Is the COVID-19 Vaccine the Mark of the Beast?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Ray:

Is the COVID-19 vaccine the mark of the beast? I’ve heard some disturbing things like people saying they can’t feel God anymore and that their soul is dead. Also the Great Reset sounds like the end times. You should research it and do an article on it.

Thanks for the question, Ray. A reader named Kristen recently asked the same question. I guess it’s time to answer it! And the short answer is:

covid19_vaccineNo the COVID-19 vaccine is not the mark of the beast.

That idea is the latest incarnation of decades-old conspiracy theories that just won’t die, no matter how baseless they are.

These conspiracy theories are themselves a type of intellectual virus. They are false and destructive ideas that eat away at people’s minds, morphing and adapting to every new scare that sweeps around the world via the Internet. If some people feel that after they get vaccinated, they can’t feel God anymore and their soul is dead, that feeling is not caused by the vaccine. It is caused by the conspiracy theory virus that has infected their mind.

As for the Great Reset, it sounds like more of the same vague and grandiose proclamations that the wealthy elite are always broadcasting in public while privately they go about the business of doing what they really care about: becoming wealthier and more elite.

Back to the main question, the mark of the beast mentioned in the book Revelation is not a physical mark. Revelation is a prophetic and symbolic book. It is talking about spiritual events, not earthly events. See:

Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?

Now let’s take a closer look at the mark of the beast, what it is, and what it isn’t.

The Mark: Biblical Background

The mark of the beast first appears in Revelation chapter 13. It then becomes a recurring theme throughout the rest of that book—which is the last book of the Bible. We’ll look at each of those passages in a moment.

But Revelation 13 is not the first place in the Bible where a mark is used to distinguish people from one another as a sign of who will be destroyed, and who will be saved from destruction. The theme of marking people for this purpose goes all the way back to the earliest chapters of the Bible:

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.”

Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. (Genesis 4:13–15)

In the story of the Exodus from Egypt, a mark is used, not on the people of Israel themselves, but on their houses, to spare them from destruction:

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. (Exodus 12:21–23)

Even placing a mark on the forehead does not appear first in the book of Revelation, but in the book of the prophet Ezekiel:

The Lord called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his side, and said to him, “Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of those who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” To the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and kill; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Cut down old men, young men and young women, little children and women, but touch no one who has the mark.” (Ezekiel 9:3–6)

As with so much of the prophecy in the book of Revelation, “the mark of the beast” draws on themes and symbolism in the Old Testament. Consider also this passage from book of Deuteronomy:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4–8, italics added; see also Deuteronomy 11:18)

Even in the book of Revelation, this theme appears earlier than chapter 13. And the mark is placed upon the foreheads of good people, not evil people:

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree. I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.”

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel. (Revelation 7:1–4)

The story goes on to list the names the twelve tribes of Israel, from each of which twelve thousand people were sealed.

However, the list of tribes in Revelation 7:5–8 does not match any of the lists given in the Old Testament. The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are left out. Instead of Joseph’s two sons Ephraim and Manasseh being listed as tribes, as they are in the Old Testament, Joseph himself is listed as a tribe, along with his son Manasseh. Levi is also included in the list even though Levi was not one of the twelve tribes that had received an allotment of tribal land. The order in which the tribes are listed in Revelation is also different from any order given in the Old Testament. And yet, the list maintains the highly symbolic number of twelve tribes.

Further, even when the book of Revelation was originally written nearly two thousand years ago, many of the tribes of Israel no longer existed. The northern tribes had been conquered by the Assyrian Empire and carried into exile centuries earlier. Unlike the southern tribes, these exiles never returned to the Holy Land. Most scholars believe they were assimilated into the local populations in the areas they had been deported to. Based on 1 Kings 11:31, 35, it is traditionally believed that there are ten lost tribes of Israel, though the story as recorded in the Bible is considerably more complicated than that. How could God mark twelve thousand people from tribes whose ancestry and DNA had long since mixed with other populations, and ceased to be Israelite or Jewish?

All of this strongly suggests that the tribal names listed in the book of Revelation are symbolic. They were never meant to be taken literally.

Very little in the book of Revelation is meant to be taken literally.

The Mark of the Beast

With all of that as background, let’s look at the passages in Revelation where the mark of the beast appears.

Throughout the large middle part of the book of Revelation, a whole series of dragons and beasts appears. The mark of the beast is associated with a second beast described in Revelation 13:11–18. Here are the verses about the mark itself:

It [the beast] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six. (Revelation 13:16–18)

That’s what all the hullabaloo is about!

As in several earlier Bible passages, the mark can be placed on the forehead or on the right hand. Not the left hand. The right hand. Why? Symbolism, once again. We’ll get to that.

Further, the mark is specified as either the name of the beast, or the number of its name. That number is the famous or infamous number 666.

Even traditional Christians commonly believe that this number is symbolic. But instead of looking for spiritual meaning in it, they are likely to use ancient Hebrew or Greek numbering systems to derive the name of some famous historical figure that they consider to be evil, such as the Roman emperor Nero, or perhaps Domitian, or the Islamic prophet Muhammad. But it’s all speculative. The Bible never identifies the number 666 with any specific human being. And though most translations say it is “the number of a man” or “the number of a person,” it can also be translated as “a human number” or even “humanity’s number.” We will leave its spiritual meaning for a future article.

