Welcome to a revelation of Jesus. In the previous video we saw a beast arising out of the earth in the last days, which we identified as the United States of America. The beast from the earth is performing deceptive miracles, “even making fire come down from heaven” (Revelation 13:13). What is the goal of this deception? “He deceives those who dwell on the earth… to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:14,15).
An image is a likeness or resemblance, so the image of the beast, which will be set up by the beast from the earth (that is, the United States of America), will resemble the characteristics of the beast from the sea (That is, the medieval union of church and state). Revelation 13 shows that despite their totally different times and circumstances, they will be remarkably similar:
- The beast from the sea was a religious power, involved in worship: “They worshiped the beast…all who dwell on the earth will worship him” (Revelation 13:4,8). Likewise, the “image of the beast” is promoting worship—”he causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast” (Revelation 13:12). Although the United States has had a wall of separation between church and state, this prophecy shows that the wall will be broken down, and the U.S. government, prodded by the American church, will legislate and enforce religious behavior.
- Secondly, the sea beast was an international political power—”authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation” (Revelation 13:7). At the height of its power in the Middle Ages the Roman Church was able to manipulate the politics of the world through its European partners. The image of the beast also operates in the international political sphere—”He exercises all the authority of the first beast” (Revelation 13:12). The United States has a web of political influences that allow it to impose its priorities even upon its enemies. The image of the beast also has control of international commerce—”No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17). The US, through its dominant currency, banking system, and use of economic sanctions, has managed to maintain control over international economic transactions.
- The sea beast used the military might of its allies to impose its agenda on the world—”all the world marveled and followed the beast…saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:4). The image of the beast will likewise use its superpower status to “cause [force] the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:12). In other words, the United States will be the international end time enforcer of the Babylon/beast agenda.
- The sea beast was a blasphemous power—”He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” (Revelation 13:5). Blasphemy involves ascribing to humans the attributes and prerogatives that belong to God only (John 10:30-33, 8:58,59, Matthew 26:64,65, Mark 2:5-7), mocking God, His word and His power (Mark 15:29, Luke 23:39), and knowing God’s law but publicly breaking it (Romans 2:22,23). A prominent example is the blasphemous attempt to change God’s law described in Daniel 7:25. In making an image of the beast the United States will renew the blasphemous attempts to take God’s prerogatives and mock His word by legislating and enforcing changes in God’s law. I will say more about this later in this video.
- The most prominent characteristic of the sea beast was its persecution of the saints. “It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them” (Revelation 13:7). Likewise, the image will be a persecuting power—”the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:15). This prophecy shows that in the last days, the U.S. will be like the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, utilizing the state to persecute the true believers in Christ.
The American union of church and state “will cause all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark” (Revelation 13:16,17). For nearly 2,000 years there has been intense curiosity and imaginative speculation about the mark of the beast. Brands, tattoos, or bar codes have been suggested, and in recent years attention has focused on an imbedded microchip. While any of these could happen (and Satan certainly could arrange for a counterfeit to draw attention from the real issues), the scriptures give significant clues as to the true nature of the mark of the beast.
One important characteristic is that it is “on their right hand or on their foreheads”. The first-century Christian readers of Revelation would have certainly remembered that Moses told the children of Israel, “Obey my commandments which I command you today…You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” (Deuteronomy 11:13, 18, 6:8). In these verses we see that it is God’s commandments that were to be a sign, bound to their hand or forehead. Although ultra-orthodox Jews have taken this commandment literally and made little boxes with a copy of the law inside and fastened them to their wrists and on their foreheads, the real meaning is symbolic of God’s commandments “in your heart and in your soul”.
In the new covenant, God promises, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10). From the heart proceed thoughts (symbolized by the forehead) and actions (symbolized by the hand). From this text in Deuteronomy, we can assume that the beast will try to replace God’s laws with his laws, and his antichrist laws will be reflected in the minds, or at least in the actions of those who submit to the beast.
