Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #352 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Revelation 14 today and our focus is on Who is the Beast in the Book of Revelation (part 2) and What is the Mark of the Beast? Who Does the Number 666 refer to? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Perth, Australia, Accra, Ghana, Nandi, Kenya, Manipur, India, Parts unknown, Finland and Philippines and Spain, Westphalia, Germany, Salinas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, New York, New York, Austin Texas, Akron, Ohio, Baltimore, Maryland, Davenport, Iowa, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Mind-blowing passage today, and I’d feel like I was doing pretty well if I genuinely understood 10% of it. Lots of heavenly voices, angelic activity and the reaping of the Earth – which also seems to be metaphorically connected with the separation of the sheep and goats that we see in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:31-46. The good grapes are harvested to Heaven by the sickle of either Jesus, or an angel like Jesus, and the bad grapes are harvested next, and thrown into the winepress of the fury of the Lord. Terrifying!
Yesterday’s episode ended with us reading a big chunk of Daniel 7 and noticing how connected Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 were. We pick up that discussion today, and we will also discuss the “Mark of the beast.” In Daniel 7, we notice that Daniel’s four beasts all come up out of the sea, as does Revelations’ first beast. Each chapter also has a beast that has a leopard-like appearance, and both chapters have a beast with ten horns on their head, the fourth and most frightening beast of Daniel 7, and the beast out of the sea in Revelation 13. There are also mouths that are trash-talking in both chapters. Daniel 7 has a ‘little horn,’ on the fourth beast that spoke arrogantly. Revelation 13 features the beast of the sea given a mouth to utter blasphemies – not an exact match, to be sure, but definitely similar. One more similarity, and this one pretty much clinches it for me that both passages are discussing the exact same thing. In Revelation 13, the beast from the sea is permitted to wage war on the people of God, and will be very, very successful in that war: Likewise, in Daniel 7 one of the horns on the fourth beast, the ‘little horn,’ also wages war on God’s people and prevails against them for a time:
So, these two passages are obviously connected, and the beasts and the horns seem interrelated as well…so what can we know about the beast from the sea and the beast from the land? Unfortunately, Revelation 13 doesn’t give us a ton of information as to how to interpret this vision of John’s, but the reason for that is probably because Daniel 7, widely known to John and the Christians of the first century, has already explained much of what John saw, because Daniel asks the angel with him for an explanation of the fourth beast and its horns, and receives one:
23 “This is what he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, different from all the other kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth, trample it down, and crush it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will rise from this kingdom. Another king, different from the previous ones, will rise after them and subdue three kings. 25 He will speak words against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High. He will intend to change religious festivals and laws, and the holy ones will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time. 26 But the court will convene, and his dominion will be taken away, to be completely destroyed forever.
Given this information, I believe it would be reasonable to believe that the beast out of the sea in Revelation 13 is NOT a human at all, but a kingdom/country/group of countries (?) that will have 10 kings/presidents/rulers, and then another king – a ‘little’ but powerful horn – who will arise and take over three of those kings/presidents/rulers. That little fact would seem to indicate that these 10 rulers are not rulers in succession – (one president after another, for instance) but 10 rulers ruling at the same time. Otherwise, it would be difficult for one king/leader to rise up and take over for three other king/rulers. This could seem to indicate that the beast from the sea is a conglomeration of countries, possibly, with 10 presidents/kings/rulers. This is, of course, speculation. It’s not rampant and wild-eyed speculation – it could fit within in the Scriptural narrative – but it is speculation nonetheless. Why is it a beast from the sea? Another guess/possibility is that this refers to the kingdom being across the ocean from John – perhaps from a different continent like the Americas, or Asia, or Africa.
What about the beast from the land that has a lambish appearance, but the mouth of a dragon? Good question. Could this be a kingdom/union with two rulers? Or is the ‘two horns like a lamb’ more descriptive of the character of a particular person? It is difficult to know. Of the four beasts in Daniel 7, three refer to kings/rulers and one referred to a kingdom/union of kingdoms, so we could go either way here…which should very much put us in a place of humility and not dogmatism about Revelation. As I’ve mentioned before, I am quite skeptical of the people who seem to have figured out every facet and detail of this book. Such confidence might sell books and gain followers, but seems quite unwarranted, given the fact that even Daniel – one of the wisest and most righteous people in the Bible, WHO HAD AN ANGEL TO HELP HIM UNDERSTAND THESE VISIONS, still concluded with humility:
I, Daniel,was overcome and lay sick for days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was greatly disturbed by the vision and could not understand it.
If Daniel, who had an angel to HELP HIM UNDERSTAND THIS VISION, still could NOT understand it fully, then I suspect that you and I, and the guy who is going to write the next best-selling all about the end-times book, will struggle to understand it even more. Let’s be humble, folks.
