REVELATION 13:11-18: “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf and compels the earth and those who live on it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. It also performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of people. It deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that it is permitted to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. It was permitted to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And it makes everyone — small and great, rich and poor, free and slave — to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a person. Its number is 666.” CSB
OBSERVATION: There is a lot of concern today about the mark of the beast. Some are afraid to embrace new technology, wondering if they might inadvertently take this mark. Numerous posts on Facebook are shared about the ability to implant identity markers under the human skin that can be used to track every aspect of one’s life, including buying and selling. How are we to navigate in the midst of all this information?
I am not an expert in the study of eschatology. Yet, I don’t believe one has to be an expert to glean some simple observations that can calm the fears of those who read these verses. We know that the spirit of antichrist is already in the world (I John 4:2-3). However, this is far different from the unveiling of the true Antichrist. Before we have to be concerned about the mark of the beast here is the progression of things that will happen.
As we read all of Revelation 13 we can see that the unveiling of the Antichrist must take place before any concern needs to be given to the mark of the beast. The Antichrist must rise to power and all the world must pledge their allegiance to his rule.
- “And it (the beast with 10 horns, the Antichrist) was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. It was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All those who live on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.” Revelation 13:7-8 CSB
It is in this context that the other beast, the false prophet rises to power.
- “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon.” Revelation 13:11 CSB
This is the false prophet that establishes the worship of the Antichrist. He causes everyone to worship an image of the beast and he performs great signs and wonders to deceive the nations.
- “It (the false prophet) deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that it is permitted to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. It was permitted to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” Revelation 13:14-15 CSB
It is then, and only then, that the second beast causes everyone to take the mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead as a sign of their allegiance to the Antichrist. Without this sign they will not be able to buy or sell. Death will be the only pathway for those who refuse to take the mark.
- “And it makes everyone — small and great, rich and poor, free and slave — to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name.” Revelation 13:16-17 CSB
So, let’s sum up what we have observed from this chapter. The mark of the beast is one of the concluding acts in the progressive revelation of the Antichrist. It is a consolidation of his power to control the world. There are many things that will need to take place in sequence before there is any concern about the mark. And, since the most important one, the unveiling of the Antichrist, has not taken place, an over concern with the mark of the beast is a bit premature.
Why is this important? I believe it is important because the Lord does not want His children to live in fear. I personally am convinced that the church will be raptured before the Antichrist is revealed to the world (I Thessalonians 5:8-9). Yet, regardless of one’s view of eschatology, it is clear – he has not been revealed yet! Therefore, we are not at the place where we need to fear the mark of the beast.
- “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him: We ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily upset or troubled, either by a prophecy or by a message or by a letter supposedly from us, alleging that the day of the Lord has come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s temple, proclaiming that he himself is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 CSB
So, how should we live in light of these truths?
First, I don’t believe we should fear technology. Technology is not evil within itself. It is the use of technology that determines if it is good or evil. Rest assured, I will not allow any implants to be placed on my forehead or right hand, but I will not be afraid to use new technology that falls short of this. Through the dawn of technological breakthroughs the Gospel is being spread around the world in new and powerful ways!
Second, I will not live with my head in the sand. I will head the closing verses of Revelation 13.
- “This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a person. Its number is 666.” Revelation 13:18 CSB
The spirit of antichrist is now living among us. We need to understand that the current glorification of man (666 is the number of man) is setting the stage for the rise and rule of the Antichrist. We need to live our life ready for Christ’s return and engaged in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to tests the spirits to see whether they are from God and walk in wisdom. There is no reason to fear, but there is every reason to be ready!
- “You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:40 CSB
Lord, give me wisdom in these last days to test the words that are coming forth to see if they align with Your Word. Help me never to be moved by fear, but to always walk by faith. Give me spiritual understanding and discernment as we witness the closing chapters of history being unveiled before our very eyes!
In Jesus Name!