We open up by discussing some common theories about the identity of the Beast. Some believe it is Islam. Others think it is the United States. For many years, people commonly assumed that it was the Soviet Union, though this theory has waned in popularity with the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Similarly, people have all sorts of ideas about the “mark of the Beast.” Is it a national identity card, as some countries already have and a few U.S. legislators have proposed be established? Is it a Social Security Number, as some assumed when Social Security was introduced more than 70 years ago. Others expect the “mark” of the Beast to be a microchip implanted beneath the skin, or an invisible tattoo.
Several years ago, an IBM technology seminar predicted that we would someday be able to see holographic images on cell phones, and would be able to interact with three-dimensional holograms of people they are talking to. This led some imaginative people to jump to the conclusion that people would be able to project, and then worship, some sort of “image of the Beast” on their cell phones, or even that demons might take control of cell phones to create images either of themselves or of the prophesied Beast.
Most people may find these ideas far-fetched. Yet there are some who really think of this as the fulfillment of Revelation 13:14-15: “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.”
We are reminded that, as these speculations are increasing, the world’s “educated classes” are generally moving away from religion. Failed predictions, including those of Jesus Christ’s return, are among the disappointments that people cite when explaining their loss of faith. Even so, one poll shows that 41 percent of Americans expect Christ to return by 2050.
Mr. Ciesielka discusses some of the complexities of interpreting Bible prophecy, and reminds listeners not to be discouraged by those who offer wildly imaginative false interpretations of prophecy, and to recognize that it is important to let the Bible interpret the Bible.
Another important point Mr. Ciesielka brings out is that unless we do what Scripture instructs, we cannot expect to understand what Scripture teaches. We do not need to be scholars to understand the plain truth of Scripture, and we can be confident from Scripture that the Church of God is indeed teaching the truth.
This week’s podcast: