Saturday, 08 September 2018 17:35

95. The name and number of the beast: a matter of worship * Revelation 13:16-18 - PART 1 of 3

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16 And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17 And that no man might buy or sell, except he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18 Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.

 

PART 1

 

*** A mark ***: The number 666 has intrigued many throughout history. It has been the source of heated discussions and confusion. Many have looked into numerology and gematria to try and pinpoint individuals who could be identified as the beast. The problem with this approach is that it completely removes the Bible from the equation. We must not forget that the Bible holds all the information necessary for the interpretation of the message in the Book of Revelation. All that God wishes to reveal to us can be found in His book. The Holy Spirit gives us understanding. Let’s not focus on human ways of calculating this number. The enemy can even use this as a distraction. Instead, let’s use God’s ways of interpreting, which means using the Bible itself. It holds the key to the number of the beast.

Up to this point in our Revelation study, we’ve notice the clear pattern used by God’s enemy. This pattern is one of imitation. The dragon is working very hard to present himself and his beast agents to the people as a supreme power. Together, they form the counterfeit trinity. The enemy is trying to deceive people with His false Christ, false Holy Spirit, false church, false city, and false message. It is not surprising that he will be also involved in marking people with his counterfeit seal, imitating God’s action of sealing His people. We’ve looked in detail into the Seal of God back in study #46. In that study, we learned how God has been sealing His people since the Old Testament and what His seal is. When people accept God’s truth, and love him with their whole heart, God blesses them with the Holy Spirit.

Receiving a mark is like having an identification. It is like wearing the team jersey. The team jersey carries the colors of the team and the markings that identify who you are in the team and who the team is. That’s how you know who the players in the game are. There are only two teams during the end times: the ones who side with God and follow His commands, and the ones who do no follow God. God’s people will have God’s seal, and the remaining of the people will have the mark of the beast.

Let’s remind ourselves where the dragon was before he called his beast allies into action. In Revelation 12, we read how the dragon wished to kill the child that had been born from the woman. The child went to God safely, and the dragon became furious. He followed the child and waged war in Heaven. He lost that battle and was cast out of Heaven. He then went back to the Earth. He moved on to make war with the woman and her children. As part of his war strategies, he summoned the two beasts, who would help him deceive and coerce the woman and her children into worshipping the false trinity.

The pregnant woman in this scenario is the original church, the Jewish people, from whom Jesus was born. After giving birth, the woman began to represent God’s people as the Christian church. Christ was victorious and ascended to Heaven after His death on the Cross. Satan then intensified his spiritual warfare against God’s people, since he no longer could attack the Trinity directly. His goal in this war is to keep as many people as possible away from God by means of deception and coercion exercised by the two religio-political powers, which are influenced by false ideas. To aid him in this war, Satan called a power to stand in the place of Christ (sea beast), and a power to stand in the place of the Holy Spirit (earth beast). The Bible describes this spiritual war in terms of two armies: Satan’s army, the 200,000,000 (Revelation 9:16), and God’s army, the 144,000 (Revelation 7; Revelation 14:1-5).

 

*** A name ***: Since the mark of the beast is a counterfeit, let’s look at the original seal first, and see what the Bible has to say about it. Then, let’s contrast it with what the Bible has to say about the counterfeit version.

Revelation 14:1 starts out by identifying God’s team, the 144,000. Please see study #47 for details on what this number means. In this verse, we see that God’s people have a mark. They are organized for battle, as their description as being the 144,000 suggests. Note that they bear the name of the Lamb’s Father on their forehead. God’s army is clearly identified. God’s mark, however, goes beyond identification. It is a seal. It protects the one who receives it from being tampered with by the enemy. That doesn’t mean the dragon won’t try to break that seal with the traps and hardships he wishes to impose on everyone. It means that those who follow God with all their heart won’t be shaken out of God’s hand. This is what we see in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God’s army will be under enemy fire but if people trust God completely, they won’t be deceived by any signs and wonders the beasts may perform. The seal of God is the presence and acceptance of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, symbolized by God’s name written on their forehead. In contrast, the mark of the beast is the presence and acceptance of the earth beast symbolized by the beast’s name written on the forehead or hand of the people siding with the enemy.

Ephesians 1:12-14 is clear about who we were sealed with, and why. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of salvation until we are reunited with the Father for the Glory of God: “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (See also Ephesians 4:30 and 2 Corinthians 1:22). You belong to whom you worship. Therefore, belonging and worshipping are closely related. Jesus said we listen to the one we consider our father: “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do you not understand my speech? even because you cannot hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. He that is of God hears God's words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God.” (John 8:42-44,47). Receiving the name of your father as a mark indicates who you serve, who you worship.

 

*** A matter of worship ***: In Revelation 13:15, we learned that the earth beast with the beast image had the power to “cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed”. The next verse tells us the earth beast will force his mark on everyone. Revelation 14:9 suggests that the people who choose to worship the image of the beast will be the ones receiving the mark. They receive this mark because they followed the earth beast’s worship instructions. We see in Revelation 14:7 God’s call about the right type of worship: “(...) Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” This call is an alert, drawing people’s attention to Who is the One worthy of worship. As the beast performs signs and wonders, and enforces the building and worship of an image, we see the direct violation of the first 3 of God’s Ten Commandments: 1 - “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3); 2 - “You shall not make unto yourself any graven image” “You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4-6); and 3 - “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7). Only God is worthy of worship. By ordering people to not only create an image, but also worship the beast and his image, the earth beast is placing something else in the position of God. From the start, we see the breaking of the first and second commandments. As we said before, a counterfeit message comes in the form of altered Christianity and lies are being spread in the name of God. As the beast makes fire come down from heaven and spreads his message, we see the breaking of the third commandment. Since the first four commandments have to do with worshipping God, we can imagine that the beast will find a way for people to break the fourth as well. The first warning included in Revelation 14 is in fact a reminder of the fourth commandment, as it includes very similar language about the identification of the One we should worship. Both passages point to God as the Creator.

 

1st angel’s message

Revelation 14:7

The 4th Commandment

Exodus 20:8-11

Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God [...] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

 

*** Overview ***: The image of the beast, his name and his number are tied to the dragon’s deception agenda. Understanding the flaws presented in the false message of the counterfeit trinity is the first step in understanding how to identify the beasts and the beast’s image. We must first know what is the true message of God and what is the true command of God before we can recognize what is not true. Anything that goes against God’s teachings is not of God. The level of enemy deception is so well crafted, that terrible acts of distortion of the truth will be done under the Christian banner. Jesus said: “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them.” (Luke 21:8). Worship is at the heart of the spiritual war we find ourselves in. Leading people to follow the wrong kind of worship is Satan’s weapon against human beings. That is how he has chosen to wage war against the woman and her children. Planting false doctrines that become part of human religious traditions is a very astute way to get people to follow the beast’s commands. Every person on the planet will be marked according to whom they worship. Only one group will choose to enjoy eternity. That group will have God’s mark written in their life - in their choice to worship the Creator.

   
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