From our study on Revelation, many have asked the following two questions: Will we be present when the mark of the beast is taken? If so, how will we survive?
Many would answer this question by saying we will be raptured before the mark comes. They also would argue that the rapture will send the world into extreme turmoil and will lead to the instituting of the mark of the beast. As I have previously shared, it is my hope they are right. Although I do not believe their stance to be true, I do pray for a pre-trib rapture, but I prepare for mid-trib, and will remain faithful even if it is post-trib.
I believe in a mid-tribulation rapture. I have come to this conclusion based on my study of Scripture. However, I encourage everyone to study Scripture and come to your own conclusion.
The first reason I believe we will be present on earth for the mark of the beast comes from Revelation 14.
Revelation 14:9-13 (NASB)
9 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will 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 goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
Notice that anyone who takes the mark of the beast will not go to heaven. God tells us in verse 12, “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” This call for perseverance suggests that we will be present during that time and will have to choose not to take the mark out of obedience to Christ. This is followed by the second beatitude of Revelation which denotes that a person is blessed when they “die in the Lord from now on.” “Now on” signifies the time when the mark of the beast is taken.
The second reason for my stance comes from Rev. 15:2 where we are told of a multitude of people who are standing before the throne because they are victorious over the beast, his image, and his mark.
The third reason comes from Revelation 20 where God rewards those who were killed for not taking the mark of the beast.
Revelation 20:4 (NASB)
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Taking all of this into account, we need to look at 2 Thessalonians 2. In this passage we are told two things must take place before our gathering together to be with the Lord. First, an apostasy and the second is the revealing of the Anti-Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NASB)
1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
In my opinion, receiving the mark will at first come voluntarily and then become mandatory. When Christians refuse to take mark it will fuel the world wide persecution of the Church (Matthew 24:9-11). The world will not understand our decision to not receive the mark. We will be perceived as ignorant for not taking it. During this time they will turn on us. As time goes on the mark will become mandatory and denying it will provoke intense persecution for Christians. As a result, the apostasy will occur and many will choose to take the mark rather than be obedient to Christ.
Those days will be a horrible time of persecution and testing for Christians. That is why the second Beatitude of Revelation (Rev. 14:13) says it will be better to die and go be with Jesus than to face tribulation. Jesus reveals how difficult this time will be in Matthew 24:
Matthew 24:19-22 (NASB)
19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.
21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
I know this subject is hard to digest and not pleasant to dwell on. I do hope I am wrong in my opinion, but I don’t think I am. When we look at the early Church we see times of intense persecution when people had to be willing to die for Jesus. When we look at Church history we see times when Christians had to choose to die or be imprisoned rather than betraying their faith in Christ. My belief is that as we approach the end, a time like this will arise and the mark will be a part of the reason.