Revelation 13: 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 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, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has [g]the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
We are kind of parachuting in on Revelation in order to briefly consider the infamous “Mark of the Beast” that has gotten and still gets so much playtime. It might not be a good idea to parachute in like this because of how the macro context in Revelation dictates our understanding but I wanted to say something about the Mark of the Beast so as to give us a vaccine that will resist the tendencies while living in infectious times to start looking everywhere for this dreaded Mark of the Beast as declared in the Apocalypse of John.
Now, before I start I want to affirm that I believe that marks of the beast can and do continue to exist. However, I do not believe THE mark of the beast as mentioned in Revelation 13 is something we are still looking for. In point of fact, I believe that the Mark of the Beast that John the Revelator spoke of was a Mark that his first-generation readers were being warned about. It would make little sense for John to warn about events, beasts, false prophets, Anti-Christs that would come on the scene 1000’s of years later to the lifetime of those to whom St. John was writing. John in writing Revelation is writing a book for the 1st century Christians and so when I read about a Mark of the Beast in John’s Apocalypse it is a Mark of the Beast that while being future to them is in the past to us. I believe that this Mark of the Beast that John speaks of applied to some reality in the 1st century and I hope to convince you of that before this sermon is finished.
Notice that the Beast’s spirit inspired image in vs. 16 causes six categories of people
small & the great
rich & the poor
free men & salves
To receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead of 666. Without this Mark a person will not be able to engage in commerce – they won’t be able to buy or sell.
We should note first before diving into this that this Mark of the Beast is the antithesis of a Mark that God places upon His people we learn of elsewhere in Revelation. So, this Mark of the Beast is in antithesis to the Mark of God upon His people. We read of God’s Mark of “seal” upon His people in Revelation,
Rev. 3:12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
Rev. 7:2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
This idea of being literally marked by God is not unique to the book of Revelation. In Deuteronomy, it is the Words of God that are worn upon foreheads and hands.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
So, now we see that God’s people in Revelation are Marked and so sealed and we see that in the antithesis of that and perhaps even in an obscene parody of that the people who belong to their Father the Devil have the Mark of the Beast.
Now as to these Marks note that they are placed upon both the forehead and the right hand. We might offer here that this is symbolic of both distinct peoples having both their thinking (forehead) and their doing (right-hand) Marked by their respective God.
The Mark thus need not be literal but only be symbolic of a people whose thinking and doing is dominated by their Gods. For the Christian, they would have had their thinking and doing dominated by thinking their thoughts after God. For those who belong to their Father the Devil they would be dominated by thinking their thoughts after the State which I believe is what the Beast stands for. Stay with me and we will get to that.
Those who are sealed unto their Father the devil with this Mark of the Beast I believe are those of 1st century Talmudic Jews who rejected the Lordship of Jesus Christ in favor of the Lordship of Rome. This Talmudic Jew Leadership class had embraced being ruled by the Neronic Caesar State as opposed to being ruled by their Messiah. Remember those 1st century Jews had said;
John 19:25 The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
And we are going to see that the Mark of the Beast that John writes of refers directly to Nero Caesar.
So, I have tipped my hand here. I believe the False Prophet (synonymous w/ the Land Beast) refers to 1st century Jewish Priest class leadership. The Image of the Beast that the False Prophet has built and forces upon faithless Israel corresponds to Nero Caesar who requires his Mark on hands and foreheads that we are considering.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. The Scripture gives us significant information that points us in the direction of Rome collectively and Nero individually (as the incarnation of Rome) to be the one to whom the Mark of the Beast corresponds.
We know from Scripture that 6 is the number of both beast and man.
They were each created on the 6th day of creation. (Gen. 1:24-31)
Six days out of Seven are given to man and beast to labor (Ex. 20:8-11)
Six cities of refuge were set apart for the accidental slaying of men (Nm. 35:9-15)
Some have suggested that just as the number 7 signifies completion or perfection, especially of God, so the number 6 being one shy of 7 signifies incompletion and imperfection.
More than this R. C. Lenski in his commentary on John offers this about the numbering of 666 in the book of Revelation;
“John writes the number not in words but in Greek letters
Chi (x) which has the value of 600
Xi (ks = fox) which has the numerical value of 60
Sigma (s)which has the value of 6
thus 666 – three times falling short of the divine 7 of perfection.
In other words not 777 but competing with 777, seeking to obliterate 777 but doing so abortively, its failure being as complete as was its expansion by puffing itself up from 6 to 666.”
So, if 777 = perfect perfection, 666= perfect imperfection.
666 is the number of man in opposition to God. It is the number of man collectively organized in the State to rise to overthrow God.
