I recently read the book Man of Sin, The: Uncovering the Truth about the Antichrist by Kim Riddlebarger. Below are highlights of the book I would like to share with you. I enthusiastically recommend this book, as it gives the eschatological perspective from the Amillennial side and it sure makes a lot of sense of an intricate subject. It has put many things into perspective for me and provides the answers to many questions.
Since I began using the internet as a born again believer, a sinner saved by grace, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), I have read (and not understood!) so many different view points on the end time Eschatology. There is so much deception out there and we really need to discern and pray, to be able to sort the biblical truth from the lie. The reading of Riddlebarger’s book, has been instrumental in my better understanding the end times.
A video clip floating around in cyber space is also not True !! Do not believe this man in the video clip !
Often one will hear of or read about the mark of the beast, commonly known as the number 666. Speculations about this are still being made, as they have been through the ages. The latest one that I have read, is a wildly superstitious story that is laughable and also saddening, because I know there are believers out there who believe this nonsensical rubbish. This imaginative conspiracy theory is based on the fantasy that the MONSTER energy drink has now been found to be a forerunner of the mark if the beast, the 666.
This was posted on a blog as an article and an I also received it via email. I am not sure what occurred first, the email or the article. Nevertheless, were this article/email true, then one thing comes to mind, and that is that the true Church has missed the Rapture! Because the article states that, and I quote, “You will be shocked, just as I was to realise that the Monster logo is a ‘type‘ of a Mark of a Beast” and, elsewhere in the article “Now this Monster logo is but a type of a Mark of the Beast.” End quote.
The writer/s is using a system commonly referred to as Gematria. Riddlebarger has this to say on the matter of the number 666: “Gematria, or the practice or substituting letters for numbers, may indeed point in the direction of Nero. But even if Nero is referred to, we should be aware of the theological significance of the number. It is more important to understand what the number means than to identify the individual to whom it is referring. Six falls one short of seven (the number of completeness). The beast mimics Christ but always falls short. Six represents fallen humanity, always laboring, but never entering the Sabbath rest. The triple sixes indicate the beast who, along with the dragon (Satan) and the second beast (or false prophet), mimics the Holy Trinity and is condemned to fall short of completeness. The beast can never rise above humanity to deity.”
The quotes (above in bold) from the article I am referring to , are sheer speculation and should not be taken as being Biblical truth. The assumptions made are based purely on superstition using Gematria and not Scripture. The Scripture which is used in the article, to back up the writer/s superstitious beliefs, are grossly in Biblical error.
Further quotes from that article: “Revelation 13:16-18 “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”
“Look at the pics below and realize they are intentionally and covertly getting people to wear the mark of the beast.”
“The world is being bombarded with symbols on a daily bassis, however the symbols are becoming more and more ominous as we approach the New Age which according to occultists begins on the 22nd December 2012. Symbols for occultists play a major part in their belief structure, it’s important for them because it supposedly projects energy.” (End of further quotations).
By just looking at the pictures and symbols, the writer says, we must realize that we are identifying the mark of the beast? What an utter miss use of Scripture !! The writer/s hereof is further making connections with the number 666 (supposed energy drink signature) and the Mayan calendar that supposedly indicates that the end of the world will be in Dec 2012. We are not to fear the things unbelievers or occultists believe. We are to stay well clear of this. The writer/s also, by the above statement, implies Christian believers should give attention to what occultists predict.
Again it comes to mind that the Rapture must then already have taken place !! Additionally, that the Great tribulation must be near it’s end and that we have but 12 months left before the coming of Jesus. Dispensationalists who believe in a seven year long tribulation would argue that there will be 3 ½ years of peace on earth followed by 3 ½ years of great tribulation. Well then, the writer of this article simply flies in the face of the Dispensational beliefs and thinks they have found the truth! They also bring their own superstitions to the fore and grossly misinterpret Scripture! In my reading of this article/email it came to mind that the writer/s of this article is nothing better than Harold Camping, Siener van Rensburg or Nostradamus, by trying create fear in the believers heart that is contra Scripture. In the Word we read: 1Th 5:21 “but test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1Jn 4:1 ” Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world”.
