What is the Mark of the Beast? (Clue: not Covid-19 vaccine)

Revelation 13:11-18 has caused much speculation over the years.

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 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. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 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. 15 And it 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. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 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. 18 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.

I think William Hendriksen gives by far the best explanation in his outstanding commentary on the book of Revelation, More Than Conquerors.

Christian living

10 questions for 2021

J.C. Ryle in his book Practical Religion (first published in 1878) encourages his readers to examine their spiritual lives by asking themselves 10 probing questions. The questions are as relevant today as we too live in an age of great spiritual privilege and great spiritual danger.


We don’t always need to talk about race

Many people, including Christians, seem to be obsessed with race and racial categories.

Rather than learning from the past, we seem to be re-emphasizing the old racial categories in a new way.

Surely we can do better?


Improving the gospel?

Why did God send his Son into the world?  This basic question is controversial…again.

There is a movement within broader Conservative Evangelicalism in South Africa to be critical of the gospel “Eternal Salvation” that Conservative Evangelicalism has always cherished. This movement seeks to redefine the gospel to include a physical/political/ temporal liberation of the oppressed.

Conservative Evangelicalism is accused of misunderstanding the Great Commission or being overly committed to the Great Commission to the neglect of the Bible’s other imperatives.  The result being a disproportionate concern with the spiritual dimension of the gospel to the detriment of the real, present concerns of people, especially racism and unjust structures.

Proponents of this “improved” and “contextual” understanding of the gospel accuse Conservative Evangelicalism (and REACH-SA) of having an under-realized eschatology and therefore an insufficient understanding of the nature of the gospel as it relates to the this-worldly expectations of the Kingdom of God.

Proponents of this improved gospel or, at least, improved understanding of the gospel assert that Conservative Evangelicalism’s inadequate or narrow understanding of the Great Commission has led to inadequate social engagement and the inadvertent support of unjust structures, including Apartheid.  

Before we think about social engagement, we must first ask the question: does the gospel include a physical/ political/ temporal liberation for the powerless, the marginalized and the poor? 

Are we not simply seeing the re-packaging of Liberation Theology?

Ten Commandments

How do we take God’s name in vain?

Names generally are generally speaking significant.  

We named our first child Amelie because my wife and I both love that name.

Our second child, Jacob Johan (Jake) is named after our fathers.

Our third child came as a big surprise so we named him Nathan, which means “gift of God”.

Names have significance and meaning. Names can demonstrate family heritage or my values.

When we refer to someone’s name: it’s more that to just a word. We think of the person and who they are and what they are like.

This is even more true for the name of God.

We don’t like it if our name is slandered, misused or associated with something we don’t like.

We don’t like it if our name is associated with (or tagged on Social Media) something we don’t agree with.

This is even more true for the name of God.