The Mark of the Beast:
What is It?
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 31 August 2002
Today we move entirely off agricultural symbols and to a topic which we have never really addressed before. It is the subject of considerable interest and controversy today because of the way that society is degenerating, and the appearance of new and frightening scientific inventions. My subject today, therefore, is the Mark of the Beast.
I want to look at the scriptural usage of marks today and so hopefully allow the Bible to interpret itself, as we have previously done with symbols in the Garden in the Mind. The popular theory amongst most evangelical Protestant Christians is that the mark of the beast is an electronic chip-implant under the human skin. The theory goes that this microchip will be rather like a credit card recording our bank balance along with other information about us such as medical data, criminal records, and so forth. There are a lot of fanciful theories to be sure. That such chip implants exist and are being used to track down and monitor animals and ex-convicts is, of course, a fact of life. That such could be used to control people, especially as technology becomes more sophisticated, is likewise not denied. But the real question we need to be asking ourselves is this: is a subcutaneous electronic chip the 'mark of the beast' spoken of in the Book of Revelation? Is receiving this chip the sign that we belong to the devil and no longer to Yahweh? I think you may surprised by some of the answers.
Before we make a close examination of the Scriptures, we may profitably ask ourselves some simple questions to see what the mark cannot be. Salvation, as the Bible clearly teaches us, comes about by trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Lord and Saviour. And the proof of that salvation is that we will be walking in His commandments. Let us recall a quite frightening scripture which really nails down what the Christian life is. It is a warning given by Yah'shua (Jesus) against false prophets. He says this:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matt.7:15-20, NKJV).
You all understand tree and fruit symbolism now. But see what the Saviour goes on to say:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (vv.21-23).
A condition for entering into the Kingdom of Heaven is unambiguously stated here as being obedience to the Father's will. Prophesying in the Messiah's Name, casting out demons in the Messiah's Name, and doing mighty wonders in the Messiah's Name are not necessarily evidence that a person is saved. The ones who do these things, and yet are condemned and denied entry into heaven, are described as "lawless" - without Law or Torah. In other words, good though prophesying is (if it is true prophecy), good though casting demons out is (if is has been done right), and good though doing miracles is (if they bring glory to Yahweh and not to self), they are ultimately useless in terms of one's final salvation if one has been disobedient to Torah.
The King James Version (KJV), like the New International Version (NIV), mistranslates this passage badly - it reads: "depart from Me, ye that work iniquity". It should be translated as: "depart from Me, ye that transgress the Law (Torah)" (Gk. anomia, Strong's #458) and is so rendered in the New King James Version (NKJV) which I have already cited, plus a number of others. So you must check your Bible versions carefully and eliminate translator biases.
The Book of Revelation, which is the focus of our study today, makes it clear that true believers are characterised by two traits: (1) They have faith in Yah'shua (Jesus) as Messiah (Christ), and (2) They obey the Torah or commandments (Rev.12:17; 14:12; 22:14). It specifically says that the devil persecutes this class of people (Rev.12:17) and links those who do not have faith or observe Torah to the Mark of the Beast, which is the subject of my sermon to you today.
These things being scripturally proven, let us briefly consider the microchip theory. For this theory to be true, it must cause those who receive it to either (a) deny their testimony of Yah'shua (Jesus) as Messiah (Christ) or (b) break one or more of the commandments. This means that they must therefore have reached the age of accountability. They must be able to make genuine free choices. I should also point out here that there has been talk of giving these chips to new-born babies so that everyone is immediately hooked up to computers where they can be monitored. Knowing what we do about the conditions of salvation, namely, that a person must be old enough to make a genuine faith-choice for Yah'shua (Jesus), are we to believe that small children who may receive these chip implants one day will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven because of the implants? Would this not be equivalent to saying that infant baptism is the external mark or symbol of one entering the Kingdom of Heaven, even though no confession of faith has been made, or is indeed possible? I posit these as questions for serious thought.
We must now turn to the scriptures which speak of the "mark" to gain a clearer understanding of just what it is:
"[The beast] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Rev.13:15-17, NKJV).
