This is the third article on the exile and restoration of God's people. In the first article, Exile I, we briefly explored God's process of exiling His people from His land. In the second, Exile II, we looked at the process of awakening and return. In that second article, we answered the question whether God's people would ever unite under sound teaching. In this final article we will take a look at what the enemy is doing to thwart God's process of restoration.
As we saw in the first two articles, God's goal is to have His people unified in their worship of Him and in their understanding of His word. (Jer 31:31-34) This is also the expressed wish of the Messiah. (John 17:21) As God begins to open our eyes preparatory to the return from exile, we can expect the enemy to present an alternative vision to lead us astray. This deception is described for us in Revelation 13.
The first thing we notice in Revelation 13:11 is that a second beast rises up and counterfeits the work of a prophet by the power of Satan. He performs signs and wonders including calling fire down from heaven. By these signs, he deceives the people on earth, causing them to make and worship an image of the first beast.
It is this false prophet who causes the world to take the mark of the beast (which itself is a counterfeit of the mark on God's 144,000). So we see that the false mark is part of the enemy's attempt to bring all of the earth under a single counterfeit religious doctrine. (Many believers have focused on the economic aspect of the mark and missed the critical fact that it is a religious symbol.) In this it will represent a rebirth of the Roman Empire wherein everyone - except the Jews - was required to make an annual token sacrifice to Caesar.
Hence, we will see two competing attempts to bring the earth under a single religion: that of God as represented by those having His mark and that of Satan represented by those taking the mark of the beast.