In his second letter to Christians in a city called Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul wrote about a man of lawlessness who must appear before Jesus returns.

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).1

This evil individual appears in Scripture again, in the Book of Revelation. There he is called “the second beast.”

“Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived” (Revelation 13:11–14).

Not only does this “second beast” perform great signs, it also “…causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666” (Revelation 13:16–18). (Side note: Other than this time in Revelation, the number 666 appears in Scripture only three times. Once it refers to how many sons a man named Azgad had, in Ezra 2:13. The other two times are both in reference to how many talents of gold came to Solomon in one year (2 Kings 10:14; 2 Chronicles 9:13). This makes me wonder if the Holy Spirit was making a connection to the richest ruler on earth at the time who was a worshiper of foreign gods but also considered the wisest man in the world. That’s an interesting combination.)

The taking of the mark that allows people to buy and sell is more than economics, although it clearly is that. Worship is involved. This second beast “…was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain” (Revelation 13:15).

This is a troubling passage. Christians may not only starve to death but also be killed because they will not worship the image of the first beast. (This worship of an animated image is interesting; however, we will not speculate about that here.)

Some maintain that Christians will not be present at this time because they will have been raptured away. However, we are told in the verses that precede the forcing of everyone to take a mark that the first beast “…was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:7-8).

In response to this terrible time when the saints are conquered, John wrote, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:10). Whether you think you will be present for this time or not, Christians will be suffering. Christians today should be concerned about that. We should be praying for God’s mercy in these days to come.

In order for this level of authority to defeat Christians and dominate the world and its economic system to be in place, something very perilous and threatening will have to precede it. Unless people are drowning, they do not call out for rescue. And nations would not easily release their sovereignty, nor allow a single power to control the world’s economy unless there will be extremely drastic reasons. So, this is my prediction. What we are experiencing now and will experience in the years to come are just “the beginning of sorrows,” as Jesus called them (Matthew 24:8). Some thing or some very terrible things must transpire in order to these events to happen.

When you pray for the Father’s kingdom to come, please also pray for mercy—and for the endurance and faith of the saints.

1All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.