Friday, September 26, 2008

The Mark of the Beast

In Revelation 13:1 we saw the Antichrist described as “the beast out of the sea” but in Revelation 13:11 we are introduced to another end time individual that the Apostle John calls “the beast out of the land.” This is the false prophet who will cause people to focus on and worship the Antichrist. Like the first beast, this beast is also a real person. The pronoun “he” is used to describe him. Verse 11 says it is “another” beast. The word “another” means “another of the same kind” as the first Beast. The first beast was a real person and this beast is like the first beast. This beast, however, comes out of the earth. In other words, he is an earthly being as opposed to a heavenly being. He is possibly a Jew as “earth” (or land) in Scripture often refers to Palestine or the land Israel.

This second beast is described as a lamb with horns. Horns represent power. The term lamb shows his gentle deception (Matthew 7:15). He speaks like a dragon. This not only shows that there is destruction in his teaching but, since Revelation 12:9 identified the dragon as the devil, it also shows that his power, like the Anti-Christ’s, comes from Satan.

This false prophet has all the power that the Anti-Christ has (v12) and his words and actions cause the world to worship Anti-Christ (v12-15). He performs wonders (making fire fall from the sky) and miracles that deceive. He even creates an idol to the Anti-Christ for worship (v14-15) and causes the idol to speak. It is important to note that he gives it breath, not life. The idol does not come to life but rather has the appearance of speaking and all who do not participate in this idolatry are sentenced to death.

We also learn that a special mark of the beast is instituted by the Antichrist and the False Prophet. This is a universal mark (v16). Social status does not matter. Economic status does not matter. Positional status does not matter. It is also a physical mark (v16) that is put on the right hand or on the forehead. And most of all, it is an economic mark (v17). It controls all commerce. Without the mark you will not be able to buy and sell anything. Revelation 20:4 teaches that many Saints will be executed for not receiving this mark.

It is also a mark of mystery (v18). It deals with the #666 or the name of the Anti-Christ (v17). Some feel that from this number one can calculate the identity of the Antichrist. However, it is important to realize that this verse is not meant to help us today to discover his identity. We do learn that it is the number of “a man.” In Scripture, the number 6 was seen as the number of man. So literally 666 could be taken as a triple reference…man…man…man. In Isaiah 6, God is described with the triple usage of “Holy…Holy…Holy.” By identifying the Antichrist with the number 666 we are leaning that the Anti-Christ is the ultimate in humanness. He will indeed be the most dangerous man to ever live on earth.

But in the end, the Antichrist will see his own demise. According to Revelation 19:11-21, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. According to Revelation 20:10, the Dragon, who is Satan, will ultimately face the same fate.

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