The first thing to observe is that there are two possible locations for this mark: the right hand or the forehead. The right hand is always used symbolically to represent might and power (e.g. Ex.5:6). The resurrected Yah'shua (Jesus) sits at the right hand of Yahweh, because that is the position of acceptance and authority (e.g. 1 Pet.3:22; Heb.1:13). The "right hand of fellowship" indicates a believer in good standing with his local church or assembly and in union with the Body of Christ (Gal.2:9). Left is always used scripturally to represent evil or rejection. So when the right hand is being described in biblical symbolism, it is connected with what we do with our strength or energy, that is, our life. To have an evil mark upon the right hand means, in effect, that we have given our lives to evil.
What of the forehead? The forehead in Scripture is used to denote our attitudes, and translates the Hebrew word (mésah) which literally means "above the eye". Thus the forehead is used negatively to denote opposition, defiance, or rebellion (Jer.3:3) or its opposite, obedience. The hardness of the forehead indicates our determination or power to persevere in that attitude (Ezek.3:8ff; Is.48:4). Because your forehead is open and fully visible, it was the most obvious place to put a badge or mark (Ezek.4:4; Ex.28:38; Rev.7:3; 13:16, etc.). In Ezekiel this mark is made with ink, in Revelation it is a seal, and in Exodus it is a plaque. The Hebrews, you will remember, were commanded to symbolically fill our minds with Torah which Jews have taken literally to mean wearing a phylactery on their foreheads containing four passages of Scripture (Ex.13:1-10; 13:11-16; Dt.6:4-9 & 11:13-21) which was to remind them of key doctrines of the faith.
It is therefore very clear that the forehead symbolises our attitudes or thoughts, and our right hand our actions in life, the things we do and in whose authority we do them. Thus when the devil marks a person's forehead or right hand, it indicates that he belongs to him. The whore of Babylon has a mark on her head consisting of a name, "mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth" (Rev.17:5). The mark on the forehead is therefore also a declaration of who we are and what we stand for.
It should therefore not come as a surprise to learn that the servants of Yahweh are marked in exactly the same way:
"Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; and Yahweh said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple. Then He said to them, "Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" And they went out and killed in the city" (Ezek.9:3-7, NKJV).
This terrible judgement occurred at a time of appalling idolatry and paganism in Judah and is a foreshadowing of the events that mark the end of this world. You will notice that those who were true worshippers of Yahweh were marked with ink on their foreheads so that when the angels of judgement were sent from heaven, they were spared. What qualified them for this mark (or sign or signature) was their utter loathing of the sins that were being committed around them by the ungodly. In other words, it was an attitude of mind which qualified them for this protecting mark. They loved Yahweh and they loved His Torah, which they obeyed. They were saved by being in right relationship with their Creator in their thinking and deeds.
I have had two personal experiences with invisible spiritual marks on the forehead. The first occurred in 1989 which is recorded in the Olive Branch (Chapter 179) which I relate to you now:
"During the Worship Service held in Oslo on 10 September 1989 I related to the saints an experience I had had in the spring whilst travelling on the ferry, the "Holge Danske", across the Skagerrak from Oslo to Denmark (NC&C 119). I had just written down the revelation to the German people and was walking up some stairs to the next deck when two young Norwegian men, who were coming down the stairs, began shouting abuse at me, blaspheming the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) and speaking all manner of evil against His Gospel. I was astonished for there was nothing about my person to even suggest that I was a Christian and yet these two men, complete strangers, seemed to know who I was. There was no mistaking the fact that they were possessed of evil spirits because of the evil force exuding from them.
"I was using this experience to illustrate a vision seen by another member the following Sunday, viz. that the closer we grow to Christ, the more the forces of Satan will persecute us. During the closing prayer I wondered how it is that evil spirits are able to recognise those who belong to Christ, when I saw a vision of myself ascending those same stairs on the ferry that took me to Fredrikshavn in Denmark, and the two men descending the stairs. I saw a white mark on my forehead which the evil spirits in the two men immediately saw and recognised, and it was this that provoked their outburst.