The hand and forehead are also mentioned in Exodus 13, and there it gives another clue as to the specific nature of the mark. Moses reviewed with the people their experience when they “went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (v. 3), and he told them to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a memorial of their deliverance. “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord…And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done [the keeping of the feast] because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt. It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth… So observe the decree of this festival at the appointed time each year” (vs. 8-10).
Again the law of God is mentioned, and the symbolic meaning is obvious—the keeping of the religious memorial feast “at the appointed time” is the “sign in your hand and…memorial between your eyes”. This verse suggests that the mark of the beast could be a religious memorial celebration, supposedly a part of God’s law, but actually a false one that honors Satan’s kingdom.
Putting the two verses above together and keeping in mind that Satan always tries to counterfeit what God does, an obvious possibility for the mark of the beast would be a counterfeit of the Sabbath, which is a part of the law of God and a memorial of creation and redemption. A change of the Sabbath would be expected, considering the agenda of the beast, as presented in Daniel 7: “He shall intend to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25). The Sabbath is the only part of the Ten Commandment law that has to do with time. By changing God’s law Satan tries to prove that he has greater authority than God who gave the law, and this is his ultimate goal—”the man of sin…opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2Thessalonians 2:3,4).
God’s law is eternal and unchangeable, so the beast can only “intend” to change it. But with the change of the Sabbath to Sunday, a change without scriptural support, he has managed to trick the vast majority of the Christian world into obeying him. This, of course, is not what it means to receive the mark of the beast. People who keep Sunday because of custom or because they have been taught that it is the “Lord’s Day” have not had a clear teaching about the fourth commandment, and God does not consider people guilty of breaking laws that they do not know about. At any rate, it is the image of the beast which “causes all…to receive the mark of the beast,” and the image of the beast has not yet been set up. However, when the Sabbath becomes an international issue and the false Sabbath is effectively exposed as unscriptural, those people who still choose to obey the beast rather than the Bible in order to avoid punishment will receive the mark of the beast.
Satan’s beast representatives will use coercive pressure to impose their will. At first, this will be economic: “no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark” (Revelation 13:17). But the pressure to conform will not be from economic sanctions alone. “He…causes all who refuse to worship the image to be killed” (Revelation 13:15).
The Greek word used for “mark” is haragma. This word only appears nine times in the Bible, and eight of them are in the book of Revelation, referring to the “mark of the beast.” The other occurrence is in Acts chapter 17.
Paul was in Athens and “his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols” (Acts 17:16). He preached to the philosophers who gathered in the market concerning The unknown God… who gives to all life, breath, and all things… that they might grope for Him and find Him…[during] these times of ignorance “He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being…for we are also His offspring. Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped [Greek haragma] by art and man’s devising” (Acts 17:27-29). In this passage, the only other place in the Bible where the Greek word for “mark” is used, it refers to “something of man’s devising” which represents a false god.
The story of Jeroboam in 1 Kings shows that the altering of God’s appointed memorial days is this kind of “something of man’s devising”. King Jeroboam, rebelliously seeking to establish his own religious authority, “ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah… he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel” (1 Kings 12:26-33).
Just like Paul’s haragma in Athens which was “something of man’s devising,” so Jeroboam’s new feast was something “which he had devised in his own heart”. His attempt to replace God’s ordinances with his own separated the people from God and led to their downfall.
Let’s summarize some of what we’ve learned so far. The mark of the beast is “on the hand or on the forehead” (Revelation 13:16). Instead of guessing what this might mean, we should look for a reference to the hand and the forehead in the Bible. We saw in Exodus 13 that God gave his people a memorial feast to celebrate their deliverance from slavery; it was to be “as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth… So observe the decree of this festival at the appointed time” (Exodus 13:8-10). It would be just like Satan to inspire his beast religion to counterfeit this with a memorial celebration “of man’s devising,” and with a change of “the appointed time”, just like he did with king Jeroboam.
Satan is always trying to get us to celebrate our own works, to replace the perfect work of God with our own human ideas and efforts. Salvation by human effort is the basis of every false religion.
