Mark of the Beast

In the Book of Revelation, we read about the arrival of the Beast – the enemy of God’s people.  During this period of the Beast, Christ-followers will be excluded from participation in the local economy unless they agree to place a mark on their heads and hands (Rev 13:16-18). But what is the exact nature of the mark? 

Find the Deeper Meaning  

To understand the true meaning of the mark, something must be kept in mind – Revelation is a Jewish and anti-Roman document. Once we realize that, we need to remember that the central Torah text, recited twice daily, states, “‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” What follows this statement is less famous, but equally important: “Bind them [God’s commandments] as a sign on your hand and they will be on your forehead” (Deut 6:4-8). Jewish people, both today and in antiquity, fulfill this commandment by literally tying the words of the Living God to their hand and head almost every day of the week. This practice is called “laying tefillin.”

Reading Historically  

If the Book of Revelation is read with an awareness of the first-century Jewish context, it becomes clear that we should not imagine that one day the entire world will undergo a medical procedure that will insert a chip under our skin (as some Bible teachers speculate)! Instead, we should understand the mark of the Beast to be an inward or outward expression that opposes the Law of God in the life of a human being. As the enemy of God and His people, the evil Beast would naturally want to replace and mimick the mark of God that identifies the Jesus-follower.