The Mark of the Beast
On August 17, 1999, a great earthquake rocked the nation of Turkey, claiming thousands of lives. Contractors that were once rich became poor in a few minutes. Further inspection of the buildings that crumbled revealed that the contractors had cut corners to erect the buildings. As a result, they were not up to code. From the outside everything looked inhabitable and safe. It was not until the shaking that the true nature of the buildings came to light.
Prophecy points to a symbolic shaking, where a prophetical shaking will reveal the true nature of everyone’s allegiance. Like the parable of the house on the rock and sand, the storm will reveal the strength of the structures. Right now everything seems fine, and it may be indistinguishable between what is strong and weak. But like the parable of the wheat and tares, the separation will not occur until the harvest.
Before launching into our recap, we want to remind you that the book of Revelation is not meant to scare you. It is meant to empower you by revealing what is coming down the road so you can be prepared. The ultimate end of it all is living with Jesus. But before that happens everyone will be shaken. There is no need to worry if you have accepted Jesus and are committed to following Him wherever He leads you. But it can be frightening for those who are not ready. This lecture explored the Mark of the Beast.
Revelation 14:9,10 tells us about the mark. We learn that whoever receives it is against God and will have to digest God’s wrath. The end for those who have the mark does not look good.
Now some people will argue that that the mark of the beast is 666. Unfortunately, this a confusing conclusion and it is not as clear cut as a number. This comes from Revelation 13:18, which reveals that the number of the beast is 666. The number is not the mark. Superstition surrounds those whose receipts total $6.66 or when they reach 666 miles on a road trip, among other things. However, all we know about 666 is that it is related to the beast, but the Bible points out this is a number.
We already know who the beast is (see the post), so we know the number 666 is associated with the beast. Some say that Vicarius Filii Dei, a Latin title for the head of the Vatican meaning Vicar for the Son of God, is the mark of the beast. If you take the roman numerals of that name and add it together it adds to 666. This may seem coincidental, your name might add up to 666. That is why we cannot rely on any one characteristic, but take all of the traits outlined in prophecy and let the Bible show us what it is trying to communicate.
In Revelation 13:4,8 we saw the beast was healed from its wound and that everyone worshipped him. Everyone, that is, except the people who were in the book of life. These are the people that chose to worship God, as Revelation 14:7 says. Those with the mark of the beast are on the receiving end of God’s wrath. Contrast this with what is said in Revelation 7:3, where God will not send harm upon the Earth until His people have been sealed.
Seal? In Bible times a seal revealed that a law was valid. When the king passed a law his seal was placed on it, making it legitimate. When King Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21), Queen Jezebel placed the king’s seal on the law to make it valid. Seals do not invalidate the law, they make them valid. That’s why in Isaiah 8:16 we see that God says to seal the law among His disciples (followers). Hebrews 8:10 shows that God will write His law in our hearts and minds, where we can meditate on them. The seal of God validates His law, which is written into your mind (if you choose). Revelation 4:11 reveals that God is worthy because He is the Creator. God’s authority comes from the fact that He is the Creator, who we are called to worship. We see this in Exodus 20:8-11, where God is the Creator and that is why we should rest.
A seal has three components: name, title, and territory. If you look at the seal of the president in the U.S., it would currently be Barack Obama, President of the United States. For Ahab it would have been Ahab, King of Israel. What is God’s seal? Remember that a seal validates a law, and in God’s law in the fourth commandment we see that God is His name, Creator is his title, and Heaven and Earth is His territory (Revelation 20:8-11). Ezekiel 20:12, 20 reveal that the Sabbath is a sign between God and His people. It is a reminder that God created you, and that He can clean you (if you are willing). You may argue that keeping the Sabbath is trying to work your way into heaven. But how come no one says that honoring your father and mother is trying to get into heaven by your works? How come no accusations are directed against those who refuse to kill others as trying to get into heaven by works? When God tells us to remember His memorial, the Sabbath day, when you choose to follow it, you are surrendering your will to God. You are taking a step of faith when you follow God’s way and not your own. Doing your own thing is works.
So we see that the seal of God is found in His law, which is validated by His seal. We see that those who choose not to worship the beast will have the seal of God. We can find that seal in the Sabbath, a memorial to God’s creation. We see the first angel in Revelation 14 direct us to worship God because He is the creator. Revelation is littered with references to God being worthy since He is the Creator. Remember we told you that Revelation reveals Jesus? Multiple times Jesus is referred to as the Creator in Revelation.
