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 3

 

*** The name of the beast or the number of his name ***: Revelation 13:18 starts with a powerful statement that is the basis on which the name and the number of the beast should be understood. The direct translation from the Greek ‘Hōde hē sophia estin’ reads “Here the wisdom is”. In fact, the entire book should be understood under this principle: wisdom. But not any wisdom - the wisdom. This text starts by pointing to a specific form of knowledge and experience which are necessary to understand the message in that verse. According to the Bible, the wisdom of man is different from the wisdom of God: “But we speak wisdom among them that are mature: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing”. “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”(1 Corinthians 2:6, 13). The wisdom of God is found in His Scripture. And so, in order to figure out the name and number of the beast, we must turn to the Bible itself for the answer. We can’t expect to understand God’s symbology by using human calculation methods.

*** Background ***: Before we dive into this dense topic, we must remember the things we’ve studied so far. Everything in Satan’s plan of attack is a deception. He is a counterfeiter. What he presents to the people is a message that is very close to the Christian teachings. Even though his arguments sound good, they contain deadly alterations compared to the original. With that in mind, let’s look once again at how there is a name connected to God’s seal and one associated with the mark of the beast.

The seal of God is represented in Revelation 14:1 by God’s name written on the foreheads of the saved people. In Revelation 13:17, the mark of the beast is represented by the beast’s name, visible either in the written form or in a numerical version. As we’ve studied before, the earth beast is a political power with apparent Christian values that will help Satan implement his plans to deceive the entire world (See studies #93 and #94). The earth beast calls everyone to create an image of the first beast and worship it. Those who refuse to worship it are to be killed. This scenario brings to mind another story in the Bible, about a situation very much like this one. We find this story in Daniel 2 and 3, about an image created to be worshiped.

*** A king and an image ***: In Daniel 2, we read about how God sent the king of ancient Babylon a dream. The king was called Nebuchadnezzar. His dream was about how the story of the kingdoms of the earth would unfold until the day they would be destroyed by God’s eternal kingdom. The image was a timeline highlighting how finite human kingdoms are. One human kingdom would overthrow and follow the previous. One after another. Each kingdom in the image was made of a different material. Babylon was the head, and it was made of gold. We can imagine that in the king’s mind, the knowledge that his kingdom was only represented by the head of gold meant that his empire would not last as long as he would like. And so, in Daniel 3, we read about an image the king had built, completely made out of gold. This was a bold statement. In light of the timeline of kingdoms given by God in the dream, Nebuchadnezzar was deliberately saying he had rejected God’s timeline and he, by his own power, would have his kingdom last forever. The image would no longer have just the head made of gold, but the entire body would be gold. The king wished the entire length of the human timeline to be under Babylonian domain. Like the earth beast in Revelation 13:15, Nebuchadnezzar ordered all “people, nations and languages” to worship the image at his command (Daniel 3:4-5). Those who refused to worship the image would be sent to the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:6). Like the beast of the image in Revelation, the image in ancient Babylon also had numbers associated with it. In Hebrew custom, when measurements for an object did not include the depth, it’s because it was the same as the width (Ezra 6:3). We read in the Bible the measurements for that image in Daniel 3:1. We can understand the measurements to be 60 cubits high, 6 cubits wide, and consequently 6 cubits deep (9’L x 9’W x 90’H).

The image shown by God in the king's dream was different from the one created by men under Nebuchadnezzar‘s leadership. The point of the original image was to show that a kingdom of infinite duration would destroy it and would be established by God. The point of the counterfeit image was to show that a kingdom established by a man would have impressive longevity, as displayed by the image measurements.

