The Mark Of The Beast

By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

Many well-meaning preachers have spoken or written on this subject, generally to warn their audience against receiving this dreaded mark. Those who will be under compulsion to receive this mark in their hand or forehead will indeed be faced with tremendous pressure, for once this is required no one will be able to buy or sell without it. Life at that time will become exceedingly difficult.

Let’s examine this subject and find out who will demand this of whom, and when this will be. For answers we must look into Revelation 13, a chapter in the third section of this revelation of Jesus Christ, the part that deals with “the things which will take place after this” (NKJV) according to the outline given to us in Revelation 1:19. This section begins at chapter 4:1 and deals with things which will take place after the Lord raises His saints who have died and raptures them together with those of the present dispensation into His own blessed presence. Let’s bear in mind that besides being a book that gives us a picture of the Lord Jesus in His judicial majesty, Revelation also shows us His enemies that will yet rise up against Him and their final doom.

Three of these enemies, a trinity of evil, are shown to us in chapter 13. The first is a beast rising out of the sea. The Revelation, according to its very first verse, is “signified” – meaning it is written in symbolic language. A beast symbolically is a person who, like an animal, has no personal relationship with God. In Scripture the sea often is used as a picture of the nations of the world, in contrast to the earth or the land, which is a symbol for the nation of Israel and from which the second beast rises. The third enemy is the dragon, Satan himself, according to Revelation 12:9, who gives power to these beasts.

Many people, even many commentators, confuse these enemies of the Lord Jesus with those who will be His in that coming day. But the description of the first beast shows plainly that it represents the Roman Empire which will be revived from its deadly wound received long ago. During the tribulation this empire will rise again as a great political and military power essentially in Europe. Its head is identified with it just as Nebuchadnezzar was identified with the Babylonian Empire – “you are this head of gold” (Dan. 2:38).

The second beast is pictured as a two-horned lamb – a lamb speaking as the dragon. Throughout the Church’s history there have been many antichrists, but here we have the Antichrist. This second beast is also referred to as “the man of sin” (2 Th. 2:3), “the lawless one” (vv.8-9), “the false prophet” (Rev. 16:13, 19:20, 20:10), and the willful king (Dan. 11:36). He is essentially a religious leader, a Jew, the ruler of Israel who is in league with the first beast, a great deceiver who can work miracles and who causes people to worship that wicked one or be killed. He is the one who will decree that all are to receive the mark of the beast, or the number of his name.

F. W. Grant, a well-known expositor whose studies of the numbers and number patterns of Scripture are most instructive, wrote 130 years ago that six speaks “of divine limit imposed, of restraint upon man’s will, which breaks out against it and submits, as the sea against its margin of sand, which it cannot pass.” He went on to say that 666 speaks of “the full development of evil in the very highest opposition to God; while also the stamp of vanity and weakness of the creature, limited and restrained by Him, would be only proportionately the more apparent. In any case, the limitation, restraint, and perhaps judgment of evil seem to be inseparable from the number.”* Others like to point out that the Greeks, like the Romans, used letters of the alphabet as numbers, and that adding up the numerical value of the name and title of the Antichrist may well add up to 666.

Both of these beasts rise to power during the tribulation, that dreadful seven-year-long period that will be worse than any previous period in earth’s history. The second half of this period will be so bad that it is termed “the great tribulation.” This is when the wickedness of these beasts will rise to its full height. These wicked men and their kingdoms are mentioned in various other connections elsewhere in Scripture too. We should never forget that Scripture is one whole. Our Lord Jesus in John 10:35 pointed this out, saying that the Scripture cannot be broken.

Many preachers and people who are concerned about the mark of the beast are aware and generally alarmed that modern technology has already made tiny rice-sized implantable biochips or microchips that can be implanted under the skin. Some of these are already in use beneficially for identification of animals and people and for storage of medical history. Radio frequencies from these chips can be picked up and stored on computer databases. Miniaturization is being developed so smaller and smaller devices can do more and more and hold greater and greater amounts of data. This can be good, but it is evident that such technology can also be used for wrong purposes. If such technology is already available through human skill, what more will the future hold, especially when energized and driven by satanic power?

These fear mongers, generally speaking, are unaware that Christians need not be afraid of such technology being the mark of the beast. The beasts mentioned in Revelation 13 will not come into focus while we Christians are still upon earth. God has made it plain in His Word that Christians will be raptured before the tribulation begins. The Lord Jesus is our Deliverer from the wrath to come (1 Th. 1:10). The Church will be kept from – not through – the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world (Rev. 3:10). In 2 Thessalonians 2 we see that the man of sin will not be revealed in his true character while the Church and the Holy Spirit who indwells her are still here on earth. In fact, when we look at the various Scripture portions that deal with the Antichrist and the mark of the beast, we conclude that the requirement to have the mark of the beast or the number of his name to be able to buy and sell does not come into force until the middle of the tribulation, the beginning of the great tribulation. Furthermore, this seems intimately connected with worshiping the beast.

Continuing in 2 Thessalonians 2 we see that God will send strong delusion to believe a lie to those who did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved, but had pleasure in unrighteousness during today’s dispensation of grace. There will be no such thing as a second chance for those who have rejected the salvation God offers by grace at the present time. Once the Church is complete and in heaven God will turn back to His ancient people, Israel, and save a remnant who in turn will preach the everlasting gospel to the many people who have never heard it before. The people who live at this later time are emphatically warned against receiving the mark of the beast or the number of his name.

While all salvation is based on the finished work of the Lord Jesus on Calvary, the everlasting gospel is not exactly the same good news that we have accepted for our salvation. It is rather, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Rev. 14:7). Many will accept this gospel and refuse to worship the beast and to have his mark or his name. They will suffer martyrdom as a result. Thank God, these events are future and do not directly apply to us who are Christians today. We should learn from them, however, just as we can learn from every portion of God’s Word.

Satan is behind the non-Christian religions of this world, for when people worship idols they are really worshiping his demons. Sad to say, Satan even has quite an effect on much of that which calls itself Christian. He is tremendously influential and powerful in the affairs of this world too, whether political, economic or cultural.

God shows us in His Word that to worship Him, our true God, cannot be combined with any other religion or religious requirement. He will not share His glory with any other being. We must serve God rather than man, and we must take our stand for Him though this may cause us to be ostracized, persecuted or even killed. May we look to our Lord to help us be faithful to Him no matter how difficult we may find this to be now, or in days to come! He has promised, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2:10).

*The Numerical Structure Of Scripture, pp.50-51. Loizeaux Brothers, New York, NY., 1956. This book was first published in 1887.