11And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
16And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:11-18, King James Version)
What is the mark of the Beast? This is a question that has caused much discussion down through the ages ever since it was penned by the Apostle John. Some say it will be a microchip placed under the skin of the hand, allowing one to buy or sell. Some say it is worship on Sunday. Some say it is a tattoo on the skin. What’s the truth?
The blunt truth is that the Bible does not directly come out and say, “This is the mark of the Beast.” What the Bible does say, however, is that there is another type of “mark” or “seal” placed upon God’s people. By comparing and contrasting, we can infer what the mark is.
First of all, notice that it is tied into worship (v 12). We are told that off the bat. Whatever the mark is, it is tied into worship, and that is what makes God’s people reject it. After all, if it simply were a microchip, who would refuse to take it if it means being able to work and eat? No, there must be some sort of allegiance involved. Those who refuse this form of worship will be killed (v 15).
Second, this allegiance is backed up by the whole notion of a mark. “Mark”, or “charagma”, means a stamp, brand (like on horses) or carving/sculpture. While there are many implications here, one thing that stands out is that it is a mark of ownership.
Thirdly, most of those involved in the false worship will be deceived (v 14). The second beast is pictured like a lamb that speaks like a dragon (v 11). Obviously, this contrasts against the vision of the Lamb of God in the opening sequence of Revelation. The dragon is Satan (Rev 12:9). What we are picturing here is a false Christ figure.
Fourthly, the mark is upon either their hand or their forehead. The hand is action. It is what you do. The forehead is the seat of intelligence. It is what you think. In other words, it doesn’t have to be a visible mark, although through your actions and worship, it will be evident.
You come away with the obvious answer that this is some form of false Christianity. Most likely, it will be a mixture of paganism and true Christianity, as we are also told that the Great Whore is called “Babylon the Great” in Rev 17:5.
This is not the only identifying mark in Revelation, however.
2And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
So, the “mark” of the Beast is a counterfeit to the seal of God’s servants! What is this “seal”? It comes from “sphragis” meaning a seal that is placed upon scrolls and imprinted with a signet ring. It was used to show the authority behind the contents of the scroll. Whomever’s seal was upon the scroll authorized whatever pronouncement was contained therein. Again, it signals ownership!
This can be backed up by Scripture.
The Holy Spirit, the power and might of God, is the seal of the true Christian! Anything else is counterfeit!
21Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
We are owned by God, and a down payment of His Spirit is placed into our hearts. The Spirit molds us, shapes us and guides us. It is the power by which the Law is written upon our hearts and minds (Heb 10:16).
3And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
5And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
6And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
8And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
9And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture 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:
11And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
These same 144,000 who were sealed during the Great Tribulation are now protected by God. Those who are part of the false worship system of Babylon are punished.
Who are the saints? Those who keep God’s commandments! There are no alternatives. Either you are sealed by God in this time period, or you receive the mark of the Beast!
It is easy to see why HWA and the SDAs thought that Sunday worship is the mark of the Beast. The same amalgam of pagan practices that started in Babylon are continued down through the time of Christ’s return. The Catholic Church, instead of standing strong and going against the tide, brought these pagan practices into their own worship, including incorporating the day of worship of Mithras on the “venerable day of the Sun”.
The Sabbath was written in stone along with the rest of the Ten Commandments. Interestingly enough, most Protestants would gladly pronounce nine of them as good ones to keep. Some might even go as far as to say that nine of them are required to keep. There really is only one of the Ten Commandments that offends mainstream Christianity! Ask them why they don’t keep the seventh day Sabbath, and you might get answers like, “It was changed”, or “It was moved to Sunday.” Ask them to prove it, and they grasp at straws quite quickly.
The empire of Israel was split into two nations after the death of King Solomon. The northern tribes became known as the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel” because they were taken captive and scattered throughout the kingdom of Assyria. The Jews, however, realized they were taken captive because, among other things, of their lax attitude towards keeping the Sabbath. The Sabbath, and the Law in general, needed to be protected, their thinking went, and they built up traditions in order to avoid breaking the commandments. Of course, it was all external, and thus doesn’t really work. It even misses the point, which is that God wants voluntary obedience.
Many Jews today, in spite of never having set foot in the Middle East, have retained their identity all these centuries because of their obedience to the Law, and in particular the seventh day Sabbath.
13Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
14Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
15Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
16Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
17It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
18And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:13-18, King James Version)
A “sign” is not of itself a thing so much as that it points to something greater. In this case, the “sign” is the Sabbath that identifies God’s people. It was so important as to incur the death penalty. Someone doing hard work like cutting up trees for gathering firewood (Strong’s H6086) was condemned to death by God (Nu 15:32). Why? Because the Sabbath was to point to God. It was instituted as a day to cease from our own pleasures and concentrate upon God Himself.
People like to talk about relationships, but can you have a relationship without being there? Without taking the time to be with someone? When we neglect the Sabbath, we are neglecting time with God Himself! When we neglect the Sabbath, we are saying we don’t belong to Him!
Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?
~ Am 3:3 (NASB)
However, notice that Exodus 31 says “Sabbaths” plural. Most translations reflect this fact. Why would it be plural?
6Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD.
7Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.
8And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.
9And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
Notice the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are also a “sign”! Here is something that is frequently overlooked! But! It does not end there!
4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8And thou shalt bind them [which is? “These words which I command thee this day”!] for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
Over and over again, we see that all of the commandments are a sign – all of which are on the hand and the forehead. Just like the counterfeit, it involves worship, and it involves what you think and do.
18Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
22For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him; (Deuteronomy 11:18-22, King James Version)
Again, what you do, what you think, and in this verse we even see it is what is in your heart.
Jesus said it was from the heart that a man defiles himself. Mankind has a heart problem. Mankind is also limited in its knowledge. Writing the Law upon both the heart and mind solves a myriad of problems.
Revelation makes it clear. There is the way of God, and then there is the way of Babylon. One is real. The other is counterfeit. One is true Christianity. The other is not.
22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
~ Mt 7:22-23 (NLT)