*** The number of the beast ***: Revelation 13:18 calls us to interpret the verse using God’s wisdom, and so, the understanding of this number must be accomplished through Scripture itself. An important information included in the verse about the number is that it is “the number of a man”. The Greek word for “man” used here is anthrōpos. This is the same word used in Revelation 13:13, when the beast made fire come down in front of every men. The Greek language has two words for ‘man’: anēr, which refers to a male human individual. The other word is anthrōpos, which refers to the human race in a generic way, giving the idea of mankind. In the New Testament, the term anthrōpos is used often, and we see it when Jesus is called the Son of Man. With this in mind, we must understand the number of the beast not as the number of one single individual, but as the number of humanity. Just as the image created by man in Nebuchadnezzar’s story had measurements around the number six, the beast of the image in Revelation 13 has a number around the number six. And six is a number said to relate to the human beings.

The beast’s number was actually written with words, as six hundred sixty six, instead of the digits 666. The three numbers are given separately and not in a numerical form. They are written in a cardinal representation: hexakosioi hexēkonta hex. If this was to be written as one Greek number, it would have been χξϝ (chi xi digamma.). Like the image measurements in Nebuchadnezzar’s story, the number six hundred sixty six from the beast in Revelation 13:18 seems to give dimension to the beast and his image. Just as the image in ancient Babylon served to represent the history of mankind, the number of the beast is also a number of mankind. The number is a representation of mankind - a type of measurement of the human history. As such, it should not be seen as a mystic number, or the number of one particular man, as many have proposed. The significance of the number 666 seems to be linked to the lifespan of the human governments as they support the dragon’s agenda. These governments are represented by the beast’s 10 horns.

The beast’s horns are much like the sections of the image in the dream, indicating the passage of time in terms of Kingdoms that would rule on the earth. As we said, these governments are represented by the horns on the beast. The explanation about the beast with 10 horns is found in the book of Daniel, and also in Revelation 17. In Revelation 17, we see the strong connection between the sea beast (10 earth governments) and the woman named Babylon (a religious-political power). They are like a unit, working together to deceive the entire world with their modified Christian doctrines that the Bible said made people “drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:2; Revelation 14:8). In other words, they caused the people of the earth to commit spiritual adultery. They preached a form of worship that was different than what was established by God. In Daniel, the description of the little horn on top of the beast’s head match the description of the woman on top of the beast in Revelation 17. They are both described as a kingdom that rise above 10 others (Revelation 17:18; Daniel 7:20), are involved in blasphemy against God (Revelation 17:3; Daniel 7:25), and are guilty of killing God’s people (Revelation 17:6; Daniel 7:21, 22, 25).

*** God and His image ***: There is another story in the Bible that parallels that of the beast and his image. It is the story of Creation and fall of men. The Bible says that God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). He formed them out of the dust of the earth and gave them life (Genesis 2:7). We saw how the earth beast is said to have power to give life to the image of the sea beast (Revelation 13:15). The sea beast represented 10 earths’s kingdoms ruling on earth. Adam and Eve were to rule over the whole earth (Genesis 1:26-28). Now, note how closely the beast behavior mimics God’s actions. God gave a command: Adam and Eve were not to eat of a certain tree, called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they decided not to obey God, they would certainly die. The beast command also came with a death consequence to those who did not follow his orders. The difference here is that God wishes His children to be safe and free of sin, while the beast wants to push people further into sin. Mankind, in the persons of Adam and Eve, were created on day 6 of the creation week. And so the number 6 has been associated with humankind from the beginning.

*** God’s Judgment ***: We will study this topic more in detail when we go over the next chapters of Revelation but we must bring up the points in God’s judgment that correspond to the counterfeit behaviors of the sea beast and his image. As people are faced with the earth beast’s power to give life to the image of the beast and to order people to worship it, the message from God in Revelation 14:7 comes as a reminder or warning regarding His command about true worship and God’s dominion: “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.” While the beast sets out to kill anyone who does not worship the image of the beast, God sends His second warning, announcing to the people that Babylon has fallen, “because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). The third warning comes in connection to the behavior described in the second warning. The way the beast forced the people to worship the image seem to be linked to the way Babylon made the nations drink the wine of her dirnication. The third warning says: “If any man worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out undiluted into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb” (Revelation 14:9-10). The end time religious-political power symbolized as Babylon made people drink from the cup of her false teachings and caused them to sin against God (this is symbolized by the wine of her fornication). In turn, the people who remain in that fornication will end up drinking from another cup: the wine of the wrath of God (death). The beast says that those who disobey his worship commands will die, but God is saying that those who follow the beast commands will actually be the ones who will suffer eternal death. God’s warning in Revelation 14 actually serve to clarify what is actually happening in Revelation 13. It clears up the deceits spread by the beast and His image.

