Revelation is a prophetic book written by John, a disciple of Jesus, and an apostle. Some of the events recorded in the book were fulfilled shortly after John's death. In this present age, we're witnessing the fruition of other jotted down events e.g. the race towards a one world government, the birthing in of the mark and the image of the beast (which are in their initial stage), the falling away of many Christians, and the increase of wickedness as was in the days of Noah, to name a few.
In essence, we're living in the end days as stated by Jesus when he was on earth. He said that this generation will witness and experience the end-time signs leading to his second coming, and subsequently, the Great Judgment.
John was instructed not to seal up the book for the time is near implying his return to the earth. Thereby, it's God's desire we study the pages of the book, both believers and unbelievers.
For Christians, the book serves as an encouragement to hold on to the truth even if it being tortured or killed for our faith in God.
Pertaining to unbelievers, the book serves as a warning what will happen to those who haven't committed their lives to God.
Implication of Receiving the Mark of the Beast and Worshipping Its Image
John, in a vision, saw an angel warning the inhabitants of the world not to take the mark of the beast nor worship the beast and its image. Those who do so will invite on themselves the wrath of God. They will be eternally separated from God - languishing in an unexplainable pain under the flames of fire that never diminishes in its intensity or burns out.
Verses 9-12 states, "A third angel followed the first two, saying in a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image and receive the mark on their forehead or on their hand will themselves drink God's wine, the wine of his fury, which he has poured at full strength into the cup of his anger! All who do this will be tormented in fire and sulfur before the holy angels and the Lamb. The smoke of the fire that torments them goes up forever and ever. There is no relief day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, for anyone who has the mark of its name. "This calls for endurance on the part of God's people, those who obey God's commandments and are faithful to Jesus."
What is in receiving the mark of the beast that deserves God's punishment for those who accept it on their forehead or hand? Why will God's face be turned against those who worship the beast and its beast?
Revelation 13 provides an insight what the mark and the image of the beast represent.
In relation to Biblical prophecy, a 'beast' is a symbolic figure used to represent a kingdom, what we would term in our modern terminology as a nation, country or state.
Revelation 13 foretells the rise of two nations that will command an aura of authority in the world.
Let's look briefly at these two beasts. It should be noted that both nations are existing in the world. The first beast is rising as an influential world power, and the second beast is heading into apostasy as the first beast.
The 1st Beast
The first beast represents a kingdom that was successful in ruling a large portion of the world. It ruled the world with an iron fist but as prophesied in the Book of Daniel, the kingdom lost its worldly influence when it's stripped off it by another nation.
By being slain, it's rendered powerless - conquered - by another kingdom. This brings out the meaning of the statement, 'It's mortally wounded' - lost its worldly power.
Nevertheless, its mortal wound was healed to the awe of the world meaning it will regain the influence it had over nations. The world will be awestruck at the nation's return on the world stage as the world's central power.
This nation will openly rebuke God's sovereignty. It will challenge what God stands for, truth and justice. It will magnify its rebellion and command people to pay homage to it, as it was during the Dark Age.
The beast will speak "terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling - that is, those who dwell in heaven." By showing desrespect to God, it wants to prove it can't be dictated to by God, that is, live by God's commandments.
It wouldn't be surprising that this nation will be controlled by Satan and his evil forces. Concerning this beast, it's stated, "And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority."
By paying allegiance to the beast, the world would be worshipping Satan for the beast's power is derived from Satan. "And they worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast…"
The beast will wage war against Christians as it did during the Dark Age. It's stated, "Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them." Those who refuse to worship it or its image will be subjected to all forms of torture and deaths. Some Christians will give in to torture, and pay allegiance to the beast thus the meaning, 'conquer them.'
Christians are encouraged to endure harsh treatment that will be meted against them as was the case with the early martyrs. It's stated, "This calls for endurance on the part of God's people, those who obey God's commandments and are faithful to Jesus."
The 2nd Beast
The second beast is a nation which was founded on Christian principles. However, this beast will turn against the Biblical principles that guided its formation and catapulted it into the world stage as one of the most influencing powers on the earth.
It will support the first beast in accomplishing its mission - rebellion against God and redirecting the world into worshipping Satan as the true 'God.'
It will devise a technological device, the mark, which it will compel people to take either on their forehead or right hand. It's stated, "Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name."
It will convince the world to accept the image of the beast, another technological device. It will give life to the image implying it'll enable the device to function. An important thing to factor in is that by giving life or breathe to the image, it enables the 'device' it had made to speak.