The next appearance of the mark of the beast is in the very next chapter of Revelation:

Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9–11)

Things go very bad, very fast for the people who accept the mark of the beast! They have more misery in store two chapters later:

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped its image. (Revelation 16:1–2)

In chapter 19, not far from the end of the book of Revelation, the beast and its followers receive their final defeat and punishment:

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:17–21)

The mark of the beast does appear one more time, this time to recount what was in store for those who had not accepted it:

Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4–6)

There you have it! All the appearances of the mark of the beast in the Bible. Just to round things out, here is one more similar passage from the book of Revelation:

So he carried me away in the spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly amazed. (Revelation 17:3–6, italics added)

This passage skips mention of a mark, and goes straight to the mention of a name written on the forehead—this time on the forehead of the evil figure herself. She is a very different figure than the second beast of Revelation 13, but the pattern of an identifying mark on the forehead continues.

Materialism, Superstition, and Fear

It’s beyond me how anyone could read all of this clearly symbolic and metaphorical language as predictions of literal, physical future events. Unfortunately, over the centuries the institutions of Christianity have become largely materialistic and physical-minded, just as much of the population of the world has been all along. The church is supposed to lift people up to God and spirit. Instead, it has sunk into the mire of materialism along with the masses.

And so, nearly two thousand years after the book of Revelation was written, people keep right on identifying the mark of the beast with earthly events that happen to be happening during their lifetime.

Honestly, how likely is it that two thousand years ago the Apostle John just happened to be predicting the COVID-19 vaccine in the year 2021? Why wasn’t he predicting any of the other terrible things people have identified as the mark of the beast throughout the eighteen or nineteen centuries that have passed by since then? The idea that the COVID-19 vaccine just happens to be the right one is, frankly, ludicrous.

But that doesn’t stop superstitious people from believing it. For those who want to believe that the COVID-19 vaccine, or bar codes on products, microchips embedded under people’s skin, or anything else they fear, is the mark of the beast, nothing I can say will convince them otherwise. People will believe what they want to believe, regardless of all logic and facts to the contrary.

And they will live in fear of their own groundless conspiracy theories. That is the immediate punishment for those who abandon the Bible, human experience, and common sense in favor of the intellectual viruses that infect the minds of large swaths of humanity. That is the foul and painful sore that is swiftly inflicted upon the minds of people who allow themselves to be branded with the mark of the beast.

In a few years, when coronavirus is no longer the latest Big Thing, the same people will find some other current event or scary new technology that’s fresh in the news to identify as the mark of the beast. The virus will morph into yet another new form of the same old materialistic and superstitious nonsense.

The Symbolism of the Mark of the Beast

Now let’s dig into the symbolism of the mark of the beast. For this, I will draw on my favorite theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), who wrote not one, but two massive commentaries explaining the spiritual meaning of the book of Revelation.

My purpose is not necessarily to convince you that Swedenborg’s interpretation is the correct one. Rather, my purpose is to demonstrate that it is not necessary to read the book of Revelation literally to gain great value from it. We can gain much greater insight from reading Revelation symbolically than from reading it literally.

With that in mind, let’s look at the symbolism of just a few of the elements in the story of the mark of the beast. (A full explanation of all of its symbolism would fill a whole book.)

The Forehead

Why put the mark on people’s foreheads? Literally speaking, it’s a highly visible location. Everyone can see at a glance whether you do or don’t have the mark. That is how traditional Christians usually read it.

However, the forehead is also a highly significant part of the human body mentally and spiritually. Our forehead is the place where our brain comes closest to other people as we talk to them and interact with them. In its simplest form, the forehead is a symbol of the human mind. It represents not only our thoughts and ideas, but especially the feelings and the love that they flow from. Even if our heart has come to represent love in many cultures, the brain is where our feelings are translated into thoughts and actions.

Being marked on the forehead means having our thoughts and feelings affected by the mark of the beast.

Consider the people who do believe that bar codes or vaccines or computer chips or some such thing is the mark of the beast. These people experience great turmoil in their thoughts and feelings because of those conspiracy theories. In a sense, they are experiencing the “mark of the beast.” But the mark is not vaccines or computer chips. It is the illusions that have taken hold in their minds, and the irrational fears that have taken hold in their hearts. These are examples of sufferings in our spirit that are brought about by accepting the mark of the beast mentally.

The Right Hand

Why is the right hand another place where the mark of the beast could be placed?

This one is even easier to understand. We use our hands to get things done. And since the bulk of the population is right-handed, and in right-handed people that hand is stronger and more capable one, the right hand has come to symbolize our power to get things done. (See: What Does It Mean to Sit at the Right Hand of God?)

When people accept the false ideas that are symbolized by the mark of the beast (we’ll get to that in a moment), it affects not just how they think and feel, but what they do. For example, people who accept conspiracy theories often believe that humanity is doomed if they don’t stand up against the latest thing they have identified as the mark of the beast. Because of this belief, they engage in protests, acts of civil disobedience, riots, and insurrections—and a lot of people get needlessly hurt, both physically and mentally.

