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The Book of Revelation and the Mark of the Beast

Updated: Dec 3, 2023



The book of Revelation is always a hot topic, and as everyday passes, we definitely draw closer to the end whether the end is going to be soon, or several centuries from now. Many Christians seem to be on edge about the second coming of Christ and the events that are to happen surrounding the event. Revelation, with the supplementation of other books, appears to have a lot of insight about what should be expected. While this post will not comprehensively cover everything, it will be a humble attempt at my thoughts going through the book. If you seek more information, I highly recommend, "Revelation: Four Views, A Parallel Commentary, Revised and Updated Edition" by Steve Gregg and Robert Clouse. Getting started I think something should be said, and that is we should not take every aspect of this book literally. Those who would say every aspect of the Bible should be taken literally just take them to the book of Revelation and perhaps they would change their mind. It is important to notice that we can understand not everything in scripture is literal, but still inspired, authoritative, and has something to teach us about God. Without further delay let’s jump right in.


Prologue

Within the opening chapters of Revelation, we can find the prologue (Revelation 1-3) which is rather short. Revelation was primarily written to seven different churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4), but as the Lord does, he inspires people to write with the perspective of his whole Church across all time so all may benefit from it. The things that will be said in this book are not entirely focused on one time span but was produced through the lens of John and the Romans empire. As John writes he praises the good things some churches have done and he scolds others, and for some be both praises and scolds (Revelation 2:1-7,8-11,12-17,18-29; 3:1-6,7-13,14-22) After John writes to these Churches in the first three chapters we are told John experienced a vision, or revelation, of what is to come.


The Seals and Trumpet (Chapters 5-11).

Chapters four through twenty-two is the main focus of Revelation. John has visions about Christ’s Church and the persecution the Church will have to endure, with a reminder that Christ and his kingdom will be victorious. This theme is crucial considering what will be revealed. This idea is reinforced as the Lion of the tribe of Judah is described as a slain lamb (Revelation 5:5-7), who has conquered death, sin, and holds authority over all the earth with knowledge and wisdom that spreads throughout the whole earth. Those who would likewise follow the king to death by their faithfulness, even unto their death, will be victorious (Revelation 5:9-10). This is all the followers of Jesus who will inherit eternal life by the death and resurrection of Jesus through faith in him. Death is but a gateway for the Christian to eternal life in Christ. This knowledge over the whole earth, I believe, is the enactment of the great commission as well as the final day when all will recognize what has been accomplished through Christ and will acknowledge his Lordship. Following the reader can find seven seals and seven different visions detailing how the slain lamb will bring justice to the world and His enemies and the justification for it (Revelation 6-8).


