The Mark, the Seal, and the Image

3 months ago
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The Mark, the Seal, and the Image

“I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down 'from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Revelation 13:11-18.

What exactly is “the mark of the beast”? Is it like the mark that the Lord put on Cain? “And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” (Gen. 4:15). In Ezekiel we find this:-
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” (Chapter 9:4-6).

Here is a similar mark to that which was put on Cain, inasmuch that it was a mark for protection. In the Book of Revelation the mark is one of ownership, and I believe this to be significant in understanding what the mark is.

It’s all about ownership

Man was made in the “image and likeness” of God. He was created by God, for God. Above all that was created, man was created for a specific and special purpose. Man is referred to as God’s son. The significant thing to note, is that man was created in God’s own image.

“…the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
Romans 1:20-23

The fact that “the serpent” wanted to get in on the act by deceiving Eve, reveals a lot about his ultimate intention - to steal and to own man for himself (John 10:10). To do so, the devil has to change God's image into his own image. Mankind has now, more or less, arrived at that historical place. He has been transformed into the image of the beast. Mankind, in effect, may now be referred to as the devil's children. Of course I am making a generalisation, for some are more like the devil than others, in particular those who want to own and control - they are the true children of their father. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him..." (John 8:44).

The mark of ownership

As we have seen, the mark given to Cain and the mark mentioned in Ezekiel was to protect them from being killed. The mark of the beast is the mark of his ownership, of his total ownership. With that ownership he rules over them that have his mark. The beast has been given the devil's own power and authority.

"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his  horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." (Revelation 13:1-10).

We can speculate on who or what is being referred to in the above passage of scripture, but one thing is certain - the devil's own plan and purpose. His intent is to go after the "saints" (holy ones). "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once [at one time. ἅπαξ] delivered unto the saints." (Jude 1:3). Clearly some rulers of the Roman Empire sought to destroy the "saints", especially Nero, and many believe that this is what the Book of Revelation was referring to. The currency of the Roman empire bore the "image" of Caesar (Augustus, Caligula, Nero). "Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's." (Luke 20:22-24). The "image" and inscription denoted the fact that the coinage belonged to Caesar and was the only legal currency of his empire.

Today, each empire (country/nation) has its own currency, with the exception of the European Union (and some smaller counties which use the American dollar). Of course, currency itself is not sinister, and taxes themselves are not necessarily evil or unwarranted; for without them the kingdom would have insufficient funds to maintain infrastructures, or provide vital services. Nevertheless, whoever holds the currency holds the people and makes the rules.

Sealed by God’s Spirit 

We also read this in the Book of Revelation,
“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed* the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Chapter 7:1-3).

 *Seal. σφραγίς. a signet. “By implication the stamp impressed [as a mark of privacy, or genuineness], literally or figuratively: seal.”- James Strong). Both signify the same truth - ownership. Please note that the seal is in the forehead, even as the mark of the beast is in the forehead. Clearly this is figurative, not literal. 

God’s seal, in fact, is the Holy Spirit - “whom God hath given to them that obey him.” (Acts 5:32).

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” Ephesians 1:13.

“…grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.“ Ephesians 4:30.

God’s seal is not a seal of approval, but rather a declaration; a declaration that a person is His, and not his own, and more definitely not the Devil’s. Similarly, the mark of the beast is a declaration that a person is owned by the devil, and that they will obey the dictates of their master.

In the final analysis a person will either belong to God or to the devil, the one will have the seal of God, the other, the mark of the beast. THERE WILL BE NO MIDDLE GROUND.

Only those sealed by God are counted as God’s elect. This needs to be clearly understood. The passage from Ezekiel quoted above will help us to understand this, as will the passing over of the angel when the blood of the lamb was detected on the door posts of the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt.

The Recovery of God’s Image

Those “sealed” by the Spirit of God are not only peculiarly God’s own, but are transformed into the image of God.

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” II Corinthians 3:17-18.

I believe this is the purpose of redemption - to restore the image of God in His creation, through new creation.

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

II Corinthians 5:14-19.

