“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 that he had the Mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)
In the past several years, the above verse has received a tremendous amount of attention and has probably instilled an equal amount of fear in some believers but we must remember 2nd Timothy 1:7 that proclaims “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
On a daily basis, our generation witnesses the rapid development of technology, world monetary policies and E-business, that we all suspiciously regard as precursors to the “Mark of the beast” that is discussed in this verse of scripture. A new implant device called “Digital Angel” by its creators at Applied Digital Solutions, is already in use in animals. “Digital Angel” is one of those technical developments that has caused a stir in the Christian population and has many believers wondering. Yes, it certainly has the technical capabilities to qualify it as the actual “Mark of the beast”, but should we care?
Countless people are crunching the names of world leaders through their calculators looking for the dread “666”. Why? What are they going to do with that knowledge? Are they planning to change God’s plan? Someone please explain to me the benefit in knowing, or thinking you know, who the anti-Christ is? The only thing I see is the opportunity to get “puffed up” and prideful because you think you have knowledge that nobody else does. How dangerous that is! Don’t tell me it’s so you can be prepared, because we’re told to be watchful and to be ready ALWAYS, not once we see the anti-Christ revealed. Revelation 3:2-3 says: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
When it comes time for the “Mark” to be a qualifier, as discussed in Revelation, the conditions of acceptance will be perfectly clear to those who have to make the choice. It will not be a secret and people will not be tricked into accepting it. I don’t believe that a single person will accept the Mark without a thorough understanding of what it means to take it; and their choice to do so will be based on a conscious (although incorrect) decision. A decision not to take the “Mark of the beast” will be no different from a person making a decision to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. No one has ever stumbled blindly or has been tricked into that decision either.
Personally, I don’t believe that it’s spiritually healthy to dwell upon, or be obsessed with, trying to achieve a complete and thorough understanding of the book of Revelation or the book of Daniel. Daniel wanted to know more, too, but the Lord wisely chose to close the book until a later date. The message is clear: there is a time and a place for everything. I certainly believe that we have been given this scripture for a reason, but I believe that the reason is so that we can have an understanding of where we stand with the Lord. His word forever acts as a mirror in which we can see ourselves with God’s own eyes.
Although there are a number of erroneous doctrines that represent the “Mark” as meaning something else, it is in fact, about one, and only one, critically important thing – PROVISION! When the time arrives for the “Mark” to become active in the world, it will represent one of the two forms of provision. On one side, provision will be based on Jehovah-Jirah (“God our provider”). On the other side will be the anti-Christ and his provision based on his existing worldly system. The unfortunate individuals that are eventually faced with taking the “Mark” will be making a decision as to which of these two systems of provision they accept — God the Father’s, or Satan’s! In the case of Revelation chapter thirteen, I believe that we are told about the “Mark of the beast” so that we can evaluate our own, personal standing by looking into that mirror that is God’s word.
Clearly, those who accept the “Mark,” in whatever form it may be, will be accepting Satan’s provision. They will be doomed to an eternity in the lake of fire. Those who reject the “Mark” will be declaring their independence from the world and their acceptance of God the Father’s holy provision. The analogy of sheep and goats is applicable here. Sheep follow their master’s voice. They do not store up provisions, instead, they rely solely on their shepherd to provide their food, water and shelter on a daily and continuous basis. They accept their shepherd’s provision without question. This does not mean that we do not plan for the future. What it does mean is that our trust is in the Lord as our provider, not in man, or in any other system. Sheep will not take the “Mark of the beast.” Once we understand that the “Mark” is about provision, we can begin the process of evaluating how deeply rooted in the worldly system, and it’s provision, we have become as individuals.
Dependence on the worldly economic and provisional infrastructure is a very real threat to both the lost and to the saved. How dependent are you? If you are depending upon yourself then you are, in effect, depending on the worldly system owned by Satan. In our generation, we have seen our dependence on the worldly system of provision grow immeasurably. Only a generation ago, many families grew their own vegetables, their own livestock and even built their own homes. Because they were at the mercy of God in the form of weather and every other natural phenomenon, they leaned very heavily on His provision and prayer. Today, with the exception of family owned and run farms, this kind of dependence on God’s provision is becoming increasingly rare.
I’m not saying that the Lord isn’t able to or doesn’t provide for us through the worldly system, but I am saying that we need to be very cognizant of what our dependence is based on and where that dependence lies. When we constantly strive for career advancement so that we can have luxury items, but we look the other way when we see a family in need, something is wrong. When the Lord blesses us with wealth and we don’t share it and handle it responsibly, then something is wrong. If we aren’t in a position and mindset where we could lose virtually everything we have in an instant, just as Job did, and be OK with it, then we’re potentially as risk and may be seeking provision from somewhere other than from our Father. If you trust the Lord for everything then you have nothing to fear from the “Mark,” the “Name of the beast,” or the “Number of his name.”