Whispers of the Spirit
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:22).
The Mark of the Beast
“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (Revelation 13:16-18). These are perhaps some of the best known words in the Bible, even to unbelievers. The number, 666, is universally known as the Devil’s number. Next to the number 13, it is probably the most feared number in the world. Hollywood has sensationalized this number in several movies and it is used by Satanists to symbolize their allegiance to the Devil.
We often hear Christians say they will never willingly accept this mark of the Beast; nor, will they allow their children to be so marked, for to do so is to be damned eternally. They fear they will be tattooed on their right hand or forehead against their will with this number of death or deceived into accepting it. Is this possible? Anything is possible, but it is likely that many, especially those who call themselves Christian and are not, will gladly accept the Mark of the Beast because they do not understand what this Mark could actually be. They are looking for it to be a physical mark on their bodies that can be seen or a mark that can only be seen under ultraviolet light or a computer chip implanted under the skin that can be scanned like a bar code. While there may be an actual physical mark of some kind placed upon the bodies of the followers of the Beast I believe the Mark of the Beast is already being imprinted upon unbelievers and those who “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).
The Pharisees and religious leaders during Jesus’ day knew the Bible inside and out. They read it and studied it. They prided themselves on their Biblical knowledge. They were looking for the Messiah, the Son of God, their Savior, this person who would liberate Israel from the tyranny of Rome and place them in charge of the world. Yet Jesus mocked them and said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39). Jesus stood before them and they did not recognize Him whom their very Scriptures testified about. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This is a verse prophesying about the Messiah. The name “Immanuel” means “God with us” and Jesus certainly fulfilled that name for He was indeed God. But He was never known by the name Immanuel. It was not the physical name of the Messiah; rather, it was the nature of the Messiah. He was/is God, not just a human being. “Jesus” means “Savior” and so He is, but He is the Savior because He is God, God with us, “Immanuel”. Jesus was a common name during the first century, but it was the Jesus who was Immanuel that fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy.
The point is that physical reality has a spiritual foundation that is ultimately of much greater significance. Paul makes this clear when he refutes the claims of the Judaizers that circumcision is necessary for salvation. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29). Circumcision was an outward sign of an inward reality. It was not the mark in the flesh that was important; rather, it was the mark on the heart. “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds” (Jeremiah 4:4). Even if the body were circumcised the man could still be outside the covenant the Lord had made with the Jews. This is the age-old conflict between works and grace.
Least you believe all Christians no longer believe works are necessary for salvation, how many believe baptism is necessary in order to go to Heaven? Just like the Jews of old some Christians believe baptism is a requirement for salvation. Of course this is not true. Baptism is a good thing and something believers should desire, but just like circumcision, true baptism is of the heart. It is inward. The outward act of baptism must be a confession of an inward heart that has died in the Lord and been raised to newness of life in Jesus Christ. Simply getting baptized because it is what is expected of a professing Christian does no more for that person than circumcision did for the lawless Jew.
Likewise, getting a mark in the hand or forehead does not of itself condemn a person to an eternity of hellfire. What we need to understand is that the Mark of the Beast is something that first happens to the spirit that may find its physical manifestation upon the right hand or the forehead. It is the spiritual (albeit demonic) foundation of the Mark of the Beast that is of primary importance. So, the question remains – what is the Mark of the Beast? To answer this we must understand the spirit of the Beast, the Antichrist and why the mark is to be placed upon the right hand or forehead.
In the book of Daniel he receives a vision from God. “Daniel said, ‘I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another’” (Daniel 7:2-3). An angel explained to Daniel that, “These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth” (Daniel 7:17). These beasts represented the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman empires that would each in turn rule the world. It should be noted that “four” is the number for the earth, creation. That is why these beasts, these kingdoms, are said to arise from the earth. It is to contrast the kingdom that will descend from Heaven when King Jesus comes back to rule and reign from Jerusalem. The Beast spoken of in Revelation is a revival of the fourth beast Daniel saw in his vision. “Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet, and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts and which was larger in appearance than its associates. I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them” (Daniel 7:19-21). This “other horn” is the Beast in Revelation, the Antichrist.
The spirit behind these world kingdoms and the Antichrist is Satan himself who is referred to as a dragon. “And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority” (Revelation 13:1-2). These world kingdoms that come to a climax with the Antichrist represent a world without God. These kingdoms had their gods and goddesses, their rites and rituals, and their sacrifices, but it was Satan and his demons they were worshipping. Paul told the Gentiles to “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:11-12). Thus Paul said, “that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20). This is the spirit of the Beast, the Antichrist. Religion flourishes under the Beast, but it is a religion that is devoid of the true God. The preposition “anti” in the Greek means not only “against”, but ‘instead of”. The Beast will be the one worshipped instead of Jesus.
This is exactly what Satan wanted from Jesus when He was tempted in the Wilderness. “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”’” (Matthew 4:8-10).
Thus the spirit behind the Mark of the Beast is religious, but satanic. There is worship, but it is Satan and his demons that are the recipients of the worship. It is deceptive because the Lord (at least at first) is not renounced. Every time the true Church compromises with the world she takes on a little more of the nature, the mark, of the Beast.
