We all know the terrible toll that the COVID-19 virus has taken on countries around the globe. The pandemic has taken more than 5.5 million lives worldwide, including more than 850,000 here in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 has become the third-leading cause of death, behind cancer and heart disease (obviously not counting abortion).
As horrific as those totals are, the disease has not only attacked our health but also our society. Illicit drug use has skyrocketed. Suicides have soared. Economies are deeply distressed, with serious worker shortages still remaining and the supply chain of goods and services severely disrupted. The outbreak of the Omicron variant has led to further restrictions on international travel, and threats of vaccine mandates are lurking for domestic flights here in the United States.
Unfortunately, we have seen government officials worldwide use this deadly outbreak to become increasingly authoritarian, imposing sweeping mandates on the general public and inserting government into the private lives of citizens in unprecedented fashion.
I don’t know exactly how, but I do believe this virus pandemic is somehow setting the stage for what the Bible describes in the Book of Revelation as a one-world government, dominated by the Antichrist and the beast he employs in his dark global rule.
Just recently, we heard of a company in Sweden that has developed a “vaccine passport,” a tiny microchip that will track all vaccine test results and data for travel and entry into vaccine-only eateries. The microchip is grain-sized and is implanted just under the skin on the hand or elsewhere.
But don’t think for a minute that tracking vaccines is all this technology will do. Listen to the comments from its developer. “It is easy to update the implant; you can use an app on your phone to change what is on the chip. So I can add new info to the chip every day—yesterday it was my LinkedIn, today it’s my COVID certificate, tomorrow it could be something else.”
Scripture prophesies about a “mark of the beast”—a horned beast who speaks like a dragon. “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, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast” (Revelation 13:16-17).
Whatever form that mark ultimately takes, it’s clear that it will be a universal mandate straight from the pit of hell, one that is controlled and monitored by the enemy that seeks to exert its wicked tyranny over mankind in a last-gasp attempt to deceive and destroy.
For those believers whose names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, however, there is nothing to fear. Though the beast will make war against the saints, it is worshipped and served only by those “whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). In other words, believers whose names have been written in the Book of Life of the slain Lamb, inscribed by the atoning blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin, will never give homage to the beast.
Believers need not fear the rage of the devil, for we are eternally secure in Christ.
In fact, the chaos and destruction that mark the end times is actually an occasion to celebrate the soon return of our Lord and King. As unbelievers faint in fear and tremble at cosmic cataclysms, followers of Christ are markedly different: “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:27-28).
Look up at the marvelous return of our King, who will bring a final end to the treachery of the Antichrist. “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). With overwhelming ease, our mighty God will conquer and destroy!
Until that time, God’s people are to be watching and waiting expectantly, studying and obeying the Scriptures and praying fervently for the Lord’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Believers’ lives should be marked by holiness, purity, faith and repentance, being conformed to the image of Christ until we see Him face to face.
But that’s not all.
We are called and commanded to take the saving Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to as many people as possible. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Fulfilling that command is crucial to the return of the Lord. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Of course, that is exactly what the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has been doing for more than 70 years with Crusades across America and reaching the far corners of the world. By God’s grace, and with His help, we’ll keep doing exactly that in the coming year and in the years to come. Through radio, television and the internet, we will reach tens of millions of people with the Good News of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
However, it’s also the command for every believer to live out the Gospel truth in word and deed, reaching friends, families and neighbors with the only message that gives eternal hope and salvation.
So as you hear of the continuing chaos and turmoil that now marks our days, don’t yield for a moment to pessimism or hysteria. Straighten your back, lift up your head and look up, for your full redemption is about to take place.
What a day that will be!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2021 BGEA