There have always been two marks in the Word of God—a mark upon the righteous and a mark upon the disobedient. The concept of two marks goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. When Cain became angry and slew Abel, the Lord put a mark upon him. This mark was not a desirable mark, but it was still a mark that was put upon rebellious Cain. “And the Lord said to him, ‘Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.” Genesis 4:15. Just a few years outside of the Garden of Eden, a mark is placed upon disobedient Cain. This was not God’s mark, marking one of His faithful and true children, but this was the mark of a murderer. It was a mark of transgression against God’s law. The idea of a mark is not something new to the book of Revelation; it starts in Genesis and continues throughout the entire Bible.
A mark upon both the righteous and the wicked and the fate of each is clearly portrayed in the story of the exodus from Egypt. This account of the children of Israel being delivered from Egypt is the very story that the latter scenes of Revelation are based upon. There are the two groups of people—those who were following and obeying God and those who were following the customs and traditions of men. The children of Israel had a sign or mark of deliverance upon their houses, so that the angel of death would pass by. “For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” Exodus 12:23. Thus it was for the people of God. For those who followed and obeyed the directions of the Lord, they were preserved from the destroying angel. But it was only those who had God’s mark of deliverance that were saved. If there were any of the children of Israel who did not have God’s mark, they were not protected, but rather their firstborn perished with the disobedient. The Egyptians also had a mark, but this mark did not save them, it marked their destruction. “And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock.” Exodus 12:29. It was a mark of death. Why did they have this mark of death? It was because they did not receive God’s mark of deliverance. All who refuse or neglect God’s mark of protection will receive the mark of death as the Egyptians did. It was not that the Egyptians did not know. They knew. Moses and Aaron had faithfully warned Pharaoh and the news had trickled down the to the ear of the lowliest servant. There were even those who had joined the Israelites and had been preserved, and these individuals became a part of the “mixed multitude.” Exodus 12:38. There were two marks then, and there are two marks now.
As marks are a symbol that is used throughout the Scriptures, it becomes the climax and the focal point of the book of Revelation. Just as in the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt there were two marks, so in the final deliverance of God’s people from this wicked world there will be two distinct marks. There will be the mark of disobedience that the Egyptians had, and there will be the mark of deliverance that God’s true people will have. “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.’” Revelation 14:9, 10. The same mark of disobedience that both Cain and the Egyptians received, in the last days is called “the mark of the beast,” and the results will be the same as in Egypt. In Egypt, it was death to the firstborn, in the last scenes of this earth’s history it will be death to all who receive this dreadful mark. The mark of the beast is not the only mark; there is the seal of the living God. “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.’” Revelation 7:2, 3. Those who receive the mark of the beast receive the most awful judgments ever threatened upon mankind, but those who have the seal of the living God are miraculously preserved from the terrible judgments that devastate this world. “They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” Revelation 9:4. If you did not understand the difference between God’s seal of protection and the devil’s mark of destruction during the plagues of Egypt, you would have received the mark of destruction and been lost. So today, if we do not understand this most important topic of the two marks, we will inevitably be lost. The world is going to be brought to a choice just as the country of Egypt was brought to a choice. Who will you serve? Then only the country of Egypt was affected, but today it will be the whole world. (See Revelation 13:3.) Everyone will be brought to a choice—which mark will you receive? There are only two; it will be one or the other.
It is important to note that marks are usually symbolic. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” Psalm 37:37. The Lord had given direction to mark the perfect man. This mark was not a literal brand that he received, but a mark of character. Marks are usually symbolic, and this is certainly true with God’s mark. It is a mark of character, a mark of the heart. The Lord looks deeper than man does. Man is always looking to externals, but God does not look at the external appearances, God’s eyes pierce into the very depths and intents of the heart and soul. “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.’” Ezekiel 9:4. The Lord commands one of the angels to put a mark upon the men who are sighing and crying for the abominations. This mark is put on by an angel, not by a man. This mark is read by angels, not by men. This mark is marking “the perfect man.” It is a mark of character; not a literal brand burned into the forehead. God’s mark of deliverance is a symbolic mark.
“Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always…. Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess… And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul… Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” Deuteronomy 11:1, 8, 13, 18. The Lord says exactly what His sign or mark is. It is obedience to God’s Ten Commandments. Clearly not a literal mark, but a mark of character. Just like David said, “mark the perfect man” (See Psalm 37:37) so he also says, “The law of the Lord is perfect,” Psalm 19:7. James also agrees calling the Ten Commandments, “the perfect law of liberty.” James 1:25; 2:11. In order to be marked as a perfect man, you must be keeping that perfect law of liberty, or the Ten Commandments. It is obedience to this holy law that is a sign on our hands and upon our foreheads that we are God’s people. God looks deeper than mere external ornaments; He looks into the heart to see if a person is living in obedience to the holy Ten-Commandment law. If an individual is obeying the law of liberty, God knows that He can trust him, and so He puts his mark or seal upon him. “It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:9. Even in the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, they knew that the mark of deliverance was obedience to God’s Ten-Commandment law.
God’s mark of deliverance is obedience to His Law. It is a sign upon the hand and on the forehead. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day took this completely literal. They tied portions of the law around their head and on their hands so that they would have that actual sign, but Jesus rebuked them for relying upon the external requirements and not allowing the real meaning to occur. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27, 28. Jesus sternly rebuked those who fulfilled the letter of the law, but not the spirit. They hung God’s mark on the outside, but inside they were not keeping it. Jesus said that even though they hung these portions of the law upon them, they were lawless. Simply hanging the sign on the outside is not God’s true mark. God’s true mark is having His law in our forehead and in our hand. The forehead is where our thought process occurs. God wants His law, not on the outside, but inside our forehead. He wants His law in our thoughts and in our minds. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly… but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1, 2. Those who have God’s mark in their foreheads are the ones who think upon God’s law. By having God’s mark on the hand is represented actually doing God’s Law. With our hands we work and do all of our actions. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,” Ecclesiastes 9:10. So those who not just think about the Law, but who do it, are the ones who receive God’s true mark of deliverance. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14. Those who think and meditate upon God’s Law with their minds and who do His commandments with their hands have God’s mark of deliverance.
Obedience to God’s holy Law is what has continually distinguished between the children of God and the children of this world. With Cain and Abel this difference is seen, and prophecy teaches that it will be the distinguishing mark in the future, as well. Abel obeyed the Lord by following His directions, while Cain did what he wanted and not what God had said. As a result of Cain’s disobedience, the Lord said, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.” Genesis 4:7. Cain disobeyed and his children followed his lawless example. Thus, there were the descendants of Cain and the descendants of Seth, those who disobeyed and those who obeyed. The distinguishing mark continues through Abraham’s time. “Because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:5. Abraham obeyed God’s commandments and was honored for His obedience. Through all time, obedience to God’s Law has been the mark that divides God’s true people from His disloyal subjects. Especially in our time, at the close of this earth’s history, God’s Law becomes a distinguishing mark. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. The very last remnant of God’s people is described again as obedient to the commandments. Clear to the close of time this mark of obedience is in affect. Obedience to God’s commandments is a line of demarcation distinguishing between those who are truly following Jesus and those who are not.
God’s Sign or Seal
Obedience to God’s Holy Law is what has marked God’s people from the very beginning, but there is a special part of God’s Law that is designated as His special sign or seal of obedience. It is this seal that God’s last day people receive. “After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 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:” Revelation 7:1-4. The children of Israel represent God’s faithful people in the last days just as they have represented God’s faithful people from the beginning of time. (Romans 2:28, 29; Galatians 3:7, 9, 14, 26-29; Ephesians 2:12-16; James 1:1) Simply stated, the one hundred and forty-four thousand are God’s faithful people at the end of time. (For more information see Steps to Life’s booklet, The Rapture and Israel’s Future.) They receive the seal of the living God in their foreheads. While obedience to the commandments is the mark that distinguishes God’s faithful people, what is the special seal? The Bible does say that there is a seal within the Ten Commandments. “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” Isaiah 8:16.
A seal was something that was very common to all of the Biblical writers, for it was something that was repeatedly used in ancient times. In order for a king to make a law, he would have the law written and then put his seal upon the Law so that all would know that he had indeed signed it into law. It was like putting his signature or fingerprint upon it. When his subjects saw the seal, all knew that they had to obey it and that it was an authentic seal. Frequently this seal was a signet ring or a cylinder. “‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off;’” Jeremiah 22:24, margin. In order to be an authentic seal, it needed to have three essential elements—name, title and dominion. An example of a seal is found in Daniel 4:1, “Nebuchadnezzar, the king, to all peoples, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth:” Nebuchadnezzar is writing an official decree to his subjects and he begins it with his seal. It has his name—“Nebuchadnezzar.” It contains his title—“the king.” It has his dominion—“all peoples, nations, and languages.” Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the entire world. Thus when people read the official document they would see Nebuchadnezzar’s seal containing his name, title and dominion. They would know that this was something that they needed to heed. Another example of a seal is given in Ezra 7:12, 13, 21, “Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a scribe of the Law of the God of heaven: Perfect peace, and so forth. I issue a decree that all those of the people of Israel and the priests and Levites in my realm, who volunteer to go up to Jerusalem may go with you…. And I, even I, Artaxerxes the king, do issue a decree to all the treasurers who are in the region beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, may require of you, let it be done diligently.” Once again the three essential elements to a seal are seen—Artaxerxes, king of kings, and people of Israel and those beyond the River. This was a specialized law that only applied to the children of Israel and to those beyond the river, but it shows again the three essential parts to any seal—the name, title, and dominion.
