No, no need to check the spelling, the play on words is intentional. We’ve all heard of the “mark of the beast” and seen movies depicting different interpretations of what it could be. Rest assured that this post will not try to assume some groundbreaking theology on the subject.
However, we will discuss how while we were all looking for the mark of the beast, the “yeast” and the “leaven” have made their way into the Body of Christ, and nowhere is it more apparent than the current debate over COVID and the vaccine.
Look over there! Where?
We’ve all either heard or had the debate: “is the COVID vaccine the mark of the beast”? Now, if you ask me, I will say an emphatic “no”. I don’t believe that the COVID vaccine is the mark of the beast. However, just like we read in the Bible that “many antichrists are already among us” (1 John 2:18-29), the COVID vaccine is not necessarily the mark but a mark. If you want evidence just to look at what this debate has done to the Church.
On any given Sunday during the COVID lockdown, YouTube put on full display the separation that COVID has created in the body of Christ. Live streams from churches across the country and around the world varied from “Zoom Church” where everyone was in their own house to churches that never went into lockdown. At first, the cautionary tale seemed to have worked: people stayed home so that they “could keep the elderly congregants safe”. So, safety replaced attendance. Please note, both the healthy and the sickly self-quarantined.
Leave the gun, take the cannolis
Fast forward a few months and very little has changed. Otherwise, healthy and/or vaccinated Believers are staying away from congregating with other Believers. Every other day these parishioners can be found meeting friends, shopping for food, clothes, and going to work. Apparently, church attendance takes a back seat to other priorities.
Now, the problem would be bad enough if we were just talking about wishy-washy Christians that wanted an excuse to stay home on Sunday. Unfortunately, there are many pastors out there that are comfortable with their parishioners staying home from church “as long as their faithful”. That’s pastor-speak for sending in your tithes and offerings. So as long as your money makes it to church, your presence is secondary.
Submit to the authorities
Adding insult to injury, those that decide to stay home are seen as the more mature ones, that understand the needs of others, and that doesn’t put their own “selfish ideologies” ahead of the health of the congregation. So, as you can see, it has become “reasonable” to not attend church, even high-minded! All of it under the consenting and compromising disguise of being “submitted to the authorities”.
If I have to hear one more sermon about being submitted to the authorities, I’ll start reading the Declaration of Independence out loud from the pew! At this point, you may be asking, “what does the mark of the beast have to do with yeast and the COVID vaccine”? Great question! I’m glad we’re on the same page.
To start answering this question, consider this: when was the last time the World emulated the Church? Short answer: probably never. On the other hand, when was the last time the Church emulates the World? Always! I don’t know of many Fortune 500 board meetings and have an opening prayer. However, I can assure you that every church board in the country takes its example from the corporate world. From Roberts Rules to quorums to minutes, just to name a few.
“[COVID vaccine] It’s for the children”
Now, don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything explicitly evil about quorums or minutes. There is something very wrong, however, when the pulpit starts sounding like a public service announcement encouraging Believers to “get vaccinated”. And that is where we are right now as Believers.
In the same manner, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with vaccines. Except that this particular vaccine is the only one that has received so much political attention in modern history. Those that were for vaccinations before the elections are now pushing for it at lightning speed. Not only that but if you refuse to be vaccinated, you are putting your livelihood at risk. If the COVID vaccine isn’t a warm-up for the mark of the “yeast”, I can’t imagine what more explicit sign Believers are looking for.
The World and its demonic marionette handlers have been working for decades, centuries for ways to undo the Church from the inside. So far, those attempts have met with varying levels of success. But when it comes to COVID and the vaccine, the Enemy has found some fresh new ground to work on.
It has used the love that many in the Church still hold towards legalism and used it in a way that doesn’t trigger the legalism alarm. It’s brilliant really. Just have the congregation split over something that is trivial (it is my belief that COVID is trivial) and elevate it to a matter of “reasonableness” and public health.
