Jill* (not her real name) is an extremely caring and fit early childhood teacher who has had to leave the career she loves and quit her job at the age of 60 because she refuses the vaccine. In my State, it is mandatory that early childhood and other workers have been vaccinated against COVID.

Jill is adamant. She will not be vaccinated. Why? She is a Christian and believes we are now at the end of our civilisation. The vaccine, as she sees it, is the mark of the beast.

Fear-based resistance

For the religious vaccine resistant, clearly explaining the scientific facts about Covid vaccination is not going to work. Underlying this almost unshiftable group is fear. What is needed is listening, not talking. We need to listen to people explain to us why they would rather get covid than the vaccine.

What is the mark of the beast?

firey horizon that looks hellish

One of the most exciting and devastating parts of the Bible is the book of Revelations, the final book in the New Testament.

Revelations has inspired eschatologists (scholars in ‘the end of the world), Christian rock bands, and best-selling young adult novels. It has caused curious adults to investigate other soothsayers like Nostradamus to find correlations.

Symbols of apocalypse, or Armegeddon, are all around. They are so clear, I don’t even think you need to be religious to consider we might be in an apocalypse. Even the has cartoons about it. Global warming is being exacerbated by the greed and intransigence of capitalism. Catastrophic bushfires (including the eastern Australia fires that forced three evacuations of my young family). Drought. Flash flooding. Plagues of mice. A sickness. These are the horsemen of the Apocalypse. We’ve had Donald Trump as US President and America’s experiment with fascism.

The book of Revelations is the final chapter in the New Testament of the bible. In chapter 13 (one of the final chapters), the Mark is a symbol that people are forced to get that identifies or tags them as being affiliated with the beast (Satan). It is the New World Order, followed by the Rapture.

Revelations says: “It forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.”

 

Inside knowledge

I had a religious upbringing. I was swept away by Revelations and it became an obsession. I was subjected to extremely violent religious films that depicted the end of the work and the rollout of the Mark of the Beast. From the age of 8 to 24 years of age, I believed the world was in the final stages of our civilisation. I could see the signs everywhere.

Barcodes were introduced in the 1980s. I remember seeing the Franklin’s Supermarket decked out with scanners at the cash registers one Thursday night. Seeing the deft arms of the cashier swipe products under the ultraviolet light and detecting the weight, size, price, and product name all digitally in a split second. I found it absolutely terrifying. In the shopping centre, I saw posters for the Australia Card (a new national identification system) and had to use the bathroom to be sick. Another time that wasn’t Christmas, families were lining up to have their children photographed. In the middle, in the machine’s line of fire, I saw the white square of light fall on the forehead of a child and felt the world fall through my stomach.

The mark of the beast would be tattooed on the right hand or forehead. It would have your Australia Card number. And all your bank account details. You would not buy or sell without the mark. What if it was forced on you? Could it ever be reversed or removed? If you got the mark on your hand, and then cut your hand off, were you still marked and therefore doomed to eternity in hell? These were my near-constant questions.

I didn’t so much believe the world was ending, there was no doubt. I could see all the signs every day. Thankfully I was religious. This is what united me with the congregation at my church and the Christian school I attended. We were united by this awful knowledge that others didn’t have.

My nightmares were horrifying. At least twice a week, I’d wake up exhausted in the morning because that night I would be running, escaping, jumping down whole flights of stairs in gloomy subways being chased by the markers. As a brave resister of the New World Order, I knew one day I would be executed, but I would be saved from hell. If I could avoid the Mark.

The Reckoning

A personal catastrophe forced me to have a Reckoning. I realised that religion had all but ruined a large part of my life. At the relatively youthful age of 24, I felt like I had lived many lifetimes. I developed a close relationship with God in which religion would play no part whatsoever.

My extended family is both religious and medical. We’re all fully vaccinated without hesitation. Why? Because we know the vaccination is not the mark of the Beast.