*** The human wisdom ***: The number 666 has been interpreted in different ways using human forms of calculations. One popular way is through the use of gematria. Gematria is a system of alphanumeric code first used by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Greeks. The system was later also adopted into the Jewish culture. This method is used to find different meaning in various words, as letters of the alphabet are assigned a numeric value. With this, words can be calculated and made into a number. The names and titles of many individuals have been calculated and said to be 666. We can’t deny that those names and titles may come to the number 666. But arriving at an individual as being the 666 by means of this sort of calculation bears no spiritual meaning as presented in the Bible. This form of calculation was (and stil is) used in pagan rituals of mysticism and divination. The Bible tells us to stay away from such practices (Deuteronomy 18:10-14)! Even if certain names and titles can add up to 666, let’s not use that as the explantation for what is written in the Bible. For one, we will be missing a lot more information God wishes for us to know. Secondly, God calls us to His own form of of wisdom, and not human wisdom, “for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

*** Overview ***: When we compare all those passages from Daniel 2 and 3, Revelation 14 and 17, to the beast behaviors described in Revelation 13, we can see more clearly that the name and number associated with the beast and His image have a spiritual connotation regarding the history of the human race and how it has been manipulated by satanic forces. While the dragon and his agents work to confuse people throughout history, God works to share His truth. In all these Bible texts that we have compared, the name associated with the beast or image is the name of a human religious-political kingdom who has pledged allegiance to the dragon and opposes God’s kingdom: this kingdom is called Babylon. The name and number of the beast system are not not one of an individual. The Antichrist power is formed by the false teachings which have been around since Paul’s time (2 Thessalonians 2:7). A person alive in Paul’s days would not be alive at the time of the end. A person could not be alive, but a belief system could. If the beasts were identified as an individual each, they would be predestined to be lost. That is not a biblical teaching. Christ died for every person in the world. Everyone has the opportunity to choose and accept God in their hearts. The participation of an individual in the beast system does not determine that he or she will be lost. They still have a chance to be saved before the end. The greatest example of that is king Nebuchadnezzar himself. The king of ancient Babylon repented at the end and recognized that God’s “dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34). God Himself will call His people out of the end time Babylon before it is destroyed: “Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4). Furthermore, the destruction of the sea beast and the earth beast (referred to as the false prophet) happen before anyone else is sent to the lake of fire. They are the first ones sent there, at the time of the Second Coming (Revelation 19:20). The Bible says that the eternal destruction of people and fallen angels happen after the 1000 years of Christ’s reign in Heaven (Revelation 20:1-15). The Bible says that only at that time, the lost beings will be judged “according to their works” and “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12, 15). If the beast’s were individuals, they would have to go through this final judgment and could not have been sentenced before the judgment happened. As a belief system promoting false religious doctrines, their burning in the lake of fire before the judgment is logical because the beasts will completely lose their credibility at the Second Coming. When Jesus comes back fulfilling every promise regarding His return, it will be clear to the universe that the beasts’ claims were false. “And then shall that Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

