Question: Please comment on the “mark of the beast.”
Answer: To intelligently discuss the “mark of the beast” it will be necessary to understand what the beast is. In the 13th chapter of Revelation there are two beasts brought to view. Also, in the 12th chapter “a great red dragon” is introduced. This dragon and the two beasts are symbols of the three major systems of false religion which the world has known through the ages of time which have stood diametrically opposed to the true religion of God and the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The dragon was the first one and was on the stage of action at the time Jesus Christ appeared here to introduce His soul-saving gospel and to set up the kingdom of God. Jesus met him head on and the conflict was severe, bloody and deadly. But the followers of the “Lamb of God” eventually overcame him and cast him down and the truth of the true kingdom of God was firmly established. It was Jesus who said that the violent take the kingdom of heaven by force (Matthew 11:12), and we can see a clear picture of this truth through the 12th chapter of Revelation. This dragon was a symbol of paganism (idolatry, plurality of gods) and was called “the devil and satan” (verse 9) because it was a religion of the devil and actuated by his spirit.
The first beast introduced in the 13th chapter was a symbol of the next major system of false religion which followed paganism after it went down and it symbolized the apostate, corrupt system of Roman Catholicism (the Papacy). He received his power and authority from the dragon (verses 2 and 4) and worshiped the dragon (verse 4) which makes it clear that the same spirit of the devil permeated this system as did the dragon system.
Then in verse 11 another beast rose up out of the earth (it was of the earth and “manmade” a human system) and did not come down from heaven as Jesus and His true gospel did. This beast was a symbol of the third major system of false religion, “Protestantism,” which is a world system of religion today. He exercised all the power of the first beast before him (verse 12). He also caused all of his devotees to worship the first beast (verse 12). This makes it clear that the same satanic spirit that permeated the Papal system also activated the system of Protestantism. In fact, all three of these major systems of false religion can be traced merging each one into the other and all actuated by the same spirit of the devil and satan. Strong efforts are being put forth now through the ecumenical councils being held periodically to bring all of these systems (paganism, Catholicism, and Protestantism) into one world church, and that is the way I understand what I read in the book of Revelation. I believe there will be a vast combining of the three major systems of false religions (the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, which was the name given to the second beast, Protestantism) under one head and dominated by the spirit of the dragon which is called in Revelation 12:9 “the devil, and Satan.” This combining is what is called “Gog and Magog” in Revelation 20:8 and is said to encompass the four quarters of the earth.
Well, I have said more about these beasts than I intended to when I started, so I will now proceed to discuss the “mark of the beast.” I will kind of come in the back way on it by discussing first how God seals (marks) His people. In II Timothy 2:19 we read, “…The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his….” God has each one of His people clearly marked. In Ezekiel 9:4 we see God had a special concern for all the people who were grieved and burdened over the abominations being done in Jerusalem and sent a man through the city to set a mark upon their foreheads so they would be protected from the judgments which were to come upon that city. In Revelation 7:1 we see four angels standing on the four corners (quarters) of the earth having the four winds of the earth in their hands. In verse 2 is another angel having the seal of the living God. In verse three this angel is commanding those angels to not release their winds which were to hurt the earth until he had sealed (marked) the servants of God in their foreheads. In the following verses, through verse 8, we see there were 12,000 out of each of the 12 tribes of Israel that were sealed. This was 12×12 making a total of 144,000 which was the number given in verse 4. These figures are all symbolic. Scripturally and prophetically twelve is a number denoting fullness or completeness. This then would represent the Church of God, the body of Christ in its fullness and completeness, every member in it marked with the seal of God in their foreheads. What we have in this 7th chapter of Revelation is a picture of God holding in check all the turbulent, devastating storms and winds of false doctrines and deceptions which were ready to sweep over the earth until His people became sufficiently confirmed and established in His true doctrine to not be swept away by it.
Now the glorious part: After the narrative of the Revelation has brought us through the severe and bloody conflict with paganism in chapter 12, and through the dark ages with more, much more, violence and bloodshed under Papalism, and then through the dark and cloudy time of Protestantism, then it comes out in chapter 14, verse 1 with 144,000 (the complete and entire Church) standing on Mt. Zion with the Lamb of God and all having the name of the Father in their foreheads. The gates of hell had not prevailed against the Church Jesus had built. The term “forehead” in all these texts is a symbol of the mind, intellect and intelligence. Thus God’s Word says in Hebrews 10:16 concerning His New Covenant, “…I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” God’s mark upon His saints, then, is God’s laws written in their hearts and minds and sealed there by the Holy Spirit.
Then it begins to come clear, by way of comparison and in contradistinction with God’s seal or mark upon His true people, what the “mark of the beast” is. It is exactly the same as God’s mark on His people, but the doctrine they are marked with is a false doctrine instead of the true doctrine of God and it is sealed into their hearts and minds by a false spirit instead of God’s Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, it is so sealed in them that it will take a strong manifestation of God’s Spirit upon them to ever get them out of it into the truth. Also it is said in Revelation 13:17 that no man could buy or sell if he did not have the “mark of the beast.” Buying and selling would represent just the regular, ordinary pursuits of life giving, receiving, exchanging, communicating with society. If one is not marked with their doctrine and not possessed of their spirit, he cannot go into their services and give his testimony and have freedom there. He is looked upon as a foreigner and ostracized from their society, spiritually speaking. He cannot do as true Christians do or are expected to do. It makes no difference what part of the beast religion; whether the first beast (Roman Catholicism) or the second beast (Protestantism) with all its multiplied fragments, denominations, sects and creeds, the “mark of the beast” is always the same and its effects are forever the same: to seal its people in darkness, deception and error.
However, here again comes the glorious part. In Revelation 15:2 we read, “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” Thank God, there is victory and deliverance from the beast religion and its mark for anyone who will open his heart and humble himself before God, earnestly seeking Him to reveal His light and truth to him. God will surely hear his cry and reveal the truth unto him and give grace to walk in the light. But that is the only way out for a soul who has been marked with a beast doctrine and sealed with a beast spirit.