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The mark of the beast occurs in the following places:
Revelation 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation... 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Revelation 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
Revelation 16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
Revelation 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Before we can determine the mark of the beast, we first of all have to identify the beast.
From Daniel we understand that beasts in prophetic visions represent empires.
Daniel 7:17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings (kingdoms/empires), which shall arise out of the earth.
In context these ‘kings’ were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and an un-named ‘great and terrible’.
The fourth beast in Daniel has 10 horns, as does the beast in Revelation.
Revelation 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
The fourth empire in Daniel’s vision is historically understood to be the Roman.
The beast in Revelation can be identified from Revelation 17:10 where we are told that the sixth head was in power in John’s day.
Revelation 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
Thus the beast was alive and well in John’s day and represented the Roman Empire with the seat of government in Rome.
The heads (seats of government) are consecutive but the horns (which represent independent kingdoms are concurrent. While the heads are in power the horn kingdoms are subservient, but after the demise of the seventh head (which I believe was Constantinople), the empire is dissolved and the kingdoms gain their independence.
This is the situation we are in today. The kingdoms which formed part of the Roman Empire are independent.
Pagan Rome initially persecuted the Christian Church, but in the fourth century AD it elevated it to be the State Church of the Roman Empire. At the same time the structure of the Church was changed, the congregation was split into clergy and laity and a priesthood was established. False doctrines were introduced; such as the trinity, immortality of the soul, heaven going for the ‘righteous’, eternal torment in ‘hell’ for the wicked, ‘just’ wars etc. Belief in such doctrines was enforced by the State. Those who would not assent to the doctrines were persecuted.
The mark in the forehead (mental assent) and the right hand (practical support) describes the acquiescence of those who submitted to this corrupted form of Christianity.
This relationship of the Christian Church and Roman State is represented in Revelation 17 as a harlot riding the same seven-headed, ten-horned beast.
Revelation 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
It is a fact of history that the church went from a persecuted church at the beginning of the fourth century AD to a persecuting church (with the backing of the Roman Emperor) by the end of the fourth century AD. The persecution in the name of Christ was carried on for centuries.
Arm in arm the Church and State ruled over men and women from cradle to grave throughout what is known as the dark ages. During this time failure to submit to State-sanctioned church teaching (receive the mark in the forehead and the right hand) seriously affected men’s lives. Conducting business (buying and selling) was made difficult, if not impossible.
Buying and selling in scripture also represents hearing and preaching the gospel
Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Without official permission men could not preach the gospel (penalties were severe) and the people were prohibited from listening to an unlicensed preacher. In this way truth was suppressed.
With the invention of the printing press and the availability of Bibles came the Reformation. Church and State became separated in most places over the succeeding centuries. Religious persecution began to wane.
By the 19th century penalties for ‘heresy’ began to disappear from the statute books.
Most of the denominations that arose out of the Reformation retained many of the false doctrines of the Roman Church, thus establishing her as the ‘mother of harlots’.
In those countries where mainstream Christianity has a lot of influence, failure to conform can still be seen as a barrier to material prosperity.
From this we see that the mark of the beast has been with us for centuries, we are not waiting for it to be introduced to us in the latter days. We receive the ‘mark’ simply by joining an apostate church and assenting to its false doctrines.
There is to arise an ‘eighth’ head form of the beast to which the ten kingdoms will voluntarily give their power for what is described as ‘one hour’ and subsequently ‘make war with the lamb’ when Christ returns.
Revelation 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. 14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings...
This would seem to be the destiny of what today is known as the European Union. The prophecy requires that the kingdoms will voluntarily come together under one government in a latter-day re-creation of the Roman Empire, howbeit; the head will not be Rome (the sixth head) but another country, possibly Germany or Russia. This would fit with the prophecy in Ezekiel 38 – 39 where the leadership is described as ‘Gog of the land of Magog’.
The return of Christ will take place after the third and final overturning of the nation of Israel as described in Ezekiel 38 – 39 and Zechariah 12 – 14 (and elsewhere). This same event is called ‘Armageddon’ in Revelation 16:16.
The demise of the beast in the lake of fire is of course symbolic language. There is no literal beast – it is a political system which is destroyed – and there is no literal lake of fire – it represents complete destruction. Those who have received the mark of the beast will likewise be completely destroyed. The penalty for sin is death, not eternal torment. The lake of fire is said to be (represent) the second death.
Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
It is called the second death because those who have died and been raised to judgment and condemnation will die a second time.
Apostate Christendom is awash with magnificent churches filled with treasures. This is evidence of the covetous practices adopted and is I believe the connection with the number 666. It was six hundred threescore and six talents of Gold that came to Solomon in one year and I speculate that the number thus represents the proclivity for the acquisition of wealth.
1 Kings 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
Those who believe the gospel and are baptised into Christ must avoid the false doctrines and covetous practises of apostate Christendom.
I hope you have found this helpful.