God as the true king and ruler of this world also has a seal. This seal can be seen several places in the Bible, so that we can know that God has put His official seal upon His Holy Word. The first place that this seal appears is the very first verse in the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Notice that there are the three essential elements in this verse. The Lord’s name—“God.” His title—“created.” He is the creator and that is why He has the right to give us a Book of Directions, the Bible. His dominion—“heavens and the earth.” In the very first verse in the Bible, God stamps His seal upon it, by giving His name, title and dominion. The very first verse of the Bible contains the seal of God, showing that the entire Bible is His Word to us. God’s seal is also in the last book of the Bible. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’” Revelation 14:6, 7. God records the last worldwide messages that are to go to the entire world, and in the midst of it He stamps His seal. His name—God. His title—Creator, for he made heaven and earth. His dominion—heaven and earth and sea. This last message that is to go to all the world bears God’s stamp and seal showing that it is His message.
“Seal the law among my disciples.” Isaiah 8:16. There are several places where God’s seal is seen, but the focal point must be in the law, for His Law must be sealed. While the entire Bible is God’s Book, the Law is the most official document ever given and to be valid must contain His seal. If the seal was broken or missing on an earthly king’s law, it was known that the law did not need to be honored, for it was a counterfeit. So if the seal is taken out of God’s Law then the entire Law becomes void. What is the seal in the Law? “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11. There is only one commandment in the entire Law that contains the essential elements to a seal. It is the Sabbath commandment. In verse 10, is found the Lord’s name—the Lord your God. In verse 11, is seen the Lord’s title—the Creator, for he made the heaven and the earth. In the same verse is also seen the Lord’s dominion—the heavens and the earth and the sea. The fourth commandment is the only commandment that contains God’s seal. It is the fourth commandment that binds up the testimony and seals the Law. (See Isaiah 8:16.) The seventh day Sabbath is the seal of the Living God.
“Hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20. The Lord has said that the Sabbath is the sign between God and His people. It is the sign that clearly distinguishes them from the world, but more than this is meant by this verse. Sign and seal are synonymous terms is the Scriptures. The very fact that the seal was frequently applied with a signet (signing) ring testifies to this fact. There is a verse showing this without a doubt, “and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised,” Romans 4:11. The sign of circumcision was the seal of righteousness by faith. Sign and seal are used interchangeably. Thus, when the Lord says that the Sabbath is a sign, He is saying that the Sabbath is His seal! “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is sign [seal] between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you…. It is a sign [seal] between Me and the children of Israel [God’s people throughout all time, Hebrews 4:9] forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign [seal] between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” Exodus 31:13, 17; Ezekiel 20:12. The seventh day Sabbath is the seal of the Living God!
