All men and women that refuse to follow the “Lamb” will render homage to the “beast” and take its “mark” – Revelation 13:16-18.
The “false prophet” uses the economic power of the first “beast” against anyone who refuses to give full allegiance to it. The “mark of the beast” is an economic tool. Commerce is the lifeblood of the World-Power and leveling economic sanctions against peoples is its primary enforcement mechanism. And economic restrictions mean deprivation and suffering.
All the “inhabitants of the earth” take this “mark,” and thus are legally authorized to engage in commerce. In contrast, the followers of the “Lamb” are excluded from society’s economic life.
- (Revelation 13:16-18) – “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that they should give to them a mark on their right hand or on their forehead; and that no one should be able to purchase or to sell, except he that has the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom: he that has understanding, let him count the number of the beast, for it is, the number of a man; and his number is 666.”
The “mark” is also called its “name” and the “number of its name.” Its “number” enables some to participate in the economy but excludes others who refuse to render homage to the “beast” or to its “image” – (Revelation 14:9-11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, 20:4).
If the “seal of God” is figurative, so is the “mark of the beast.” By default, anyone who gives allegiance to the “beast” takes its “mark,” wittingly or not, just as everyone who follows the “Lamb” receives the “seal of God.” The fundamental choice is between who and what one worships – (Revelation 7:1-3, 14:1-11).
The description of the “number of the beast” utilizes language from Daniel when Nebuchadnezzar erected a great “golden image” and required everyone to “render homage” to it. The passage is the source for the number, ‘666,’ which is derived from the measurements of Nebuchadnezzar’s “golden image” (“Its height was sixty and its breadth six cubits”) – (Daniel 3:1-7).
“For its number is also of man.” Here, the Greek term anthrōpou is used for “humanity” in general. The point is not the identity of an individual man, but to link the “number” to humanity itself and thus show the idolatrous nature of the “mark of the beast.” Just as the “golden image” of Nebuchadnezzar was “his image,” so the “number of the beast” portrays humanity in its idolatrous religion, for the “beast” demands the total allegiance that all men owe to God alone.
The “name of the beast” is just that – “beast.” Revelation uses the diminutive form of the Greek noun for “beast,” or ‘thérion,’ which corresponds to the diminutive form for “Lamb,” or ‘arnion.’ Thus, the “beast” is an imposter, a false Christ.
The “mark of the beast” is the satanic counterpart to God’s “seal.” Those who take it give their allegiance to the “beast,” while those who receive the “seal of God” follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.” The former will find their names excluded from the “Lamb’s book of life,” while the names of the latter are included in it – (Revelation 14:1-5).
The Greek verb translated “worship” or “render homage” is proskuneō, a compound of the preposition pros (“toward”) and the verb kuneō or “kiss,” hence the idea is “to kiss towards,” to prostrate oneself. Derived meanings include “give obeisance,” “revere,” and “venerate.” It referred to the deference and honor paid to a superior being, whether human or divine. To “render homage” is to give one’s absolute allegiance, whether to God, Jesus, or the “beast” – (Revelation 7:15, 22:3).
In chapter 13, two groups are presented: The “inhabitants of the earth” and those who “tabernacle in heaven,” Awed by the “beast,” the first group “rendered homage” to its image, demonstrating that “their names were not written in the book of life of the Lamb.” The “slander” of the “beast from the sea” was directed against those who “tabernacle in heaven,” identified as the “saints,” the group targeted for destruction by the “Dragon” and his earthy vassals, the same group seen standing with the “Lamb” on “Mount Zion” in chapter 14 – (Revelation 13:6-10, 12:12).
The “seal of God” identifies those who belong to the “Lamb.” They are not removed from the earth to escape persecution. Instead, they are “sealed,” and thereby, they are equipped to persevere through it. Their identification with the “Lamb” excludes them from God’s judicial “wrath,” especially the “second Death,” but not necessarily from tribulation – (Revelation 2:11, 7:1-3, 20:6).
The “inhabitants of the earth” that “render homage to the image of the beast” are “branded” with its “mark on their right hand or forehead.” Without it, none of them may participate in the economic life of society. Anyone who refuses the “mark” is ostracized and suffers economic deprivation – (Revelation 13:11-14:5).
But the men who belong to the “Lamb” have “his name written on their foreheads.” They will find themselves before the “throne” and the “Lamb,” where they will “sing a new song” that no one else can learn.
Anyone who “renders homage to the image of the beast” automatically takes its “mark.” In contrast, anyone who “follows the Lamb wherever he goes” receives the name of the “Lamb” and of his Father on the “forehead” – (Revelation 3:12, 7:1-3, 14:1-5).
If the “seal of God” is figurative, the same holds true for the “mark of the beast.” This is how Revelation divides humanity into two groups. God “seals” all who give their allegiance to the “Lamb,” but all those who give allegiance to the “beast” take its “mark” and their names are excluded from “the book of life.” There is no third alternative, no neutral ground.
This reality was made clear when the angel warned – “Anyone who renders homage to the beast and his image and receives its mark will drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” To give allegiance to the “beast” is tantamount to taking its “mark.” ALL who do so will partake of God’s “wrath” – (Revelation 14:9-11).
The “saints” who “keep the faithfulness of Jesus” overcome the “beast” and, therefore, they will be found “standing on the glassy sea” before the “throne” in “New Jerusalem.” In contrast to the “inhabitants of the earth,” they participate in the “first resurrection” and “live and reign with Christ” – (Revelation 7:9-17, 15:2-4, 20:4).
So, how does one avoid taking the “mark of the beast”? By “following the Lamb wherever he goes” and giving one’s allegiance to him alone regardless of any consequent suffering.
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