By Nathan Jones
When in time the Rapture of the Church takes place as it relates to the Tribulation really affects how folks react to what they read in Revelation.
Take for instance the 20's-something guy who showed up a few years back at an Adult Bible Fellowship my wife and I were members of. In the middle of the lesson he just exploded in panicky excitement, fervently exhorting us that when the time came to be beheaded by the Antichrist, to just put our heads in the guillotine and proudly have them chopped off for Christ. Or, during another lesson, in the same fervor but with an opposite exhortation, a visiting gentleman from India implored that Christians play along and even deny Christ to protect themselves, erroneously adding that Jesus would forgive the denial.
Or, how about this story from WorldNetDaily.com entitled "Fear mark of the beast? State OKs special license." A group in West Virginia actually fought and won an exemption from the state's requirement that driver's license photos be stored in a government digital database because they would then be participating in getting the Mark of the Beast. One of the members of the group, a physics teacher, even refuses to wear barcodes on name badges or allow his kid's pictures in their school yearbooks because of fears the pictures will end up in the Amber Alert database.
I'm pretty sure that if I believed that Jesus would let the Antichrist wail on His Bride for 3 1/2 to 7 years, that I'd be living differently, too. For one, I'd be combing the news daily wondering which charismatic leader is the Antichrist (maybe the Pope, Obama?). Secondly, I'd be stockpiling food, water, precious metals and survival gear in some backyard bomb shelter. And thirdly, I'd lose a lot of sleep fearing I had accidentally taken the Mark of the Beast.
Bear in mind, accepting the Mark of the Beast is not something to be taken lightly. It's as bad as that atheist group online who is collecting initiation videos from people blaspheming the Holy Spirit. The end result of doing either of these is eternal separation from God and banishment to the Lake of Fire (Rev. 14:9-10).
But, Revelation 13:16-18 gives us enough information for a person to know when they have taken the Mark. For one, the Antichrist would have to be ruling the world. Since he's not at the time of this writing, you're good. Secondly, since the Mark is the Antichrist's key to controlling world economy, and Christians are currently buying and selling, you're good. Thirdly, the Mark is very visible on (not in) either the right hand or forehead, and is easily recognized as either the name or number of the Beast. Since the Apostle John couldn't read barcodes (who can?), don't fear them. Since earthquakes and meteors aren't leveling the planet and rivers and oceans aren't turning red, then the time is not right for the Mark, so you're good.
When it comes time to decide to accept the Mark, you would know more clearly than was ever known which side you were choosing - God or Satan. The Mark pure and simple is allegiance to Satan. Nobody will be tricked into taking it. You would know.
Now, if you are reading this after the Church has been taken up to Heaven to be with Jesus, then yes, heed Revelation 13's description and DO NOT take the Mark, for it will mean great physical suffering while on earth and eternal damnation to the Lake of Fire. But, if you're a Christian and waiting on the Rapture, then brush up on the verses and read this article that shows the Bible supports a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Relax, and trust in God.
God: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5)