The quoted Scripture does not say we are too look at “pictures ” ! Lets take a quick look at Revelation 13: 16-18 , and here I am making use of dear Mathew Henry’s commentary :
Rev 13:11-18 , Those who understand the first beast to denote a worldly power, take the second to be also a persecuting and assumed power, which acts under the disguise of religion, and of charity to the souls of men. It is a spiritual dominion, professing to be derived from Christ, and exercised at first in a gentle manner, but soon spake like the dragon. Its speech betrayed it; for it gives forth those false doctrines and cruel decrees, which show it to belong to the dragon, and not to the Lamb. It exercised all the power of the former beast. It pursues the same design, to draw men from worshipping the true God, and to subject the souls of men to the will and control of men. The second beast has carried on its designs, by methods whereby men should be deceived to worship the former beast, in the new shape, or likeness made for it. By lying wonders, pretended miracles. And by severe censures. Also by allowing none to enjoy natural or civil rights, who will not worship that beast which is the image of the pagan beast. It is made a qualification for buying and selling, as well as for places of profit and trust, that they oblige themselves to use all their interest, power, and endeavour, to forward the dominion of the beast, which is meant by receiving his mark. To make an image to the beast, whose deadly wound was healed, would be to give form and power to his worship, or to require obedience to his commands. To worship the image of the beast, implies being subject to those things which stamp the character of the picture, and render it the image of the beast. The number of the beast is given, so as to show the infinite wisdom of God, and to exercise the wisdom of men. The number is the number of a man, computed after the usual manner among men, and it is 666. What or who is intended by this, remains a mystery. To almost every religious dispute this number has yet been applied, and it may reasonably be doubted whether the meaning has yet been discovered. But he who has wisdom and understanding, will see that all the enemies of God are numbered and marked out for destruction; that the term of their power will soon expire, and that all nations shall submit to our King of righteousness and peace.
The following are more quotes from Ridlebarger’s book to prove the writers of the article and e-mail to be untrue and that they are making false assumptions and unbiblical prophesies:
What Is the Mark of the Beast? The mark of the beast (the number of humanity-“perfectly imperfect”) is tied to the state’s usurpation of divine prerogatives and attributes. Those who take the mark of the beast do so in the context of the worship of the state and its leaders in such a way as to either deny their faith in Jesus Christ (apostasy) or confess that “Caesar is Lord.” The number 666 may indeed be a reference to Nero, but Nero does not exhaust what is thereby signified, especially if Revelation was written after AD 70. This mark and number are a reoccurring phenomena tied to the continual reappearing of the beast seeking the worship and adoration that belongs only to the true and living God.
Gematria, or the practice or substituting letters for numbers, may indeed point in the direction of Nero. But even if Nero is referred to, we should be aware of the theological significance of the number. It is more important to understand what the number means than to identify the individual to whom it is referring. Six falls one short of seven (the number of completeness). The beast mimics Christ but always falls short. Six represents fallen humanity, always laboring, but never entering the Sabbath rest. The triple sixes indicate the beast who, along with the dragon (Satan) and the second beast (or false prophet), mimics the Holy Trinity and is condemned to fall short of completeness. The beast can never rise above humanity to deity.
At the time John used this image, slaves were branded or tattooed by their owners. Thus anyone who “takes the mark” is branded as a slave of the beast and consciously renounces Christ to their eternal peril. Our dispensational friends miss the point when they are preoccupied with investigating which forms of technology can be used to create body markings or a cashless society. They come closer to the truth when they warn us about government usurping its God-given role and seeking the adoration and worship owed to God by his people. This is a real and pressing threat to all Christians. The worship of the state or its leaders in all of its forms is a false religion. It is the very essence of the beast. Therefore, any state that usurps divine authority and honor and insists upon the worship of the state or its leaders can be said to be engaged in this practice. This can be seen, for example, in the swastika and Nazi salute to Hitler-relatively recent manifestations of the mark. The usurpation of divine authority by the state is seen in the efforts of the second beast (Rev. 13:11-18), who is the false prophet (Rev. 16:13), to deceive the earth’s inhabitants into worshiping the beast (the state) and his image (its leader).
