14 - The Mark of the Beast

Introduction

The Bible tells of a mark, or sign, that will identify the Beast and his followers. By receiving this mark one gives allegiance to the Beast, and acknowledges his authority to be greater than God's! In this lesson we will identify that mark.

1. What sign, or mark reveals allegiance to God?

"Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway. ... Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; ... Therefore 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" (Deuteronomy 11:1, 8, 18).

The outward observance of God's Commandments is a "sign on your hand," and believing them is as "frontlets between your eyes." This is God's symbolic mark in the forehead and in the hand.

Every chapter and every verse of the Bible is a communication from God to men. We should bind its precepts as signs upon our hands and as frontlets between our eyes. If studied and obeyed the Bible would lead God's people, as the Israelites were led by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

2. People look at outward marks, but where does God look?

"for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7b).

"Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart"—the human heart, with its conflicting emotions of joy and sorrow; the wandering, wayward heart which is the abode of so much impurity and deceit. He knows its motives, its very intents and purposes. This was a lesson that David never forgot, and in his dying testimony to Solomon he said, "And thou Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind."

3. Everyone will one day receive a mark. What mark will God's people receive?

"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads" (Revelation 14:1).

John saw the 144,000, having the Father's name written in their foreheads. They bore the signet of heaven. They reflected the image of God. They were full of the light and the glory of the Holy One. Those who have in their foreheads the seal (or sign or mark) of the infinite God will regard the world and its attractions as subordinate to eternal interest. Every soul in our world is the Lord's property by creation and by redemption. All who cherish the Lord as their portion in this life will be under His control and will receive the sign, the mark of God, which shows them to be God's special possession.

4. Anciently, a name represented one's character. God wants to write His name—or character—in us. God's character is described in His law. Where will God's character, or law, be written? Will this writing be visible to mankind?

"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;" (Hebrews 10:16).

If the heart is renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new covenant promise is fulfilled, "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience—the service and allegiance of love—is the true sign of discipleship. If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His Holy law.

5. Which one of God's laws especially identifies God's people, marking them as those who accept His authority?

"Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. ... And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God" (Ezekiel 20:12, 20).

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11).

The fourth commandment is God's "seal." It contains His Name, title, and domain—the elements of an official seal. The Lord has clearly defined the road to the city of God; but the great enemy has changed the signpost, setting up a false one—a spurious Sabbath.

Satan was determined that God's memorial, the seventh day Sabbath, should not live in the minds of the people. He was determined to obliterate it. Satan set a day that cannot be a sign between God and His people, and seeks to lead people to accept this day and make the observance of the seventh day a sign of disloyalty to the authorities of earth. The man of sin has set up a false sabbath, and the professed Christian world has adopted this child of the papacy, refusing to obey God.

6. Will the Beast power acknowledge God's authority?

"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

There is one who is pointed out in prophecy as the man of sin. He is a representative of Satan. Taking the suggestions of Satan concerning the Law of God, which is as unchangeable as His throne, this man of sin comes in and represents to the world that he has changed that Law, and that the first day of the week instead of the seventh is now the Sabbath. Professing infallibility, he claims the right to change the Law of God to suit his own purposes. By so doing he exalts himself above God, and leaves the world to infer that God is fallible. Christ declared that not one jot or tittle of the law should fail until heaven and earth should pass away.

7. What will the Beast boast that he can do to God's law?

"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (Daniel 7:25).

The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God's commandments. Says Daniel of the little horn, the papacy: "He shall think to change times and the law." And Paul styled the same power as "the man of sin" who was to exalt himself above God. Only by changing God's law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law, as thus changed, would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.

While the worshippers of God will be especially distinguished by their regard for the fourth Commandment—since this is the sign of His creative power and the witness to His claim upon man's reverence and homage—the worshippers of the beast will be distinguished by their efforts to tear down the Creator's memorial, to exalt the institution of Rome, which is Sunday.

8. What is it that identifies and marks the Beast power?

"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; ... For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders," (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7-9).

The great apostate had succeeded in exalting himself" above all that is called God, or that is worshipped" (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He had dared to change the only precept of the divine law that unmistakably points all mankind to the true and living God. In the fourth Commandment, God is revealed as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and is thereby distinguished from all false gods. It was as a memorial of the work of creation that the seventh day was sanctified as a rest day for man. It was designed to keep the living God ever before the minds of men as the source of life and the object of reverence and worship.

Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scriptural evidence is lacking.

9. When Jesus comes, all will have accepted either God's mark or the Beast's mark. How are those who have received the mark of the Beast described?

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-23).

Not all who profess His name and wear His badge are Christ's. Many who have taught in My name, said Jesus, will be found wanting at last. There are people who believe that they are right, when they are wrong. While claiming Christ as their Lord, and professedly doing great works in His name, they are workers of iniquity. A mere profession of discipleship is of no value. "Believe, believe," they say, "and you need not keep the Law." But a belief that does not lead to obedience is presumption. Christ calls them workers of iniquity because they are deceivers, having on the garments of righteousness to hide the deformity of their characters, the inward wickedness of their unholy hearts.

10. How are those who receive God's mark (Revelation 14:1) described?

"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).