The triple number gives dimension to the beast and his image as the false trinity works behind the propagation of false teachings throughout history. The number of mankind comes in direct opposition with the divine. This thought also lead us to believe that the number six is a reflection not only of humanity, but also of Self. The elevation of Self as the center of one’s spiritual life has taken over the place that should be occupied by God. We saw in study #11 how the number 7 is a symbol in the Bible for completion and perfection. A number determined by God. Since this issue of the image of the beast is a matter of worship, as we saw in study #95, we must point out the contrast between the number 6 and the number 7 present in the 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) and how it recalls the creation week we read in Genesis 1 and 2. In the Commandment, we see that six days are reserved for mankind, but the seventh is reserved for God (Exodus 20:9-10). During the first six days, He made the world, and on the seventh he made a holy day (Exodus 20:11, see also Genesis 2:2-3). The reference to the number 6 in the number of the beast, as a number of humanity, emphasizes how it falls short of the perfection of the number 7. Humans are not gods. And with this, we are back to the first deception of humanity, laid out by the serpent of old. Satan deceived Eve with the argument that if they disobeyed God, their eyes would be opened and they would be “as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Eve desired that kind of wisdom, and so she followed the serpent’s words and went against God’s commands. (Genesis 3:6). At that moment, the glory Eve should have reserved only to God, she gave it to the serpent instead. To avoid being deceived by the enemy, the first angel message in Revelation 14:7 is what needs to be engraved in our hearts: “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.

In the table below, we can clearly see how the opposing forces to God’s dominion have worked worked to counterfeit God’s activities.

 

  Divine Acts  Counterfeit to Divine Acts 
  God and His Image - Genesis 1-3 God and His judgment - Revelation 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 Nebuchadnezzar and the worship to the golden image - Daniel 3 The earth beast and the worship to the image - Revelation 13:14-18
Image God created man and woman in His own image. (Genesis 1:26-27) God created Heaven and earth. (Revelation 14:7) The king of Babylon ordered that an image be built. (Daniel 3:1) The earth beast orders that an image be built. (Revelation 13:14)
 Power God gave life to the man He created from the dust of the earth. (Genesis 2:7) God's hour of judgment has come. (Revelation 14:7) The king organized the dedication of the image. (Daniel 3:2) The earth beast gives life to the image. (Revelation 13:15
 Domain God gave man and woman dominion over all the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28) God warned people about the end time Babylon, who deceived all nations of the world with its false doctrines (made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication). (Revelation 14:8) The image was made of gold (Daniel 3:1), which was an alteration to the image God showed in a vision to represent all the kingdoms that would dominate the earth throughout History. (Daniel 2:31-45)

The image is a recreation of the sea beast, which was the beast with seven heads and ten horns. (revelation 13:1)

The ten horns are ten kingdoms that would have dominion on earth throughout History. (Revelation 13:17:12)

 Obedience God issued a command: obey God and do not sin by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:17) God reminds people of His command: worship God and give Him glory. (Revelation 14:7) The king issued a command: obey the king and worship the golden image. (Daniel 3:4-5) The earth beast issued a command: obey the beast and worship the image. (Revelation 13:15)
 Mark Man and woman listened to the serpent and with this sin brough over a curse pronounced by God. The consequences of sin marked humanity and the earth. (Genesis 3:16-19) Those who worship God and follow Jesus will receive the seal of God. (Revelation 14:1, 4; Revelation 7:2-3) Those who would not worship the golden image would be identified. (Daniel 3:6) Those who do not worship the image will be identified. (Revelation 13:15)
 Consequence Choosing sin would bring death. (Genesis 2:17) Those who worship the beast and receive the mark of the beast will be sent to the fire. (Revelation 14:9-10)  Those who did not worship the golden image were to be sent to the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:6).  Those who do not worship the image will die. (Revelation 13:15)
 Number Man and woman were created on day 6. (Genesis 1:27, 31)  God destroys the power that established the mark of the beast through 7 angels that had 7 bowls with the final 7 plagues. (Revelation 15:1; Revelation 16:1; Revelation 18:2)  The golden image had a measurement: 60 cubits high, 6 cubits width and depth. (Daniel 3:1)  The image has a number: sixhundred, sixty, and six. (Revelation 13:18)
 Name God allowed man to name the woman, and he named her Eve "because she was the mother of all living". (Genesis 3:20) God warned people about the woman that sat on the beast. She has a name: Babylon, "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth". (Revelation 17:5) The kingdom where the image sat has a name: Babylon. (Daniel 3:1)  The beast whose image was created has a name. (Revelation 13:17).