Falling under the sway of faulty thinking affects our entire life. It affects our thinking. It affects our feelings. It affects our actions. This is the symbolism of the mark of the beast being placed on the forehead or on the hands.

Bible prophecies are about spiritual events

I have been using conspiracy theories as an example of something that could function as “the mark of the beast” in people’s lives. But according to Swedenborg, there is a more specific meaning of the beast and its mark. To understand and appreciate that meaning, we need to step back for a moment and look more broadly at the meaning of prophecy in the Bible.

It is true that prophecies in the Bible often have tie-ins with earthly events and people. However, at their heart they are not about our earthly life, but about our spiritual life. Also, Bible prophecies can be applied to our individual spiritual life, or they can be applied to the spiritual life of whole groups of people, such as communities, nations, or the whole of humanity.

The book of Revelation is often seen as a prophecy of future events affecting all of humanity: the whole world is going to be destroyed, and so on. However, given that it was traditionally written by the apostle John, who was in the inner circle of Christ’s followers, and was addressed to some of the early Christian churches (see Revelation 1:4), it is more likely a prophecy of future events in the Christian world. Swedenborg is not unusual among Christian theologians in interpreting the book as a prophecy about the fate of Christians and the Christian church.

Christian theologians have labored long and hard to tie the prophecies of the Bible to major events in history in the past, present, and future. But their schemes never quite fit historical events. That’s because the Bible was never meant to tell us about worldly events. It is meant to tell us about spiritual events. What does God most want to tell us about, our temporary life in this world, or our eternal life in the spiritual world?

The New Testament itself gives us some hints that the future catastrophes it predicts are not physical ones, but spiritual ones. For example, Jesus says, “Because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). And, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

The Church is the gathering of people of faith who are commanded by Christ to love God and the neighbor. If the love of many will grow cold, and there will be no faith on the earth when Christ comes, this is something that will happen first and foremost in the Christian church. It only makes sense, then, that the prophecies of cataclysm and destruction in the New Testament are talking about the end of the Christian church as a living and spiritual institution.

The parallel with Judaism

Consider that at the time Jesus and his apostles were making these prophecies, ancient Judaism as it had existed for many centuries was coming to its end. In the year 70 AD, just four decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. This brought the Jews’ ancient sacrificial system of worship to an end, forcing the remaining Jews to reinvent their religion into what became rabbinic Judaism, which has been the reigning form of Judaism ever since. This is a very different religion than the sacrificial, priest-centered Judaism that had existed up to that time.

Starting at the time of the Exodus and the giving of the Ten Commandments thirteen centuries before Christ, Judaism developed into God’s flagship religion on earth. It was the only religion that made a full transition from polytheism to monotheism during that long era of human history. However, over the centuries Judaism had become worldly and corrupt. The very reason the Romans destroyed the Temple, and ancient Judaism along with it, was that the Jewish people kept engaging in insurrection and rebellion, striving for earthly power and position.

When Judaism had become so worldly that it could no longer serve as God’s most direct line of communication with humanity, God came to earth personally as Jesus Christ and laid the foundations for the Christian religion, which took Judaism’s place in that role.

The fall of Christianity

Unfortunately, just as predicted in the New Testament, over the centuries Christianity also became worldly and corrupt. It increasingly sought worldly wealth and power instead of being a spiritual light to the people of the world.

The prophecies of the Gospels and the book of Revelation foretell a time when, like Judaism before it, the original Christian church would come to its end. As with Judaism, this does not mean there would be no more Christians or Christian churches. As an institution, traditional Christianity would continue to exist, just as Judaism continues to exist. However, Christianity would no longer be the shining beacon of God’s love and light in the world, as it was in its earliest days. This, and not some earthly apocalypse, is the meaning of these words in the book of Revelation:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (Revelation 21:1)

This is a prediction, not of the end of the physical world, but of the end of the era in which Christianity would reign as God’s flagship religion on earth, and the beginning of a new spiritual era. Once again, please see:

Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?

What do the beasts in Revelation represent?

With all of that in mind, we can see that the various dragons and beasts of Revelation represent various segments of Christianity later in its history, after it had lost its way and become corrupt.

Swedenborg was not the first to think in this way. Since the time of the Protestant Reformation, Protestant theologians have commonly believed that Babylon, personified in Revelation chapters 17–18 as a great whore seated on a scarlet beast, represents the Roman Catholic Church. And Swedenborg agrees with them! To see why the opponents of Catholicism have made this connection, it is necessary only to read the history of the many dark centuries in which the hierarchy of the Catholic Church built up immense worldly wealth and power for itself while the common people lived in misery and poverty.

Protestants have not spoken with such a clear and unified voice about the meaning of the other beasts that appear earlier in the book of Revelation. On this, they would not agree with Swedenborg at all! That’s because Swedenborg interprets the other beasts in Revelation as symbols of various stages and permutations of Protestantism itself.

Keep in mind that Protestantism is a schism of the Roman Catholic Church. It continues to teach many of the basic dogmas of Catholicism, adding its own spin to them. And like Catholicism, over the centuries Protestants have engaged in many bloody battles both with Catholics and with other Protestants, seeking control of territories, their people, and their wealth. You can read the history for yourself.

