Question: Is all this numbering system and everything and everybody having a number and the computerizing of all transactions, banking, etc., which seems to be coming in the near future, the mark of the beast spoken of in the Bible?
Answer: No. To my understanding it is not and for the following reasons. The “Mark of the beast” is referred to in Revelation 13:16-17. In this case the mark had a religious signification because those who received it were worshipping the beast verse 12. Also, there were other things these people received besides the mark of the beast: Namely, the number and the name of the beast it was all pertaining to the system.
The first thing to do in interpreting this text is to find out what the beast was. Also we must understand that the book of Revelation is written in symbolic language and the interpretation of it must be by analogy that is; each thing mentioned is a drawn picture not of itself but of something analogous to it.
In this 13th chapter of Revelation there are two beasts mentioned, but it is clear that the first beast is the one under consideration here because the second beast caused the people to worship the first beast verse 12.
Some of the identifying marks of this beast were seven heads and ten horns. There are others also but we use these marks for special identity. In the 17th chapter of Revelation we again see this same beast, having seven heads and ten horns, and with a glamorous woman riding upon him this time. This is important because it identifies a dual personality a political-religious system. It is a false, apostate, corrupt system to be sure because this woman is described in verse one as “the great whore” and further in verse five as “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
But this 17th chapter of Revelation proceeds to identify this beast religion in an unmistakable way. Verse nine says “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” Verse ten says, “And there are seven kings:…” The seven heads represented both the seven mountains and the seven kings. The city of Rome corresponds to this description because she is situated upon seven hills (mountains) and had seven systems of government during the time of her reign as a universal kingdom. The seven kings refer to these seven different systems of government she had. Verse 12 says: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet;…” (Revelation 17:10-12) This is a reference to the ten minor kingdoms which came out of the Roman Empire during its decline and fall. These are historical facts.
Rome has been the seat of two major systems of false religion Paganism and Papalism. This is also an historical fact. Paganism is symbolized in the Revelation by a great dragon having seven heads and ten horns Revelation 12:3. Papalism is symbolized by the first beast of Revelation 13:1 which also had seven heads and ten horns which identifies it as the same power but in a different form. It was the mark of this beast which is referred to in Revelation 13:16-17.
An illusion is made here perhaps to the custom of marking or branding slaves to identify them as belonging to certain masters. Also certain cults and groups marked or branded their members. In many instances in the Bible illusions are made to general customs and practices of the time with which the people were familiar to illustrate certain truths.
God also seals or marks His subjects or saints. In Revelation 7:3 it is said “…Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have SEALED [marked] the servants of our God in their foreheads.” In Revelation 14:1 we read, “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.” This company represented the great host of triumphant, overcoming saints (the entire company of the redeemed) because we read in Revelation 3:12, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God,…” The votaries of this false religion received the name of the beast. The true people of God are all marked with His name in their foreheads.
“Forehead” is a symbol of intellect or mind and God marks all of His true followers with His law written in their minds and hearts Hebrews 8:10. The members of this or any false religion are all marked with the laws, ordinances, doctrines, rituals and creeds of their respective religions in their minds and hearts the “Mark of the beast.” God seals or marks His true saints with His Spirit, the holy Spirit of promise” Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30; II Corinthians 1:22. The Spirit of God with His fruits as described in Galatians 5:22-23 being manifest in the life is the identifying mark of all true Christians. So likewise the false and apostate religions mark all their subjects with their spirit and the fruits of it in their lives. God’s Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:7) and guides His followers into all truth (John 16:13) and writes the truth in their hearts (II Corinthians 3:3). The spirit of this false system of religion is a spirit of error and marks its subjects with error, superstition, and doctrines of men.
There have been three major systems of false religion dealt with in the Revelation. One is paganism or heathenism (the dragon). The other two are Papalism and Protestantism symbolized by the two beasts of Revelation 13. The same false spirit runs through the whole line and it is all God-dishonoring. In this way the second beast (Protestantism) caused its subjects to receive the mark of the first beast (Papalism) by injecting into them the same spirit of error, also by copying in their man-made creeds and disciplines some of the errors of the first beast. Also they patterned their system after the human system of man-rule and human government.
It is said that no man could buy nor sell if he did not have the mark of the beast. Buying and selling are symbols of the ordinary pursuits and privileges of an ordinary citizen in intermingling with society. To be forbidden to buy and sell would be equivalent to being banished from society. This same principle has been carried over into human religious systems that one who does not fellowship their spirit and subscribe to their creeds and doctrines of men have no rights or privileges among them. The true ministers of God are not permitted to give out or preach the gospel (sell) in their assemblies and wherever the true ministers of God are preaching the truth the votaries of these religions are warned to not go there or to be affected by their preaching (buy). This idea has been especially pronounced in the Papal system in so much that any of their members who ventured to attend a church service other than the Catholic are required to do penance for it and if they persist in such a practice they are renounced as heretics and excommunicated and consigned to hell and shunned by faithful Catholics as those accursed. I understand that in recent years the Catholic stand on this is being modified as an ecumenical move, but up until recent times one was severely dealt with for failure to recognize the church and its decrees as absolute. They could not buy nor sell engage in the regular pursuits of life and mingle with society.