 

  

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 2

 

*** Who, where, why and what ***: Revelation 13:16-17 contains a list of 6 pairs of items that describe who will receive the mark mentioned there, where it is located, why they receive it, what it is and its implications. It is interesting to note in the list that in Greek, there is no “or” after the expression “he that had the mark” in Revelation 13:17. Since there were no punctuation signs such as colon in Greek back then, and the the word “or” was present between the pair of words mentioned in the list, this suggests that what comes next, after the expression “the mark” is the explanation to what the mark is: “the name of the beast, or the number of his name”. Here is the list:

1. Small and great,
2. Rich and poor,
3. Free and slave,
4. A mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads
5. No man might buy or sell,
6. The mark: the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

*** Who ***: Just as the signs and wonders the earth beast performed were done in front of the entire humanity, there seem to be no boundaries as to who can get this mark. This means that in order to get the mark, a person won’t need money - both the poor and slaves will be able to receive it (Revelation 13:16). People won’t need to be living in a technologically advanced or a rich society in order to get the mark. One could argue that this rules out the theory that the mark of the beast is a chip implanted under the skin. We can imagine that implanting chips on billions of people around the world would be quite a costly undertaking. We can see in the Bible that the mark is something global, reflecting a person’s worship choices. The mark mentioned in Revelation 13:17 is a consequence of what people will choose to do, wether by belief or fear. This concept is a nice segue for the discussion about where the mark will be placed.

*** Where ***: The mark will be placed on people’s forehead or their right hand. In the Old Testament, God established a covenant with His people, and they were instructed to believe in this covenant and act on their belief. The symbolism chosen then is very similar to the one seen in Revelation. When the Israelites left Egypt, the Lord established a covenant with them to remind them of how God had freed them from slavery. This covenant was a celebration, the Passover. God wanted to establish a sign between Himself and His people. He wanted the people to have the Law of God in their mouth, meaning, they would believe the message and preach it to the following generations. The Passover would be a sign: “And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:9, NAS, se also Exodus 13:16). Note that the Israelites should be professing the Law with their mouth, and as a reminder, they would have a sign on their hand and on their forehead. This sign was an event, the Passover, which pointed to God as their Savior: “It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:8).

Later, in Deuteronomy 6:4-8, God instructs the people on another sign to be placed on their hands and forehead: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.” The driving force for keeping the Law He was giving the people should be “Love the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

In Deuteronomy 11:16-18, God ask the people to bind something to their hands and forehead: “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you. You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.” The people should only worship God.

In these Old Testament passages, the forehead is used symbolically to indicate remembrance and acceptance, as well as understanding. It points to the mind. The hand is also used symbolically to indicate an action. God had expectations for the people’s behavior. The Israelites were supposed to not only believe but also do something. But how does this relate to Revelation 13 and the mark of the beast? In the minds of the 1st century Christians, who at the time were mostly Jews, the significance of the mark of the beast being placed on the hand and forehead would be clear. The idea of having a mark on the hand or forehead had been part of their culture for a long time. They took that concept so literally that during prayers the men would wear an object called phylactery on their hand and forehead to remind them to keep God’s Law. They would have understood the mark of the beast as a pretense substitute to their phylactery.

Remember how people in Revelation 13:14-15 found themselves having to choose between death or worshipping the image of the beast? At the time of the end, the earth beast will instruct the people to recreate the religious power symbolized by the sea beast (Revelation 13:1-10, see studies #86-92). The people are told to value that recreation, or image, to the point where they find themselves repeating what the sea beast power did in the past. Some will follow the image of the beast because they believe in it. Others will follow the image even if they don’t believe in it but because they are afraid of it. Having the mark placed on the forehead is a substitution to the agreements God had made with the Israelites: to worship God only and to keep His commandments.

