No Neutrality

In the book of Revelation, humanity is divided into two and only two camps – those who follow Jesus “wherever he goes,” and those who give their allegiance to the “Beast from the Sea.” Members of the former group will not participate in the “Second Death,” but everyone without exception who takes the beastly mark will experience it in the “Lake of Fire.” THERE IS NO THIRD OPTION.

Beach Twilight - Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash
[Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash]

What determines a person’s fate is whether he or she renders homage to the “
Lamb” or to the “Beast.” This rather graphic image has profound implications for the disciples of Jesus and their relationship to the State.


The group identified as the “inhabitants of the earth” consists of men and women who take the “number of the Beast,” 666, and render homage to its “image.” When they do so, they acknowledge the “Beast” and the power behind the imperial throne, the “Dragon,” as their overlords.

And in Revelation, that “number” is derived from King Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogant claim to absolute power recorded in the third chapter of Daniel when he commanded all his subjects to “render homage” to the great golden image he erected. It measured sixty cubits by six cubits. Anyone who refused to do so was cast into the “burning fiery furnace.”

Revelation employs this storyline but does so ironically. The inhabitants of end-time Babylon “render homage” to the “Beast” and have his name “branded” on their right hand or forehead. Their names are blotted out of the “Book of Life,” and they are cast into the “lake of fire that is burning with brimstone.”

In contrast, the men who follow the “Lamb wherever he goes” are found standing with the “Lamb” on Mount Zion with the name of his Father “inscribed” on their foreheads. Rather than the “Lake of Fire,” they inherit everlasting life in the city of “New Jerusalem.”

What distinguishes the “inhabitants of the earth” from those who “tabernacle in heaven” is not their location but their choice of the “Beast” for their sovereign rather than the “Lamb.”

But the “Beast” and his minion, the “False Prophet,” are little more than puppets of the “Ancient Serpent, the Dragon.” Wittingly or not, anyone who renders homage to the “Beast” or “takes its mark,” in fact, worships the Devil.


In this scenario, there is no middle ground or third option. The “Beast” is granted authority over “over every tribe and people and tongue and nation,” and in the Revelation, “all” means exactly that, ALL.

Either you “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” and inherit life, or you render homage to the “Beast” and undergo the “Second Death.” It is one or the other.

So, what does this mean for disciples of Christ today? First and foremost, they must decide to whom and what they give their allegiance - to the beastly systems of the present age, or instead, to the kingdom of God and its sovereign, Jesus Christ.

We may not yet be living under the tyranny of the final incarnation of the “Beast,” but sooner or later, he will appear on the world scene. Better to decide now who we serve before it is too late. And in God’s kingdom, there is no concept of “dual citizenship,” no room for split loyalties. In the end, only one kingdom will be left standing on the earth, AND ONLY ONE.

But the arrival of the final “Beast” will not be something entirely new. History has seen plenty of attempts by political leaders and governments to dominate all humanity, regimes that demanded absolute loyalty from everyone within their domain, and many of them attempted to establish regional and even global empires.

Moreover, the “Beast from the Sea” is the seventh in a long line of beastly powers. By John’s time, the first five had already come and gone, the sixth was in power, which could only have been the Roman Empire, and the seventh had not yet come (“five are fallen, one is, the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a little while”). When its final iteration does arrive, it will not be the Devil’s first attempt to set up the World Empire.

Finally, while Christians are called to obey laws and give due respect to governing authorities, they must never give them the allegiance and veneration that belongs to Jesus alone. But if they do so, they will find themselves well on their way to taking the “mark of the Beast” and undergoing the “second death.”