Now at this point we must admit that the Greek here could point to man in the collective as opposed to any singular man who is the Beast having a mark to distribute. The Greek says, “for the number is that of a man,” which could be also translated as “for it is a number of mankind.” The word Anthropos is often though not always generic when it occurs without an article as it does here.
But this is a situation where we can have our cake and eat it also. We can do so by keeping in mind that a distinct man stands for the whole or is emblematic of the whole. In this case, the particular man is Nero as standing for all of wicked Rome.
We see this kind of thing commonly in History. For example, Louis XIV could say, “L’État, c’est moi”—literally, “I am the State” thus identifying himself individually with the nation and the nation with him. Augustus Caesar took to himself the title “pontifex Maximus.” This title made Augustine the High Priest Representative of the People so that people were in him. We see in these two examples that the King or Emperor as Individuals were the embodiment of the Nation as a whole. If we understand Nero as the embodiment of Rome the question of the singular or the corporate nature that the Greek is pointing to need not bother us.
Now, why do we hook this 666 up, Nero Caesar? When Nero Caesar is written in the Hebrew alphabet from the Greek (nrwn qsr) with the associated numerical value given to each Hebrew letter נרון קסר (gematria) represents the numbers 50 200 6 50 100 60 200 which add up to 666. In the same way, if Nero Caesar is written in Aramaic (another language the 1st-century recipients of the letter would’ve likely been familiar with) this can be valued at 666 again using the Hebrew numerology. Writing in this fashion would explain why John in 14:18 says,
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast,”
St. John was writing cryptically against the Roman Emperor while at the same time making that clear by insisting that both understanding and calculation would be necessary.
Next, we pause to consider that calling Nero a Beast was consistent with the man’s character. Nero murdered his own Mother. His contemporaries referred to the man as a Beast in their writings.
Then there is the consideration that Nero, too, was the sixth emperor, counting from Julius Caesar (as did Suetonius, for example, and Josephus).
So this is the evidence that the 666 Mark of the Beast refers to Nero and Rome of the first century as the Jews – as Revelation’s False prophet – come under the authority of Nero in their thinking and doing thus having the Mark of the Beast on their hands and foreheads.
Now, that I have established that THE Mark of the Beast as an eschatological time marker designating something about the yet future return of Jesus is no longer something that we are looking for since that is in the past to us let me say as I said at the outset that there is no reason that we should not embrace the notion that Beasts and their Marks still exist and that they exist consistent with the Beasts and the Marks we find here in Revelation.
This is to say that Beasts still exist as Nation States and their Governments seeking to press upon God’s people a Mark that communicates their control of our thinking and doing. This has been the character of the Nero-like Tyrannical rulers and governments throughout time. Whether we mention the bible’s examples of Egypt’s Pharaoh, Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar, the Edomite Herod, or whether we mention post-Biblical Rulers like Charles I w/ his Priest William Laud or whether we mention the Guise, or the Medicis or the Bloody Mary or her Father Henry VIII or Robespierre & Marat or Lenin, or Stalin, or Mao, or the Rothschilds what we find throughout history are Beasts who if they could they would press upon God’s people nasty Marks of the Beast indicating that the thinking and doing of God’s people are under their control.
That is why the Christian hates with a godly hatred the Tyrant State. The Biblical Christian knows what the Tyrant State is up to and he loathes the idea that any Tyrant and/or Tyrannical Government would usurp the authority of our Liege Lord Jesus Christ. The Biblical Christian like Daniel’s three friends is resolved to refuse to bow in any way to the Tyrant State. We know the scaly finger of the serpentine NWO and all we will do as Christians is pull a St. George on that scaly damnable Dragon.
You see what Nero and Rome as the Beast was doing in the 1st century to the Church is now what is being attempted yet again, against God’s people. Again the Beasts of the Great Reset and the NWO is seeking to press upon us their Beastly Mark that indicates that we live and move and have our being in the State. Man in his collective expression of the State is once again rising up to seek to squash God’s people by forcing on them their Mark that would indicate that we are under their authority and control. It doesn’t take much imagination to identify the symbols that now exist that men are increasingly bearing this Mark of the Beast.
And Oh how they like to play with this whole Biblical notion of the 666 and the Mark of the Beast just to put their thumb in the eye of God and God’s people. They use Twilight Language to let us know that they are out there in defiance of God. More on that for those interested during our fellowship and mealtime.
So there it is … the Mark of the Beast both then and now. And for those who have the capacity to connect the dots, it is easy to see why the behavior of much of the visible Church in the last year-plus has been so deplorable. The Church has been acting as if she can’t wait to be tatted on her hands and foreheads with the State’s Mark of the Beast.
These things ought not to be so for those who own Jesus Christ as their Sovereign and their great High Priest.