In the Book of Revelation, humanity is divided into two, and only two, camps. First, the men who “tabernacle in heaven.” Second, the “inhabitants of the earth.” The descriptions are NOT geographical or spatial. They reflect the allegiance of either group. The first consists of men who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” The latter includes all who render homage to the “beast.” There is no third option.
The group labeled the “inhabitants of the earth” is composed of 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 one for membership is allegiance to the “beast.”
The citizens of Ancient Babylon heeded the Babylonian “herald” by rendering homage to the golden image “erected” by the Nebuchadnezzar, measuring 60 cubits by 6 cubits:
- “To you, it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and render homage to the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath erected; and whosoever does not bow down and render homage will the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” – (Daniel 3:1-6).
By giving allegiance to Babylon, they avoided death in the “burning fiery furnace.” No citizen of Ancient Babylon needed to suffer that horrific fate, except anyone who refused to give Nebuchadnezzar the absolute loyalty he demanded. Then, he or she suffered death in the “fiery furnace.”
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,” 600, 60, and 6, their names are excluded from the “book of life of the Lamb.” Consequently, they will endure the “second death” in the “lake of fire.”
They 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 bowing before the image of the “beast,” they are found standing with the “Lamb” on “Mount Zion.” Rather than the “mark of the beast,” they have the “seal of God” inscribed on their foreheads. This 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.
What distinguishes the second group from the “inhabitants of the earth” is allegiance to the self-sacrificial “Lamb.” Its members “follow him wherever he goes,” even when doing so means death. They “overcome” in the very same way as the “Lamb”:
- “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and BECAUSE they loved not their life unto death.”
Consequently, their names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” and they will not taste of the “second death.” Instead, they participate in the “first resurrection,” and are found in “New Jerusalem,” standing before the Throne and the “Lamb”:
- “And he that sits on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any longer; neither shall the sun strike upon them, nor any heat: for the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
In Revelation, 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, period.
Believers must decide now, front-and-center, where and to whom they place their allegiance. In the kingdom of God, there is no concept of “dual citizenship” or room for split loyalties. Will they follow the “Lamb” or bow in submission to the “beast”?
Ultimately, how one responds to the “Lamb” determines whether his or her name is “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” or expunged from it.