COVID and the Leaven of the Pharisees
In the Gospel accounts, Jesus tells His disciples to “be wary of the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees” (Mat 16:1-12). His disciples, not understanding, thought He was upset because they didn’t have any bread. Jesus had just had a discussion with some teachers of the Law. They had come to test Jesus and ask Him from a sign from Heaven. Jesus had no need to show them a sign, His ministry had been well underway by this point and His miracles were readily known to all.
While they were all looking for signs, Jesus reminded them that they already knew how to recognize signs. Their misfortune is that, with all their learning, they could only forecast the weather and not the times. Similarly, our modern-day would-be spiritual leaders are overwhelmed with fielding questions of end-time prophecy while not understanding the times we are actually in.
The Children of Issachar
The Bible speaks of the descendants of Issachar as being gifted with the ability to “understand the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). It seems that such a gift is not all too prevalent among our leaders. I wonder what those men of old would say in our current situation. Today the divide along COVID and vaccine lines is even more apparent than any other distinguishing characteristic: above party, race, color, ethnicity, and income. Nothing divides the Church today more than the debate over COVID, its origin, and the vaccine.
I believe these men of old would say that the vaccine is not necessarily the problem but a symptom. Our division over COVID brings to light a whole other myriad of real doctrinal problems. And although everyone is free to disagree as to the magnitude of this issue, the list of grievances is too long to overlook.
Mountains or Molehills
For starters, it shows our division as to the role of government in the Church. Politicians ask, “under what conditions can a Church be told to shut its doors?” On the receiving end, too many pastors don’t take the time to field a reply because they are too busy complying with their every demand.
Don’t be deceived, friends. The antichrist and the mark of the beast will arrive on the scene. When they do it will be with the explicit and public complicity of the Church. In the name of “peaceful coexistence” and other such unobjectionable phrases, many would-be Believers will be coerced into doing something their own conscience is screaming at the top of its lungs, “no”!
Truth be told
You see, it doesn’t really matter if the COVID vaccine is the mark of the beast. What is most troubling is the peaceful coexistence the Church has found with the World System. Very few churches were forced to shut down. All the rest just went dark without even a second thought. This speaks volumes of the amount of influence even blatantly unconstitutional mandates have among Believers. And all of this just because we took this one verse (1 Pet 2:13) and made it the Verse of the COVID Era. We made submitting to authorities our testimony. Submitting to God instead would have served our testimony better.
Our spiritual forefathers were burned at the stake. Some wouldn’t even catch fire. The wind always blew the flames away from the pyre. Others were fed to hungry lions in the arenas. Others beheaded. Still, others were killed together with their families.
All of these things and so many other countless atrocities were suffered by Christians throughout the centuries in the name of their Faith. They were executed because of their refusal to renounce Jesus Christ. They wanted nothing to do with anything that did not exalt the name of Jesus. In total contrast, modern Christian leaders are falling over each other to cozy up to big powerful interests.
Again, you may not agree that COVID or the vaccine is a sign of the end times of a mark of the beast or that our leadership has been influenced by the “yeast of the Pharisees”. However, I think we can agree, as one famous preacher said, “it’s a dress rehearsal”.
Let’s not kid ourselves, they will try to shut us down again. They will tell us that it’s “for the children” or for “the elderly” or for “safety”. The harrowing cry of every autocratic takeover of the rights of Man has always been “safety and bread”.
They will tell us to stay home and send us stimulus checks. Like good lemmings, we will take the money and spend it on the websites of their lobbyists for food, clothing, and entertainment. As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians it is our duty to speak up and speak out against Believers falling asleep at the wheel. Whether the Believers in questions are pew warmers or pulpit thumpers.
Bondservant to Jesus Christ, Married to Michele, Dad to Madelyn, Claudia, and Joseph and educator by trade, apologist by calling and saved by Grace. Antonio loves to read, write, and discuss all-things-apologetics. He has many passions in life including reaching, teaching, and keeping men for Jesus Christ. Waiting on God’s big reveal: Antonio knows He has something beautiful in mind.