In the sixth chapter starting this section there are four seals opened up each with a different horse and a rider on it beginning with a white horse with a rider having a bow and a crown (Revelation 6:2), another horse being bright red with the rider not having an appearance but given permission to take peace insinuating wars, next a black horse with a rider who has a scale which likely indicates scarcity and inflation possibly as a result of war with possible interpretation suggesting the rich and powerful will be protected (Revelation 6:5-6), and last was a pale horse with the rider death with hades following bringing death over a quarter of the world (Revelation 6:7-8). Each of these horses symbolizes the different types of divine judgement coming to the Earth as a result of sin, persecution of the Church, and their turning away from God. The punishments will correspond to the horses starting with the white horse which likely symbolizes the desire for earthly kingdoms to expand their reign resulting in war, famine, disease, scarcity, death, etc. The fifth seal is a change of tone where it shifts from judgement to justification for the judgement and in the fifth seal we see the reason for God’s actions which is the crying voice of the saints who have been persecuted and killed by any kingdom opposed to the kingdom of God (Revelation 6:9-11). We are then given a picture of the destruction of the old heaven and earth as God prepares to bring a restored heaven and Earth later within the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-17). The next chapter, chapter seven, proceed into some interesting territory regarding 144,000 of Israel who are sealed by the promise of the Spirit and God’s people. This chapter plays on the previous chapter when the judged proclaimed, “who can stand?” Or in other words, who can persevere through such great judgement? The answer is found in chapter seven as four angels who are standing declaring nothing will take place until the saints are sealed up for protection from this divine wrath (Revelation 1-4). The exact meaning of the 144,000 leads to much discussion where many find themselves confused and with no answer, and I will not pretend to have an answer here. I suspect the 144,000 is symbolic for the Church who will be spared and the 144,000 is not to be literally taken as only 144,000 will be saved because John envisions a number of people, too many to be numbered of all nations, before God’s throne rejoicing in their salvation clothed in white (Revelation 7:5-17). Picking up where we left off in chapter six is the last seal which is the calm before the storm of God’s judgement (Revelation 8:1-5). The remainder of the eight chapter is a series of judgements previewed that have now been announced, seven different trumpets starting with the first four, with some of the judgements resembling the judgement brought to Pharoah in Exodus. One of the trumpets seem to release the demonic powers into the world to wage war on people who resist God’s kingdom (Revelation 9:1-10) through the symbolism of locusts whose master is the one who destroys, or Satan (Revelation9:11-12). The sixth trumpet is given a bit more attention (Revelation 9:13-21) as it is described as answered prayers of the persecuted saints (Revelation 9:13). There is a pause for two chapters before the seventh trumpet is sounded and judgment is brought to completion. The main focus of chapter ten is the announcement of the mystery of Christ seen in the coming chapters, everything God has been working since the fall, will be brought to completion (Revelation 10:7) with the Messiah, the kingdom of God, and all being under the authority of Christ with the Church as his people. Heaven and Earth will soon be made new and all of creation restored. In chapter eleven is a warning to the believers of what is about to come, and though there may be physical harm they are to be reassured of Gods protection, victory, and promise of salvation (Revelation 11:4-14). Concluding the seven trumpets the announcement is made again that Christ will reign forever and ever and God will be worshipped (Revelation 11:15-19).


The Women, The Dragon, and the Two Beats (Chapters 12-13)

Transitioning to chapter twelve and thirteen, there is a lot going on within the passages. John sees a pregnant woman with sun and moon under her feet and stars at her head (Revelation 12:1-2). This women with twelve stars represent God’s people, Israel. Following is a red dragon with great strength (Revelation 12:3). This dragon represents Satan who is a powerful figure within the Bible and being cast down with a third of the stars in heaven (Revelation 12:4) this symbolizes the many demonic spirits who align themselves with the kingdom of darkness and have likewise been subject to the same fate as Satan. As Satan in cast down he waits to devour the women’s offspring. The dragon was not able to accomplish this goal as the child was pulled up to heaven with God and to his throne (Revelation 12:5) and following the women went into the wilderness (Revelation 12:6). There is a lot going on so let’s break it down. The women is the people of God, once Israel, now the Church who is the women’s offspring. The women will have an offspring who will come to be the Messiah that will crush the serpent, but for a moment it will appear as if the serpent is victorious with Christ’s death (Genesis 3:15) but as the reader knows he is resurrected and victorious. Christ will come to unite all people and all nations and as we know, he was resurrected conquering death, sin, and hell. As the women runs into the wilderness this is showing the absolute dependence of this women, Israel, on God to provide reflecting back to the Exodus (16:13-18). We are given a key piece of information being told the women was nourished for 1,260 days. I won’t go too far into this because there is a lot of discussion on this subject that many scholars do not agree on but for more information on Revelation check out, "Revelation Decoded” by Rabbi K.A. Schneider or, “Because the Time is Near” by John MacArthur. Proceeding froward there is a war in heaven where the dragon and his companions are defeated now being defined as Satan where the reader gets a more complete picture (Revelation 12:7-9). Satan is defeated because Christ has won and conquered Satan (Revelation 12:10-12). Because of the defeat to Satan, the dragon, and his kingdom they then pursue the women, Israel, in hopes to conquer them (Revelation 12:13) but could not so went after the women’s offspring, the Church to destroy them (Revelation 12:17).


