The Beast Of Revelation - Part 3
The Vision Of The Mark Of The Beast
16 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, 17 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. 18 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.
The idea of the Mark of the Beast has probably captured the imaginations of pop culture even more than the Beast himself. Nothing has ignited more fear and inspired more art ranging from thought provoking to brain dead. I found some fun comic book cover art on the subject and interspersed it through the article for your enjoyment. You can judge where in the provoking-to-brain dead spectrum they fall. In this article I will first address what this mark means. Then, I can discuss how these ideas flow out of part 2. Last, I will lay out the real world implications and what measures should Christians take today to prepare the Church.
The Mark Of The Beast Defined
When John writes that people will be marked by this name or number. By that he means either something printed or branded on the skin like is done with cattle. The mark itself is the name of the beast or his number, 666. Bare in mind, that John is writing down what he is seeing. Clearly what he is seeing at times is symbolic in nature. That is clearly the case with the Beast. He isn't saying a beast who has seven heads and ten horns will literally walk the earth. Also, in Revelation 17 John says the Beast will make war with the Lamb. We know John means Jesus there based on the context of Revelation. The point is that John sees people taking a mark or brand on their head or right hand in a vision. God is communicating truth through the vision, but the vision isn't always like watching a movie God took of the future. Therefore, it doesn't mean that people will have a physical marking somewhere on their body. It could. I would not rule out that possibility.
The bigger point is what the mark represents. It means that people will place their faith in and declare allegiance to the Beast in some way. The Beast's name or number means that people will identify their lives with him. They will connect their life to him and publicly show that the Beast is their master. It is much like what we Christians do with Jesus. We publicly identify ourselves with Him in baptism and through public worship. The location of the mark represents that they will serve him with their thoughts (the head) and will work to accomplish his will on the earth (the right hand). Read the passages below. One comes before the mark is mentioned in chapter 13. The other is from later in Revelation.
the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”...7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them...8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
20 he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image
You can observe that the act of receiving the mark is coupled with worshipping the beast. Some people are worried that they will somehow be tricked into taking the mark, but it should be clear that taking the mark is an act of the will. People will be aware of what they are doing. Embedded in the original passage I showed is the threat he will use to convince people to take the mark. Some won't need persuasion. Others may need to be convinced by force. The Beast will threaten people's very lives.
17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark
The Mark Of The Beast In The World Today
Only those who base their life on worshipping Jesus will have a reason to refuse the mark. As I wrote in part 2, the Beast and his earthly shadows; secular governments, the little beasts; are belligerent towards God and His people. If we are to follow Jesus, believers need to realize that our major adversary in the physical world is government.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God... 7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them
The Beast attacks God and His people with ideas, in the economy, and with war. He attacks with ideas through the blasphemies he speaks, which are mentioned in Revelation 13:6 and other areas in Daniel and Revelation. He attacks us economically by requiring the mark for entry into the market. Last but not least he openly engages in violence against Christians. The same can be said for governments around the world today. Few governments are in open warfare against Christians but they all are engaging in ideological and economic war against us. They are pushing immorality of all sorts and calling it good. They even take pride in it (hint, hint). These messages don't always come straight from the government, but they use large corporations and politically affiliated organizations to speak for them. They accuse Christians of bigotry. When they do what is the usual outcome? Or what do those in power target when attacking Christian "bigotry". They try to take away our ability to make a living. They try to remove us from the market. It is more subtle than a firing squad but if carried to the logical end, the outcome is the same.
More directly, governments around the world are developing systems where they give people a social score and more or less access to the market based on how "good" your behavior is. It is the beast who decides what "good" means. I would describe this encroaching totalitarianism as the spirit of the Beast. Even though I have described today's governments as beasts, they aren't the actual Beast and who knows what twists and turns will happen before he comes onto the scene. But it is reasonable after reading Revelation 13 and thinking through current events to see that there is an observable similarity. That is what I call the spirit of the Beast; the lust for control, the coopting of all aspects of life under the state, the appetite to expand authority over a wider area, and the desire to punish dissidents.
Revelation 13 gives us a peek into how much control governments want over our lives. It may not start out this way, but at the end of the road the Beast requires that you worship him.
Escape From The Mark Of The Beast
In order for believers to survive while the Beast rules the earth, they will need an alternative way to sell goods or services and buy the necessities of life. To have an alternate system, they will need two things. First, they will need an independent and secure monetary system, and then an independent and secure exchange system or market.
Most money today is fiat, meaning it is declared money by government law. Hopefully you can detect the problem in the definition. It is set up and controlled by beasts. If believers are ever going to secure their future they must participate in the development and use of cryptocurrencies. The other option is commodity money like gold or silver. Today the most popular cryptos are bitcoin and Ethereum. Who knows what the system will look like or what currency or currencies will win out, but the blueprint for a secure non-governmental money system is being written by these crypto pioneers. The point is that it is important for Christians that someone develops the system now before the Beast comes onto the scene.
The alternate market will overlap with the alternate money. There could be secure physical spaces or distribution systems. Or it could all be anonymous digital purchases. This means that parallel physical internet infrastructure would need to be created or anonymous spaces would have to be created and maintained. Tor exists today, which could potentially fill the role. I know little about it though. It may need significant modifications to make it a viable option. Something else may be needed entirely, but that is the kind of thing Christians should be thinking about. Bitcoin is probably the best option so far today because it is built on decentralized blockchain technology. This same technology can be used to make a more secure and anonymous internet and market place. That has to exist for Christians to buy and sell and survive during the Beast's rule.
The Immediacy Of The Mark Of The Beast
Let's not wait until the day of the LORD to act. Believers and nonbelievers both need a way out of the fiat currency and central banking systems in control today. We live in a world controlled by beasts of varying ferocity. They take and take from all of us in ways obvious and subtle.
Taxes are a consistent burden. Most years there is another increase whether at the federal, state, or local level. If you don't pay, you go to jail.
Even worse but far more hidden is inflation. The beasts work with the banks to make more and more dollars and then give them out to the powerful and politically connected. Then they hide the harm with manipulated metrics like CPI. The key is to change the denominator in the calculation. Sometimes the Bureau of Labor and Statistics does it, sometimes the corporations do it by putting less in the box. But then look at the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, real estate, and higher education. These are areas where these new dollars end up, and the results can be paralyzing to the middle and lower classes.
Understanding the Beast and the Mark of the Beast is important. It isn't just theological minutiae to argue over in a seminary. It is part of understanding our world, God's plan, and the gospel. God didn't create a world of injustice and violence. He created Paradise. But mankind sinned and Paradise was lost. Now God is enacting His plan to redeem people for Himself through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To follow Jesus is to obey Him. To obey Him is to take on His mission. His mission is telling others about Him and living as He created us to live; in peace, in justice, in love, and in freedom.