Churches are tolerating abortion as a woman’s right to kill her unborn; tolerating homosexuality as a legitimate, alternate lifestyle; tolerating premarital sex and adultery. Even worse is the growing acceptance of these and other sins by those who claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus, we are warned: “Come out of her, my people, so that you may not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5).
Who we fellowship with is important. The company we keep can blind us to Biblical truth. Unless we separate ourselves from sin and iniquity we will become desensitized to evil and think we are good Christians. Israel was denounced for this type of duality. “Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord saying, ‘Is not the Lord in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us’” (Micah 3:11).
Today we would say that our religious leaders judge, not by what is holy and righteous, but for money. The abortion industry is big business and no doubt is more than willing to donate large sums of money to any church that endorses it. Homosexuals are many times better off financially than heterosexuals and ready to tithe to any denomination that advances their lifestyle. The pastors teach what the congregations want to hear for to do otherwise, to teach the truth about sin, is to endanger their salaries. The theologians interpret the Bible in ways that strip God of His holiness and the divinity of Jesus because the world lavishes money and material wealth on those whom it loves. Yet every one of these people would be offended if their Christianity or their acceptance by God were challenged. They believe the Lord is smiling upon them as they come together to worship. How foolish. The Beast is marking them with each prayer they utter and with each good work they perform. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23). They are rejected because they bear the Mark of the Beast rather than having been “sealed in Him (Jesus) with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).
The Greek word for “mark” used in Revelation is used eight times in the Bible; seven times in Revelation, all speaking of the Mark of the Beast and once in Acts. “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man” (Acts 17:29). The word “formed” is the same word used for “mark”. Paul spoke these words to the Athenians after he had walked through their city and observed how many idols of gods and goddesses they worshipped. The Greeks were so concerned about not offending any deity that just in case they forgot one they erected an altar to The Unknown God. Paul told the Athenians that they were undoubtedly religious; he could see the physical evidence for it everywhere, but he knew they were deceived, thinking that idols made of gold, silver, or stone could help them.
He told them that the “art and thought of man” could never impress upon mankind the true Divine Nature. This actually helps us understand why the Mark of the Beast in said to be placed upon the right hand or forehead. The word “art” is the Greek techne and means a trade or skill, that which allows us to make a living. It requires physical labor, the use of hands. The word “thought” is the Greek enthumesis and means to think, to ponder, to deliberate. It has to do with the mind of which the forehead is symbolic. What Paul was telling the Athenians is that man cannot, no matter how skillful a craftsman he may be, create an image of the true God that we can touch or handle. Nor can man through his intellect, no matter how much knowledge he may acquire, comprehend God. Nor can man raise himself to the level of the Divine Nature through works, whether good or bad or by accumulating all the wisdom of the world.
The right hand symbolizes what we do, what we busy ourselves with. It represents our occupation, vocation, profession, our ability to create things, our natural strengths, our technology. Thus, to have our right hand marked would be to have whatever we do in life bring glory to ourselves. It manifests itself when we work for money to spend upon our lusts and selfish desires. Oh, we may give to charity, but it is from our abundance lest our lifestyle suffer. To be marked in the right hand is to put faith in man’s ability to save himself and place God on a shelf where He can be “dusted” off from time to time to ease our consciences.
Our technology is truly amazing and the things that man can do are breathtaking. In the last century we have gone from the horse and buggy to spaceships traveling through the heavens visiting planets and transmitting pictures back to Earth that do not even scratch the surface of the beauty of God’s creation. But the Lord has said, “Though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down” (Obadiah 1:4). God is not impressed with what we accomplish if it is accomplished outside of Him. Indeed, Jesus said, “I can do nothing on My own initiative” (John 5:30). He did not mean He was incapable of doing things; rather, He means He did not exercise His will in opposition to His heavenly Father’s. Jesus’ whole life can be summed up in this prayer to His Father: “Not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36).
To be marked in the forehead would mean to think as the world thinks, to reason as the world reasons, to accept the wisdom of fallen man as superior to God’s wisdom, to accept lies and half-truths instead of (anti) the truth God reveals to us in the Bible. The world thinks that immorality, fornication, adultery, and sexual perversion are acceptable behavior. The world reasons that we were born with these tendencies and inclinations and as long as two (or more) adults consent to indulge in them no one else has the right to judge or criticize. They do not wish to be reminded that God in his wisdom has condemned and forbidden such behavior. “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies might be dishonored among them” (Romans 1:22-24). Their thinking had become corrupted. Sin was more than tolerated; it was accepted and applauded. “Although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). This is the Mark of the Beast in the forehead. It is the mind, the soul, giving its consent to evil, to embracing iniquity, to disobeying God, to being a friend to the world. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
The number “six” is symbolic of Satan, sin, and fallen man. It is one shy of seven, God’s number of perfection in this world. To bear the mark of the three sixes, 666, means the spirit, soul, and body have been marked. Yet like all things that find a physical outlet, it was born in the spirit and communicated to the soul. If the Mark of the Beast becomes a physical reality that is imprinted upon a person it will be because his spirit and soul are already marked. Millions today who call themselves Christian already are being branded with the Mark of the Beast. The next time you find yourself rejecting the Word of God in favor of what the world accepts as normal and legitimate behavior look closely at your right hand or forehead. You might just see a 6 beginning to appear.