However, in saying that the beast and its mark are symbolic of Protestantism, Swedenborg focuses on Martin Luther’s invention of the unbiblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, and its enthronement as the cornerstone and key distinguishing feature of Protestantism.

Though Swedenborg focuses on the doctrinal destruction of Christianity wreaked by Luther’s new doctrine, that doctrine also served as a justification for the waves of Protestant violence and grasping for worldly wealth and power that mirrored those of the Catholic Church. In the minds of Protestants, anyone who did not accept their belief in salvation by faith alone would be eternally damned to hell anyway. This made anyone who disagreed with them fair game for violence, oppression, torture, and execution. All of this is a matter of history.

What is the mark of the beast?

Now we are finally ready for an interpretation of the mark of the beast.

If the beasts of Revelation chapters 11–16 represent Protestantism, then the mark of the beast represents the key distinguishing feature of Protestantism: Martin Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Consider: A mark is something that identifies us. It represents who we are, and what group we belong to. When Luther broke away from Catholicism and founded Protestantism, he distinguished this new branch of Christianity from all others by setting up his newly invented doctrine of justification by faith alone as the cornerstone of its theology and faith.

This doctrine, traditionally known as sola fide, Latin for “by faith alone,” is the “mark on the forehead and hands” that all Protestants have had to show, or they would not be allowed to trade in Protestant circles.

That prophecy is not about literal business and commerce. Spiritual wealth is information, knowledge, and understanding. Historically, Protestant leaders who rejected faith alone would be removed from their positions of leadership in the church, and punished or executed. Laypeople who spoke out against it would be silenced. And if they refused to be silenced, their life would become very unpleasant.

This is the meaning the words, “No one can buy or sell who does not have the mark” (Revelation 13:17). No one who does not agree with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone will be allowed to remain in leadership or membership within Protestantism. They would not be allowed teach or learn the Bible or the beliefs of the church, which are its spiritual wealth. (I am aware that in recent decades some liberal Protestant denominations have softened their stance.)

The Mark of the Beast is a Spiritual Mark

You may or may not agree with this interpretation of the mark of the beast. A full explanation would be too long and technical for this blog. Swedenborg’s two commentaries on the book of Revelation total eight volumes in English.

But I hope you will at least come away with the understanding than no physical thing, no physical mark on the forehead or hands, is the mark of the beast described in the book of Revelation. Rather, the mark of the beast exists in the realm of mind and spirit.

The big picture is that the mark of the beast is a symbol of false ideas that confuse people’s minds and cause them to act in harmful and destructive ways. If this much makes sense to you, and it banishes from your mind a superstitious fear of vaccines, computer chips, bar codes, and so on, then this article will have done its job.

This article is a response to two spiritual conundrums submitted by readers.

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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36 comments on “Is the COVID-19 Vaccine the Mark of the Beast?
  1. love says:

    Commend you for your long explanation.
    Neuroscience says we react to fear but we respond to Love. Former is in the primitive survival based brain aka amygdala and the latter is in the highly evolved prefrontal cortex of Human brain.The problem is the lower brain always tries to trump higher brain. No wonder Jesus says you see but u don’t look and u hear but not listen

    • Lee says:

      Hi love,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comment. Glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, our higher and lower minds are commonly in conflict. That is the battle of life.

  2. Two thoughts:

    1. If the Covid 19 vaccine is the mark of the beast, why aren’t we injected in the hand or the forehead?

    2. At the risk of becoming political, your comment about the mark affecting people’s minds made me realize a lot of this article could apply to Trump and his followers. He encourages them to be cruel, judgemental, mean-spirited, and see conspiracies everywhere; he’s even recently been encouraging people to buy and carry an ‘official’ Trump card with them to identify themselves as his followers. The result? Mass rejection of vaccines and subsequent deaths; the January 6th coup attempt; passage of laws restricting voting to favor the Republican party, and so many politicians following Trump’s style of lying, smears, and rejection of common sense and decency.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Imperfect Glass,

      1. Are you trying to make sense of conspiracy theories? 😛

      2. Looking at U.S. politics from a distance, it appears to me that both sides of the major party political divide are getting increasingly intolerant of the other side, blaming everything that’s going wrong in the country on the other side, and continually ratcheting up both their rhetoric and their actions against their political enemies. It’s a classic house divided scenario. How can the nation stand?

    • Ray says:

      I’m curious about your thoughts on the lake of fire and what it is meant to represent.

      • Lee says:

        Hi Ray,

        As with just about everything in the book of Revelation, the lake of fire is not a literal lake of fire. It is a metaphor.

        Consider that Revelation 20:14 says that hell was thrown into the lake of fire. But the lake of fire is commonly read as a symbol of hell. How could hell be cast into hell? Clearly none of this is meant to be taken literally.

        If we read the lake of fire as a symbol of hell, then we need to understand what “lakes” and “fire” symbolize.

        Fire is easy. It is universally seen as a symbol of love. Love is said to “burn,” in either a positive or a negative sense. We speak of “old flames,” meaning people who were once in love with one another. And so on. The “fire” in the lake of fire is not literal fire. It is a symbol of love. But since it is a negative reference, it is a symbol of evil loves and desires.

