Living in an Uncertain World
Is there anything that can be trusted? Is there anything in which we can put our confidence in these unprecedented times in which we are living? It has been aptly said, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”1 There are many people in this world today who have no hope, no security, and no peace. There are so many who are failing to live happy and fulfilled lives because of crippling anxiety and fear.
We look around and see potential disaster at every turn while the coronavirus death toll continues to rise. With layoffs at work and a struggling economy, we fear losing our jobs and going broke. The evening news is filled with stories about mass shootings, racial tensions, riots, and assaults, bringing fear for our lives and our children’s safety. Catastrophic natural disasters on the rise across the United States and around the world, and we fear for the future.
Bible Prophecy Provides Us with Certainty
In these unsettling times, Bible prophecy has helped many people face the future with hope, courage, and confidence. Prophecy, a prediction or foretelling of future events, is one of the great pieces of evidence of the Bible's inspiration. The prophecies of the Bible have turned many skeptics into believers. A classic example is the prophecy of the metal man in Daniel chapter 2. This prophecy predicted the rise and fall of four world empires and the current state of Europe today. This metal man represents a timeline that covers 2500 years of human history down to our day with perfect accuracy.
Notice what God says through one of the Old Testament prophets: “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done…” (Isaiah 46:9–10). What God is saying is, “I am God; no one else is God. I will prove to you that I am God. I know and will declare the future.” Would you be willing to listen to someone who could tell you the future with perfect accuracy?
Clear Answers for Uncertain Times
The prophecies of the Bible, especially the marvelous prophecies from the book of Revelation, provide clear answers and have been a great source of hope and comfort for many people. Revelation, with its fantastic imagery and poetic language, has fascinated people for generations. Though written nearly 2,000 years ago, it continues to inspire and captivate the mind. Unfortunately, there are many in our day who are saying that the book of Revelation is a closed book and cannot be understood. Perhaps you have heard this.
The root word of “Revelation” is reveal. The English word “revelation” comes from the Greek apokalupsis, which means to “unveil” or “uncover.” This is also where we get the word “apocalypse.” The very title of the book suggests that it can be understood. Incidentally, this is the only book in the Bible that comes with a blessing for the one who reads, hears, and responds in obedience (Revelation 1:3). It is logical, then, to believe that Revelation is an open book that can be understood and comprehended.
Two Essential Keys for Unlocking Revelation
To correctly interpret apocalyptic (end-time) prophecy, two essential keys are needed. The Bible itself provides the keys to unlock the prophecies, especially Revelation:
- Key #1: The Bible must be its own interpreter (2 Peter 1:19–21).
- Key #2: Compare Scripture with Scripture (Isaiah 28:9–10).
The book of Revelation contains 404 verses. Approximately two-thirds of those verses contain references to the Old Testament. With so much of the history, imagery, and symbols coming directly from the Old Testament, it is impossible to understand the book of Revelation without a good understanding of the Old Testament. Trying to do so would be like studying the English language without knowing the alphabet.
Unlocking the Mark of the Beast
Revelation 14 contains the most serious warning in the whole Bible. It is found in the three angels’ messages, which are God’s special messages for those living in earth’s final hours (verses 6–16). In these messages, there is a call to worship God as our Creator, along with a stern warning about worshipping the beast and receiving his mark. The end-time issue is clearly about worship. Sadly, there are many bogus interpretations about the beast and its mark. The mark of the beast issue is not about bar codes, tattoos, or RFID chips, but worship.
To understand what the mark of the beast is, we must first understand what a beast represents in prophecy. A careful study of Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 (parallel chapters about the beast, also known as “the antichrist”) will reveal the following:
- A beast is a political power or kingdom (Daniel 7:17, 23).
- The beast is worshipped (Revelation 13:4).
- The dragon gives the beast its power (Revelation 13:2).
- The dragon who gave power to the beast is worshipped as the beast is worshipped (Revelation 13:4).
- The dragon is a symbol of the devil (Revelation 12:9).
By using the two essential keys, we discover that the beast is a religiopolitical power through which the devil is working to receive worship that rightfully belongs to God. A more thorough study of Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 will reveal ten identifying marks that make the identity of this beast unmistakably clear. However, what is obvious from this cursory study is that the devil longs for worship. This should come as no surprise. The Bible tells us that the devil even had the audacity to ask Jesus to bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:9). Satan wants worship but knows that most people will not conscientiously bow down and worship him. Therefore, he gets himself a front man, the beast, and gives it “his power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). And when the beast is worshipped, it is really the devil who receives worship.
The word worship is mentioned 22 times in Revelation; it is clearly one of the reverberating themes of the book. The central issue in the final conflict will be worship. Will we worship God or Satan? It is critical that we understand the clear identity of the antichrist beast and understand what its mark is, since the devil is working through deception to receive worship.
A Revelation of Jesus Christ
The book of Revelation opens with these words: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1). At the outset, we are told that Revelation is about Jesus Christ. While it reveals end-time events and exposes the antichrist, we must keep in mind that the primary focus of the book is to reveal Jesus Christ. The book begins and ends with Jesus. The name “Jesus” appears 13 times, and the word “Lamb,” which is a reference to Jesus, appears 26 times in Revelation (John 1:29).
The book of Revelation is clearly a revelation of Jesus Christ. He is revealed as the conqueror over sin, death, and His foes. With Jesus as the focus, we find in Revelation a message of hope and encouragement as we face the final and darkest hours of earth’s history.
Keys to Hope for Tomorrow
The prophecies of the Bible, rightly understood, provide us with courage for today, hope for tomorrow, and confidence to face the future. They speak with certainty in uncertain times. They are a powerful source of hope for our troubled hearts and minds in this unsettling sociopolitical environment.
To better understand the book of Revelation, read the book, The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White. This bestselling book covers the last 2000 years and shows how Bible prophecies have been fulfilled. It also covers America in prophecy, earth’s closing events, the mark of the beast, and God’s infinite love.
All scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- John Allen Paulos, A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market (New York, New York: Basic Books, 2004).