Ok … now I’m seeing the “Mark of the Beast” Dispies going nuts about masks. As Dispies have done my whole life they are ‘Chicken Littles’ running around like their heads are cut off screaming, “The End is Near, The End is Near.” That is because they think the mark of the Beast is the mask, or the chip, or the vaccine or tattoo tracers or whatever and it all means in their cataclysmic minds that we are entering the Great Tribulation.
A brief primer so as to dismiss those well intended folks.
1.) The Mark of the Beast is not necessarily a literal mark, whether a mask, a chip, or a tattoo and it does not necessarily need to be stamped on our right hands or foreheads. If we read the Revelation passage in context (13:17) we find that there is also a mark of the Lamb in Rev. 14:1. That mark is the name of the Lamb and the Father on the foreheads of God’s people. Now the Dispies get hyped about the Mark of the beast on evil people but I’ve never heard anyone talk about having a literal mark of the Lamb on the good guy saints in this supposedly future contest between good and evil.
2.) So, the mark of the beast is likely a prophetic metaphor which was future to the readers of Revelation but is past to us. As to the symbolic nature of the mark it merely symbolizes total dominion and control over a population, however that may occur. The fact that John writes that the mark of the beast is on the right hand and the forehead is merely telling us that the thinking of those under the Beast’s sway will be controlled as well as all their doing. Throughout history Tyrant states have sought this kind of control, whether one is talking about Stalin or King Cetshwayo’s of the 19th century Zulus or Abraham Lincoln.
3.) The time references in Revelation force us to conclude that the threatened Mark of the Beast was future to John’s readers but is past to us today. We are not looking for a “Mark of the Beast” that has any connection to some “this has to happen before Jesus can come back” prophetic timeline. Nearly all of the time marker references in John’s Revelation are references that bespeak an imminent occurrence in the lives of John’s audience. After all, John repeatedly writes of the events under consideration as the time being near, Rev 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10. If we are still looking for John’s “time is near” events then time stamps are useless.
4.) Who John’s book is written to (audience) forces us to dismiss the idea that all that John writes of remains future to us. John was not writing to warn us about a “Mark of the Beast.” John was writing the seven persecuted Churches (Rev. 1:9) of the 1st century to warn them about the “Mark of the Beast.” It would have done precious little good to warn the seven Churches of Revelation about a Mark of the beast that wouldn’t take place for 2000 years.
5.) The purpose of the book of Revelation forces us to dismiss the idea that all John writes of in his Apocalypse remains future to us. John wrote Revelation with the purpose of speaking to the promised coming judgment upon Israel (Rev 1:7; 11:1–2, 8) for her unfaithfulness. The threatened judgment on Israel was fulfilled in AD 70 a time near to the time of the writing of Revelation. (The dating of Revelation is a hotly disputed subject.)
Now, having said that, no one denies that Marks of dominion, and control on the part of future tyrants may well be future to us but such future marks of future beasts have nothing to do with the prophetic “Jesus is coming back” clock. The contemporary masking is indeed a sign of dominion and control and so will be any vaccines or chipping and Christians should be in the front rows of opposition due to the Kingship of Jesus Christ. However, none of that is relevant to the prophecies of Revelation. We may even see the day again where some lunatic, like Nero of old, has divine aspirations and desires worship. If we do though, we will, of course, oppose it as Christians but it will have nothing to do with the prophetic clock.
So, a Biblical hermeneutic insists that the “Mark of the Beast,” in Revelation likely refers to the attempt by Nero to have absolute dominion and control — even unto the point of being worshiped — as other populations were under the shadow of Rome’s hegemony and correspondingly has nothing to do with Jesus coming back in 2020.