        Why a lake of fire? Lakes normally contain water. Water is a symbol of truth and understanding. When the book of Revelation talks about the free gift of the water of life, it is talking about the gift of spiritual truth that God freely offers us to satisfy our thirst for understanding. But when a lake is mentioned in a negative sense, it means falsity and misunderstanding. Every positive metaphor turns into its opposite when it is used in a negative context. Therefore the lake part is about the falsity and lies held to by people who are driven by evil loves and desires.

        In short, the “lake of fire” that various evil figures and people are thrown into in the book of Revelation is a symbol of the evil desires of wicked and hellish people, and the falsehoods and lies that they use to justify their evil desires and carry them out.

        As an example, consider a predatory man who gets his pleasure out of seducing beautiful and naive young women. (For a present-day version of this, see: The Red Pill Movement (PUA): Men Waking Up as Animals.) To carry out this evil desire, he will put on a charming face and become the perfect gentleman. He will profess his undying love for the young woman. He will open doors for her and pull out chairs for her. He will tell her how brilliant and beautiful she is. He will rhapsodize about commitment and marriage and white picket fences.

        But he knows it’s all a big lie. He has no intention of making good on his professions of love and promises of commitment. It is all a carefully orchestrated charade designed to get her to lower her guard, take off her clothes, and give him her body. That’s all he cares about. He knows that once he has had sex with her a few times, he will toss her aside and move on to his next conquest.

        If he remains that way for the rest of his life, and does not repent, then after he dies he will indeed be “thrown into the lake of fire,” meaning he will go to hell. But it will be the fire of his own evil desires, and the lake of his own falsehoods and deceit. He will no longer be able to prey on innocent women. Innocent women are in heaven, not in hell. Instead, he will “seduce” equally crafty women who can skillfully play the part of the beautiful and blushing virgin to entrap men in the web of their desires and then take advantage of them. They and others like them will all be immersed together in the fiery lake of their own evil desire and the deception that goes with it.

        About hell and hellfire, please see:

        Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

        If you want to look further into the meaning of the lake of fire, here are some sections from Swedenborg’s writings that explain it:

        • Heaven and Hell #570
        • Apocalypse Revealed #835 and 872
  3. Did God send COVID as punishment for people’s sins? What about the Delta Variant’s

    Would God really send COVID if he didn’t desire it as punishment for people’s sins?

    Why doesn’t God let the wicked suffer more from COVID than the righteous?

    If I was truly righteous, I would not get COVID, right? I’m sure Job or Enoch wouldn’t have gotten COVID. Was there a real, literal Enoch?

    Sent from my iPad


    • Lee says:

      Hi WorldQuestioner,

      No, God did not send COVID-19 as a punishment for people’s sins. This is Old Testament thinking. Unfortunately, it is still very common among many so-called Christians today. Such “Christians” are really more like ancient Jews in their mindset and attitudes. See:

      Is Hurricane Sandy God’s Punishment on the Wicked?

      Sickness and health are much more complicated than the simplistic idea that if a person gets sick, it is a punishment for his or her sins. There are many genetic, environmental, emotional, and yes, spiritual factors in illness. It’s just not true that if a person gets sick, it means he or she committed some sin. For more on this, please see:

      What is the Source of Human Fragility, Sickness, and Disease?

      Righteous people can and do get sick. For righteous people, sickness can even become a part of their spiritual development. They can grow in strength of character and in faith through struggling with the hardships of this world and the physical body.

      Neither Job nor Enoch was a literal historical person. Clearly Job could have gotten COVID. Job became very sick, even though he was a righteous man. This shows the error of the idea that righteous people don’t get sick.

      • If something bad happens to me for no reason at all, I get to do something bad, because the sin is already pre-punished. Does it not work that way? Is the concept of “pre-punished sin” Biblical?

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          The Bible doesn’t talk about “pre-punished sin.” Only about punishment for sins that we actually commit. And if we stop committing those sins, and start living a good life instead, then under God’s plan we won’t even be punished for them. Read Ezekiel 18.

          Nothing ever happens “for no reason at all.” There is always a reason. It may not be the reason we think. And it may not be our fault. But if something bad happens to us, it happens for some reason. Under God’s providence, nothing bad can happen unless some good can come out of it. That doesn’t mean good always willcome out of it. That depends on our response to it and the choices we make in its aftermath.

          God always seeks to bring good out of evil. If we bring evil out of evil (doing something bad because something bad happened to us), then we are acting contrary to God’s plan. The responsibility for our bad actions is on our own shoulders. If we do not repent from it, it will come back to bite us in the you-know-where.

          If we want to walk in God’s footsteps, instead of doing evil in response to evil, we will do good in response to evil. This is what God personally taught us when he was walking among us two thousand years ago.

        • Afghanistan is what should be devastasted with COVID including the Delta Variant. Samet hing for Saudi Arabia and Syria and other countries where Christians are persecuted.
          They deserve hell more than we do. Yes, we’ve done bad stuff, but our wicked enemies have done most every bad thing we have done, and some bad things we have not done. We deserve hell, but not to the same degree our enemies do. How is that not the case?
          I never, ever ask God rhetorical questions. They always, always expect answers.

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          Jesus said:

          Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Matthew 7:1–5)

          It is easy to see other people’s faults, criticize them, and condemn them. It is much harder to see our own faults, because once we see them, we have a responsibility to correct them, and we don’t want to do that hard work on ourselves. So we blame and condemn others, pointing out their faults, while remaining blissfully ignorant of our own. That is why Jesus gave us that teaching.

