There are precious few matters among the varying manifestations of modern Christianity in which everyone is in agreement. Ironically, what is possibly the most mysterious topic in the entire bible happens to be a subject where virtually no one seems to disagree.
The whole world it would appear has believed for at least two decades that this mysterious “mark of the beast” will be a microchip implanted under the skin in the right hand between the thumb and pointer finger. Even more recently, the idea of documentation proving you have received a vaccine to halt the spread of some mysterious virus has been put on the table. The same people who claimed it was a credit card, and then a microchip, are now claiming it is a vaccine… among many other theories, as we will see.
What we should find so strange about this conglomerate of theological understanding across denominational barriers, is how these diverse religious institutions do not share the same view regarding the earthly identity of the “beast” of Revelation 13.
If varying sects of Christianity fail to share the same theological belief for the identity of the beast, how have they now drawn an exact conclusion regarding the mark of that beast?
Effectively, everyone agrees on the identity of the mark but somehow disagrees on the identity of the beast who imposes that mark.
In order for us understand the “mark of the beast” (Revelation 13:16-18), we must first understand completely and without question who or what this “beast” is. And what it is not.
The moment we come to understand the identity of the beast is the moment we will begin to gather more precise evidence to support the details of what exactly this mark of the beast represents.
It should be clear to anyone who possess the capacity of deductive reasoning that this one simple statement is undeniably true. If the identity of the beast is misrepresented, the subsequent implications of what the mark of the beast represents will also fail to be correct.
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The Earthly Historical Identity of the Beast Kingdoms
“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…” (Revelation 13:1; emphasis in bold mine throughout this section)
“And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. 11And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Revelation 17:10-11)
When a person studies scripture, it becomes clear the seven heads on this first beast in Revelation 13:1-10 are seven world empires (kingdoms) which have all come to power since the time of the great flood. The first beast of Revelation 13 is a system of government(s) that took turns ruling the world for thousands of years. Satan has been building his kingdoms (the beast) since the dawn of man. The second beast of Revelation 13 (the beast who recovers from a fatal head wound) is the beast which will be in power at the time of the end (Revelation 13:11-18). This second beast will exercise all the power of the first beast (world empires of the past) as explained in verse twelve.
Later in chapter 17, we see another reference to a beast (kingdom) who was killed, then came back to life.
“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.” (Revelation 17:8; NAS)
“And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” (Revelation 17:10)
Chapter 17 verse 8 depicts “the beast was, and is not, and yet is” which may very well be referring to the same “resurrected” beast back in Revelation 13 verses 3 and 12 whose “fatal head wound” was healed.
The first beast of Revelation 13 existed as seven different heads, or kingdoms, throughout history. The seventh head on that beast received a fatal head wound and was healed, allowing for an eighth head to arise.
“And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Revelation 17:11)
It is likely that this eighth head in Revelation 17 is the second beast of Revelation 13. In other words, the beast “who was, is not, and yet is”, in chapter 17 is the same beast who recovered from a fatal head wound in chapter 13.
But who are these kingdoms? Who are the heads on this first beast of Revelation 13? Who is this second beast that recovered from a fatal head wound? Can we know their earthly identities?
When taking Genesis chapters ten and eleven into account, there is some debate as to the origins and the exact dates of these seven kingdoms (seven heads of the first beast of Revelation 13). Historians and Archeologists know the Egyptian and early Mesopotamian empires (Assyria, Samaria, Babylonia, etc.) came to power before the conquering Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar’s time. However, the bible only offers the lineages of the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth. It does not give details as to exact peoples who founded Egypt and Mesopotamia nor the exact timeframe in which they settled their earliest city-state kingdoms.
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What is The Mark of the Beast?
“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: 17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark…” (Revelation 13:16-17; emphasis in bold mine throughout this section)
We began this study in part one by illustrating the so-called evidence to support two central theories regarding the identity of the beast. We saw how Nero and the Pope are the usual suspects while learning the evidence many teachers use to draw their conclusions. Now, to divulge the unadulterated truth surrounding this mysterious mark of the beast, using the same approach, we will research every single theory that has ever existed on the subject. Then, based on standard biblical exegesis the reader will be provided with all the available evidence and theories and will have the opportunity to decide what is credible and what is not. So here we are. What is the mark of the beast?
Common Theories for the Mark of the Beast
The Market Place of Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome had a thriving economy for the greater part of its tenure as a dominant world power. Roman markets were common in all the larger cities. One noteworthy example of a famous Roman market is the ancient ruins of Agora in Ephesus, Turkey. More specifically for this topic is the archway entrance to the marketplace known as the gates of Mazaeus and Mithridates.
Agora was one of the many structures built by Greek architects. When the Romans conquered the Grecian empire, they adopted all Grecian buildings as their own. Including the Agora marketplace.
Agora was a very large and thriving market in its prime. Everything you wanted to buy, sell, or trade could be found within the stone walls of Agora.
In order to understand what it was like to buy and sell in the markets of ancient Greece and Rome, one has to understand their version of a Walmart door greeter.
When entering in through the archways of Agora, the marketgoer would find large niches or enclaves fashioned from stone on either side of the main entrances.
All shoppers would be required to pass through these archways. Positioned within the stone cavities would have been a large statue of a Roman Emperor. When the Greeks ruled the territory, these niches would have been occupied by one of the Greek gods. However, during the time of Roman rule after the Greek cities fell, Greek gods were replaced with the image of the various Caesars carved in stone. Similar to how we in America still hang the portrait of our past presidents in government buildings and schoolhouses.
A priest from the Roman Empire would have been stationed at each entrance to the market next to these idolatrous statues closely monitoring the people as they traversed in and out through the archways. There would have been a bowl of spices used for incense next to a large bowl of burning coals to perform a quick sacrificial offering as you passed by the priest at the foot of Caesars idol. Everyone who entered the marketplace was ordered to cast a pinch of incense into the fire with a proclamation to the priest, ‘Hail Caesar’.
As you can imagine, some Christians would refrain from the obligation to “hail Caesar” as they entered into the markets. A priest would then flag them down, ‘You there, stop! You are required to make an offering to the gods!’ When anyone, including Christians, would refuse to make their offering to the gods of Rome, a priest would follow them through the marketplace shaming them loudly for all to hear. ‘This man refuses to worship Caesar!’ Upon this shameful declaration from the priests, the merchants would refuse to buy anything from, or sell anything to these publicly shamed marketgoers.
Can you see where this is heading? The Romans did not need to implant microchips in their subjects to stop them from buying and selling. They simply placed a team of priests (loyal subjects) in all their markets. The “mark” has everything to do with worship!
There is evidence to support this is how the Romans implemented the mark of the beast in their time. Which could very well have been the case. If you refuse to worship the god king Caesar by partaking of his burnt offering, you cannot buy or sell. Hence, the mark of the beast has everything to do with how one worships, and virtually nothing to do with the technology of the age.
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And much, much more…
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