National ID Cards and The Beast
I'm surprised that I haven't seen any dispensationalist rant about how the national ID card is somehow related to the mark of the Beast. There is no relationship, but that sort of thing has never stopped the pre-mills before.
In the Bible the "Beast" is no single person or kingdom, but is a particular category of kingdoms. The Beast kingdoms of the Scripture are pagan kingdoms given charge over the people of God and indeed the entire earth. The first<1 Beast kingdom was Babylon; the second, Medo-Persia; the third Greece; and the fourth and final Beast kingdom was Rome (Dan. 7:1-7). These kingdoms and their rulers were servants of God (Is. 44:28 - 45:1, Jer. 25:9). They were given authority for a time, until the age of angels and animals2 came to an end and the rightful rule of Man was restored. Israel, as the representative of mankind, was supposed to learn to submit to God while under the yoke of the Beast kingdoms and then teach the nations. However, Israel did not learn; Beast after Beast was sent to tutor the Man Israel and yet he refused to bow to God.
Finally, Jesus, the true Israel and the true Man, re-established Man as the head of the created order and concluded the mediation of angels and animals.3 He did this through His perfect obedience to the Law of God, by His death which paid for the sins of mankind and His resurrection which declared Him to be the Son of God invested with the power to rule (Rom. 1:4). This is why Jesus continually called Himself the "Son of Man." His life, death and resurrection restored Man to His rightful place as head of creation and friend of God (Jn. 15:14).
Yet mankind cannot benefit from the hard won victory of the true Man without coming under His authority. It is only in Christ that mankind enjoys the fruits of victory. Surely all of creation has benefited from the restoration of (the true), Man as its head (1 Tim. 4:10), but the choicest booty (Gal. 3:29), is only available to those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9). In other words, one must live in obedience to the true Man, Jesus Christ, believing that He holds the power rightfully given to the Son of God.
In the mean time, the Beast kingdoms ceased to be with the passing of the old covenant age. The spirit of the Beast, which impelled the pagan empires given charge over God's people, was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). The spirit of the false prophet was likewise dispatched. Simultaneous with these events was the chaining of Satan which allowed the followers of Christ the freedom to preach the Gospel of the new age of Man, the true Israel, Jesus Christ. Satan is chained today and will remain chained4 until this present age comes to an end. At that point he will be released and allowed to gather the inhabitants of the salt marshes together (Ezk. 47:11), in an attempt to reestablish the rule of angels and animals. Satan's efforts will only serve to identify the rebels among the faithful and he - along with his hordes - will be destroyed and cast into the lake of fire.
Nonetheless, old habits die hard. The devilish spirits of this world hunger for the days of the Beast kingdoms. Although the Beast no longer plays a part in history, lesser imposters yearn to take up the mantle of that once powerful spirit. And so throughout the history of the new covenant age we see men rise up in an attempt to grasp the world dominating power of the former Beast kingdoms. Consider Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others who have been driven by demonic forces striving to regain the power of days gone by and yet without success. Lesser pretenders have come and gone throughout history as well. They will continue to arise until the end of this current age. It isn't necessary to always assign their desire to restore the beastly order to demonic influence; mankind in his natural state hates God and willingly submits to the Devil.5 Man is corrupt and without the sanctifying influence of the Holy spirit, he will naturally gravitate toward ungodly behavior, including grasping for power. As Lord Acton said, power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Which brings me back to the national ID card. It (along with a myriad of other attacks on our liberty), is indicative of the desire of our "public servants" to rule as the Beast. They will not succeed in the end, but as history tells us the path from here to there will be fraught with many difficulties. At some point God in His mercy will cause the Beast pretender to fall and the land will have peace for a time. What amazes me is the silence of the "religious right" on this and other issues concerning the erosion of our freedom and liberty.
I suppose that the religious right is still basking in the warm glow of victory over the forces of evil as personified in John Kerry et al. Yet we must not allow our relief concerning dangers past to blind us to the real and present danger of tyranny with a smiley face.
One of the primary characteristics of the kingdom of Heaven is self government under God. The Beast kingdoms were imposed on a people who were not willing to govern themselves under the easy yoke of God's rule. Although the Beast is gone, God certainly can use the imitators to chasten His people in this present age. We are foolish to believe that because George Bush claims to be a "born again Christian" he is immune to the lust for power. By any objective standard it is clear that we have lost more freedom under Bush's administration than under the rule of Clinton. Yes, Bush has opened the coffers of the Robber State to Faith Based organizations, but I for one believe that it was a Faustian bargain. While the religious right is busy hugging itself over the blessing of having an evangelical in the oval office, the Leviathan State steals in the back way and robs a free people of their liberty. The Church should be standing against this grab for godlike power; but since dispensationalist theology insists on a Beast from the old world, the pretender arising from our soil is ignored. Yet, take heart; this too shall pass.
1. The Scripture does not designate Assyria as a Beast kingdom. Assyria never subjugated the southern kingdom of Judah and did not rise to the world dominating prominence of the four powers that followed.
2. I'm drawing from James Jordan on this, but I can't remember where he discusses this theme. I still don't have access to my entire library, but when I do I'll find the source, come back to this essay and add the proper citation. Obviously Mr. Jordan is not responsible for the direction I have taken his preliminary insights.
3. Satan, a fallen angel, came to Eve in the form of an animal. When Eve was deceived and Adam willing went along, Mankind became subject to the angelic and animal kingdoms. The angels acted as mediators between God and Man (Ex. 23:20-21, Acts 7:35,38, Gal. 3:19), while the animals acted as substitutionary sacrifices and tutors (Num. 22:22-35, Pr. 6:6) and provided character sketches designed to enable the people of God to understand the nature of the pagan kingdoms that ruled over them.
4. Satan is like a dog on a chain; stray within the reach of his fetter and you will suffer the consequences. Satan's bonds prevent him from deceiving the nations, not from raising havoc among the people of God. In other words, he cannot prevent the success of the Gospel as it reaches to every corner of the earth, but he can cause trouble for the Church, wherever it may be found.
5. Robert Andrews, The Family: God's Weapon For Victory, (Rice: Sentinel Press, 1995), 101.
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