehead.
In Deuteronomy 6, God told Israel, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." And Isaiah 41:13 says the Lord God holds our right hand.
We are marked by the deeds we do with our hands and the thoughts we think with our mind. Are you doing the works of God or the works of the devil? Are you thinking with the mind of man or with the mind of Christ? This calls for wisdom, and something we should consider all the time, though it may also have a future fulfillment, when we understand the text.
"Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast of the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666." Revelation 13:16-18
"Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9
"But turning to his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, 'Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'" Mark 8:33
"By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10
Sunday, July 3, 2016
Is it okay for Christians to swear? No, it isn't. "But wait, what about that time Paul said I count all things as dung in order to win Christ! Isn't that the same thing as, you know, a certain swear word that means the same thing?"
Nice try, but no. Elsewhere, Paul gives a very clear instruction in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." So for the Christian, our words are not to tear down but build up, speaking grace to others.
Think about what you communicate when you curse. By using the harshest of words to describe a person or situation, you are actually cursing God. A person is made in the image of God, and you would curse that image? The Bible says to be thankful and rejoice in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and you would tell God that his way isn't good enough?
Will outsiders believe you when you say you trust God's way and then swear when things don't go your way? Or when you say you love others and then curse them?
Paul said to put away obscene talk from your mouth, and to walk in wisdom toward outsiders. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person (Colossians 3:8; 4:5-6). James said if a person can't control his words, even when he's alone, his religion is worthless (James 1:26). The Lord hates perverted speech.
Jesus said out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. So pray as David prayed: "Let the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:4), when we understand the text.
"[The tongue] is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so." James 3:8-10
"The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate." Proverbs 8:13