While obedience to the entire Law is a distinguishing mark between the people of God and children of the devil, the Sabbath commandment is the specially designated sign, or seal, that marks them as His people. While the entire world is willfully violating the fourth commandment of keeping holy the seventh day as the Sabbath, God will have a people who receive His seal in their foreheads. (Revelation 7:3.) He will have a people who will keep the Sabbath no matter what the rest of the world is doing. Prophecy has predicted that almost the entire world would bow down and worship the beast in the last days. “I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.” Revelation 13:3. But God’s people will stand up against the prevailing tide of lawlessness just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did twenty-five hundred years ago. They will “call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.” Isaiah 58:13. Although the entire world is breaking the Sabbath by worshipping on the first day of the week (Sunday) instead of the seventh day of the week (Saturday), they will hold fast to “the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Because they keep holy God’s seventh day Sabbath and refuse to break God’s Holy Law, they are sealed by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30.) They have the seal of God (the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath) and are preserved from the threatened judgments. The Devil’s Mark
The devil attempts to counterfeit everything that God has done. There are numerous examples of this and many pages could be written on this topic; but it is sufficient to say that he is “a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44. He is the biggest copycat the world has ever known, and he has counterfeited God’s true mark, as well. He has set up a mark that is as close to the true as possible, but is just far enough off to deceive millions into being lost. “Then a third angel followed them saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9-12. The devil’s mark is referred to throughout the book of Revelation as the “mark of the beast.” As we have previously noted, God’s mark is a mark of character and not a literal brand. It only makes sense that the mark of the beast would be the same. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” I Samuel 16:7. Man always looks to the outside. The nicest house, the nicest car, the nicest clothes, but forgets the inward adornment of the heart. It is the same way with the mark of the beast. Man thinks of a brand, a computer chip, a credit card, but these are outward appearances. God does not look at the outward appearance. God’s mark is not an outward sign or seal; it is a decision of the heart and mind. Since the devil has counterfeited God’s mark, he has not counterfeited it as an outward sign, but as a decision of the heart. (The devil may use some of these outward signs, but it is not the Biblical mark of the beast.)
There is another way that we know for sure that the mark of the beast cannot be some outward sign. We know that whoever receives the mark of the beast will be lost—bar none. There are no exceptions to the Loud Cry of the Third Angel. This has led many mothers to ask me a question, “What if my child is too young to understand and they are forced to receive the mark of the beast?” This would indeed be a problem if the mark of the beast were an outward sign. A person could be physically forced to receive a sign that they did not want, and then would be arbitrarily lost. Does that sound like a God of love and mercy to you? Absolutely not! But the mark of the beast is not an external sign that someone can be forced to receive. It is a decision of the heart, just like the mark of God is a decision of the heart. No one can force another person to make a decision. They may coerce, but they cannot force you, or anyone else, to make a choice. God gives all a choice. The mark of the beast, like every other sin, is a choice. (I John 3:4; James 4:17.) It is a decision that each person must make; it is not a brand, computer chip, or a card.
The Beast’s Mark
Some individuals have mistakenly gotten the idea that the mark of the beast is 666. It is true that 666 is the number of the beast (see Revelation 13:18), but the number and the mark are not synonymous. “And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over the mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” Revelation 15:2. There are four distinct things that the people of God are going to be victorious over, the beast, his image, his mark, and his number. Obviously, from this verse we can see that the mark and the number are two different things. What we are concerned with is his mark. What is it and how can it be avoided?
There are three basic descriptions of the beast power. They are found in Revelation 13, II Thessalonians 2, and Daniel 7. A different aspect of this power is given in each of these passages, but they are similar enough to know that it is the same power that is being described. There is one mark that is continuous through all three. It is the most blasphemous and presumptuous mark of all. This continuous thread is that the beast power is lawless. “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” Daniel 7:25. Under the symbol of the little horn, the beast power is described. There are over ten points in this chapter alone that conclusively identify who this power is, but the most blasphemous of all is that he intends to change times and law. This power exalts himself so much above God that he intentionally claims to change God’s holy Law. Of course, he could not really change God’s Law for the Bible says, “I am the Lord, I do not change;” Malachi 3:6. God’s Law cannot really be changed for it is a transcript of God’s very own character, and He does not change. Jesus said, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” Luke 16:17. It would be more likely that both heaven and earth would melt away than for the smallest part of God’s Law to be done away with, but this is exactly what this bold and blasphemous Little Horn does. He is indeed a lawless power. Notice that in Revelation this power is guilty of breaking the first commandment, “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” Revelation 13:4. The beast is worshiped as God; thus, breaking not only the first, but the second commandment as well. He puts himself in the place of God and sets himself up as an idol to be worshiped. His ruthless violation of God’s law does not stop here, though. “Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. And it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation.” Revelation 13:6, 7. He breaks the third commandment by blaspheming God’s name and is guilty of breaking the sixth commandment by making war with God’s true people. Truly this is a lawless power. The mark of the beast is most clearly described by Paul, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition… For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,” II Thessalonians. 2:3, 7-9. Three times in this passage the beast power is referred to as the lawless one. The beast not only breaks the law himself, but he intentionally changes God’s law and leads others to break God’s holy law. He is called the “man of sin.” “Sin is the transgression of the law.” I John 3:4, KJV. He is the man of lawlessness. Wherever the beast is described his specific mark is breaking God’s law. Throughout scripture the mark of the beast is disobedience to God’s holy law.
