Eternal Damnation In Hell or Just Miss the Rapture?
Could two billion Christians be wrong about the true penalty for taking the mark of the Beast? Find out the scriptural perspective.
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I posted to a Bible prophecy / rapture forum once stating that it's not clear that taking the Mark of the Beast will end your salvation forever according to the Book of Revelation and the Bible as a whole. A person who saw the post was upset enough to take the time to write and object. He wrote:
...Do not add to or remove from the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation states that whoever receives the Mark of the Beast will be doomed for eternity.
Revelation 14:9 —"If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 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 in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 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"
However you claim the opposite, lessening the consequence of receiving the Mark of the Beast. This is 'removing, taking away' from the Book of Revelation.If not for anything else, at least I ask you not to continue this teaching that clearly violates the teaching of the Book of Revelation, considering the grave consequence this could have on people's soul.
Since my claim was different than what Christians are taught as summarized by the email above, I was not very surprised to receive such a concerned letter. In response therefore, this article will attempt to explain this view so others can understand it better and hopefully be put at ease about this issue.
Everyone Takes the Mark Except God's Elect Safe in Jordan
First understand that we're told that everyone of every nation is forced to take the mark of the beast, except for those "whose name is written in the book of life." What you have to put together from other prophecies is that all these righteous people are not just scattered throughout the earth and protected from the mark wherever they are. They are gathered to Jerusalem and then protected by God either as the 144,000 sent throughout the Earth "preaching the Gospel as a witness" (Mt 24:14), or as the less mature group called "The Woman" sent on from Jerusalem to be protected in her place in the wilderness, apparently located in modern day Jordan since Edom, Moab and Ammon are named in the Bible as the only places the Beast will not control. (See my book on Wormwood for more details on why this is).
Revelation 13:7-8,16-17 - 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. 16 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: 17 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.
Daniel 11:41 - He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon..
Revelation 12:13-14,17 - 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Y'shua Messiah [i.e. The 144,000, c.f. Rev 14:12].
Even the Jews Will Fight God
I'm sorry, but Israel is not on the exception list. Israel of course is just like any secular nation today. They abandoned God long ago and thus will not have any special protection from the Beast as a whole (except for those righteous individuals who come out from the nation). In fact, Israel will be overrun by his armies first apparently as he takes control of Jerusalem to stop the sacrifices and setup the abomination (Mat 24:15 = Luke 21:20). This means that the State of Israel will ratify the Mark of the Beast as well. We are told that even Judah (which is the tribe who Israel today chiefly consists of) will be fighting against Jerusalem with the rest of all the nations armies gathered there to oppose the arrival of the Messiah. This makes perfect sense if they like all others have been deceived by the Antichrist, to believe that he is the true god:
Zechariah 14:2-3,14,16 (RSV) - 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle... 14 even Judah will fight against Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the nations round about shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. 16 Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of booths.
It's especially interesting to notice how verse 16 explicitly says that there will be "survivors of all nations that fought against Jerusalem." These are obviously those people who did not go up as part of the armies to fight against God, but are instead the rest of the civilian population of the planet. Note that these people do not show any sign at all of being condemned people or "the walking dead." They are actually keeping the Torah under the Messiah during the Millennium! (The Torah, or the commandments, statutes and judgments given to Moses at Sinai, commands all nations who ratify it to have their males make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, including one time in the Fall during the 7 day Feast of Booths). Why bother the charade of obeying God if you are unredeemable? And if you are unredeemable why are you not in the lake of fire with the demons who also are damned? It makes no sense if the mark is the unpardonable sin that most assume it to be.
Taking Mark Is Eternal Life in Hell or Brief "Hell on Earth?"
So with all this evidence that life will go on after the mark, why do people think taking the Mark of the Beast is tantamount to eternal spiritual suicide? Primarily from this passage:
Revelation 14:9-11 - 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
But notice, does it anywhere say that people will be tormented forever in punishment? It really only says their smoke will ascend forever and ever, and it does not even say that in the Greek, but "ages of ages" which is a limited time not equivalent to eternity (no, God is not a sadist who wishes to torment His enemies perpetually. He clearly says in Romans 6:23 that "that wages of sin is death," and that is what is being described here: a burning death from the seven bowls of wrath).
So, the context here is not eternal punishment in hell but the living hell on earth that people will be going through "day and night" (is there day and night in "hell"?) when God's seven bowls of wrath are poured out after the Rapture (just like the days of Noah and Lot). If you read the account of the seven bowl judgments (Rev 15), it's easy to imagine how people enduring it (for 10 days, from Tisrei 1 Day of Trumpets through Tishrei 10, the Day of the Lord) will literally have no rest (just the boils all over your body from the first bowl could cause that). One thing however is very certain: if you are suffering the bowls on Earth after the Day of Trumpets, then you missed the Rapture.
Taking the Mark is Missing the Rapture and Your Crown
This is a big part of why the Mark of the Beast is so heavily warned against (the other being the apparent lose of ability to repent under its influence, as Rev 15 notes twice). If you take it, you forfeit your chance to be in the First Resurrection and part of the Bride reigning for 1,000 years with Christ. In fact, it would be better for you to be dead once the mark is rolled out than take it as the next verses of the chapter allude to. You will miss all the fireworks at the climax of the age, but you will at least not lose your crown:
Revelation 14:12-13 (NIV) - 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. 13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."
This really makes the most sense when you think it through. By all accounts, the whole world will be coerced into taking the mark in exchange for being able to feed themselves and their family. Not only will they be hungry from the famine left in the wake of Planet Wormwood but they will literally be deceived with signs and wonders into believing that God himself is sitting on the throne in the Third Temple at Jerusalem. We're told that only the "very elect" will see through this "strong delusion." So how could a loving God entrap people with such a difficult setup and then punish them forever for not passing the test?
So you see, my desire is not to minimize the real danger of taking the Mark of the Beast when it is decreed. You still want to avoid it "like the plague" (since that's what you'll get 3½ years later if you take it!). But if we preach a God who punishes people eternally for being taken by the greatest con job ever perpetrated on (starving) humanity, then who would we expect to be interested? People who are not attracted to develop the interest in a relationship with God now will have no strength to resist the Mark of the Beast, later.
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