Revelation 13:15-18 describes a future time that will take place during the seven-year tribulation that will follow the rapture of believers from the earth (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The passage reads:
The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
First, we observe those who take the mark of the beast will be those who worship the beast. This means those who take the mark of the beast will not be worshipers of Jesus.
Second, those who refuse to take the mark of the beast will be put to death. Extreme persecution will exist during this period, clearly indicating who is a believer and who is not.
However, neither of these observations specifically teaches a person who takes the mark of the beast could not later become a believer. This has led some to believe it will be possible for a person who takes the mark of the beast to later change his or her mind and believe in Jesus.
The major problem with this view is that it contradicts Revelation 14:9-11:
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
These verses clearly indicate that “anyone” who takes the “image” or mark of the beast will receive God’s judgment. This includes eternity apart from God “for ever and ever.”
While God can forgive anyone, these passages reveal that those who take the mark of the beast will be devoted to worshiping him rather than God. Those who take the mark will not later choose to reject him and believe in Jesus, but will instead follow the beast until they experience judgment.
This question is a strong reminder of the importance to believe in Jesus now, to faithfully follow Him each day, and to share Him with others. We do not know when Jesus will return, but we do know His coming could take place at any moment.
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.
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