We are told a powerful beast rises out of the sea with ten diadems, seven heads, and ten horns with blasphemous names on his head (Revelation 13:1). The next several verses depict the beast with characteristics of several different animals all seen within Daniel (7:1-8;21) that had a mortal wound that healed causing all to worship (Revelation 13:2-5). Breaking this down the beast symbolized kingdoms who are powerful within the first verse, and the following verses show that the beast of different animal traits symbolizes every powerful kingdom witnessed so far. The problem is these kingdoms demand allegiance that belongs only to Christ and his kingdom and this applies to every kingdom since. Despite this we see this specific beast is able to speak blasphemous things and exercise authority for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5-6). While we can see this symbolizes kingdoms of past, present, and future that have the anti-Christ Spirit many also believe there will be a single Anti-Christ who will come to reign terror on the earth in the last days which is why it was only allotted forty-two months (Revelation 11:1-2; 12:6,14). This beast was able to persecute the Church (Revelation 13:7-10) as was the goal (Revelation 12:17). The second beast came up and demanded all worship the first beast (Revelation 13:11) performing great signs to persuade (Revelation 13:12). We are told in verse eleven that the second beast resembles a lamb, similar to the Messiah, but of course the second beast is no Messiah. This false appearance will persuade many to worship him as the one who was expected to come but his lying words will expose his true identity to God’s people. As these two beasts partner together, they deceive the world to worship (Revelation 13:14). Those who do not worship will be subject to death, and those who are loyal will be marked on the hand and head and unless marked will not be able to participate in exchanging or purchasing (Revelation 13:15-18). Let’s pause for a moment. This marking on the head and hand is important as it is reflection back to the Old Testament. The Jewish people were to demonstrate their allegiance to the one true God of Israel by their life and how they raised their family. The commands and words of God were to be on them day and night and at all times (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). As a result, the people made what we now call phylacteries, which were little boxes filled with text from the Torah that would often get strapped on their forehead and arm to symbolize their commitment to God in thought and deed. The problem with the beast in Revelation is he is requesting the same allegiance, in thought and deed, to the people of the world. Those whose true allegiance is in Christ and his reign will not bow to any ruler, and though persecuted will come out victorious whether now, or in the true final days. The Church is attacked because Christ is hated (John 15:18), and this will only increase in time.


The Warning of God’s Wrath (Chapter 14)

Opening in the fourteenth chapter John sees the lamb, Christ, and the 144,000 sealed with the Son’s and Father’s name on their forehead in direct opposition to those with the Beast’s seal (Revelation 14:1). After this a song was heard played by an angel that only the redeemed and saved could hear who are undefiled and committed to God (Revelation 14:2-5). Only the rescued saints can hear it because it is only them who have experienced salvation from sin and death. The next several verses show one angel flying overhead with a warning to glorify God because justice is being carried out (Revelation 14:6-7) and those deserving of wrath will get wrath, another angel saying that the earthly kingdom of darkness and sin has fallen to God’s kingdom (Revelation 14:8), and a third angel warning that anyone who has the mark of the beast, whose allegiance is with earthly kingdoms and men as opposed to God, will be tormented forever (14:9-11). This section concludes with a call for those who are God’s to persevere and not give in to the kingdom of darkness (Revelation 14:12) and those with the Lord are blessed (Revelation 14:13) reminding the reader than when everything is said and done, and we are with the Lord we will be glad for the perseverance that was so hard in the moment. Concluding chapter fourteen we are presented with a picture of Christ with a sickle ready for the harvest to gather up the believers who remain (Revelation 14:14-16). A second sickle is presented for the second harvest where unbelievers are gathered and put into the winepress to be crushed under the wrath of God where they are trampled outside the holy city (Revelation 14:17-21) where all unclean things belong reflecting back to the Old Testament (Leviticus 14:45).