Who are God's people? Those who on this earth have witnessed to their loyalty. Those who have kept the Commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ; those who have owned Jesus as their Saviour. The sign of obedience is the observance of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. If men keep the fourth commandment, they will keep all the rest. When the Law of God is most derided and brought into the most contempt, then it is time for every true follower of Christ, for those whose hearts have been given to God and who are fixed to obey God, to stand unflinchingly for the faith once delivered to the saints.

11. What will Satan do to those who refuse to receive the mark of the Beast's authority by keeping Sunday?

"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).

From the days of Adam to our time our great enemy has been exercising his power to oppress and destroy. He is now preparing for his last campaign against the church. All who seek to follow Jesus will be brought into conflict with this relentless foe. The more nearly the Christian imitates the divine Pattern, the more surely will he make himself a mark for the attacks of Satan.

Satan assailed Christ with his fiercest and most subtle temptations, but he was repulsed in every conflict. Those battles were fought in our behalf; those victories make it possible for us to conquer. Christ will give strength to all who seek it. No man without his own consent can be overcome by Satan. The tempter has no power to control the will or to force the soul to sin.

12. How will Satan make war with them?

"And 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: And 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" (Revelation 13:16, 17).

When the legislature frames laws which exalt the first day of the week and put it in the place of the seventh day, the device of Satan will be perfected. History will be repeated. False religion will be exalted. The first day of the week, a common working day possessing no sanctity whatever, will be set up as was the image at Babylon. All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to worship this spurious sabbath. This is Satan's plan to make of no account the day instituted by God, and given to the world as a memorial of creation.

13. While God's followers symbolically receive God's name in their foreheads, the Beast's followers receive the Beast's name (his character of lawlessness), signified by a number. What is the number of the Beast?

"Here 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 (666)" (Revelation 13:18).

In the Bible, the number 6 is the number associated with man: God created man on the 6th day of the creation week and gave man 6 days of the week to work, but God blessed and sanctified (made holy) the 7th day and set it apart as a memorial of creation. The 7th day is called "the Sabbath of the Lord thy God," and Jesus declared that He was "the Lord of the Sabbath," in other words, the 7th day Sabbath is "the Lord's day" (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:27-28; Revelation 1:10).

But let's get back to 666. What does it mean?

Revelation 17 (verse 3) describes a scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns (the beast described in Revelation 13, symbolizing the same kingdom, also had seven heads and ten horns), upon which sits a woman (symbolizing a church, cf: Isaiah 54:5-6; Hosea 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 11:2; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:25-27) who has "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." written on her forehead.

In Daniel 2, we are told that Nebuchadnezzar the Great, King of Babylon, had a dream in which he saw a great image in the form of a man, made of various materials, representing successive kingdoms in the history of the world: the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass (bronze), the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and clay. Then a stone, cut out without hands, struck the image on the feet and broke it into pieces and filled the earth, representing God's everlasting kingdom to come.

The prophet Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar: "Thou, O king, art a king of kings … Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth ... [then] the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:37-39, 44)

Some time later, Nebuchadnezzar made an image in the form of a man that was 6 cubits wide and 60 cubits high. In other words, the dimensions of the image were 6x6x60 cubits (Daniel 3:1). The image was made entirely of gold, not just the head, as if to say that Babylon would last forever, in defiance of God and His Word. Nebuchadnezzar also commanded that "all the people, the nations, and the languages" under his authority should "fall down and worship" the image that he had set up, with the penalty of death in a "burning fiery furnace" for anyone who disobeyed (Daniel 3:4-7; Compare this passage with Revelation 14:6-10, where we find God's call to worship to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people," with the statement that "Babylon [both physical and spiritual] is fallen, fallen," and the warning that anyone who "worships the beast and his image and receives his mark" shall be destroyed with "fire and brimestone"). So here the number 666 is associated with a man, full of pride, defying God and His Word, usurping God's authority, teaching false doctrines (confusion: Babylon), and leading (coercing when necessary) the world into false worship.

In summary, the number of the beast, 666, which is "the number of a man", symbolizes the character of the beast, which exalts the authority of man over the authority of God.

14. What warning has God given against receiving the mark of the Beast?

"And 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, Saying 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.
And 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.
And 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, The 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: And 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" (Revelation 14:6-11).

The third angel's message has been sent forth to the world, warning men against receiving the mark of the beast or of his image in their foreheads or in their hands. To receive this mark means to come to the same decision as the beast has done and to advocate the same ideas, in direct opposition to the Word of God. "All who receive this mark," God says, "the 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."

When God sends to men warnings so important that they are represented as proclaimed by holy angels flying in the midst of heaven, He requires every person endowed with reasoning powers to heed the message. The fearful judgments pronounced against the worship of the beast and his image should lead all to a diligent study of the prophecies to learn what the mark of the beast is, and how they are to avoid receiving it.

COMMITMENT

God says that the Sabbath marks His people as His, and that the Beast would make war on them. The beast is that "lawless" one who would try to "change" God's law, specifically the command involving "times" -- that is, the Sabbath. So when Sunday keeping is enforced by law, it will constitute the mark of the Beast. "You are that one's slaves whom you obey" (Romans 6:16). Today God is calling us to receive His mark (or seal). As you look upon your crucified Saviour, will you acknowledge His authority by obeying Him and keeping His Sabbath?