When God created the first man, Adam, he breathed in his nostrils the breathe of life, that is, enable man to live. In the case of man it was special because the breathe of life ignited the existence of the 'spirit' form. Unlike animals, humans are made up of the soul, spirit and flesh which acts as a covering for the soul and spirit. The second beast giving life to the image signifies the image's ability to think, reason and speak just as a man does. The image will have a form of human intelligence.
The purpose of the mark is to propel those who have taken it to pay allegiance to the first beast through the image which controls those who have taken the mark to follow the directives of the first beast.
Through the mark and the image, the second beast will deceive the world into believing the first beast is their saviour and 'god.' The signs or miracles will be based on worldly advanced technology. The image, enabled with a certain degree of human intelligence, will have an ability to track those who do not follow its directives and cause (orders) them to be killed, or tortured before they're killed.
The Significance of the Mark of the Beast
Since the creation of the world, man has strived to rebel against God's sovereignty. Through pride (baseless boasting) evidenced by his feat of achievements which he believes is a result of his own ingenuity, not bestowed by God, has positioned himself as a 'god.' Consequently, he doesn't see the need for God. His ultimate ambition is to wipe out the reality of a Supreme Being (God).
By rejecting the existence of God, he wants to free himself from the reality of being responsible for his actions. He doesn't want to be held accountable for the decisions he makes, and subsequently, his actions e.g. oppressing and manipulating people for his own gain. This explains another intention of man - to control others. Slavery, throughout the ages, is an example of man's desire to rule (control) other people to do what he wants or wishes for.
Power for control and rebellion against God's rule are two reasons why God forbids Christians, and nonbelievers, from receiving the mark of the beast on their forehead or right hand.
As we have noted, the first beast will engage in an openly rebellion against God, and the second beast will compel people through controlling mechanism, to worship the first beast (whose master is Satan) instead of God.
Biblical Stand on Rebellion and Power for Control
We will look at two recorded events in the Bible that warn against rebellion and the need to reign over others.
1st Account: Israelites Demand for a King
In 1st Samuel 8, the elders, on behalf of the people of Israel approach Samuel, a prophet and the last judge of Israel to demand for a king. Their call for a king partly has to do with Samuel's two sons who aren't living up to their profession as judges, and to be like others nations that are ruled by a king.
Samuel isn't pleased with the Israelites desire to have a king. He talks to God about it. God tells him that he should give in to their demand. He reveals to Samuel that they're not rebelling against him (Samuel) by demanding a king, but against him (God). In essence, they want to be ruled by a human; not God.
Verses 6-9 states, " So the elders asked for a king to lead them. Samuel thought this was a bad idea, so he prayed to the Lord. The Lord told Samuel, “Do what the people tell you. They have not rejected you. They have rejected me. They don’t want me to be their king. They are doing the same thing they have always done. I took them out of Egypt, but they left me and served other gods. They are doing the same to you. So listen to the people and do what they say. But give them a warning. Tell the people what a king will do to them. Tell them how a king rules people.”
Despite warning them on the consequences of embracing the ruleship of a king, the people insist they want a king.
The Old Testament narrates the ordeal the Israelites underwent under the leadership of Kings even among the upright royal heads. The king's went as far as to cause the people of Israel to commit acts that were abominable to God e.g. worshipping idols.
The demerit of a royal head (president) ruling (presiding) is that he may force people to engage in activities that repel God. This is evident throughout centuries, the bad ruling of royal heads and presidents including the Roman Catholic Church during the Dark Age.
2nd Account: The Tower of Babel
After the flood, a section of people settled in the land of Shinar, one of the cities of Babylon founded by Nimrod, the first man to attain the status of a king.
The people built a tower with the intention of reaching the heaven, making a name for themselves (becoming famous), and to avoid being scattered to the ends of the world.
They rebelled against God's command to spread out and fill the world. They wanted to have their own way, not to be told what to do and not do.
They wanted to have a centralized worldwide power. They desired for nations to reckon their achievement and their authority as a central figure (government).
Lastly, they thought by uniting together, they could challenge the authority of God.
In her article, 'Tower of Babel Bible Story Guide,' that was published at Learn Religions, Mary Fairchild notes, "The tower of Babel was about convenience, not obedience. The people were doing what seemed best for themselves and not what God had commanded. The building project symbolized the arrogance of humans who try to be equal with God. In seeking to be free from reliance on God, the people thought they could reach heaven on their own terms."
In conclusion, the mark and the image of the beast represents rebellion against God's supremacy, and as a mechanism to control people, by force, to do things that are humanly sickening (evil) and goes against God's principles that govern humanity, and the world at large.
© 2020 Alianess Benny Njuguna
Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on July 07, 2020:
Thank you, Tim for your comment.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on July 07, 2020:
Interesting explanation. Thank you for exploring this topic thoroughly. Awesome article.