The Bowls of God’s wrath (Chapters 15-16)

As chapter fifteen opens we see a angel with seven plagues about to be poured out and shortly after a body of believers celebrating God’s victory before he commands judgement to be released (Revelation 15:1-4). After this the angels prepare to do what has been spoken of, and God’s bowls of wrath are in preparation to be poured out and God’s infinite glory is to be revealed (Revelation 15:5-8). Chapter sixteen commences with the pouring of God’s wrath out (Revelation 16:1). The first six bowls of wrath are as follow: the first bowl being poured out on the earth was painful sores (Revelation 16:2), the second bowl being poured out was turning the sea to blood killing every creature (Revelation 16:3), the third bowl was turning the rivers and streams of the earth to blood (Revelation 16:4) with a brief pause assuring everyone opposed to God is getting what they deserve (Revelation 16:5-7), the fourth bowl was poured out onto the sun so that it would scorch people (Revelation 16:8-9), the fifth bowl was poured out so that the kingdom of darkness was defeated and people cursed God (Revelation 16:10-11), the sixth bowl was poured out so that the Euphrates River was dried up (Revelation 16:12). As the Euphrates dries up the armies of darkness prepare for battle and another encouragement is given for spiritual vigilance (Revelation 16:13-16). Concluding this section, the last angel pours out his bowl and proclamation states that the work of God is finished (Revelation 16:17) and there was lightening, rumblings, thunder, and powerful earthquake resulting in the great city of darkness falling with large hail proceeding to fall on people (Revelation 16:18-21). This is the earth predicted in the sixth deal where the earth is prepared to be made new (Revelation 6:12-17).


The Fall of Babylon and The Thousand Years (Chapters 17-20)

Opening the seventeenth chapter the reader sees a angel take John to show him the great and powerful prostitute and beast with whom the world has intimately associated itself with (Revelation 17:1-3). However, in scripture we are taught that we don’t sit indifferently with God, we are with him or against him and this beast and the prostitute not being with God has stood against him (Luke 11:23). This prostitute here is symbolic for summation of all of mans wicked and evil desires and pleasures that consume the godless society who has committed themselves to a kingdom of darkness and wicked rulers, the beast, with the killing of God’s saints and submission to sin(Revelation 17:4-6), and this is demonstrated with the mark on the forehead. Following the angel who carried John away to see this vision then exclaims that the Beast and its power is limited, and it will surely meet its destruction and the day will come when its reign will end and it can no longer persecute God’s people (Revelation 17:6-8) along with all the unbelievers who do not have the seal of the salvation, the Spirit, and whose name is not in the book of life. John continues about what the heads, crowns, and horns mean and while specific application was present for John and his day regarding Rome, as Rome was like an ungodly beast opposed to the Lord, there is application for any kingdom even today that is opposed to God, and it will be destroyed. The crucified lamb will conquer every nation and people who wage war against Him (Revelation 17:14). In the end, the same kingdom that opposed God will be used to carry out his plan to the judgement of the wicked and will bring down the mighty kingdoms of the Earth (Revelation 17:17). It is important to know here that God is not the creator of sin and evil, but will often times permit it to be used for his purpose. To find out a bit more check out the post, “Why Did God Create Us Knowing We Would Sin?” While it doesn’t go too far in depth on the topic it will shed a little light.


In the next chapter, the eighteenth chapter, the great Babylon falls. For clarification Babylon is generally referred to as any nation in human history which has opposed God, not the literal Babylon. Angels declare that it has fallen (Revelation 18:1-3), God’s people are called out from the wreckage so that they may not submit to its sin which it has become drunk on that will soon plunge it into darkness (Revelation 18:4-8), and the kings and rulers who likewise brought up this beast to oppose God will share the same fate (Revelation 18:9-10). The reader is given extra details which indicate everything that has been worked so hard for in sin will be removed, the riches, the pride, the luxury of this sinful beast will be cast out with it (Revelation 18:11-13) and the men who profit off the sin of this great nation who have not put their hope on the Lord will weep at its downfall and will share its fate also (Revelation 18:14-23) and the blood of the saints will be avenged (Revelation 18:24).


