Where people place the timing of the Rapture in relation to the
Tribulation really affects how they react to what they read in
Revelation, especially concerning the Mark of the Beast.
Revelation 13:16-17 gives the details concerning this much feared prophetic mark:
He [the False Prophet] also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast [Antichrist] or the number of his name .
Revelation 20:4 tells us that those who refuse to take this loyalty mark
will be put to death. They will be “beheaded because of their testimony
for Jesus and because of the Word of God . . .” The passage further
explains that their execution will be due to the fact that “they had not
worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their
foreheads or their hands.”
For those who do not hold a Pre-Tribulation Rapture view (the concept that the Rapture of the Church will take place before the Tribulation begins), there is much panicking over the receiving of this mark. Take for example the 20’s-something guy who showed up at a Bible study my wife and I attended. In the middle of the lesson he just couldn’t contain his passion anymore, and he exploded in panicky excitement, fervently exhorting us that when the time came for Christians to be beheaded by the Antichrist, we should just put our heads into the guillotine and proudly have them chopped off for Jesus.
During another lesson, in the same fervor but with an opposite exhortation, a visiting gentleman from India implored that Christians play along and even deny Christ to protect themselves. He erroneously added that Jesus would forgive the denial.
A group in West Virginia actually fought and won an exemption from the state’s requirement that drivers license photos be stored in a government digital database. They objected to the law because they felt they would be facilitating the Mark of the Beast.
I’m pretty sure if I believed that Jesus would let the Antichrist beat up on His Bride for seven years, that I’d be living differently, too. For one, I’d be combing the news daily wondering which charismatic leader is the Antichrist (maybe the Pope or Obama?). Secondly, I’d be stockpiling food, water, precious metals and survival gear in some backyard bomb shelter. And thirdly, I’d lose a lot of sleep fearing I had accidentally taken the Mark of the Beast.
Bear in mind, accepting the Mark of the Beast is not something to be taken lightly. It’s as bad as that atheist group online that is collecting initiation videos from people blaspheming the Holy Spirit. The end result of doing either of these is eternal separation from God and banishment to the lake of fire (Revelation 14:9-10).
But, Revelation 13:16-18 gives us enough information for a person to know when they have taken the Mark. For one, the Antichrist would have to be ruling the world. Since he’s not at the time of this writing, you’re good. Secondly, since the Mark is the Antichrist’s key to controlling the world economy, and Christians are currently buying and selling, you’re good. Thirdly, the Mark is very visible ON (not IN) either the right hand or forehead, and is easily recognized as either the name or number of the Beast. Since the Apostle John couldn’t read barcodes (who can?), don’t fear them. Since earthquakes and meteors aren’t leveling the planet and rivers and oceans aren’t turning red, then the time is not right for the Mark, so you’re good.
When it comes time to decide to accept the Mark, you would know more clearly than was ever known which side you were choosing — God or Satan. The Mark pure and simple is allegiance to Satan. Nobody will be tricked into taking it.
Now, if you are reading this after the Church has been taken up to Heaven to be with Jesus, then yes, heed Revelation 13’s description and DO NOT take the Mark, for it will mean great physical suffering while on earth and eternal damnation to the lake of fire. But, if you’re a Christian and waiting on the Rapture, then brush up on verses like 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 5:9; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:4 and Revelation 3:10. All of these passages show the Bible supports a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.
Meanwhile, relax, and trust in God!