Mark of the beast
What is the "mark of the beast"?
The answers to such a question depend, of course, on who or
what is first identified as the "beast". In the aftermath of the Protestant
Reformation, many Protestant expositors so identified the Pope of Rome. This
led, more or less logically, to the identification of the beast's "mark" as the
cross or crucifix, which figured so prominently in Roman Catholic
In modern times, as attention turned to a possible Last Days
"beast" yet to be revealed, much has been made in certain circles of
computer-generated "bar codes", or Universal Product Codes, variants of which
can now be imprinted on or even implanted in people.
Perhaps a latter-day Arab/Moslem "beast" will arise in the
Middle East, to defeat Israel and to subjugate the Jews, and to be in turn
destroyed by the coming of Christ. Assuming this, then can we determine a
Biblical basis for identifying the "mark" of such a "beast"?
"Marks" in the OT
The "Mark" of the Saints in Revelation
- Gen 4:15: Was this a visible mark for all to see, or merely a divine
pronouncement, to all, of vengeance to come upon anyone who harmed Cain?
- Deu 6:6,8; cp Deu 11:18: These were highly figurative commandments of
God, to the people of Israel. His Laws were, symbolically, to be written upon
their hearts (cp Pro 3:3; 6:21; 7:3; Song 8:6), but not necessarily literally
upon their hands and foreheads. That is, they were to remember and do all that
He had said! However, the ritually-inclined Hebrews soon proceeded to write
certain passages upon little scraps of parchment and place them in leather boxes
called "phylacteries" (Mat 23:5), which were strapped to their arm and around
their forehead before morning prayers.
- Eze 9:3-6: This divine marking
(reminiscent of Cain's) was a mark of favor or protection. As such, its purpose
ties together with the "sign" or "symbol" of God's Law figuratively placed upon
the forehead and arm of the faithful Jew. That is, those who truly kept God's
Law, and were thus "grieved" for the detestable things done by wicked men in
God's Temple, would be specially marked out by God and preserved through the
coming divine judgments. Was this "mark" literal and visible? Not likely, as it
was put upon certain individuals by angels, and angels would be the only ones
who needed to "see" it.
- Rev 7:3,4; cp Rev 9:4.
- Rev 14:1.
The mark, or seal, upon the foreheads of God's servants is the
name of God and His Son. In other words, these servants who kept God's Law would
be marked out by Him: His Name would be upon them, and they would belong to Him,
and be safe. So this Revelation usage corresponds to the OT passages cited
The "Mark" of the "Beast"
With the foregoing Biblical evidence, we can reasonably expect
that the "mark" of the "Beast" will be a crude parody of the true divine mark.
It will be a sign (not necessarily literal and visible) by which those who
worship the Beast and keep his laws will be "guaranteed" his protection!
Thus Arab oil-producing cartels and the uncompromising
practice of Islam are two possibilities for the "mark" of the beast. Note that
Islam is enforced upon all subjects as a way of life, as a political code, and
not just as a "religion" in the more liberal Western sense. Where it has the
power, Islam is a system which permeates every part of society.
- "He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave,
to receive a mark (charagma: a scratch or etching) on his right hand or on his
forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark (charagma),
which is the name of the beast or the number of his name" (Rev 13:16,17). There
is certainly a religious significance to this "mark" (see Rev 13:15), but there
is also a commercial significance: Today wealthy Arab nations have organized
economic monopolies and even boycotts against other nations who have financial
dealings with Israel. Is this the shape of things to come?
- Rev 20:4: In addition to economic boycotts, oppressive laws are
being reported in Muslim nations against those who disregard the Koran and seek
to hold to and practice other beliefs, such as Judaism and various forms of
Christianity. Saudi Arabia is the home of Islam's most sacred shrines. That
country now executes "criminals", those "guilty" of any of a long list of
offences against Islamic law, by beheading!
Last Days Persecution by the Beast
In the Last Days, when the Beast overruns Israel and tramples
down Jerusalem, he will probably make every effort to force his religion upon
the Jews -- in short, to make his "mark" (Rev 13:18; 14:9-11; 20:4) upon them in
place of God's "mark" (Exo 13:9; Deu 6:8; 11:18; Eze 9:3-6; Rev 7:3,4; 9:4;
14:1). It is not hard to envision the brutal measures -- such as economic
boycotts, threats and, in the extreme, beheadings -- by which the practices of
Islam could be forced upon all their subjects. There is, in fact, the hint that
such public executions will be carried out in the great public square of
Jerusalem, in front of the "Wailing Wall" adjacent to the Temple Mount (cp the
"street" or "wide place", the one great open square, of "the great city... where
also their Lord was crucified": Rev 11:7,8).
It is possible that a resurgence in the practice of Judaism
(which may include the rebuilding of a Jewish temple) will precede the last and
successful Arab invasion of Israel. If this proves to be the case, then the Arab
defeat of Israel might lead to one of two things:
Either approach will spell trouble for the Jewish Christian
remnant that will be developed by the Last Days preaching of "Elijah" (Rev
11:3-6). These new believers may find themselves squeezed between two systems
("orthodox" Judaism and militant Islam), both antagonistic toward the religion
of Jesus. The dual persecutions of the Jewish followers of Jesus Christ in that
day may, in fact, parallel (and exceed!) the dual persecutions of the Jewish
believers in the first century, who were caught in a vise between the "orthodox"
Judaism of Caiaphas and Annas, and the political oppression of the Roman
overlords like Pilate (cp Heb 10:32-34).
- An Arab attempt to totally destroy and demolish every vestige of Judaism by
the most brutal means, or
- A more insidious Arab effort, to infiltrate and
undermine the worship of the Jewish Temple by an amalgamation, in its precincts,
of Judaism and Muslim principles and practices.
Jezebel (a Zidonian, and an Arab!) and Ahab (an apostate
Jewish "puppet" king) joined forces in an unholy "mixed marriage" to persecute
Elijah and the righteous remnant in Israel in his day. So it is possible that a
latter-day Arab "Jezebel" (Rev 2:20; cp Rev 17;18) and a latter-day Israeli
"Ahab" will similarly join in persecuting the Jewish converts of the latter-day
"Elijah" in the Land.
In such a time and place, it will be extremely difficult for a
faithful remnant to maintain their faith in the One true God and in His Son. But
such a fierce oppression as will be their lot will last no more than 3 1/2 years
(Rev 11:2,3; cp Rev 12:6; 13:5; Dan 7:25; 12:7). And those who maintain their
faith, their godly "mark" on the forehead, even to the point of death, will rise
from the dead to receive a crown of life.