The Mark of the Beast: some questions

The Mark of the Beast: some questions June 1, 2021

John Fea shares this photo, taken by Gerardo Marti near Charlotte, NC. I have some questions.

1. Presumably, this person bought their new Kia before the Mark of the Beast made it impossible for them to buy or sell without pledging their allegiance to the Antichrist. But how do they keep the gas tank full now that the Beast has made it impossible to buy or to sell without taking his blasphemous Mark upon their right hand or forehead? Does this person have some vaccinated/”marked” friend who purchases their gas for them?

2. If not, does it ever occur to this person that their own unimpeded ability to buy and to sell without having “taken the Mark” of vaccination thoroughly disproves their purported theory that vaccination constitutes the Mark of the Beast?

3. We could ask that same question about the reflective mailbox stickers they used to write this message on their rear windshield. You can buy those stickers today at the Big Box where I work (aisle 14, bay 18, halfway up on your left)* without any associate or cashier asking you to provide proof of vaccination and/or asking to see the 666/616 inscribed on your right hand or forehead. Shouldn’t this person have noticed this lack of beastly interrogation when they went to buy those stickers?

It’s possible, of course, that they already had a large supply of these stickers on hand, planning ahead so that they’d be prepared come the imminent Last Days to write warnings like this one. It’s even possible that this isn’t the first such message they’ve affixed to their rear window, having earlier warned that, say, Obamacare was the Mark of the Beast.

4. While affixing these stickers and thereby obscuring their ability to see out of their rear window, did this person ever pause to think about how Daunte Wright was killed by police after getting pulled over for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror?

Apparently not, so we can safely conclude that what we have here is a white evangelical. A white evangelical who insists that they are facing constant “persecution” from the government/Antichrist while simultaneously never worrying that they will ever be pulled over for plastering their entire rear window with opaque stickers.

5. Revelation 13:16 explicitly states that the beast “causeth all …to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.” This person, I assume, would insist that this passage must be taken “literally.” So who get’s vaccinated in their right hand or in the forehead? 

The very nice retired nurse who gave us our second shot back in April let us choose which arm we wanted to get the shot in, but getting it in our hand or forehead didn’t seem to be an option, let alone an Antichrist mandate.

(That nurse did say that she was volunteering, in part, because she “Just wants to hear live music again.” She missed concerts, bar bands, even just going to a restaurant where some guy sat in the corner playing “Wonderwall” on an acoustic guitar. And she knew she wouldn’t get to enjoy those things again until enough people were vaccinated to make it possible to lift pandemic safety restrictions. That’s not really anything like what Revelation 13:17 describes, but I suppose that if you squint hard enough, it’s not entirely unlike it.)

6. If “THE COVID VACCINE IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST,” then the End Times are already well under way. The first Beast has already risen up out of the sea and the second beast has already risen up out of the earth and the four riders of the Apocalypse have long since gone forth unto the ends of the Earth. The Great Tribulation has begun. True believers know this. They understand the signs of the times while unbelievers and the servants of the Antichrist are blind to the hidden truths encoded in God’s Word.

What that means, in practical terms, is that this person could be doing a lot better than a Kia. The 7-year clock is already ticking, but the Antichrist-deluded car-sellers and auto-loan financers don’t know that. True believers, then, should plunder the Egyptians,** taking out huge auto loans with deferred interest and huge bubble payments due years later (long after the seas have boiled and Wormwood has killed a fourth of all living things, etc.). Don’t just splurge on Kia’s LX package, upgrade to the car of your dreams, confident that the universe will end before you’ll ever have to pay back the loan.

7. Was the onset of the Great Tribulation a factor in this driver’s selection of the Kia Sorento? It’s got decent fuel economy for an SUV (necessary in the face of global shortages and a time when a piece of bread will buy a bag of gold), while still featuring optional all-wheel drive that’ll come in handy once all the earthquakes of the seals, trumpets, and vials of divine wrath destroy most highways.

But, still, it’s nothing like the “badass rides” featured in Car and Driver’s13 Best New Vehicles for Tackling the Apocalypse.” This is the Great Tribulation, people, not the Medium Tribulation. And since money is no object (see No. 6), you can do better than a Sorento.

8. This picture was taken, again, near Charlotte, North Carolina. It was not taken in the mountains, far from the cities. So why is this driver disobeying a specific command from Jesus Christ?

Matthew 24:15-18 is unambiguous:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation [Joe Biden], spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

The arrival of the Mark of the Beast means “then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” And Jesus’ instructions are clear: “Flee into the mountains.”

So why is this person still driving around Charlotte?

9. For that matter, why is this person still here at all? Shouldn’t they have been Raptured before all of this?

There are minority factions of premillennial dispensationalist folklore that teach a “post-Trib” Rapture or a “mid-Trib” Rapture, but this viewpoint is held by very few Rapture Christians, nearly all of whom — following Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye and Larry Norman and A Thief in the Night — insist upon a pre-Trib Rapture. That’s how it happens in Left Behind and in the vast majority of other “Bible prophecy scholarship,” all of which condemns the apostasies of post-Trib and mid-Trib theories in harsh terms.

Christians who believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture shouldn’t ever have to worry about the Mark of the Beast. Their own doctrine insists that they will have been whisked away to Heaven long before that ever becomes a thing. The Mark of the Beast, according to them, is only something that future, post-Rapture converts — people like Buck Williams and Rayford Steele, or Patty in A Distant Thunder — will ever have to worry about.

Yet in practice, these supposedly pre-Trib Rapture believers seem obsessed with the Mark of the Beast, periodically erupting into panics perceiving its lurking presence in a host of things including Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, UPC barcodes, credit cards, and ATMs.***

It seems that devout believers in a pre-Tribulation, premillennial Rapture are not very consistent in their beliefs.

10. Just kidding — they’re extremely consistent in their beliefs. We can count on them, consistently, to always embrace any conspiracy theory, no matter how implausible, if they view it as something that supports white Christian nationalism.

You’ll notice this last item is not a question, because there’s no question about it.

* This is the “POOP” display. The letters hang on little pegs in alphabetical order and sometimes mischievous customers like to move some of those letters around to make naughty words. Someone who comes to our store seems particularly fond of switching those letters to write the word “POOP,” which I semi-respect, given that it’s a G-rated prank that involves an impressive efficiency — moving just two letters a total of only four spaces. Anyway, if I’m cutting through aisle 14, I’ve learned to always check to see if I need to de-POOP the letters display.

** End Times “Bible prophecy” Christians wouldn’t like my use of this biblical allusion here. Making references to the story of the Exodus in the middle of a discussion about Revelation dangerously invites comparisons between those stories, and that’s not something their “Bible prophecy” schemes allow or can survive.

*** This is, again, one of the more annoying real-world, policy-shaping consequences of “Bible prophecy” folklore. Why do we have to keep separate, up-to-date paper hard copies of our auto registration and auto insurance? Why isn’t all of that information just readily available in a conveniently scannable driver’s license? Because every time anyone proposes such a convenient, money-saving efficiency, millions of our Rapture-obsessed neighbors freak out and start shouting about the “Mark of the Beast.”

I’m not in any way suggesting that this annoyance is in any way equivalent to the appalling injustices of America’s “Bible-prophecy”-determined foreign policy or the suffering of millions of Palestinians, or to the harms and horrors resulting from “Bible-prophecy”-driven climate denial. But I’m lousy at keeping the latest quarterly proof-of-insurance card from State Farm easily accessible in my glove compartment and I resent Mark-of-the-Beast whackaloons for making me do that.

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