A literal translation of verse 18 would read - “so that if any one is in Christ— he is a new creature; the old things did pass away, lo, become new have the all things.” Some translate “new creature” as “new creation”, either way Paul’s description is clear. Paul further describes this “transformation” in his letters to the saints in Colossi and Philippi.

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him…” Colossians 3:10. The new man is renewed in knowledge “according to image of him who created him”. That is to say the image of Christ, who is Himself the very image of the God.

“Christ, who is the image of God“ (II Corinthians 4:4) “Who is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). “…the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3). 

In the Book of Revelation the image of the beast is mentioned ten times (Chapters 13,14, 15,16,19, and 20). The fact that it is mentioned so frequently is both significant and important. As previously stated, the Devil is attempting to create an image in his own likeness, he knows he cannot out wit God, but he also knows if he is allowed he can deceive mankind - “the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). The image of the beast is the creation of the Devil and is created in his likeness. This has been the Devil’s obsession ever since God created Adam and Eve.

God created man that He may have fellowship with Him. That fellowship was broken, and indeed lost, because of sin. God’s redemption through His son has made that fellowship possible again through new creation, through the creation of the new man, created in the image of God.

Not a Physical Mark

Do those sealed (baptised) with the Holy Spirit have a literal physical mark on their foreheads? Of course not. The symbolism is simply a way of describing those born of the Spirit. In like manner those belonging to the Devil. What is written in the Book of Revelation is symbolic*.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew (reveal) unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1). The word translated “signified” means to “show by signs or more accurately by “symbolism”.  The fact that the reader is told this at the commencement of the Revelation will help them to understand what is to follow and that it is not to be understood literally but symbolically

The symbolism of the Book of Revelation is used by the Spirit of God to “reveal” truth to the spirits of those who read/hear it. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.“ (verse 3). Apart from the indwelling Spirit it is not possible to understand the things of God. 
“…God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
(I Corinthians 2:10-14)

The Lawless One

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul referred to “the lawless one” (“that Wicked one”. AV) , “the Man of sin, the son of perdition”.

”Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

II Thessalonians 2:3-12

Clearly the Apostle Paul is referring to an individual or to a title. The Reformers identified the Papacy, the Roman Pontiff (the Pope) as the lawless one, and clearly there is much evidence to warrant this. Futurists believe the Jesuit teaching that the “Son of perdition” will be a Jewish man, whilst Preterism (another Jesuit teaching) suggests it was the Emperor Nero. But both Preterism and Futurism are both based on the writings of Jesuit apologists who sought to deflect the Reformers’ criticism away from the Papacy being the “anti-Christ”.

If we take the position of the Reformers we must be able to justify it from Scripture. Clearly there is a great deal in the Book of Revelation which appears to suggest that the Reformers were justified in their position. If they were there is yet to be a Pope that forbids buying or selling, but is one to come.

The Book of the Revelation states that the things God was revealing were about to occur very soon. “…to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass”. (Chapter 1:1). “keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand”. (Chapter 1:3). “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand”. (Chapter 22:10). The things “about to occur very soon” were revealed to the seven churches in Asia Minor (present day Turkey), and clearly occurred in 70AD, exactly as the Lord Jesus had stated in Matthew Chapter 23:34-38.

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate”.

Clearly the Lord was referring to and depicting the destruction of Jerusalem with its temple during “that generation”, the generation that murdered the Son of God. In Chapter 16 of Matthew we read, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Verses 27&28)

Just as the number 777 represents perfection, so 666 (the number of a man), represents everything that is anti-god and antichrist, all that is in opposition to the one true God. As 777 represents holiness and perfect goodness, so 666 signifies the enormity and totality of evil. Hence, John does not intend to point to any particular individual here. What he does is to describe the whore of Babylon 

"Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration". (Revelation 17:1-6)

If the Reformers were correct in their conclusion that the Whore of Revelation is the Papacy and the larger Roman Catholic church, as I say, they certainly had strong scriptural evidence for their position. If we take their position we will need to explain Matthew 16:27-28, 23:34-38 and Revelation 1:3, 22:10.

updated by @admin: 11/09/21 06:41:27AM