I guess I assumed this title might get your attention and so I figured I would weigh in on a question being raised. I have been asked whether getting the vaccine for the Covid virus is taking the mark of the beast as represented in Revelation 13:16-18. Instead of taking a lot of time to explain the context and interpretation of Revelation, I thought I would just give you some bullet points for how I would respond to this question if you came up and asked me. So, here is why I do not believe getting the vaccine is taking the mark of the beast. I want to say up front that I readily admit that I am no medical expert on this subject matter, and I am not trying to solve whether it is wise for you to get vaccinated. What I am doing is trying to be frank and objective with the text of Scripture.
- This is like taking any other vaccine. This argument is to say that if you have been vaccinated before, then this is no different than being vaccinated again. Yes, I do not pretend to understand where this virus came from or how pervasive and lethal it truly is or is not, but I do believe that Covid is a real virus. I believe that it is contagious and that for some, it has been life altering and for some fatal. I also have observed that for some who have been infected, their experience is like having the typical flu and for others, their experience is like having the common cold. I have no clear opinion as to where the virus came from and I am not meaning to underplay how this has affected whole families even within our fellowship. What I am saying, is that I understand Covid to be a real virus and I understand that there are vaccine options to combat it. Finally, on this point, I want to reiterate that I am no expert on vaccines. So, answering when a vaccine is officially out of an experimental phase and “safe” is not for me to say. Someone taking a vaccine (like other medications) has to weigh their own health risks and then make a wise decision as to whether it is right for them. Still, in my best judgment this is still in the same ballpark as taking other vaccines.
- I do not believe that the Bible, in this case the book of Revelation, teaches that you can accidentally apostatize (leave and/or reject) the faith. When someone leaves the faith, they do it overtly, by saying with their lips or actions, they now are not trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I want to be quick to answer someone’s objection who would say, “What about the fact the Satan is a liar and deceiver?” Isn’t the devil’s mission to dupe people into rejecting the true Christ by way of bait and switch? Okay, all this may be true, but if you are “in Christ” you need not fear that you will be tricked into rejecting Christ. Why? Christ has committed to keep you from being “snatched from the Father’s hand.” The Holy Spirit has “seal you until the day of redemption.” Not to mention, the Holy Spirit gives you the power to discern between truth and error, so you should trust that you can discern with clarity when something is Anti-Christ or not. My point is that apostasy is overt. When John wrote in his letter that “they went out from us because they were not of us” he is not speaking in mysteries. It is very clear when people leave and likewise clear when people do not. One of the titles for a Christian is being an “overcomer” or someone who perseveres in the faith. When, faced with making a muddy choice like whether to take a vaccine or not, this is not the same as falling headlong into a false religion which openly rejects being saved by grace through faith alone. Nor is this like someone who claims to be a Christian who is living in hardhearted, unrepentant adultery.
- It is normal for believers to regularly disagree with each other on what they believe is the right thing to do or not and do so out of spirit deference and unity. In this case, the disagreement revolves around whether it is right or wrong to get the vaccine. One of the chief reasons for disagreement on a decision like this is that believers on both side of the issue can follow their conscience by faith. I would go so far to say, this someone can get the vaccine by faith or not. Getting the vaccine is not to my knowledge, legally required on a national level (though it may be required on lesser levels), so I do not see this as a submission to government issue.
- Revelation 13:16-18 describes the mark of the beast in ways that clearly do not match getting the vaccine. I am sure someone will disagree with me here by arguing that Revelation is highly symbolic and so these verses can easily be applied to the vaccine. My caution to this kind of argument is that you can read anything you want to back into the Bible, making the Bible say whatever you need it to say. For instance, back in the 80’s, in an attempt to make Ronald Reagan the Anti-Christ, people counted the letters for Ronald Wilson Reagan in a way that stood for 666. Ronnie’s first, middle, and last name each having six letters, meaning he was the one fulfilling the number signifying Anti-Christ (cf. Rev. 13:18). Hopefully, you see that as ludicrous. I will grant that Revelation is highly symbolic but at the same time it should be read, understood, and applied within the most natural way it was written. If you do not read this book in a literal way, then you will be at the mercy of every guru prognosticator who will tell you whey they think it means. In case of Revelation 13, John the writer, identifies the false prophet who will promote the Anti-Christ and who will convince the world to worship him as Christ. All unbelievers will follow Anti-Christ and believers will not! Revelation 13:16 says, to avoid being put to death people will worship Anti-Christ and take a “mark” on their right hand or forehead. So, I am not saying, I understand anymore than you do in terms of what it will look like to take the “mark”, but I at least believe it will be something clearly associated with the right hand and forehead and readily recognizable to keep you from being executed. Revelation 13:17 says someone will need this “mark” to “buy and sell” which is also explicitly attached with taking or rejecting the “mark.” Neither things I bring up are clearly associated with getting the vaccine. Even rumors about vaccine passports which would be required for people to enter restaurants are simply at this point rumors.
Why do I bring these points up? First of all, it makes for an interesting blog that someone might read but more importantly, I want to warn you not to be swept away by what I think could be a real Satanic distraction from the Truth. Conspiracy theories are like the soft drinks of nutrition. They feel really good going down but are probably way more harmful to your health than you really even know. I know of people who are paralyzed by fear because they believe they are being duped by Satan to get the vaccine. I also know people who have been paralyzed for fear that they will contract a virus that will kill them or their loved ones. Neither forms of paralysis are what God wants you to suffer. So, what are you supposed to do? Make an informed decision and do so by faith. I hope this helps.