Is the COVID Vaccine the Mark of the Beast?

Is the Corona Virus Vaccine the “Mark of the Beast” that Revelation 13:16-18 talks about?  Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard a number of people speculating that it is.  Then, this week, I had someone request that I address this question in this blog.  In order to answer this question, I have to answer another question first: What is the “Mark of the Beast”?

The Book of Revelation talks about people being marked on the hand or forehead.  Without the mark, they can’t buy or sell anything.  Without the mark, they could be ostracized and isolated from society.  Without the mark, they couldn’t buy essential goods, like food! 

Some see in this eerie parallels to the COVID vaccine.  There has already been talk, at high levels, of limiting people who haven’t had the vaccine from certain public venues.  Without some kind of evidence you have been vaccinated, some kind of “mark”, some schools are already preventing people from participating in graduation ceremonies; some colleges are already denying students access to in-person learning next Fall; some churches are already denying access to their sacraments.  This could ostracize and isolate those who don’t get the vaccine from society.  It could prevent them from access to essential goods, like education. 

The Book of Revelation goes on to say the mark itself is the Name of the Beast, or the Number of his Name.  It also tells us that, with the number 666, we can calculate the identity of the Beast.  In popular imagination, 666 is the mark of the devil, Satan.  But that’s not who Revelation is referring to.  Revelation is talking about a specific person. 

It might seem strange to us, but many ancient languages, including Hebrew and Greek, the language the Book of Revelation is written in, have numerical alphabets.  Each letter of their alphabets also has a number that corresponds to it.  It’s like Roman Numerals, where, for example, the letter “X” stands for the number 10. 

As I learned long ago, if you take the Greek letters that correspond to 200+60+200+6+200, which add up to 666, they spell Nero.  The Emperor Nero is who Revelation is referring to.  And, most scholars believe the “Mark of the Beast” is an allusion to his image, name, and insignia found on Roman currency of the period.  In other words, people weren’t literally marked with his name or number.  They were forced to use currency that bore his mark, and thus, paid allegiance to him.

Nero was not a nice guy.  As one historical source describes it, in the evening when Nero wanted to light the gardens behind his residence so he could go for a night stroll, he would have Christians burned at stakes along his path.  To light his way, he burned Christians to death as human torches.  Because Nero was so demonic, like a Hitler in our day he was seen by Christians as the incarnation of evil, and hence, the second beast of Revelation (The Empire itself is described as the first beast, with Nero as its agent of evil).  This is how Nero became identified with the Anti-Christ and, eventually, Satan.

We know that the Book of Revelation operates on two levels: the historical and the prophetic.  If this is the historical context, is there any chance that it might be prophesying about our situation?  I totally understand the impulse to say yes, and to see the vaccine as this mark of the beast.  Over the past year, we have felt so much fear.  We have felt so out of control.  Being able to “read the signs of the times” would allow us to regain some control over our situation.  It gives some deeper meaning to all that has seemed like such a waste.  It prepares us, if indeed this is the end, for what is coming next.

Moreover, to say that our government, our public officials, have not exactly been forthcoming with us throughout this pandemic is a gross understatement.  Whether they were just trying to catch up with the science, playing politics, or had some other sinister motive, officials from both sides of the ideological aisle have given us good reason not to trust them.  At first, they told us we had nothing to worry about from COVID.  Then, when they told us we did have something to worry about, they emphatically declared that we didn’t need to wear masks.  Then the emphatically declared, even mandated, that we all did need to wear masks.  Even this past week, after reassuring us that the vaccines were safe, they pulled the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for serious, even lethal, side effects, even though officials were quick to reassure us that the risk was infinitesimal, one in a million as I heard it, that we might suffer a serious side effect from it.  Though I think it probably is this safe, it’s hard to believe a word they say.  I understand why some might be suspicious that something more cataclysmic is going on.

However…however, it is dangerous to speculate in this way.  In Mark 13:32, as Jesus talks about His return, Jesus himself says that no one knows the day or the hour.  Not even Him.  Only the Father knows.   If the Son of God, when he was walking the earth, didn’t know the date, who are we to think that, by reading the signs, we can figure it out? 

Christians who do speculate this way often end up looking foolish, gullible.  And in the process, they undermine their witness, their otherwise very compelling testimony.  Many a non-believer has dismissed the Gospel because they think this (very unnecessary) speculation is fanatical and just plain nutty. 

I remember the First Gulf War.  A number of Christians were certain Armageddon was playing out before our eyes.  A number of Christians were certain that Saddam Hussein was the Anti-Christ.  Obviously, it wasn’t, and he wasn’t.  But these Christians did a lot of damage to their witness.  And to the faith.

There is no need to speculate about these things, anyway.  It’s completely unnecessary.  If we’ve entrusted our lives to Christ, we don’t need to read the signs of the end times, anyway.  This is the larger point the Book of Revelation is making, anyway.  Written to Christians suffering persecution, sometimes vicious persecution as under Nero, it’s main purpose is to encourage them to hang on.  To persevere.  To keep the faith.  Because, and this is the real point this inspired book wants to make, in the end, Jesus wins. 

On the world scale, it seems like one thing after another.  Over the past twenty years, we’ve had to deal with Y2K, 9-11, the Global Financial Crisis, a pandemic and so many other things in between.  We never seem to catch a break. 

On a personal scale, it seems like one thing after another.  From health issues, to financial struggles, to relationship problems, we can never seem to catch our breath and rest from it all.  We never seem able to find true peace. 

There’s a reason for this: We’re not home yet.  This isn’t our home.  We are strangers, sojourners in a foreign land.  Our home is in Christ.  And in the end, as Revelation makes abundantly clear, that home is secure.  It’s waiting for us.  Because, Jesus wins.

I honestly can’t tell you if the vaccine is the Mark of the Beast or not, though I seriously doubt it.  But I can tell you for certain that Jesus wins.  Whether the vaccine is the mark of the beast or not, whether we are in the end times our not, Jesus wins.  There’s no need to speculate or worry about it.  No need to be disturbed or unsettled.  Because, Jesus wins.

Whether it is the Roman Empire and the persecution it unleashed on those early Christians, or it’s us dealing with COVID, or anything else, there is nothing to fear.  Because, Jesus wins.

In the end, we’re going to our true home, in Him, where every tear is wiped away, every worry vanishes, and every struggle evaporates.  Because, Jesus wins.

What do you make of the vaccine being the mark of the beast?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  You can leave them on the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website.  Also, if you haven’t had a chance yet, please “Like” our Facebook page and “Subscribe” to our YouTube channel.  Thank you!

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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