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The Lord As Our Source - The Book of Revelation
Week 47, 2017
Now we come to Revelation 13:11-18 and one of the most studied and famous passages in Revelation about “the mark of the beast.” I ask you to read this passage before we dig into what it means and how it may apply to us today.
Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.
He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.
And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.
And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,
and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
This beast is distinguished from the last beast as it comes up out of the earth instead of the sea. In prophetic symbolism, this often relates to earthly mindedness, which is exalting the things of the earth and this age above the things of God and His eternal purposes manifested by His kingdom.
We often worship that which we give most of our attention. Obviously we live in the world, and there are some things in this world that we must give our attention to in order to survive and provide for ourselves and our families. To love our neighbors as we are called to means that we do things for them, our communities, and countries by being the salt and light we are called to be. We are commanded to do everything that we do as unto the Lord, so Christians should excel at their jobs and professions. However, if our main devotion and attention is on the earthly rather than on the things above with Christ, we will be in jeopardy of succumbing to this beast. This text is a warning to keep us from this.
Throughout the church age, many have speculated about how this mark of the beast would come, but that is not the most important issue here. Taking the mark is not the sin—it is merely the evidence of the sin, which is worshiping the beast. More important than knowing how this mark will come is being able to recognize the beast so that we do not serve him.
As we are told in this text, six is the number of man. This is because man was created at the end of the sixth day. Many believe that the number of this beast, 666, relates to how secular humanism places man at the center of all things and seeks to displace the Trinity. Perhaps, but we do know that this is centered in the worship of man, and the basic method of control is the “mark of the beast” that is required of anyone to “buy, sell, or trade.” This economic mark enables one to be connected to the economy and the currency of the beast.
In this beast, we have the three primary idols of the human race wrapped into one: 1) the worship of man as supreme, 2) the worship of the things of this world (“this present evil age”), and 3) the worship of money. Worship is not just what we have love and affection for, but what we put our trust in instead of God. This is an ultimate test by the ultimate traps of the human soul.
A key remedy to the worship of the beast and taking the mark is obeying Colossians 3:1-2, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” In this way we resolve to put our trust in the Lord and not the powers of this age. Those who know the Lord as their Source will not be tempted to take the mark of the beast so that they can buy, sell, or trade. It is those who do not know the Lord as their Source who are in jeopardy.
This issue is of obvious crucial importance, and we will continue discussing this next week.
next week 48