Is an Antichrist Yet to Come? Many antichrists will come and go, but the series of antichrists faced by the church from the beginning will at some point give way to an Antichrist-the final heretic, arch-blasphemer, and persecutor of God’s people. According to Paul (2 Thessalonians) and John (Revelation 20), the spirit of lawlessness and Satan are already at work, but they are presently restrained through the preaching of the gospel. Both Paul and John expect that restraint to be lifted immediately before Christ returns. Therefore, various beasts (governments) and their leaders and henchmen will come and go until one final manifestation of satanic rage and deception breaks out immediately before the Lord returns.
The fact that such anti-Christian empires or nations and their satanically inspired leaders come and go means that many attempts by Christians in the past to identify the beast and the Antichrist may have merit, although the date-setting that was often attached to this does not. In an age when the Roman Catholic Church was able to exert political power and papal sanction against Protestants through allied nations and their armies, Protestants were absolutely justified in identifying the Roman Catholic Church and those nations allied with it (Spain, Italy, and France) as the beast and the papacy as the seat of Antichrist.
Yet the preaching of the gospel restrained Catholic nations from destroying those churches that embraced the doctrine of justification, sola fide. Furthermore, historical circumstances have changed greatly in the centuries that have followed. The unholy alliance between pope and prince has been replaced by socialist democracies that are virtually secularized and threaten no one.
We also need to learn to avoid predictions from the examples in our own tradition and the sincere but futile efforts by the Puritans and Jonathan Edwards to tie biblical prophecy to current events, to set dates, and to identify the Antichrist by name. As McGinn correctly points out, “No age in Christian history has lacked its own ingenious proofs of the imminence of the time of the end.”5
Yet this is the nature of an ongoing threat, especially when that threat is expected to come to a dramatic and climactic end. While our forefathers may have been largely correct in their identification of the beast (the signs were certainly present in some measure), it was simply not God’s time for the restraint to be lifted and the beast to attain its final fury. End of the quotes from Riddlebarger.
I would suggest that anyone who believes in the superstition as held within the article or the e-mail, to please be like the good Berean’s and search the scriptures. Act 17:10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Act 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. The assumptions this article makes, can and does lead to gross error. We as Christians should not fall into the trap of believing in superstitions which we are warned against. It also brings and breeds a form of legalism.
In closing I have asked a couple of questions that have surfaced as a result of the article, “Monster Energy Drink – Unleash the Beast 666.”
1) Should we as true believers be involved in rumours and predictions that are extra Biblical?
2) Should true believers be afraid of or heed such rumours?
3) Here is a hypothetical scenario. I am overcome with thirst and there is only one cold drink, which happens to be a Monster Energy drink, in the only shop for miles. The next closest shop is 100km away. Now I am faced with a decision whether to drive a further 10okm because the alleged 666 Mark of the beast energy drink will unleash a demon of some sorts on me as a believer, or to trust in the Scriptures which assure us that no demon can inhabit a can of liquid. How absurd to even think that the true born again believer, indwelt by the Holy Sprit, would be unknowingly taken over by a demon or be derailed by a can of soda with the claw marks of a fictitious monster on the packaging. These beliefs as portrayed in the article, simply imply that God has no power over His flock.
4) There are many, many more similarly misleading articles and emails drifting all over the internet at the speed of light, and we are to avoid them and run from these type of false teachings as Scripture warns us.
My Hubby Grant’s reply to the email received follows below. We hope it reaches the original author of the deceptive article about the Monster Energy drink.
“Now that is one of the most rediculous things I’ve read in recent times!
Firstly, these people start with over-active imaginations and eventually they are able to find a demon or evil connotations in absolutely everything from bananas to lawnmowers. They treat this subject as if they were reading tea leaves or gazing into a crystal ball, because they have no theological or historical knowledge on the subject. The picture on the Monster Energy drink is that of marks which could be made by a claw. It is that simple.
Secondly, even if it was a picture of Satan himself, it could exert no influence whatsoever on a saved believer, the Holy Spirit who saves and SEALS the believer will certainly not be moved by a simple picture, or by the attitude it might provoke in the mind or actions of a saved believer.
