The Vaccine as the “Mark of the Beast?”

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There has been some controversy about the vaccine for Covid 19. People are of different mindsets as to whether it is a good idea to get the vaccine. I think the recent statement from the Episcopal Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in America is a good statement to follow to help you decide. That link can be accessed here:

There are two paragraphs from that statement I would like to cite:

Scripture encourages us to respect and protect the body as the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). At the same time, it discourages us from either tempting or testing the Lord (Matt. 4:7). And as your spiritual shepherds, we affirm and assure you that it is neither wrong nor sinful to seek medical attention and advice. In fact, we welcome interventions that provide us more time for spiritual renewal and repentance.

We therefore encourage all of you – the clergy and lay faithful of our Church – to consult your physicians in order to determine the appropriate course of action for you, just as you do for surgeries, medications, and vaccinations, in cancer treatments and other ailments. Indeed, while your own bishop, priest, or spiritual father remains prepared to assist you with spiritual matters, your personal doctor will guide your individual medical decisions.

I agree with this statement from the Episcopal Assembly. There is one particular issue I have asked a priest from our diocese to comment on regarding people who believe the vaccine is the “mark of the beast” referring to the book of Revelation. Here is this priest’s perspective on this topic and his understanding about how the “mark of the beast” is to be understood.

All scientific data show that the vaccine will protect our people as a whole. At the same time, some preach a personal narrative—totally alien to the biblical story—that refusing the vaccine will somehow save our faithful. This personal truth, predicated on the fear of government, is preached as an alternative to God’s biblical story and is promoted in opposition to scientific data. Jesus himself submitted to Rome’s power, as did St. Paul, so that God’s power could increase for the sake of those who trust in him.

In Hebrew numerology, 666 (the mark of the beast), signifies “Nero Caesar.” St. John used this mark to call out loyalty to Nero among the church’s ranks. Revelation exposes this fealty as the adoration of earthly power, security, and wealth. Those who fear Nero flee discomfort and personal risk to save their own skin. In Revelation, they are marked as traitors to God and his Christ.

The Book of Revelation does not predict the future and has nothing to do with American history. St. John wrote it to address a specific historical crisis in the early church. Under the tyranny of Caesar’s yolk, Christians were abandoning the faith. The Book of Revelation was handed down both as encouragement and a call to martyrdom. 

 God is the King of Kings above all kings of the earth. His heavenly city, “set upon a hill” (Matt 5:14), has nothing to do with Jerusalem or Rome, let alone the United States. If this God is your salvation, whom shall you fear? If this Lord is your stronghold, of whom should you be afraid? (Ps 27:1) Revelation applies this teaching to the crucified Lamb, whose coronation by God belittles Nero. In Hebrew, God is represented by the number 7. A mere 6, Nero looks like a god but falls short of divine fullness.

The martyrs, who in Revelation bore the mark of the Lamb and his Father, had no need of Nero’s security, let alone “buying and selling.” (Rev 13:17) They were content with poverty and death on the cross. They were “those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Rev 14:4), even unto martyrdom by the hand of Nero for the sake of God and their neighbor. As St. John explains elsewhere, “perfect love casts out fear.” (1 Jn 4:18)

If you find anything useful in this note to share with your children to promote further discussion, please do so.

The blessing of the Lord be upon you,

With love in Christ, +Paul

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