In the previous post I examined a bit of the character of the kingdom of darkness, specifically the characteristic that will distinguish between Christ and Antichrist. I also came down rather hard on they who perpetuate falsehood, hoping that it might make abundantly clear the need for truth and reality. They who continue to give themselves to deception will not be able to discern the difference between the two witnesses and this False Prophet. They will be liable to following one or the other simply because they heard them first. Discernment is necessarily stunted when we will not consciously pursue truth in absolution.
Here I wanted to get into some of the specifics. This is probably one of those posts that many readers will want to know. What exactly is the mark of the beast? What exactly should we be looking for? I think there are a couple things to note. First, the Greek word is epi, and therefore “on” or “upon” the skin. Second, John is referencing things that would be known to his readers, and not some sort of future microchip that only this generation would know about. That isn’t giving you reason to get a microchip implanted into yourself, but to say that we need to be a little less tossed about by the winds and waves of doctrine.
I’m not one for sensationalism. We noted last time that the statue here in Revelation 13:14 is much like Daniel 3. In fact, I think this might be one of the things that John is referencing. After all, John did write this, even though he was transcribing a vision. In Daniel 3 we find Nebuchadnezzar builds a statue. This statue is 60 cubits high. It is 6 cubits wide. There are 6 instruments played when people are forced to worship it. Did you notice the three sets of 6 there? What John is beholding here is something like Nebuchadnezzar’s decree. That isn’t to say that John is seeing Daniel 3, but that John is seeing something like Daniel 3.
John knew the Hebrew Bible extremely well. He knew that Solomon’s annual income was 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14). Did you catch the three sixes? He knew that up to Solomon’s throne there were six steps. On the left of each step was a lion. On the right of each step was another lion. Therefore, you have six lions on the left, six steps, and six lions on the right (1 Kings 10:20). Did you see the other set of sixes? John would have also known that Goliath, the warrior from Gath, was clothed in six pieces of armor. He stood 6 cubits and a span high. His spear weighed 600 shekels. Do you see the other set of sixes?
In the Hebrew Bible, when someone wants to make the point that a human being stands for Satan, they might use the three sixes. It is a reference that is often not noticed. Three sixes is not the number of man, in the sense that man is inherently wicked like Satan. It is the number of man in the sense that you can go back to the Hebrew Bible and find these three instances – each time revealing to us something of the character of Satan – and find the same application to the Antichrist. It is a pattern, and with patterns there are always the archetypes. The Antichrist is the archetype of Goliath. Goliath was one who stood opposed to the people of God and spoke forth blasphemous words against their God. Solomon used slavery to build the Temple, build his palace, and to build military bases. Nebuchadnezzar built the statue already referenced, and in Daniel 4 was humbled because of his pride.
Notice also that the mark goes on the right hand or forehead. We’ll see in Revelation 14:1 that the 144,000 have their Father’s name on their foreheads. Here is what I find interesting. The Jewish people today wear tefillin. Tefillin goes on the left arm and forehead. This mark of the beast goes on the right. You can see the practice from Deuteronomy 6:8. This is once again a hint (as in 13:13) of the Jewish nature of this false Christ and prophet. It isn’t necessarily that they will be Jewish, but that they will specifically be targeting the Jewish customs. It is true that certain Muslim customs and ‘prophecies’ are also found bearing witness, but that would not be something John is familiar with.
It has also been posed that when you compare 13:1 and 17:3 that you find similarity. When you compare 13:16 and 17:9 you also get similarity. Could the number have to do with the blasphemous names?
My last thought here concerning the mark of the beast comes from Domitian. Since I believe that John is writing this during the reign of Domitian, it would not be odd that he might reference the mark that Domitian forced upon people. Once again, this isn’t to say that John is saying the mark of the beast is Domitian’s mark, but to say it will be like his mark.
Domitian enforced everyone to get a mark on their right hand or forehead. It worked like this: When you enter the marketplace, you would have to burn incense to Caesar in order to buy, sell, or trade. In order to make sure that you have offered the incense, you would be marked after you’ve payed tribute to Caesar. Thus, the issue coming forth here in the letter is two-fold. First, John is pushing that they who are under the reign of Caesar should not get the mark. Second, this vision is speaking to a future time when this kind of mark will again be enforced. What is behind this mark is an entire system and mindset.
There are commercials playing where everyone is in line for food or groceries. Everyone is moving quite quickly until someone decides to pay with cash instead of credit card. Though the concept is brilliant when we are speaking in marketing terms, the problem arises when we examine it spiritually. It is a lie. When was the last time that you went to a store and everything went quickly and smoothly? I don’t care if everyone pays with a credit card; it still takes 20 minutes before the 6 people in front of you are done.
The mark is a sign of propaganda. John is giving all of the clues for us, though layered in mystery and uncertainty. We just have to be willing to dig a bit. Of course, this is not the last word, and I’m sure that some will disagree with me. I hope that this has helped to take away the veil of mystery and uncertainty, at least a bit, for some of you. The mark of the beast is quite interesting, but it is also quite simple. Speculation and sensationalism will drive us to believing some very bizarre things.