The book of Revelation is a book of juxtapositions, a book of contrasts. We see the Bride of Christ and we see the Harlot Babylon; we see Christ and we see the Beast; we see the governments of this age and we see the Kingdom of God; we see the City of Man and then we see the City of God.
In Revelation 13:16 – 14:5 we have a juxtaposition of images and thought-lives, a juxtaposition of two natures, two objects of worship, two distinct peoples. There are those who follow the Beast and receive his image and then there are those who follow the Lamb and have His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. Some people receive the name of the Beast or the number of the Beast in their foreheads or hands; other people receive the name of the Lamb and the Father.
The idea of “forehead” speaks to us of our thought-lives, and the idea of “hand” speaks to us of the things we do – the two are irrevocably connected. Paul teaches us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12; see also 2 Cor. 3:17-18; Col. 3:1-4; 1 John 3:1-3). Which image do we bear, the image of Christ or the image of the Beast?
Consider the tie to economics in Revelation 13:17, …no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
I often hear Christians talk about what they’d do if the prospect of physical persecution raised its head. What I don’t hear them talk about is our obedience to Christ today when the result of that obedience may be economic persecution – such as job loss, client loss, or sales loss. Let’s face it, there is no need for the enemy to institute physical persecution if we refuse obedience to Christ in the face of economic loss. For us to think that we can live lives of disobedience justified by economics and then to think that should a more overt form of persecution arise that we will meet the test is unsound – it isn’t likely to happen, for each decision we make involves the reception of either the image of Christ or the image of the Beast.
For years I’ve been challenged by Psalm 15:4c:
He swears to his own hurt and does not change.
Is this our testimony? Do we speak the truth to our own detriment? Do we operate our enterprises to our own detriment when truth and equity are the issue?
Years ago I advocated that firms operated by Christians include in their prospectuses a statement of values, and that this statement of values explicitly indicate that the financial “bottom line” would not be the sole factor in making decisions, but that equity, fairness, commitment to employees, truth, and other moral and ethical considerations would also be taken into account. I was told that this was impossible. But why? As long as an ethical system is disclosed then investors know what to expect.
I understand that Hindu and Islamic firms can be certified by outside agencies as adhering to their respective religions so that investors in those firms can invest in moral, ethical, and religious confidence. Presumably the “bottom line” is more than cash with these companies.
When we make return on investment, or shareholder distribution, our sole criterion for business decision making, we place ourselves in proximity to the image of the Beast. Are we showing the world a better way?