Chapter nineteen opens with glory to God and rejoicing of his people after the promise to destroy this wicked beast and its prostitute (Revelation 19:1-5). Shortly after this the unity of Christ and his people has finished preparation and they prepare to be joined together (Revelation 19:6-8). Those who are saved, who have the seal of the Spirit, who have their name in the book of life as exclaimed to be blessed (Revelation 19:9-10). After heaven has opened up and the mighty Faithful and True one is presented as on a white horse and who can make war and judge righteously and this is Christ who is described as having a robe dripping in blood, who is the Word of God (Revelation 19:11-13; John 1:1). As the armies of heaven are lined up the reader is reminded again of Christ’s right judgement which will be just and with righteous anger because He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:14-16). In this time an angel calls out for bird to pick the corpses of the judged clean which, though metaphorical, is a reflection back to God’s Old Testament punishment for violating covenant (Deuteronomy 28:26; Revelation 19:17-18). In this time the kings of the earth are lined up for war, but the war has been pronounced as victorious for Christ’s kingdom and defeated for Satan and his armies before it even begins, and yet it is over before the reader can even realize it begins and the beast and its worshippers were cast into Hell and the wicked armies of the earth were brought down and slain (Revelation 19:19-21)


Chapter twenty begins with a brief picture of Satan, the serpent, and the dragon cast into the pit for thousand years and locked away so he may not deceive until the permitted time, a thousand years, is over to then be released for a short time. A throne room is presented with those given authority to judge who reign with Christ for a thousand years and the second death will have no power over these people (Revelation 20:1-6). I won’t go into detail here again, because it can be confusion and there is a lot of discussion in the scholarly circle to which I am not accustomed; however, I do know much debate exists over the premillennialist, amillennialist, and postmillennialist view. Feel free to look into those if you wish to know more. God’s people will be attacked and provoked once more by Satan and his armies who, after a thousand years, will be released once more and God will cast Satan and his army into the lake of fire forever and ever (Revelation 20:7-10). Final judgement will then happen for all which was announced previously (Revelation 11:18) where all will be judged for their deeds, those who may be still alive and those who had already died, and those whose name is found in the book of life will be saved and death will be no more (Revelation 20:11-15)


Renewal of the Created Order (Chapters 21-22)

Propelling chapter twenty-one forward is the opening of the beginning of the newly established created order, the new heaven and earth, coming down as the old has been removed with the announcement that God is to be with his people and all the evil previously experienced has been removed forever (Revelation 21:1-4). “God with us” has been the purpose from the beginning (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) and it has come to be realized in this chapter with the words, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5). The destruction of the enemies has been completed, God is with his people, and his people will be nourished with Christ forever to be satisfied in him for eternity while the wicked will be in the lake of fire known as the second death (Revelation 21:6-8). An angel then took John to see the new city, which is Jerusalem, coming from heaven, which is described as precious as a rare jewel, with great high walls with twelve gates with twelve angels symbolizing protection. On the gates the twelve tribes of Israel were inscribed, and the walls were on twelve foundations on which are the names of the twelve apostles, and this is to symbolize the unity of the Old and New Testament followers of God (Revelation 21:9-14). After a brief description of the city, gates, and walls (Revelation 21:15-21) John looks and sees no temple in the city because the temple is the Lord and Christ for Jesus is the means through which God exists now with his people (Revelation 21:22). These people live by the light of God’s glory where nothing unholy and unclean as sin or wicked men will ever pollute God’s creation again (Revelation 21:23-26).


In chapter twenty-two there is presented a new city with a river with water of life, and on either side of the river there is a tree of life with its fruit (Revelation 22:1-2) and many think this is looking back to the garden of Eden before the fall. Once again it is stated that nothing evil will ever enter God’s creation again, and the people will see God’s face and his light will guide them and his name will be on the forehead of the saints (Revelation 22:3-5). Summarizing the last verses, the reader can find that John validates the words and truth of the Revelation he received, and in this there is an encouragement for Jesus will soon return and all of this will be brought to reality (Revelation 22:6-21)


Conclusion

As Revelation can be a tricky book for believers, this is not meant to scare the Christians. While it can produce a bit of anxiety and perhaps some doubt and worry, we must continue to trust in the Lord. This Revelation should produce jo in the heart of the believer that one day the war on evil will be over and that Christ has already determined the outcome, an outcome which cannot be avoided when we reign with his Church and sin is no more. Lastly, if you like what you see and are interested in supporting the ministry then be sure to check out our store!



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