          What is true for individual people is also true for nations. Each nation points out all the evils of other countries, especially its enemies, while ignoring and denying its own evils. But as we keep finding out over and over again, we cannot fix the evils of other nations. Whenever we try, it ends in massive death and disaster, as with Vietnam, Iraq, and now Afghanistan.

          We can only fix the evils of our own nation. But we must be willing to see those evils first. As long as we are focused on the evils of other nations, we remain unwilling to see and admit the evils of our own nation, and unwilling to do the hard work of overcoming those evils.

          As for the people of other nations deserving COVID-19 and hell, Jesus also said:

          You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43–48)

          Christians should not wish harm or hell on their enemies, but rather wish good and heaven for them. This is what Jesus Christ himself has taught us to do.

        • Also, we only used to deserve hell. Once we accept Christ as our savior, we deserve heaven. Christ made us deserve heaven by dying on the cross.
          Once we are in heaven, we will deserve to be where we are.
          Once more, I didn’t say we don’t have faults of our own. We just don’t do as bad as our enemies or the wicked people in our nation.

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          All of this is completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Nowhere does Jesus say that once we accept Christ as our savior, we deserve heaven. In fact, he tells us exactly the opposite in the form of this parable:

          Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, “Come along now and sit down to eat”? Won’t he rather say, “Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink”? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:7–10)

          We do not deserve anything for any of the good things we do, or even for having faith in Christ. We remain unworthy servants of Christ. It is Christ who gives us the power to do anything at all:

          Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4–5)

          We do not deserve heaven for anything we say, do, or believe, because none of it is ours. It is all Christ’s, who is dwelling within us and giving us the power both to have faith and to follow his commandments. The worthiness is always his, and never ours.

          The idea that after we accept Christ, we deserve heaven is based on the false and unbiblical doctrine of imputed merit, to use the traditional theological term. But the Bible never teaches this anywhere. In fact, it denies it, as shown in the above passages, and many others that could be quoted. The entire doctrine that Christ’s merit is imputed to us when we believe in him is false and contrary to the teachings of the Bible. It is a human tradition that denies the Word of God. The merit always remains Christ’s merit, and we continue not to deserve anything at all even after we believe in Christ and live according to Christ’s commandments.

          And once again, please take the log out of your own eye before you presume to take the speck out of other nations’ eyes.

          Other nations aren’t coming to the U.S., waging war on our territory, killing thousands of people, and destabilizing our whole region so that we have to live under fanatical regimes. This is not a political blog, so I won’t delve into the politics. But the U.S. has done things to other countries that no other countries have done to the U.S. Look up the book Endless Enemies, by Jonathan Kwitny, if you want the full story up to the mid 1980s when the book was written. Things have continued in the same vein since then, right up to the present. Even the 9/11 attacks were minor compared to what we have done to the countries of the people who attacked us that day. Those attacks were terrible, but they were a one-off. Our country continued forward, and rebuilt. Meanwhile, those countries were being destroyed by our continual attacks. This doesn’t justify the 9/11 attacks in any way, shape, or form. Those attacks were wrong and evil. But they were nowhere near as horrendous as the continual warfare and death that the U.S. and its allies have visited upon the nations of the Middle East almost continuously for the last seventy or eighty years.

          Please take off your blinders, and educate yourself about the realities of the actions of the U.S. and its allies, from a Christian perspective. The U.S. has not lived according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us and persecute us. He did not teach us to counterattack our enemies with shock and awe campaigns. The massive retaliation of the U.S. and its allies after the 9/11 attacks was utterly contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. The evil actions of the U.S. in response to evil done to it led to widespread destabilization, destruction, and death in an entire region of the world.

          This is not how Jesus taught us to live. Jesus did not teach us to return evil for evil. He taught us to return good for evil. Until we take that log out of our own eye, we are in no position to take the speck out of our international brothers’ and sisters’ eyes.

  4. What I mean is, it would be better for Afghanistan or Syria to be devastated with COVID than for America, South Korea, or Canada to be.

    • Lee says:

      Why would it be better?

      • Because they have done more evil than we have. Yes, we’ve done some bad things too. I’m not saying we are perfect.
        I’ve asked God “How do I deserve hell? Because I sin? That doesn’t cut it!”
        How do different people not deserve hell to different degrees?

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          About their having done more evil than we have, that is far from the truth. See my comment just above.

          About the rest:

          On our own, we never deserve anything but hell. On our own, we are selfish, greedy, and hellish. But if we accept the Lord into our heart and our life, the Lord will replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh.

          This does not happen by some magical “imputation” of Christ’s merit to us while we still remain sinners. No. It happens by Christ changing us from sinners into righteous people from the inside out. In plain language, instead of living a self-centered life, we learn to live a life of love and service to our “neighbor,” meaning our fellow human beings, just as Jesus taught us to do in the Gospels.

          The idea that Christ’s merit is imputed to us so that when God looks at us God sees our clothing of Christ’s righteousness instead of our sinful heart is horrible and blasphemous. God does not see as humans see. God looks on the heart. It is an insult to God’s infinite knowledge and wisdom to think that God is fooled by righteous clothing, and does not see the sinful heart within.