Thirdly, 666, which is the mark, or number, of the beast (or the Antichrist) is most likely the number which referred to the emperor Nero. But, by using this kind of gematria (number games), one can ascribe that number to almost anyone or anything, even Ronald Wilson Reagan had six letters in each name. It is far more likely that the number has theological significance because John also states in Rev 13:18 that it is “man’s number” ie. fallen mankind, not the number of one specific man. John also makes it clear that it requires wisdom to understand that number, not knowledge, therefore it is unlikely that a mathematical sum was what he wanted us to use to figure it out, rather an understanding of the historical significance.
What is clearer is that the number 666 is far more likely to be of historical significance than relevant to the future. John is not speaking of an event isolated to the time of the end, he is warning the faithful across the ages of the cost of following Christ. Many beastlike characters have persecuted Christians and tried to be like God through the ages, and more will come. All of them will be crushed by the Lamb.”
Here are some more quotes of interest from my reading of Riddlebarger’s book :
“According to Robert Godfrey, it was a widely held consensus among the Puritans that the world would end about 1650-56. This date was determined by using a benchmark date of AD 390 (the date of the supposed consolidation of the papacy), and then adding 1,260 years, the number mentioned in both Daniel and Revelation.
Edwards also believed that Antichrist’s destruction was imminent and that the end of the age was near. Despite his Puritan sobriety, Edwards believed that he was living at a critical turning point in redemptive history in which Christ’s kingdom was soon to reach its final eschatological glory. As an important component of his emerging postmillennialism, Edwards believed the fall of the papacy, the conversion of the Jews, the defeat of Islam, and a last days glory for the church were all soon at hand.121 Like most Reformed Christians, Edwards’s grievance against the papacy was twofold.
After revival broke out in the 1740s (the so-called “Great Awakening”), Edwards came to believe that the end was nearer than he first thought. In a section of his essay An Humble Attempt (1748) dealing with the imminent fall of Antichrist, Edwards states that the fifth bowl of judgment of Revelation 16 is the Reformation and the sixth bowl is the defeat of the French and Spanish armadas (slowing the flow of gold in the Antichrist coffers of Catholic countries France and Spain).
Edwards writes that it is his view that the slaying of the two witnesses is in the past and that “God’s Spirit will begin in a little time, which, in the progress of it, will overthrow the kingdom of Antichrist.” 27 Thus, the seventh bowl of judgment could be poured out at any moment, although this time Edwards backed off from setting a date.
Hope, not Fear. One lesson we must learn is that we need to be very cautious about setting dates and identifying particular persons as the Antichrist. The biblical writers speak of things associated with the time of the end as a mystery (Rom. 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:51) or as something that requires wisdom in order to understand (Rev. 13:18; 17:9). We have been cautioned that this phenomena is connected to the great apostasy and is currently prevented from appearing by some form of divine restraint (2 Thessalonians with Revelation 20).
Only God knows when these things will come to pass. Since God gives his people wisdom without measure (James 1:5), when the time comes, we will know what these prophecies mean. But not before.
Will there be an Antichrist? Yes, there will. But we need to take note of Anthony Hoekema’s caution in this regard: “We conclude that the sign of the antichrist, like the other signs of the times, is present throughout the history of the church. We may even say that every age will provide its own particular form of antichristian activity. But we look for an intensification of this sign in the appearance of the antichrist whom Christ himself will destroy at his Second Coming.”6
Thus we must be very cautious, yet ever vigilant. Our focus should be upon the means by which God restrains the principle of lawlessness-the gospel-and we must not spend our energies upon useless speculation. Our hope as Christians lies not in our powers of prognostication but in the ultimate and final victory of the Lamb.
Instead of fearing and dreading the Antichrist and worrying about the latest events in the Middle East or whether the number 666 appears on a household product ID, we should be longing for the second coming of Jesus Christ. For Satan and his cronies have already been defeated by the blood and righteousness of Jesus, although for a time they will run amuck because they know their time is short. Regarding the fate of our enemy, Martin Luther perhaps said it best: “One little word shall fell him.” Amen. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!