What in the WORLD is the Mark of the Beast?

Well, it’s been a few moons and then some since my last actual writing on here!

2018, 2019 and 2020 have come and gone.

Most of us have survived the apocalypse while maintaining a decent supply of toilet paper and have kept our sanity…though not easily.  In times of trouble or distress, it seems like the peddlers of foolishness and idiocy have found fertile soil in the fearful hearts of people to plant desperation, doubt, despair and wild conspiracies…and Christians have not only proven open to these all but, in my limited experience, have rather been alarmingly deceived on multiple fronts over the past 12 months. I’ve been disheartened in watching many people I respect and care about swallow ideas and attitudes that were profoundly at odds with the clear teaching of scripture and/or the basic tenets of logic. One of the most frequent ideas was that everything was somehow the mark of the beast: 5G cellular technology, vaccines, coronavirus itself, closing down your church in response to government orders, Mark Zuckerberg himself (I mean, his name is MARK! What more do you need?), etc.

I’ve had this post bouncing around in my head for many months, so I’m finally just going to pound it out.

So what IS the Mark of the Beast?


I couldn’t help myself.

I’m a dad and reserve the right to unleash dad jokes at any and all moments.

Let’s start with the passage in immediate question.

Here’s Revelation 13:11-17, with 13:16 in bold:

“Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

So let’s consider the details of the passage:

  1. The second beast rises out of the earth (vs. 11).
  2. The second beast has horns like a lamb and speaks like a dragon (vs. 11).
  3. The second beast exercises all the authority of the first beast (vs. 12).
  4. The second beast makes all people to worship the first beast (vs. 12).
  5. The second beast performs great signs, even making fire fall from the sky (vs. 13).
  6. The signs are given for deception of all people, causing them to make an idol of the first beast (vs. 14).
  7. The second beast even causes the image to appear to come to life, speaking and even killing (or causing to be killed), those who don’t worship the idol of the first beast (vs. 15).
  8. The second beast causes all people of all classes to be “marked on the right hand or the forehead” (vs. 16).
  9. This mark makes it so that anyone cannot buy or sell unless they bear the mark (vs. 17).
  10. The mark is equivalent with the name of the best/the number of its name (vs. 17).

Now there is a lot that can be said indeed, but I’m going to address one specific question only: the mark of the Beast. I’m not going to tackle the meaning of the number 666, or the identify of both beasts, or anything else since those are separate issues that would require totally separate posts. But still, I want to point out some important details.

First, the whole passage is about the second beast pointing the world towards the first beast; the context is one of an agent of a false deity promoting said false deity. That whole thrust, the promotion of worship towards another, is core. Second, the whole world gets deceived (not meaning every individual person on the planet, but rather the overwhelming majority) and anyone who doesn’t worship the beast is killed (hence not everyone is actually deceived; if every specific individual on earth fell for the deception then nobody would be killed at all). Third, the mark is on the right hand and/or the forehead. I could draw this all out and eliminate a bunch of possible interpretations but in the interest of getting to the punch, I’ll just zoom in on the last point; the mark on the right hand/forehead.

Let’s run back to the Old Testament and look for some relevant passages that may help.

In Exodus 28:36-38, as God is laying out all the components of the priestly garments, there’s this little detail that oft passes unnoticed:

You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.

So Aaron (the chief priest), as part of his priestly robes, had a plate fastened on his head that said “holy to the Lord”. That plate set him apart for the Lord and showed possession; it declared that Aaron was a special possession of Yahweh; the one who represented his people in their offerings (hence he bore the guilt from their offerings).

Then in Ezekiel 9:1-6, when Yahweh was pronouncing judgment upon Israel in Ezekiel’s vision, Ezekiel hears the following:

Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.”  And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. 

Again, the mark is one that sets apart those devoted to Yahweh from those who participated in the idolatry of Israel. The mark is one that sets God’s devotees apart from the masses; it essentially states “these people belong to me; do not touch”. It was definitely not something like this:

That’s just pointing out Old Testament precedent for the idea of a mark on the forehead denoting possession, but what is more helpful is seeing if John uses the idea of a mark in a similar way in the book of Revelation.