          What happens, rather, is that we cease being sinners, and start being righteous people because instead of acting from our own self, we act from the Lord’s presence within us. This is also why we can take no credit whatsoever for anything good we believe or do. By ourselves, we still deserve hell. By ourselves, we are still selfish, evil, and sinful. But the Lord continually lifts us out of ourselves, so that we are acting, not from ourselves, but from the Lord.

          This is also what Paul was talking about in his letters. He was not talking about mere “conscious belief in Christ” as the evangelicals say. He was talking about an inner and outer faithfulness to Christ, both in belief and in action. We cannot be considered faithful, or having faith, if we do not follow Christ’s commandments. And it is in following Jesus’ commandment to love God above all, and love our neighbor as ourselves, that we are changed from sinners into saints.

          Still, all the merit and the credit belongs to the Lord, and none of it to us. Even the best of us is an unworthy servant. We have only done our duty.

        • Maybe wicked people should get COVID and be really sick, then they are healed and they give glory to God. They repent. Atheists should go through that thing. So should liberal progressives.

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          Such things are in God’s hands, not ours. We see things from the outside. God sees from the inside.

        • Don’t we see ourselves from the inside though? It’s so much easier to see ourselves from the inside than to see others from the inside.

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          That is why we should not presume to judge other people, or to think that we are more competent than God is at determining who should be punished and who should not. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways.

    • Maia Armstrong says:

      I don’t think it is better for ANY nation to suffer from this pandemic. But, God works in mysterious ways.

      • Maybe an atheist could get COVID but not die from it. When he gets sick, he might humble himself before the Lord. When he gets better he might glorify God.

        • Maia Armstrong says:

          But what if the atheist has never heard of Christ, and he actually dies from it? You do not decide who is going to Hell. That’s God’s job. You, on the other hand, need to focus on your walk with Christ. Are YOU actually walking in the light? If anyone is without sin, cast the first stone.

        • You have made some good points.
          I want God to display a miracle that will startle the atheist to death and give the atheist a heart attack intense enough to kill him. Then he would abruptly become a believer upon death and be in heaven.
          As for rapture, will Jesus appear in the sky, or is that the second coming? Is the rapture separate from the second coming? When Jesus appears in the sky, wouldn’t some unbelievers that see him say “Oh! Now I believe in him, now that I see him!”? Why not? Maybe in the rapture, Jesus doesn’t come down to Earth, he just takes people up to him from above.
          If an atheist saw God in his glory, he would believe, would he not? I’m not talking about Jesus as a human, I’m talking about a shiny yellow being. Glory, shining.
          The atheist would beat himself up thinking he’s dreaming. He knows he hasn’t taken LSD or anything like that. Atheist would try to wake up and clear his eyes and mind.

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          I trust that God is doing everything possible to reach atheists. If they would be converted by COVID and heart attacks, I’m certain God is already on it. I don’t think God needs our advice on how to handle things.

          In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham says, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Forcing belief on people is not the Lord’s way of doing things.

        • Is it a sin to request God to “spit it out”?
          Like saying “Why Lord, Why? Spit it out!” or “Lord, why do you ? Spit it out!”

        • Lee says:

          Hi World Questioner,

          No, it’s not a sin to rail at God. The prophets do it all the time. But God is still gonna do what God’s gonna do.

        • God knows not only everything that is, everything that was, and everything that will be, but everything that could be. He knows every logically possible thing. Right? Where does the bible say that?

        • Lee says:

          Hi WorldQuestioner,

          The Bible isn’t a book of theology. It’s a book about life. It doesn’t provide precisely worded disquisitions on theological topics. It says what it needs to say to us so that we will believe in God and live a good life.

          Nevertheless, there are theological type statements sprinkled here and there throughout the Bible. About God’s omniscience, the clearest one is in 1 John 3:20: “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” Everything means . . . everything. That verse says in ordinary words that God is omniscient.

