No one in their right mind wants to take the mark of the beast, but with all the theories of who the antichrist is, and what the mark of the beast is, how can we be sure that we don’t take it by innocent error? I’ve heard moderately convincing arguments that the antichrist/beast is Prince Charles, the papacy, and Islam, among others. I’ve heard reasonable people try to explain that the mark of the beast is bar codes on grocery items, social security numbers, and chips embedded into our hands. For fun, I typed “what is the mark of the beast” into Google and got over two million hits. “Who is the antichrist” produced well over a million hits. I’m not recommending the use of Google to determine Biblical truths, only using that to show how many different ideas there are.
How are we to know the truth? Since we serve a God who is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), we must be able to find the truth of this topic clearly in his word.
There are only two groups of people in the last days: those who worship the beast (Revelation 13:8), and those who worship God (Revelation 14:7). Notice both groups are worshipping someone. Another way of classifying them is: those who receive the mark of the beast in the forehead or hand (Revelation 14:9), and those who receive the seal of God in their forehead (Revelation 7:2-3). The real issue boils down to worship. The seal or mark is just the indication of which group we are in, of who we are worshipping.
Since the preferred position in the end of time is to have the seal of God, we should seek to understand it as best we can. The way to do that is to compare Scripture to other Scripture, line upon line, precept upon precept (Isaiah 28:10). Looking at key words (seal, mark, sign, forehead) throughout Scripture should give us some clues.
Since we are looking for the seal of God, let’s start by looking at the use of the word “seal.” First Kings 21:8 and Esther 8:8 refer to the seal of the king, which was his ring or signet, which he would imprint, probably into wax, to show something was genuinely from him. Generally, the seal would identify the title and territory, and we still do this today. For example, the Seal of the President of the United States has the title (President) and territory (United States). A different use of the word appears in Isaiah 8:16, which says to “seal the law among my disciples” so perhaps we should look to God’s law to find a hint of a seal. In looking at the law of God, there is one of his Ten Commandments that has his “seal”: the fourth commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…”) found in Exodus 20:8-11. It has his title (Creator) and territory (heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is). The only other place in scripture that comes close to containing his title (“he who made”) and territory (“heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters”) is Revelation 14:7.
Next let’s look up the word “mark.” In Revelation, the word mark appears several times, always referring to the mark of the beast. In Ezekiel 9:4-7 there is a mark of God, and all were slain who did not have it, just like in Revelation, all are slain who do not have God’s mark, or seal. Those in Ezekiel with the mark were those who repented of all the sin taking place in Jerusalem. Those who mourned sin (defined as the transgression of the law – 1 John 3:4) received God’s mark and were saved. So here the mark was linked with those who loved the law of God rather than sin.
The seal of God is in the forehead, and the mark of the beast can be in the forehead or in the hand. Other places in scripture mention something that had to do with the forehead. We find that all of the words of God were to be “a sign…as frontlets between thine eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18). The Hebrew word translated as “sign” is Strong’s 226. This same word is also translated as “mark” in Genesis 4:15. So we could say that God’s words (his law) were as a sign, or mark, at the forehead. Another use of the word “sign”: Exodus 31:13-17 refers to the fourth commandment as a sign between God and his people throughout our generations.
So here is what we have seen: 1) the real end time issue comes down to who we worship, God or the beast, 2) we receive a seal, sign, or mark either from God or from the beast, 3) a seal contains the title and territory of the ruler, 4) the fourth commandment contains the “seal” of God (title and territory), 5) God said to “seal the law” in Isaiah 8:16, so the seal and law are linked, 6) the fourth commandment is called a “sign”, which could also have been called a “mark”, 7) the mark of God was tied to his law in Ezekiel, 8) the law was a mark at the forehead, and 9) the commandment that contains the seal of God deals with when we worship. See how all of this is tied together?
God tells us in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We are also told in Proverbs 14:12 that ways that seem right to a man are the “ways of death”.
If you want to avoid the mark of the beast, and rather have the seal of God, to be marked as his, to love his law more than transgressions, and to worship Him above all false gods, then perhaps you should take a closer look at the fourth commandment, to see if you are in line with God’s ways. There is enough evidence to show that this very issue could be what differentiates those in the last day who worship God rather than worship the beast.