Now let’s go back to the mark of the beast. We know the seal of God is for those who choose to worship God, and we see that the mark of the beast is for those who choose to worship the beast. Revelation 14:12 reveals that the saints (with the seal of God, written in the book of life, choose to worship God) are the ones who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. It follows that those with the mark of the beast do not keep the commandments of God.
Remember the mark of the beast is associated with the beast. We already looked at who the beast was. We saw that this beast would try to change God’s law. We took a look at a specific commandment that the beast has tried to changed (see post here). Those that worship the beast follow what the beast teaches. Those who receive the mark of the beast say, “I do not want to follow God’s law, I will follow the traditions of mankind. God’s word is not the final authority in my life.” They will choose man’s laws over God’s laws. They will choose to not worship on the seventh-day, even though the Bible points to Sabbath worship. This is where God’s seal lives.
Why are you making such a big deal about a day? Why does that matter and why are you attaching dire consequences to a day of the week?
Good question. If you saw someone take a clean white cloth and stand on the corner of Times Square and stomp on it until it was dirty, would you say anything? Probably not, it’s a piece of cloth, people have done worse things. What if the person came back the next day with a red cloth and did the same thing? Again, it’s a trivial matter. The following day the same person comes in with a blue cloth and jumps on it and makes it dirty. Still say anything? Ok, now suppose that person comes back the next day with those same white, red, and blue cloths. They have been cleaned up from before, and sown together with 13 stripes and 50 stars. Remember this is the same cloth used in the previous three days, but it is put together differently. And this person takes that bigger piece of white, red, and blue cloth and jumps on it in Times Square. Would you say something now? Why? It’s just cloth after all?
Or is not so much about the cloth anymore, but what the cloth stands for when put together?
See, the actual day of Saturday is not the issue at stake here. It is God’s sovereignty. It is His role as Creator. It is His role as Redeemer. It is what the Sabbath stands for that is on trial here. You may say that the actual day does not matter, but the fact that the Sabbath day that God made holy points to His creation (which is discussed in Revelation), and it is a memorial to His Creation that they belong to Him that does matter! Choosing not to keep the Sabbath is not just choosing a different day, it is stomping on what that day stands for. The Sabbath is special to God. When we worship Him on the seventh-day we acknowledge what God has done and is doing for us! Isaiah 58:13 basically says, “Please stop stomping on my holy day.”
This is a lot of information, and you can see why our previous posts have been foundational to this topic. The end of this Earth’s history will put man in the midst of a battle of worship. Worship God, or worship the beast. Those who choose to worship the beast and follow its laws will have the mark of the beast. It is a form of identification and allegiance. It is not tangible like a credit card or laser tattoo or some other biometric device. Rather, it is a mark revealed by one’s actions. It is a mark that reveals who has chosen to worship the beast. Does anyone have it today? No. Remember people are forced to take the mark of the beast, but no one is forced to worship on Sunday today. Revelation 13:16,17 reveals that the second beast causes people of all kinds to receive a mark in their hands (actions) or foreheads (thoughts and beliefs). Without the mark, no one can buy or sell. It will appear that those without the mark will not survive. We will one day see legislation passed enforcing this kind of worship. It is not far-fetched. Pope John Paul Ii in 1998 said that “Christians will naturally strive to ensure civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy” (Dies Domini). With how volatile today’s atmosphere is in the political, cultural, and religious arenas, it will not be a surprise if these things move quickly. We do not know when. But we know what the beast stands for, and what his identifying mark will be. We know it is against the Bible. We know that God’s people who love Him will keep His commandments.
Today is the day to examine where you stand with God. Take a close look at what He has done for you! Take a look at what He continues to do for you! Jesus took a stand to save you, sacrificing His life to free you from the devil’s chains. Keep Jesus at the forefront of your mind when you make your decision. When looking at His death, His ability to forgive your sins and make you a new creature, His power to raise people from the dead, and His ultimate victory at the close of this chapter in Earth’s history, is the risk of following God’s law on the count of death that great? We know God is going to ultimately win, we want to be on His side.
Do you want to be on His side too?