The mark of the beast!
Scripture reading for December 22nd: Revelation 13:1-18
John describes two beasts who make war on the saints during the time of the great tribulation. The first beast comes out of the sea. This beast has seven heads and ten horns. Each head has a blasphemous name written on it and each horn had a crown. The dragon had given his power to this beast and the whole world was astonished and followed this beast and worshiped him. (Revelation 13:1-4) The sea often talks about the peoples of the earth.
This beast was given authority for forty two months–three and a half years. This beast was proud and uttered blasphemies against God and made war with the saints and conquered them. He had authority over every tribe, language, people and nation and all the earth worshiped this beast except for those whose names were written in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb that was slain! (Revelation 13:5-8) This was written to warn the saints on earth at this time to patiently endure in spite of the war against them.
The second beast came out of the earth. This beast had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like the dragon. He was under the dragon’s control and made the people of earth worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. This beast also performed great signs and wonders and deceived the people of earth. He also forced everyone on earth to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead. Without this mark, no one could do business. “This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is a man’s number. His number is 666.” (Revelation 13:18)
Much has been written and discussed over the years about this beast and his name and number. Many people have speculated about who this beast might be or where he will come from. Some think that we are very close today and that this mark will be some kind of computer chip implanted under the skin of the right hand or forehead. The main emphasis of this passage is to warn those who believe to use wisdom and stay faithful to God. God will protect His people and provide for them during this time. God’s people are sealed with the Holy Spirit and protected by His blood! They will overcome by standing firm in God!