*** Why ***: Revelation 13:17 gives a compelling reason as to why people will be looking to worship the image of the beast, even if they don’t believe in the revived religious system of the Middle Ages: buying and selling. The first aspect af this reason is that there will be an economic system where commerce is directly influenced and led by those bearing the mark of the beast. This reminds us of the situation of the first Christians that suffered persecution and hardship for not recognizing the divinity of the Roman Emperor (see the studies #13 to #27). They were only able to conduct business if they participated in the pagan festivals (see study #19). Even the expression “buying and selling” in Revelation 13:17 serves to emphasize how much the political power will be forcing their religious views and decrees on the people. The requirement to worship the image of the beast will be placed so heavily on the people that those who do not have a strong relationship with the true God of Heaven will not be able to resist the temptation to break God’s Law and worship the image. Another aspect of buying and selling is its reference to the buying and selling in terms of the preaching of religion. We can understand that no other religious information will be allowed to circulate unless it is approved by the beast. Under this point of view, preaching could be considered as a type of merchandise promoted by the beast. The deceiving force in the end time, described as Babylon, has a strong association with such merchants (Revelation 18:3). Whether the buying and selling are commercial or religious in nature - or both - we know from Revelation 18:3, 9-19 that the merchants of the earth became rich because of Babylon (Revelation 18:3, 15).

*** What ***: So, What is this mark? What can be so deceiving that will face little resistance and have the people of the earth willing to receive this mark? Is it a literal etching on the skin? As we saw in the Old Testament, God’s covenant with His people was symbolically placed on their foreheads and hands. The people, however, after their return from Babylonian exile, found a way to turn this symbol into a real object which they would tie around their hand and forehead. This object was called the phylactery. So the same thing could happen in the last days. For God, the actual mark is whether or not people really love Him and keep His commandments. You could tie a phylactery all day long to your arm and head, but if you did not love God with all your heart, the real sign - the one only God can see - would not really be there. The physical marks that people may come up with could become a mere distraction from the real one. Let’s not forget: we are fighting a spiritual war, as Paul says (Ephesians 6:12). The weapons used are also spiritual. This battle is fought in the mind. The enemy wants to get our minds away from God. And so, this is the mark of the beast on the forehead: the absence of worship directed to God. And how about the sign on the hand? It’s the absence of obedience to God. Remember what Jesus said: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). When people lose their love for God, they lose their faith and they stop following God’s teachings. When people stop obeying God, sin grows. This is one of the things Jesus said about the end times: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.” (Matthew 24:11-12). The enemy wants to substitute worship and devotion to the True God with worship and devotion to anything else. If Satan can distract people and fill their minds with the creation of a new world order where the teachings of the true God are not part of it, then he will have succeeded in marking his team.

*** The Seal of God ***: As a contrast, God’s people will be sealed only on the forehead, and will not have any markings in their hand. This is because we are not saved by any actions, works or good deeds we may be involved in. Only the work of Jesus saves, not our own. We cannot improve upon what He has done for us on the Cross. That was perfection by itself. Now, it doesn’t mean we are not involved in good works or obedience to the Law. It means our salvation is not dependent on them.

*** Overview ***: We often hear how Christians today are under the new covenant. This is true according to the Bible. Here is what God had to say about His new covenant with His people: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33). The new covenant is God’s Law written in people’s hearts. This goes very well with the verse where Jesus is promising the Holy Spirit, the One who is our seal: “If you love me, keep my commandments”. (John 14:15). If you love God, His commandments will be very important to you - they are in your heart. The expression “in your heart” really means in your mind, where you think and where your feelings are generated. The new covenant has to do with the Law of God, and as we saw earlier, the old covenant was also about His Law (Deuteronomy 6:4-8). So in reality, both the Old and new covenants are the same thing. The difference is that the new covenant is not to be wrapped around your hands (or works) to indicate Salvation. Loving God, worshiping Him with all your hart is a matter of personal choice. And so, the seal of God during the end times is only placed on the forehead of those who truly love Him. Revelation 14:12 describes the people who will be saved: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” The saved people are not saved because they keep the commandments, but rather, they keep the commandments because they are saved and love God. It’s the other way around. Salvation by works is part of the enemy’s deceiving strategies, not part of God’s truth.

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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