Sunday, October 23, 2011
The Mark Of The Beast.
Revelation 13:16-18 He causes 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 or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
The first thing one must understand about the book of Revelation is that it is a book composed almost entirely of symbols that a first century Jew would find immediately recognizable. These symbols were used before in such books as Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.
Jesus, Paul, and John used a lot of metaphors from Old Testament scripture. John more than any other disciples uses metaphors. And because we have all been ironically taught “not to flow” the first principles of sound biblical hermeneutics to let scripture interpret its own, many have found the book of Revelation hard to understand and given up all together.
However, in Revelation also, we are to study the passage or verses in question, and see how the “words are used” in other related situations throughout scripture. In this way, we have God, interpret His Word. The Jews in the first century were very familiar with figurative language and they surely understood the language Jesus and the disciples used in the same way it was used in Old Testament scripture.
The "mark" received upon the right hand or the forehead, is a Jewish symbolic picture (as is virtually all of Revelation). It is not a "physical" mark on a person's body. The first century Jews were familiar with this Jewish thought and they know (exactly where John was coming from). But how did one, receive "the mark" and what did it mean in Jewish thought? It means that those who "took the mark" willingly, on their "right hand"did whatever they did under the control of an ungodly religious and they acted in accordance.
The "mark" on the foreheads, was referring to the fact that Rome and their ideologies religions, etc., were controlling the "minds and thoughts" of those who willingly followed this mind set. A perfect picture of this action in see in John. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, Behold your King!" But they cried out, Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priest answered, "We have no king “but Caesar!" (John 19:14-15)
In John 11:48 we read, Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priest and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, What shall we do' For this Man works many signs. "If we let Him alone like this everyone will believe in Him, “And the Romans will come and take away both place and nation.” This is the meaning of the "mark of the beast. Those who "took the mark" in the foreheads, were referring to the fact that Rome and their ideologies religions, etc., were controlling the minds and thoughts of those who willingly followed this mind set. All the Jews understood this typological picture.
The metaphors that John used from the Old Testament are a little harder to see sometimes, especially when we have not been taught to look for them. A good example of this is when a "mark" is spoken of, it should bring to mind as it did the Jews a previous reference to a mark, found in another place in the Old Testament.
The very same language about a “mark” is spoken of in a previous reference. It is found in Ezekiel 9:3-8. 3Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; 4 and the LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." 5 To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. 6 "Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple 7 Then He said to them, "Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" And they went out and killed in the city. 8 So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?"
In this context, Jerusalem was also about to be besieged and destroyed (by the Babylonians). The Lord commanded an angel to place "a mark on the foreheads" of those that lamented the wickedness of the city. This angel is described as having "a writer's inkhorn at his side" (9:3), with which he was to mark the righteous.
It is clear from the context that this was not to be taken literally, as if an angel needed to carry a pen around with him and an inkhorn in which to dip it. This was a figurative, symbolic way of showing that there was a specific class of people within the doomed city that were being set apart for preservation (9:6). We must allow Scripture to interpret itself whenever possible.
Since John was a Hebrew he used numerous Jewish metaphors out of the Old Testament in his book of Revelation. John thinks in Hebrew, and his writing naturally affected the vehicle of express.
In Revelation, a similar "mark" is placed on those whom God wishes to preserve. Revelation 7:2-8 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the SEAL OF THE LIVING GOD. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have SEALED THE SERVANTS OF OUR GOD ON THEIR FOREHEADS. And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.
A "mark" is also received by those loyal to the beast, one which sets them apart for destruction (14:9-11) The mark is an emblem of ownership and submission. The mark is said to allow some to purchase, and others not to purchase (That's MONEY) it is said to bear the name, number image of the beast. Remember when Christ asked: "Whose superscription is this"? Roman currency bore the “image of Caesar.” It is a well recorded fact that within the Roman Empire, nobody bought, sold or traded without Roman currency. This was the purpose of the moneychangers on the court of the gentiles. Since Rome paid tribute from the Temple treasury, it had to be Rome coinage!
No one "can buy or sell" describes the ban the Pharisees put on Christian Jews who were considered apostates see Acts 21:21 where they accuse Paul of teaching apostasy against Judaism). In fact the law is still in the Tosefta: "We do not sell to them, nor do we buy from them. We do not take from them, nor do we give to them." (t Hullin 2:20). Having any interaction whatsoever with Christians back then could land a Jew in big trouble. A Rabbi b. Hyrkanos was put on trial for his life in the latter first century just because he "enjoyed" an interpretation of a scripture that came from a Christian Rabbi (b Abodah Zarah 16b-17a). Apparently the Christian heretics were considered "harlots" and Jews were stay "far from them."