Now, about the Mark of the Beast and 666:
What about the ‘mark of the beast?’ Well, before we discuss that, let’s give our first and foremost attention to the mark of God. Revelation 7 tells us about it:
2 Then I saw another angel rising up from the east, who had the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were allowed to harm the earth and the sea, 3 “Don’t harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we seal the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
It is likely that Revelation 7 is hearkening back to Ezekiel’s vision in which he sees God send out a group to bring vengeance on the inhabitants of Jerusalem – all who DON’T have the mark of God on the foreheads: This seal or mark of God is protective – it prevents those who are sealed from being harmed by the punishment that God is sending on the world during Revelation. This obviously itself looks back to the blood on the posts of the doors during the Exodus, as celebrated in Passover, which itself looks FORWARD to the shed blood of Jesus covering His people and protecting them from deserved divine judgment. Maybe you can see now why biblical prophecy is a bit…complicated?!
There is also a seal of the beast, and this is spoken of in Revelation 13 and 14. As a refresher:
16 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, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of its name.18 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.
(Chapter 14) 9 And another, a third angel, followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is poured full strength into the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, 11 and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or anyone who receives the mark of its name.
Revelation 13:16-18 and Revelation 14:9-12
Many, many lines of ink have been spilled over the years talking about this ‘mark of the beast.’ There are so many theories about it ranging from the mildly plausible to the patently absurd. I recall in the 80s that many were convinced that UPC codes (the bar codes found on things you buy at the store) were the mark of the beast. Others believe it will be an injectable chip or something along those lines. The Greek word used for “mark” is ‘χάραγμα cháragma, khar’-ag-mah’ and it means a stamp, or a mark. It comes from a word that means ‘trench,’ so it very likely contains a connotation of digging, engraving or etching.
I suppose an implantable chip (possibly with circuits engraved on its boards) could qualify there, but that is a slight stretch. So – what is this mark of the beast? And the answer is, of course – WE DON’T KNOW! And once again, I am quite skeptical of those who claim to know exactly, because we aren’t given enough information to know. That said, we are given enough information to know the mark of the beast beyond a shadow of a doubt when we see it. I believe it will be very, very clear, and not something that you can be really duped into getting like some sort of injection or thing that is given to you by deceit. Whatever else you think of the covid vaccines, they are most certainly NOT the mark of the beast, and only bad exegesis of these passages can get you to that conclusion. The passage seems to indicate that the mark of the beast will be received with a conscious submission to it, and not ignorantly. Here’s what we know:
- The mark will be on the right hand or the forehead.
- The mark will be economic in some ways – there will be finance systems set up where you can’t buy or sell without the mark. As such, I kind of keep up with anti-fraud technology, because that is one possible way we could get to a mark of the beast. I could see a leader or government attempting to make currency obsolete somehow and requiring some sort of unique ID/payment method be somehow put onto every person.
- The mark will somehow tie back into the beast/antichrist/man of lawlessness, and perhaps the kingdom/country/group of countries that individual is leading.
- Even if we see the mark coming – WE WON’T BE ABLE TO PREVENT IT. God has ordained these events, and they aren’t written down in the Bible for us to try and stop them. We have no command to fight against the implementation of these technologies. Do so if you feel so led, but the point of this passage is very simple: Do NOT get the mark of the beast. The point is not – FIGHT AGAINST EVERY TECHNOLOGY or INNOVATION THAT COULD BE THE MARK. God’s Word will come to pass.
Bottom line: Don’t get a mark/chip/tattoo/engraving/implant on your wrist/arm or forehead that has anything to do with buying and selling.
One more thing to discuss – the enigmatic 666. What’s that all about? As you might imagine, Christians over the years have discussed this issue extensively and fiercely debated its meaning. Many believe that John intended the number to be used in a way as a code, and thus many use gematria – which is a way of assigning a number to letters and fashioning a sort of code – as a way to interpret 666. The problems with this approach are legion, as John never tells us exactly how 666 is the number of the name of the antichrist, and never tells us what code he might be using, and Christians have thus guessed for over a thousand years what he was thinking.
Many have definitely declared that Nero, Roman Catholics (Latinus), this or that pope, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald W. Reagan, Hitler, and others were the antichrist based on somehow making their name match up to 666. The thing is – depending on what code you use, there can be literally thousands of different names that can somehow, someway add up to 666. I think the Holy Spirit, as the ultimate author of the Bible, had full knowledge of this fact, and I believe when the antichrist/beast comes onto the scene, then it will be much clearer how the number 666 relates to him. In this, I wholeheartedly agree with Andrew of Caesarea, a church bishop from the 500s, who wrote a commentary on Revelation:
For the sober-minded, time and experience will reveal the actual significance of the number and the truth of whatever has been written about it. For, were it necessary, as some of the teachers say, that such a name be clearly known, the seer would have revealed it. But the divine grace did not consent that the name of the destroyer be noted in the divine book
William C. Weinrich, ed., Revelation, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 213.
Well said, Andrew!!
Bible Memory passage for the month of December: Revelation 5:12, “They said with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
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