(This will be a longer than usual post, but there are some key current events that I did not want to leave out of the discussion.)
Matthew 24:36 makes it abundantly clear that “no one knows the day or hour” when Jesus will return. If anyone says they have discovered a formula or God has told them when He will return, do not listen to them.
Only God knows the day and hour of Jesus’ return. We studied the significance of a Galilean wedding and its influence on Jesus’ return back on May 10, 2020, “Are These the Last Days.” Matthew 24:42 instructs us to keep watch.
In Revelation 13, we read about two beasts that come onto the scene and begin to persuade people politically and religiously. Have I lost you? Hang on.
Part of the intimidation factor in reading the book of Revelation is the combination of literal and figurative descriptions.
As God is sharing with John about things that are still two-thousands years away, He uses symbols that transcend technology and time to communicate what will happen in the future.
A good rule of thumb for determining this is; if it sounds figurative, it probably figurative.
The image of a beast is not literal but symbolizes a person with evil and destructive nature. This second beast that we read of in our text is said to have horns, a symbol of power.
Furthermore, this second person (beast) has the appearance of a lamb but speaks like a dragon. The description of a lamb informs us that this person comes across as gentle, but when he speaks, his motives and intent are evil.
His appearance is an attempt to associate himself with God and to deceive God’s people into thinking he is a champion of religious people. And this is where it gets dicey.
Verse 13 indicates that this individual will perform great signs and wonders and calls down fire from heaven.
He even performs a miracle of raising the first beast (person) from a fatal wound back to life.
He will be praised and exalted by many for this uncommon act of power, but this deceptive display is meant to turn people away from God and worship the first beast.
This is why we must be students of the Word and in tune with the Holy Spirit.
Humanity is drawn to the spectacular. We often put presentation over content, and this is a seductive trap.
Listen to these warnings found in scripture.
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign,”. Matthew 12:39a
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,” 1 Corinthians 1:22.
This mentality will setup some to be deceived in the last days.
Satan is a counterfeit artist.
We recently studied Moses’ encounter with Pharaoh and read how Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated some of the miracles God performed through Aaron and Moses.
The description of this second beast rising out of the earth has led some to believe that he may be of Jewish descent. The first beast is described as “rising out of the sea.”
In Daniel 7, we learn how this is a reference to Gentile peoples.
His attractive appearance, persuasiveness, signs and wonders, and use of force will have a dominating effect over all people. Those who refuse to submit and worship the image of the beast will be killed.
Today we see the idolization of politicians and the stronghold of partisanship that is dividing people and nations.
The world is leaning heavily on the government to fix everything.
Politicians are viewed as an entity who can save us or guide us on a righteous path. Politics and politicians cannot lead us down a path of righteousness. Only Jesus can!
Verse 16 explains how all people will be required to take a mark on their forehead or right hand, which will become the requirement for buying and selling. This verse has been commonly interpreted as living in a cashless society.
If you look at consumer trends over the last five years, there is a migration from ATM and Credit cards to digital transactions.
As a result of physical distancing, mask-wearing, don’t touch your eyes, face, or mouth, and the frequent use of antibacterial, people are becoming more and more conscientious of the surfaces they touch.
This has revived concerns of the transmissibility of viruses on currency and ATM machines that are touched by hundreds of people a day. The pandemic has given digital payments a boost.
The U.S. Federal Reserve reports that debit cards are the most frequently used means of payment. [i] The Pew Research Center polled Americans and found that 29% of adults reported not purchasing with cash during a typical week. [ii]
Several businesses banned using cash in San Francisco, New Jersey, and Philadelphia but were hit with court orders reversing their bans because it discriminated against a segment of society that only uses cash. [iii]
Meanwhile, the U.S. is trailing behind the world in digital payments, as other countries, including China, India, Japan, Mexico, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, are forging ahead by making significant investments in this technology. [iv]
- In India, some 255 million people are making everyday purchases use a virtual wallet system. [v]
- Sweden, who is leading the charge, reports only 1% of transactions are conducted in cash.
- Japan has instituted a program for those using digital payments by rebating their purchases up to 5%. [vi]
- Japan is also betting big on “QR codes” as a universal form of payment. [vii]
In 2019, the Bank of Mexico launched a “Cobro Digital system” that allows users and merchants to transact in digital pesos using QR codes. [viii]
On Monday, October 21, 2020, the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, said that he is open to collaborating with the private sector on developing a digital U.S. dollar. During a Senate Banking Committee hearing on September 24, 2020, he also testified that he wants the U.S. to “get it right, rather than being first.” [ix]
A digital dollar in the United States is not if, but when.
In July 2019, more than 4,000 Swedes lined up to have a chip implanted into their hands about the size of a grain of rice. [x]
Like a smartwatch, Swedes will be able to monitor their health, make purchases, and even replace keycards for entry into buildings by merely swiping their wrist.
Since this move to go cashless, Swedish banks saw a decrease in robberies from 110 in 2008 to just 2 in 2018. [xi]
Bible prophecy is true. We are seeing the stage set for a global financial institution that fits the pattern of end-time prophecy.
Stay faithful to God and let endurance lead the way. Keep watch for the signs of the times.