Saturday, 27 March 2021
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, Revelation 13:16
This is still referring to the beast out of the earth introduced in 13:11. This is an entity with two seats of power (two horns) that has the same influence over it (meaning the devil) that the beast out of the sea has. The constant question since the introduction of this beast is, “What is the scope of its authority?” Is it limited to the land of Israel? Is it a worldwide religious entity? At our point of looking forward, it is impossible to be dogmatic.
However, this beast deceives the people under its authority, and it will take total control over their lives. As John next says, “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave.”
Generally, the term “all” is simply a superlative. If the Bible says, “all Jerusalem,” as in Matthew 2:3, it doesn’t mean “each and every.” It simply means, “all in general.” This is often true throughout Scripture. However, by defining “all” with all of the various categories seen in this verse, it is a way of explicitly saying “each and every.” By stating different categories in polar opposites the verse leaves no exception for any class – “small and great,” “rich and poor,” “free and slave.” Nobody is exempt. All people under the authority of this beast will be required “to receive a mark.” Those who do not will be considered enemies to be dealt with.
Concerning the word “mark,” in Greek it is charagma. It is generally a literal, visible mark. The word is found once in Acts 17:29 when referring to a thing graven by art. It is then found seven more times in Revelation. It is a brand-mark that provides “undeniable identification,” or an “irrefutable connection between parties” (HELPS Word Studies).
All people under the authority of this beast will be branded “on their right hand or on their foreheads.” The word epi, or on, is used. The KJV translates this as “in,” thus giving an incorrect sense of what is being conveyed. This will be a branding of some sort as means of identifying with the beast.
It is of note that the same general terminology is found in Exodus 13 –
“And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s. … It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:11, 12 & 16
Both Exodus 13:16 and Revelation 13:16 use the same terminology – the sign is on the hand and on the forehead. This numerical parallel appears purposeful. The identification in Exodus ultimately anticipates the coming Messiah, Jesus, and is thus an identification with Him.
The place between the eyes mentioned in Exodus is the forehead. In the Bible, the forehead is the place of conscience and identification. Therefore, this symbolizes that a person is to set his mind on the law of the Lord. In the New Testament, it is reflective of what Paul says to the Colossians –
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1, 2
Therefore, the people of Israel were to mentally acknowledge the Lord by thinking on His law and of His handiwork in everything they do. In contrast to this, the mark of the beast on the right hand or on the forehead of those in the tribulation period signifies an acknowledgment of the work and lordship of the devil which is followed by their obedience to him.
They have acknowledged him and have taken either a vow, represented by the right hand, or an oath of assertion, represented by the forehead, to the antichrist. The mark may be visible, but it represents the setting apart of the individual to the devil. This is all the more poignant because Israel, during the tribulation, is fulfilling the final seven years of the law (Daniel 9:27). As this is so, they are to be in compliance with the law. However, Leviticus 19 says –
“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:28
Therefore, if this mark is visible, it would be a direct violation of the very law Israel has placed itself under. Considering this mark, whether visible or not, the reader is taken back to Chapter 7 and the sealing of the one hundred and forty-four thousand. They were sealed and set apart to God.
In Chapter 14, that sealing is then described as the name of the Lamb’s Father written on their foreheads (14:1). These are then said to be “redeemed from the earth” (14:3). Thus, they are set in contrast to “those who dwell on the earth” of verse 13:14. Because of all of these internal clues since verse 13:11, it very well may be that this beast “out of the earth” is solely dealing with Israel. This may not be the case, but it is a definite possibility.
Life application: In Ezekiel 9:4, a “mark” is placed on the forehead of the faithful of the city of Jerusalem before the unfaithful were executed –
“Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
This mark in Ezekiel certainly wasn’t visible, but it was a symbolic representation of those people belonging to the Lord. They had lived their lives for Him and He would protect them during the slaughter.
Surprisingly, the “mark” in Ezekiel is the word tav. The word tav is the 22nd letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet and originally was formed in the shape of a cross. The passage is saying, as is revealed at other times in the Old Testament, that the cross is the saving mark of the faithful – looking forward to the work of Jesus Christ.
Because of these patterns and analogies, the “mark of the beast” is probably an acknowledgment of allegiance. The right hand is used for making vows and oaths. The forehead (the spot where one’s brains are) is where the mental assertion for our actions is made. Whether visible or not for those in the end times, this mark will be a vow of allegiance which comes about by the mental assertion that the beast is due worship – something only the Creator is due. Therefore, this indicates a rejection of God and an allegiance with the devil.
This condition of obedience to the state is already being worked out in the world. Digital money, vaccines for normal life and travel, and so on, are all a part of the ability of the government to control its citizens. Eventually, total obedience will be demanded. Those who do not comply will have difficult choices to make.
Whether this beast out of the earth is only in the land of Israel or not, it is going to be patterned after the beast out of the sea. As this is so, it is an indication that the same control over the people under that beast already exists. Hence, now is the time to get right with the Lord. It is time to identify with Him and to make the necessary proclamation that you will follow God’s Christ. It is time to accept JESUS.
Lord, only You are due our total obedience, worship, and praise. Nothing else in all creation is worthy of this. May we be willing to demonstrate this fact with our lives. Give us the courage to stand and proclaim You no matter what test or trial we face. May we be strong and resolute in our proclamation and allegiance to You. Amen.