In Revelation 7:2-3, we have an angel stating the following:

Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

That same pattern we see happening in the Old Testament indeed comes back. The mark on the forehead is a seal, setting apart the servants of Yahweh from the rest of the populace that is marked out for judgment. It was definitely not something like this:

Honestly. If you have a tattoo of Mark Zuckerberg on you anywhere, you need to stop reading this and repent.

The same sort of idea appears in Revelation 9:1-4

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Once again, the mark is a mark that sets apart a person unto God. The mark his servants apart from the masses; it’s a mark of ownership or possession. The ones bearing that mark are spared from the judgment that comes on the rest of mankind. It was definitely not something like this:

In case you don’t know about this one, be warned. It’s CRAZY.

In Revelation 14:9-10, that pattern continues when the third angel announces judgment and says:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

Seems to be clear. In this passage, the Mark of the Beast is a similar, but different, mark. It is what sets people apart for judgment. Those with Yahweh’s mark do not get judgment, but those with the Beast’s mark do get judgment. It’s a mark of divine ownership, or divine rejection (in this case). It was definitely not something like this:

Now the mark of Yahweh or the beast may involve things like the above, as in some sort of tracking and classification system (which we’re already seeing done via social media), but it’s a mark of spiritual devotion as that evidences an invisible reality.

One last passage needs to be mentioned. In Revelation 22:1-4, once the new Jerusalem comes down and is filled with those who belong to the Lamb, this is how it is described:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

The people where will worship God and the Lamb in the new Heavens and new Earth and will “see his face”, and “his name will be on their foreheads”. The same pattern that has been in both the Old and New Testaments carries on. It’s a mark of ownership; one that shows possession. In the end, the only people left on Earth are God’s people and they will all bear his mark.

I could go on, but I think I’ve hammered home the point fairly clearly. The mark of the Beast isn’t a physical mark, per say (though it could well involve some sort of physical designator, but that’s neither necessary nor the main component of its nature), but is rather a mark of ownership or devotion. It is explicitly linked with worship and those who take and bear the mark of the Beast do so as a result of spiritual deception. Those who don’t take the mark are synonymous with those who “who would not worship the image of the beast” (Rev.13:15). The past several years have been highly illustrative as to how someone could not “buy or sell unless he has the mark” (Rev. 13:16); we’ve already seen online payment companies refusing to process payments for people and organizations they don’t like, and online trading platforms refusing to allow stock trading with stocks they don’t like…and those decisions have been made and enforced against people on the sheer basis of ideology; no physical marks needed at all. It’s not a stretch to imagine those sort of restrictions to amplify and extend to credit card companies and banks and ultimately things like citizenship and basic human rights, and those real limitations/cessations of personal rights and freedoms wouldn’t need any corresponding physical mark at all.

Either way, I’ve addressed the specific question I’ve wanted to address but will not address the numerous others...and there are MANY.

Feel free to ask directly related questions in the comments, but I’m not nearly as free to monitor this as I once was due to increased family and work commitments. I will try to address questions as I’m able.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “the Mork of the Beast” Unger


10 thoughts on “What in the WORLD is the Mark of the Beast?

  1. This may be a repeat…login issues but still…

    I know you have gone through earthly hell and I’d guess relationally oriented BUT it is good to see you put what bounces around your head to paper.

    There are people who miss you.

    Be well

    • Thanks Howard.

      It’s been a rough last few years, but by the grace of Christ I’m still alive and going.

      I’ll try to toss some writing on here more frequently than once a year now!



  2. Thank you for your post. Several years ago a brother we respect talked about this text in much the same way. The Pharisees are all about the outward, he pointed out. He felt that the “mark of the beast” would show itself in our thoughts and actions, (the forehead and hands). Do we think and act like the world? A Pharisee may avoid an outward “mark” but have his heart and mind full of the ways of fallen mankind.

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