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What is the Mark of the Beast?
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Revelation 13:11 predicts a lamb-like beast that comes up out of the earth. It exercises all the power of the leopard-like beast described in verses one and two of the same chapter.

This first beast had been a persecuting religious power that had condemned thousands of fellow Christians to death during those dark times. What was their crime? It was for disagreeing with her religious decrees.

Who is this lamb-like beast that is described as reviving the same kind of persecuting religious power as its dark ages role model? It is simple to identify. What nation comes into prominence just as the leopard-like beast is described as losing its power toward the end of the 18th century?

Only the United States of America fits that description. It came up "out of the earth," in other words, in an area sparsely inhabited. It provided a haven for persecuted men and women from all over the world, in its constitution prohibiting the government from either fostering or inhibiting religious worship.

This principle of the separation of church and state has through the course of its two centuries of existence provided religious liberty for people of all religious persuasions, including those who have no religious beliefs or affiliations.

But according to the prophecy, this haven from religious persecution will at some point in her history turn away from her noble ideals, and become a persecuting power just as the leopard-like beast did in the dark ages. She will form religious and political alliances that will repudiate her own constitutional protections of freedom. In what form will this persecution take place? 

The prophecy isn't specific, but it is clear that the government will begin to make religious laws. All who agree and conform will possess the "mark of the beast." All who disagree with these laws will at first be restricted from buying or selling, and ultimately will be condemned to death.
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