"I saw two grotesquely ugly creatures like monkeys riding upon their backs in the region of their necks and between their shoulder-blades. They were dark and disfigured and upon closer inspection I could see that they were in fact human-like but were so horribly disfigured and shrivelled in size that their 'human' appearance was all but lost. I was then made aware of the fact that all who take upon themselves the Name of Christ receive this white mark upon their forehead which remains there for as long as they are true to their covenants, and that it will be because of this mark that the evil spirits in or on the bodies of fallen men will persecute them. Moreover, the more faithful the saints are, the more brightly will this mark shine, thus attracting the attention of evil spirits".
The second experience, which occurred some years before and at a time when I knew almost nothing about biblical symbology, took the form of a vision. In it I found myself in the Premortal world of spirits and saw my wife sleeping. I took a large succulent leaf, placed it on her forehead like carbon-paper, and wrote my name on here forehead while an angel watched on smiling. Not until later did I realise that I was symbolically claiming her to be my own.
That this is the heavenly pattern is shown by the following from the Book of Revelation:
"He who overcomes, I [Yah'shua/Jesus] will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name" (Rev.3:12-13, NKJV).
The servants of Christ have two names written on them: the Name of Yahweh, indicating to whom we belong, and the Name of the New Jerusalem, which as you will remember from last week, represents the Messianic Community or Church, or in other words, Israel. Though the revelation does not indicate which part of the body these names are written upon, it is likely that this is the forehead and right hand, respectively. Thus the prophet Isaiah writes:
"One will say, 'I am Yahweh's';
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, 'Yahweh's,'
And name himself by the name of Israel.
Here we have a twofold declaration of whom we are owned by - the one made with the mouth and the other written by hand. These are covenants or contracts. When we have the mark of Yahweh upon us, we belong to our Creator. When we have the mark of the beast upon us, we belong to the devil, Satan. And quite clearly this is to be understood in terms of mental attitudes and deeds and not physical objects though physical objects may be involved.
The mark of the beast is first and foremost a spiritual seal. That mark is already possessed by those who are not followers of Yahweh. It is an invisible seal which angels, and those who walk in the Ruach haQodesh, are able to see or discern. In the same way, those who belong to Yahweh through Christ are marked with an invisible seal.
External things like phylacteries or biological chips may therefore be viewed in a secondary sense. If people want to wear phylacteries to remind themselves of the commandments, that is fine, but if they do not wear them it does not mean that they no longer belong to Yahweh. Similarly, those who take a biochip aren't necessarily beast-worshippers, and those who don't aren't necessarily believers. The Book of Revelation states "that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Rev.13:17, NKJV). The mark is not so much an object but a number which we are told is "666" or (as some versions have it) "616" (Rev.13:18).
In either of these two numbers we receive the final clue as to what the mark actually is. The number '616' actually means "beast" in Greek, and is therefore just another way of saying "beast". The number '666' is simply a number that means Satan or the world system ('kingdoms of this world'), and represents man (6) being worshipped as God (666). In other words, anyone who worships man as God has the Mark of the Beast on his forehead and right hand.
It is easy to see how those who view the mark as simply a device like a chip or a bar code (as was once believed) could become careless in their spiritual life and assume that simply because they do not have these things that they are not marked. And that is the whole point - as Job himself said: "If I sin, then You mark me, and will not acquit me of my iniquity" (Job 10:14, NKJV). But, as the Psalmist points out, we can be marked in another way too: "Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man is peace" (Ps.37:37, NKJV). This end-time mark is, in a way, the culmination of all sin, for it is written:
"So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image" (Rev.16:2, NKJV).
Sin in its fullest manifestation is seen to be idolatry, the worship of self, the flesh, the beast-man within us all - the fallen, carnal nature. And this is nothing less than worshipping Satan. It is the exact reverse of the seal of Yahweh indicating to whom we belong. It is an invisible spiritual seal which may, or may not, be made visible by the wearing of a phylactery, a biological microchip, or some other mark like the red eye of Shiva worn by Hindus on their foreheads. Whether it is a microchip which prevents us from buying and selling of whether it is simply the unwillingness of Yahweh's people to bow before man or to worship some man calling himself God, a claim made by the Roman Emperor to whom Christians were required to make sacrifices and refused only to be martyred, doesn't really matter. The important thing is whether you worship the one and only true God or not, trust in His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) for your salvation, and obey His commandments in the Torah (Law). Amen.
This page was created on 23 July 2002
Last updated on 23 July 2002
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