By Pastor Tedd Mathis
Why I am addressing this
The mark of the beast should not bring anxiety to the Christian.
I am told there is at least one video circulating on social media making a connection between the impending COVID vaccine and the mark of the beast referred to in Revelation. I have yet to see the video so do not know the connection made. But in my circle of acquaintances the video has resulted in confusion and anxiety. Below you will see why I do not believe the mark of the beast has anything to do with a vaccine or nanochip. But even absent of vaccines or nanochips, the mark of the beast should not trouble those who belong to Christ.
Here are four reasons our hearts should not be troubled about the mark of the beast.
First: Revelation is the book of Christ’s victory. Those who read the book of Revelation and heed it are promised to be blessed (Rev. 1:3). There is much that Christians over the centuries have not agreed upon in understanding Revelation. But there is not a phrase or sentence in it that should throw Christians into panic or worry. It is inescapable: Christ defeats His enemies and saves His people! Christians should find themselves joining the chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and honor and glory and blessing!”
Second: Those who take the mark of the beast are unbelievers deceived into worshipping the beast, not true Christians. (Rev. 14:11-17).
Are you a Christian? Are you believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? Are you believing it His death on the cross by which all your sins have been forgiven? Are you trusting and obeying Him, anticipating His bodily return (Titus 2:11-14; I John 3:1-3)? Jesus promised that all those believing on Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). If that is you, the following words of Jesus will be of great comfort:
My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” – John 10:27-30
Jesus said it is not possible for the elect to be deceived.
For false christs and false prophets will arise and will provide great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. – Matthew 24:24
Third: The mark of the beast is participated in by people who love their sin. Before there is a mark there is a love of the beliefs and sinful ways of man and not a love of God (Rev. 13:16-18; John 3:19-21; II Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 22:15).
Fourth: Christians already have a mark; they are marked with the Holy Spirit.
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, 14 who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. – Ephesians 1:13
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. – I John 2:20-2
Why the mark is not a sneaky vaccine or clever microchip
I find the following contrast helpful in understanding the mark of the beast.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God’s people were commanded to love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their might according to the laws and instruction given Moses….You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead (Dt. 6:8).
While some Israelites would eventually take that literally and wear phylacteries on their foreheads and wrists containing portions of the Law, the point was to put in their minds what God had said and to obey it. God had chosen them; He had delivered them from bondage in Egypt; He had made promises to them to use them for His glory and for their good in the future. Therefore, He was worthy of their whole-life loyalty and devotion. That is what verse eight meant.
Under the New Covenant, there is a similar expectation for Christians. In light of God choosing us and rescuing us from our bondage to sin by offering up His Son in our place, we are commanded to “present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is our spiritual service of worship. We are not to be conformed to this world, but we are to be transformed by renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
Back to the mark of the beast in Revelation. The texts (13:16-18; 14:9-11) are speaking of unbelievers worshipping the beast. Just like saints worship God by believing Him and obeying what He says, these people worship the beast by believing and obeying what he says.
If it is an actual mark (John may be speaking figuratively, see below), it is an intentional one having to do with worship. That leads me to think it would be a visible sign showing one’s loyalty and devotion to the beast and not a chip or something not visible. We do know it is part of the beast’s control of what his worshippers believe and do (13:16-17; 14:9-11). He is deceiving those already deceived, and they identify with him in full allegiance (see II Thess. 2:7-12; II Tim. 3:13).
I lean toward thinking John is speaking figuratively; it is not a physical mark. Here’s why.
Some true believers in ignorance, might in confusion, take a physical mark. Not every believer in the world has a Bible, or has read the book of Revelation. There are believers with mental deficiencies who may not understand what is going on.
Yet the text is emphatic as to who takes the mark, and the result.
There’s only one kind of people mentioned who take the mark – those who are already worshipping the beast (see 13:15).
In 14:9-11, there is only eternal damnation for those who worship the beast and receive the mark.
That’s why I think the mark is figurative; it’s a spiritual mark of the person who never has been a true Christian.
As Jesus assured His confused and frightened disciples shortly before He went to the cross, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me (John 14:1), so we can be assured that no beast can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen – Revelation 22:21