  5. Maia Armstrong says:

    Hello All,

    I hope you and your family are having a wonderful weekend. As the nation scrambles to reopen, I would like to clarify some recent concerns regarding the vaccine being “the mark of the beast.” In the beginning of my summer vacation, I got both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. While some of these vaccines are not FDA approved, I felt that this was the right decision, not only for my own safety, but for the safety of my family, my friends, and my country. While there have been many side effects that have been linked to some of these shots, I believe that it would help produce antibodies that would protect us from the severe strains that have been spreading across the world. I myself understand the concern that is being expressed due to the fact that scientists managed to find three vaccinations at such a fast rate. I applaud their diligence and their determination to come to us with an effective treatment that would save lives, and lead us on the path to herd immunity. After being in quarantine for a whole year, I feel like this is a wonderful opportunity for each and every one of us to return to the days where we could spend time with the people we truly love face-to-face! While there are many pros and cons to taking these shots, I don’t believe that this is the mark of the beast that is referenced in Revelations 13:15:18, although many prophets claim otherwise.
    Scripture tells us that the “mark” would be engraved in the right hand and the forehead, and no one will be able to buy or sell anything without it. This mark would be implanted by a false prophet (the second beast), and would be required by the Antichrist, who is believed to be the son of Satan, performing deceitful and wicked works. He would then rule during the seven year Tribulation. While many Christians and Bible scholars interpret the mysteries of this mark differently, we must not take the book of Revelations in a literal way. The book is rather symbolic in nature. For instance, in Revelations 2:9, the “synagogue of Satan” is not a literal synagogue built by Satan, but rather a symbolic representation of the true nature of false prophets, and the heart of those who believe they are Christian, when in fact, they are deceived by Satan. The metaphor was specifically addressed to the Seven Churches which were incredibly divided as a result of discord and false prophecy. Now, going back to Revelations 13, when I think of the function of the mark of the beast, I picture an ID that is scanned through a barcode. The ID reveals who you are, and is often associated with certain numbers. In the same way, the mark of the beast is a seal which identifies one’s allegiance to the Antichrist and the kingdom of Satan as a whole. It includes the name (or the image) of the beast, and his number, which is 666. This cannot be taken accidentally, but rather, it will be a willful decision to reject Christ, and to worship the beast (and Satan.)
    Given this information, the real Antichrist has not yet been revealed, although many antichrists have come to this world already. But, let me encourage you, and give you some closure here. I believe that this vaccine is a blessing from God, and we should be grateful that He has opened the gateway to a brighter future, both for the advancement of medicine and scientific treatment, and for many families who want to finally hug and celebrate the wonderful gift of life together. By taking ⠹ vaccine, you are not swearing an oath to follow Satan, or deny your faith. God wants each and every one of us to live a healthy and prosperous life, and I believe that this treatment would not only reduce the spread of the virus, but it would give our front line workers relief knowing that they do not have to have restless nights, wondering if that 65-year-old mother will be placed in a coma for several weeks. However, I do believe that we, as humans, are given free will. We have the freedom to make decisions that we feel would benefit our needs. So, whether or not you choose to get the shot, I respect your decision, and do not pass judgement on you. But, I believe that we are living in an era where conspiracy theories are very rampant and active throughout social media and news outlets. This is why we need to “test the spirits” to discern whether these revelations are truly from God. As followers of Christ, we were not given a spirit of fear! If love can cast out fear, then fear casts out truth, which is found in love. Fear separates us from the peace that God desires for us. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, wouldn’t we be willing to take this great sacrifice to not only save ourselves from contracting the virus, but to save that child with cancer, or to save that grandmother who has a compromised immune system?
    Based on the evidence presented through Scripture, and the revelations presented through the Holy Spirit, I would like to reassure you that this claim that this vaccine is the mark of the beast is a lie based on fear, straight out of the mouth of Satan! How dare we claim to trust God, and become a force that spreads fear-mongering lies that sow division, anger, and hatred within the same “temple” we believe is being destroyed by changing our DNA!? The temple of the Spirit is not just within the physical body, but is within the body of Christ (the church)! If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated, but trust God to give you the best results that would protect your health. Let us all work together to trust that God will continue to protect our families from this virus, and from anything that may harm us. Trust God, and not the claims of men! Whatever happens to us after the pandemic, God will still be with us. God will fight for us, and all we need to do is be still, and rest on His promises for us.
    I hope you will take this into consideration as you continue to make a difference during this dark, evil season.
    Stay safe!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Maia,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your good thoughts. I’ll leave them to speak for themselves, and as you say, people can make up their own minds about what they will think, and what they will do.

      • Maia Armstrong says:

        Yes! I was highly skeptical from the beginning of the lockdown when these prophecies started coming out. After doing an in-depth study of the mark of the beak and the character of the Antichrist throughout Scripture, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that these prophecies were fake, giving that they twisted the Scriptures to suit their agenda. Yet, many children fear that they are going to Hell for taking these life-saving vaccines because of these lies! I was was confirmed after studying these passages for a whole year that these were indeed deceptions from Satan. Do you see how crafty these lies are? I at first knew nothing about this whole mark of the beast thing until I did an investigation and put together this essay for some of my Christian friends. It just breaks my heart to see many people online feeling like they have committed such a henious sin that they are going to Hell, even though it does not affect salvation. I pray that God would grant them inner peace and rest for their souls. I don’t long to see ANY human being, especially our young teens and children, being held captive by Satan’s condescending accusations against them for working to their potential to serve Christ. And yes, this includes the vaccine. I pray that God would use me to set others free from this condemning lie!
        Speaking of the Antichrist, I just finished a presentation that compiles thirteen pieces I have written during quarantine, and makes Biblical connections to the grim reality of evil and deception during the global pandemic. I organized a virtual movement where I would uplift and encourage others during this dark period. The presentation is called “Capturing Satan: A Closeup View Of The Antichrist”. Here it is!

  6. Ray says:

    Hi Lee. What are the names of the two books where Emmanuel Swedenborg talks about revelations?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ray,

      1. Apocalypse Explained is Swedenborg’s earlier, unfinished (it only goes to Revelation 19:10) and unpublished (by him) commentary on the book of Revelation. It is usually published in six volumes in English translation.
      2. Apocalypse Revealed is his later, completed and published commentary on Revelation. It is usually published in two volumes in English translation.

      The links are to the first volume of each set in the Redesigned Standard Edition, at the publisher’s website.

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