No Middle Ground

Lamb behind fence - Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

In Revelation, humanity is divided into two camps. First, the men who “tabernacle in heaven.” Second, the “inhabitants of the earth.” The descriptions are NOT geographical and reflect the allegiance of either group. The first consists of those who “follow the Lamb,” the latter, of all who render homage to the “beast.” There is no third option - [Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash].

The “inhabitants of the earth” are the men and women that take the “mark of the beast,” its “number,” or its “name.” It includes men from “every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” No one is excluded because of his or her nationality, ethnicity, or gender. What qualifies you for membership is your allegiance to the “beast.”

The citizens of Ancient Babylon heeded the Babylonian king’s demand that they render homage to his great golden image, which measured 60 cubits by 6 cubits, and is the scriptural source of the “number of the beast” (“To you, it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages…that you fall down and render homage to the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has erected” – Daniel 3:1-6).

By giving total allegiance to Babylon, the residents of the empire avoided death in the “burning fiery furnace.” No citizen of Ancient Babylon needed to suffer that horrific fate, except the one who refused to give the king the absolute loyalty he demanded.

In contrast, in Revelation, the “inhabitants of the earth” that give allegiance to the “beast” seal their doom in the “lake of fire that is burning with brimstone.” They bear the “brand” of the “beast” on their forehead or “right hand,” and because they take its “number,” their names are excluded from the “book of life of the Lamb.” Consequently, they will endure the “second death,” the “lake of fire.”

Those who “tabernacle in heaven” are identified variously as “saints,” “lampstands,” they who have the “testimony of Jesus,” and they who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Rather than bow before the image of the “beast,” they stand with the “Lamb” on “Mount Zion.” Rather than the “mark of the beast,” they have the “seal of God” inscribed on their foreheads. The group includes men and women redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb from EVERY tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.”  No one is excluded because of his or her nationality, gender, or ethnicity.

Narrow Path - Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash
Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

What distinguishes the second group from the “
inhabitants of the earth” is allegiance to the “Lamb.” Its members “follow him wherever he goes,” even when doing so means certain death. They “overcome” in the very same way as the “Lamb” did:
  • They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and BECAUSE they loved not their lives unto death.”
Consequently, their names are “written in the book of life,” and they will not taste of the “second death.” Instead, they participate in the “first resurrection,” and reside in “New Jerusalem,” where they stand before the Throne and the “Lamb.”

There is no middle ground, no third option, no “safety zone” in any supposed holdout nation. The “beast” is granted authority over “over EVERY tribe and people and tongue and nation,” and in the book, “all” means ALL - no exceptions. Either you “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” and inherit life, or you render homage to the “beast” and endure the “second death.” It is one or the other.
So, what does this mean? First and foremost, we must decide now to whom and what we give our allegiance. In the kingdom of God, there is no concept of “dual citizenship,” no room for split loyalties. In the end, only one kingdom will be left standing, AND ONLY ONE.

Second, whether an African, American, Asian or European power demands our absolute allegiance, we must reject it out-of-hand and willingly suffer the consequences, otherwise, we risk suffering the “second death.” We must render absolute homage to the “Lamb,” and not to anyone or anything else. By default, anyone who refuses to give absolute allegiance to the “Lamb” will take the “mark of the beast.”



Commencement of the Gospel

Number of the Beast