When buying and selling becomes politicised:
The last book of the Christian Bible, the book of Revelation, is admittedly a difficult book to understand. There are various major schools of interpretation that exist, and the book is loaded with plenty of mysterious and hard to understand symbolism and imagery. Thus we need to approach the book with caution and with humility. See more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/12/26/bible-study-helps-revelation/
One of the portions of the book that has generated plenty of questions and controversy is found in chapter 13. The chapter discusses two strange beasts. The first one is discussed in the first ten verses. In verses 11-18 we find this about the second beast:
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people,and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
Most generations of Christians over the past two millennia have wondered just who or what these beasts are, and just what this mark is. Plenty of guesses and suggestions have been proposed over the centuries. As to the mark, see my earlier piece for a more general look at things: billmuehlenberg.com/2015/09/19/babylon-its-fall-and-the-mark-of-the-beast/
But with all the hardcore hysteria and statist overreaction to the Rona over the past year and a half, all of a sudden this passage has taken on a new sense of interest – and urgency. Many, including myself, are wondering if all the lockdown measures, all the border closures, and all the demands being made by far too many governments and businesses for things like vaccine passports and mandatory vaccinations might be a part of all this.
My short answer is this: Beats me! But it could be! In many ways it seems like the perfect storm brewing here, and the things about buying and selling discussed in the chapter sure seem to fit in with what we are now witnessing. I have documented plenty of examples of this of late. Let me cover just one more, this one from France.
What the government there is now demanding sure sounds like it could come straight out of Rev. 13. As one report states:
Anyone entering a restaurant, café, shopping centre, hospital or taking a long-distance train in France will have to show a special Covid health pass from August, Emmanuel Macron has announced, as France tightens restrictions to contain the surging Delta variant.
The same Covid health pass – which shows that a person has been vaccinated or had a recent negative Covid test – will be similarly required for anyone over the age of 12 to enter a cinema, theatre, museum, theme park or cultural centre from as early as 21 July, the president said, in a bid to pressure more French people to take up vaccines.
“You’ve understood – vaccination is not immediately obligatory for everyone, but we’re going to extend the health pass to the maximum, in order to push a maximum of you to go and get vaccinated,” the president told the nation.
Macron also announced mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for workers in healthcare and in retirement homes. Vaccine checks on those workers will begin in September, with a risk of sanctions or fines for non-compliance. The compulsory vaccines also apply to all volunteers or staff in contact with elderly or vulnerable people in their homes, including home helps. www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/12/france-mandates-covid-health-pass-for-restaurants-and-cafes
Hmm, in classic Orwellian Doublespeak, we have him telling us, ‘Oh no, it is not compulsory,’ while at the same time making it crystal clear that you MUST have these passes to be able to enjoy normal, everyday life – including the most routine matters of buying and selling.
And he says it is not “immediately obligatory”! That means it may well be tomorrow. Politicians are the last persons you want to fully trust when it comes to matters like this. As I have been saying for 18 months now, politicians love power and control, and they especially love a crisis where they can get even more – and permanent – power and control.
Plenty of nations have been heading down this route – even Australia. We already have numerous places where entry is denied or services are restricted to those who have the mark of the, I mean, the mandatory Rona paperwork. And it gets worse each passing day, with almost all businesses, shops and services now demanding that you sign in with the QR tracking code. No code, no service. How much longer before no code means no buying and selling of everything – including food and basic essentials?
But it is all to “keep us safe” we are being told: ‘You don’t want to kill grandma, do you?’ Whether or not it is keeping us safe is a moot point. What we do know is all this is perfectly keeping us in a place of total compliance and conformity, where the State becomes all-powerful and the people lose all basic human rights and freedoms.
In an earlier piece I discussed Communist China’s Big Brother social credit system, which basically works in the same way. Those people who are fully compliant and obedient to the State get a better credit rating – with all the benefits and perks which that entails. But those who fall afoul of the State get a poor rating, and they suffer accordingly. That too sounds like the perfect description of what Rev. 13:16-17 is talking about.
In that article I quoted Rod Dreher from his very important book Live Not By Lies:
The bottom line: a Chinese citizen cannot participate in the economy or society unless he has the mark of approval from Xi Jinping, the country’s all-powerful leader. In a cashless society, the state has the power to bankrupt dissidents instantly by cutting off access to the internet. And in a society in which everyone is connected digitally, the state can make anyone an instant pariah when the algorithm turns them radioactive, even to their family. billmuehlenberg.com/2021/01/03/big-business-and-the-big-state-mean-big-trouble/
I penned that piece seven months ago. Today things do not seem all that different in the Rona-reactive West – we seem to be fast approaching the situation found there. So those with some basic biblical understanding cannot help but wonder if Rev. 13 has any bearing on what is occurring here. Sure, some will say that Revelation speaks only about what has happened in the past. Some will argue that the contents of the book are all figurative and metaphorical, with no literal application.
There are plenty of takes on how we might best comprehend what is being said in the book. In my article on Revelation that I mentioned above, I quoted from one commentator, Grant Osborne, who rightly said that we need the “hermeneutics of humility”. Quite so. I do not know what exactly Rev. 13 is specifically all about. Perhaps no one does for sure.
But as I say, when I simply look around me and witness the utterly frightening direction that we are moving in because of the Rona panic porn, and as I come to understand more clearly movements like the Great Reset, I can easily see how Rev. 13 may well have something to say about what we are now going through.
Of course I could be wrong in all this. But Jesus did tell us to be wise as serpents while being harmless as doves. We are to be wise as we seek to understand the times that we are living in. At the very least, I and all believers need to be like the sons of Issachar who ‘understood the times and knew what Israel – or the church today – should do’ (1 Chronicles 12:32).