True Christianity, by contrast, is based on resting in God’s finished work. This is symbolized by the Sabbath: “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3) The issue is not about worshiping on the right or the wrong day. It is about an attitude of trusting in the work that God has already accomplished for us.
Satan did not pick the Sabbath randomly as the point of God’s law for special attack. For one thing, it is the one commandment that tells us who God is. The Sabbath commandment identifies “the Lord [who] made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). It is the Creator God, and not just the God of any creation story, but the God revealed in Genesis, who ends His creation work with the Sabbath rest. All religions claim to worship God, and some, like Islam, claim to worship the “God of Abraham.” But by rejecting the Sabbath they have severed the connecting link to the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
A fundamental reason for Satan’s attack on the Sabbath is that it is the sign of the everlasting covenant. I will put a link in the description that shows that the everlasting covenant has four elements, and these are all under attack by Satan and his agent, the beast. The first element of the covenant is God’s promise to make His people a blessing to the world, a “kingdom of priests.” But in the beast system, the priesthood of every believer is replaced by a professional priesthood, and the believers in the congregation become passive spectators. The Sabbath in particular is the day God designated for His people to minister to the world, and Jesus demonstrated this by performing His most notable miracles of healing on the Sabbath. By changing the Sabbath into an hour of spectator worship on Sunday rather than a day of worship and service on the seventh day which God blessed, the beast religion nullifies the primary provision in time that God created for His people to be the blessing to the world that His covenant intended them to be.
The second element of the new covenant is God’s requirement, His law—”I will make a new covenant… I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:8-10). A direct attack by Satan on God’s law would be counterproductive, since most of the commandments, such as honoring parents and refraining from stealing or murder, are obviously in the public interest. But by changing the fourth commandment from God’s appointed seventh day to the first day of the week, the beast religion shows its contempt for all of God’s law—”For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” (James 2:10).
The Sabbath commandment in particular is like the tree in the midst of the Garden of Eden—the only reason someone would keep it is that God said to. Thus it is a fitting sign of our willingness to trust and obey, not simply the dictates of reason and social order, but the naked word of God. This point is vital at the end of time when the international “image of the beast” will be set up and will command the world to break God’s law under threat of death.
The third element of the covenant is the provision for the salvation of those who have broken the commandments—the sacrifice of Jesus. The Sabbath is the symbol of salvation that is found in the heart of the law of God. “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand; therefore the Lord commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Slavery in Egypt is a symbol of slavery to sin, and the Sabbath rest is a memorial that we have been redeemed.
Besides rescuing us from slavery, God does a work of creation in our lives and this is symbolized by the different wording of the Sabbath commandment in the book of Exodus. “Remember the Sabbath day…for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:8-11). The Sabbath symbolizes the new creation that we become as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17).
The Sabbath rest is also symbolic of the fact that God accomplished our salvation, not with the help or merit of our good works or obedience, but by His grace alone. “For He has spoken of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’…There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:4-10). The Greek word for rest is sabbatismos, which means the keeping of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the symbol that God has done everything necessary for our salvation, and we can rest in His finished work.
This fourth element is the sign of the eternal covenant, and with the Sabbath’s central role and symbolism in every aspect of the new covenant, it is no wonder that it is the sign of the new covenant. Nor is it any surprise that Satan, the master counterfeiter, would hijack the Sabbath, “think to change it” to “a day of his own choosing,” and make the false sabbath the mark of his own beast kingdom. I will include a link in the description showing how the Roman Catholic Church claims credit for changing the Sabbath as a sign of their authority.
Although the Sabbath is not currently an issue within the Christian Church, the scriptural evidence shows that this will change with the pressure that will bear down during the Great Tribulation. The destruction and chaos that will take over the world during the seven trumpets will provoke a desperate search for a formula to stop the pain. The false christs and false prophets will command the masses of people who are now spiritually apathetic to be obedient to God, including acceptance of the mark of the beast. At this critical moment, God honors “the patience of the saints; those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
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