The most fearful warning of punishment found anywhere in the Bible is contained in Revelation 14:9, 10: "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."
This description is so alarming and so very unlike all other verses which deal with God's character that we almost recoil in horror. But it points clearly to a time when God's mercy will be withheld from those who have persistently rejected the authority of Heaven. It will be an unparalleled performance on the part of God in His relationship to the human family. For almost 6,000 years, His punishing judgments upon the most wicked men have been tempered with mercy. But now the measure of rebellion reaches a point which makes it necessary for God to intervene and to expose the terrible extent of man's treason against God's government.
Right here we are curious to know more about the sin that provokes God's strange act of fiery punishment. Notice that the final issue involves a false allegiance to the beast power, so often referred to in Bible prophecy. At last, the world shall stand divided into two great camps: those who worship the true God, and those who worship the beast of Revelation 13. But what issue leads to this massive division of the world's people? After describing the fate of the false worshipers in Revelation 14:9-11, lohn has this to say in the very next verse: "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." We see here a startling contrast between those who follow the beast and those who follow the Lamb.
Please note that the issue revolves around the keeping of God's commandments. Those who do not have the mark of the beast are described as obedient to those commandments, and the rest suffer the wrath of God. This agrees perfectly with Paul's statement in Romans 6:16, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"
The highest allegiance is accorded through the act of obedience. At last, the majority of earth's inhabitants will accept the authority of an antichrist counterfeit power, in disobedience to God's great ten commandment laws. Every individual will be on one side or the other. The Bible makes it very clear that life or death revolves around the final decision concerning the beast of Revelation 13.
Strangely enough, modern theologians have simply ignored the warning message of Revelation 14, relating to the mark of the beast. The interest of multitudes has been destroyed by the influence of pastors who would not take seriously the solemn words of John's prophecy. Often it is dismissed as a confused, insignificant letter, applying only to a local problem in the early church. For some reason the book called Revelation is counted a sealed book, instead of the obviously revealed truth that its name implies. But please note the promise made to those who search out the truth of this wonderful book, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Revelation 1:3.
Before delving into John's vivid account of that final clash between Christ and Satan, let us take time to examine the contestants in the conflict. When and how did it get started, and how will it end?
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