This picture can appear quite humorous but in reality it is very disturbing. There is a lot said about end-time prophecy and who or what the Anti-Messiah and the mark of the beast is but I would like to share with you a viewpoint you may not have studied yet. We know that in order for a counterfeit bill to be accepted, it must look identical to the real one. In Canada, they are coming out with money over the next few years that looks and feels like plastic. They have already replaced our $100 bills and will replace all the money by 2014. Plastic bills would seem phony to the average Canadian right about now but over time, everyone is going to accept these new bills and the paper ones will be obsolete. The spiritual parallel is that there is a big wolf in sheep's clothing amongst many today and although it is disguised as worship to Yahweh, it is really worship of evil. I believe it is the mark of the beast itself that the woman "Mystery Babylon" rides upon.
What is the Mark of Yahweh as outlined in the scriptures? It is shown in Exodus 13:3-10, "Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten. “On this day in the month of Abib, you are about to go forth. “It shall be when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month. “For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. “Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. “You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ “And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. “Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.
So keeping the festival of Passover would appear to be the mark of Yahweh. If the enemy wants to counterfeit, might not celebrating the pagan feasts be the mark of the Anti-Messiah? Let's consider another parallel...
"And you shall make a plate of pure gold, and engrave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO YAHWEH. And you shall put it on with a blue lace, that it may be upon the turban; upon the front of the turban it shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before YAHWEH." (Exodus 28:36-38 ) So here we see the mark of the spiritual leader of the followers of Yahweh. What is written on the counterfeit leader's forehead?
"And he brought me to the wilderness in The Spirit, and I saw a woman who sat on a blood-red beast full of blasphemous names, which had seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was wearing purple and scarlet gilt with gold and precious stones and pearls and had a cup of gold in her hand, and it was full of abominations and the filth of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written: “Mystery Babylon The Great, The Mother of Harlots and of the Filth of The Earth. ( Revelation 17:3-5 ) So if Babylon is the counterfeit religion, should we not avoid her customs and traditions at all costs? Most of you know my position on celebrating pagan holidays such as Christmas and Easter. I am amazed at people who will avoid Halloween because of it's pagan roots and yet have no problem with Christmas and Easter which are just as pagan. If you think Yahweh is ok with us worshipping him with pagan traditions, read the story of what He thought of the Israelites worshipping Him with a golden calf (yes, they were trying to worship Yahweh and not Baal) (Exodus 32:4).
Here's another example of someone who tried to worship Yahweh his own way. "Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will return to the house of David. “If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah, and he went up to the altar; thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense. (1 Kings 12:26-33) The word for 'gods' in the passage above is 'elohim' which is a direct reference to Yahweh. Add to that, he specifically says it is the Elohim that brought them from Egypt (just in case anyone thinks He was trying to worship another god other than Yahweh with these calves).
You cannot make something pagan into something holy. When Yahweh commanded Aaron to destroy the gold from the calf, it was not used in the temple, it was melted down and given to the people to drink as a punishment. You show me one example in the scripture where a pagan holiday, ritual or practice was ever made holy by Yahweh and instituted as worship. You won't find it.
Interesting that Babylon is considered the mother of all abominations. From her came many of the pagan traditions and customs that billions throughout the ages have followed and practiced. She has been thought to be many things...the Catholic Church, Islam, the USA, etc. but I believe that she is spiritual and not physical. Some may ask, "what about the 666?" 6 is the number of man and many have tried to decipher it's meaning. I can tell you of at least 10 different views of what people say that the mark will be and all seem to have lots of proof. I believe that because it specifically makes reference to the hand and the forehead, we must use hermeneutics and look at the first time a mark was spoken of in scripture in reference to the hand AND forehead (Cain had a mark only on his forehead, not his hand). 666 must be calculated according to Revelation 13:18. The word for 'calculate' is the greek word 'pséphizó' and it is used in only one other NT verse - Luke 14:28 when Yashua said to 'calculate' the cost before becoming his disciple. So it is not just a literal counting as in counting money but a considering or reckoning the repercussions of something. If you want to be really confused, just look at wikipedia's listing of all the possibilities http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_the_Beast
To be frank, I am uncertain that the number 666 is the issue as much as staying away from Babylon. If we do not practice the customs of Babylon and we are not friendly with the world's ways, we will recognize the counterfeit. If celebrating the feasts of Yahweh are a sign upon our hand and forehead, perhaps the celebrating of pagan holidays are the counterfeit sign upon the forehead and hand. Romans 4:11 talks about the seal of Yahweh being circumcision and Revelation 9:4 says that the men who have the seal of Yahweh will be spared from the wrath of Yahweh. The greek word for seal is 'sphragis' and is used in both verses. There seems to be a direct connotation between the laws and feasts of Yahweh and the seal on the hand and forehead. Look at Deuteronomy 11:18, "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead." What were they binding to their hands and forehead? The Torah! So what would the counterfeit be? The laws and traditions of men. If 666 is the number of man, then it stands to reason that the system will be for man, by man and have nothing to do with Yahweh. That describes many sitting in churches today who are practicing paganism and think that they are worshipping Yahweh when He clearly told them not to learn how to worship Him from pagans (Deut. 12:30).
I am not convinced that the Anti-Messiah will be one man who dominates the world but rather, the Anti-Messiah is a personification of all religious systems that oppose Yahweh. We see this a lot in scripture - Wisdom is personified as a woman, Babylon is personified as a harlot, Israel is personified as a woman and the Bride of Yahshua is personified as a woman as well even though she represents many people. Since the harlot represents religion, some suppose the beast she rides upon represents politics. Both are personification or animalization of many things into one figure.
One last thing to consider about Babylon. Remember King Nebuchadnezzar's dream about the statue of himself made of many metals? Gold represented Babylon in the interpretation and even though only the head was made of gold in his dream, he later built a statue of himself totally made out of gold. I believe that this is symbolic that Babylon would be present throughout all the kingdoms in the form of rehashed traditions and customs. So the next time you are tempted to say, "that's not what Christmas means to me!", beware that you are not offending the Creator of the Universe who might make you drink that Babylonian gold someday as he did the Israelites in the wilderness.
I realize that this post will probably invoke a lot of discussion with opposing views. That's no problem, I think we can learn from each other but I don't want this to get into mud slinging. Keep your comments pure, noble and praiseworthy and according to the scripture.