Misreading the Book of Revelations

The Book of Revelations was written in the first century I believe it is about the first century. Rather than a prophesying Nostradamus-type book it’s account of persecution that was actually happening at the time under the Roman Empire.

Revelations is full of metaphors and analogies. Not everything should be taken literally. It is a time when Christians were persecuted and killed if they did not bow down to authority.

Some biblical scholars believe the Beast as described in revelations who is a ‘man’ was the Roman emperor, Nero Caesar. Nero was a matricide (murdered his mother) and megalomaniac. His reign was one of persecution and execution of Christians. After Nero committed suicide in 68AD, his body wasn’t found. Popular thinking at the time was that he would return to rule.

Nero Caesar was a tyrant who wanted mass allegiance. I believe the teaching is to warn people against political extremism, tagging yourself completely with one ideology.

“If the Greek spelling of Nero Caesar ( Neron Kaisar ) is transliterated into Hebrew ( ), the numerical equivalent is 666.” (Interestingly, this was expressed in full words not numerals which were not developed for another 500 years.). The number of his name was expressed by the phrase hexakosioi hexekonta hex, being the Greek description of the numerical values.

In other words, the book of Revelations is an anti-Roman political statement, rather than an end-of-the-world prophecy.

I understand if you are a believer, you may not seek to entertain doubt. I didn’t.

So to anyone defying health advice because you feel that you’re playing with hellfire, I genuinely feel your anguish. But I think it’s time you had a reckoning.

Does it make sense on any level?

My question to you is this. Does it make sense? Does it make sense on any level: logically, rationally, historically, or spiritually?

If God is love and God is endless and universal and has always existed, why would not getting a vaccine determine your eternal fate? Why is this so time-critical. Why now? What about all the generations of people that came before you? Why not them? Does that make sense?

“ I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, or who has a will of the kind we experience in ourselves.”

Albert Einstein

Finding the numinous in the universe

sun rise across planet view from space

The power of the creator, or the creative force, is much more than I ever could comprehend as a devoutly religious young person. I’d say my understanding of God has matured. Learning more about nature and the universe has unlocked God for me.

One of the most mind-blowing, spiritual writers in the history of the world has to be Albert Einstein. That’s right, the scientist and mathematician and inventor.

“I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with the awareness of — and glimpse into — the marvelous construction of the existing world together with the steadfast determination to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.” Albert Einstein

The way out

Poke a toe into the laws of the Universe. Discover black holes, Get into mycology — the community of the forests who connect through the mycelium network under the soil. Look at the patterns in biology. Time and space. Cosmology. Or quantum physics. You’ll find God right before you. Right now, my family is watching The Universe with Brian Cox. My 3- and 7-year old kids and I experience the numinous when we look at the stars at night, and when we learn about the universe from documentaries.

Did you know, the furthest you go into a black hole, the closest you may get to the most far from regions of the universe. That the past, present, and future may be simultaneous. There may be multiple dimensions in layers, that only people have ‘time’ and, like religion (when it’s disconnected from nature and wonder), it is a very limited human construct.

You may find, like I did, if you have been to a hell of sorts, that the religious (man on a cloud with a long grey beard and a devil with a pitchfork seems) now seems childish. But that the creator is awesome.

Did you know you have about 100 billion neurons in your brain? Each one could make 250,000 connections? That means your brain can make about 250 trillion neural pathways, which is millions more than there are stars in our galaxy.

Never forget that You are a miracle.

Did you also know this? That if you had 300 million identical siblings, not one of them would be exactly the same as you? You are unique.

You have a right to be here.

black hole descending down a concrete pipe in the ground

If you are caught in a black hole, believing that the vaccination is the mark of the beast, and being excluded from civil and commercial society because you don’t have proof of vaccination, you have my empathy. I feel for you because you have been brainwashed. But remember, even black holes don’t mean the end.

“Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up — there’s a way out.” Stephen Hawking