God’s mark is obedience to His law and the beast’s mark is disobedience to God’s law. They are not literal brands or computer chips that people receive, but rather a decision of who you are going to obey that is the identifying mark as to which side you are on. Those who follow the beast are described as lawless and those who refuse the mark of the beast are described as commandment keepers. “Then a Third Angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God…’ Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9, 10, 12. Here two groups of people are described, as is frequently done in Revelation. One group receives the mark of the beast. The other group keeps the commandments of God. Those who do not receive the mark of the beast are the ones who have been obedient to all of God’s commandments. Those who receive the mark of the beast are those who have broken the commandments. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.’ Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus here describes those who are deceived into following the beast power. They think that they are saved. They have done all of these miraculous signs, but they are still lost. Why? Because they followed the lawless beast power. They have broken God’s law, thinking that it was unimportant and done away with, and now when they come face to face with their Maker; they realize too late that they have received the mark of the beast and are lost. The mark of the beast is much more deceptive than what many people think. It is simply breaking God’s Law.
The Bible zeros in even further and pinpoints the commandment that those who receive the mark of the beast are breaking. “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.” Daniel 7:25. Prophecy states that this power will intentionally change times and law. There is only one commandment in the Ten Commandments that deals with time. That one commandment is the fourth commandment, the Sabbath commandment. It specifically states which day is the Sabbath, the seventh day. You can search every word in all other nine commandments and not find another word mentioning time. The only commandment that could possibly fit the description of times and law is the Sabbath commandment. Has some despotic power presumptuously changed the Sabbath commandment? Prophecy is fulfilled! Have you ever wondered why the entire world is worshipping on Sunday, the first day of the week, when the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, is the day mentioned in the Bible? It seems strange doesn’t it? Why would the entire world be going directly contrary to God’s Ten Commandment Law? The answer is because some power has attempted to tamper with God’s Holy Law There is a power that claims that it was the one responsible for this most blasphemous act of attempting to change God’s Law. “Question: Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer: Had she not had such power she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.” An Abridgement of Christian Doctrine, 58. Ages ago, the early church leaders thought that it would be advantageous to the growth of the church to mix some pagan ideas with Christianity. The supposed change of the Sabbath is one of the reminders of that great apostasy. “The sun was a foremost god with heathendom… hence the church… would seem to have said, ‘Keep that old pagan name. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified,’ and thus, the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder, became the Christian Sunday, sacred to Jesus.” The Catholic World (March 1984), 809. Sunday came straight from paganism and is a blatant violation of God’s Law. Nowhere in the Bible does it call the first day of the week a day of worship, assembly or any such thing. It is totally based upon the authority of the beast power that this change was instituted. Not only did this power do just what prophecy predicted, but it also claims this change in God’s law as the mark of its authority, just as prophecy predicted as well. “Sunday is our mark of authority… The church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of this fact.” Catholic Record, September 1, 1923. The Bible clearly teaches that lawlessness is the identifying mark of the beast, and then it goes even further to state that it is violation of the fourth commandment that is its specific mark. Then the power that presumptuously attempted to change God’s Law claims this change as the mark of its authority as well. Surely the Bible and history both testify that exalting Sunday above the Sabbath is the mark of the beast! “I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.” Revelation 13:3. Nineteen hundred years ago, the Lord told us through prophecy that the entire world would worship the beast, and sure enough, that is exactly what is happening. “The Bible says, ‘Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.’ The Catholic Church says, “No! By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day, and command you to keep holy the first day of the week. And, lo! The entire civilized world bows down in reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” Priest Thomas Enright, CSSR, President of Redemptorist College, Kansas City, MO, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 22, 1884.
Twenty-five hundred years ago prophecy foretold that a power that would arise and attempt to change the part of God’s law dealing with time, and it has happened exactly as God’s Word predicted. Not only does the Word of God teach that this power was going to change the Sabbath commandment, but it also pinpoints this as the mark of the beast. Then this power comes along, changes the Sabbath commandment from the seventh day to the first day, and claims that this is the specific mark of their authority! This power itself testifies that honoring the first day of the week above the seventh day of the week is the mark of the beast! God’s Word and history are too plain to be misunderstood. The mark of the beast is breaking the Sabbath and keeping Sunday when it is enforced by law to do so. “And 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,” Revelation 13:16. When this decree is given, all of the world will be brought to the decision of whom they will serve. When a person, knowing that there is absolutely no scriptural authority for keeping the first day, goes along with this decree to keep holy the first day of the week and break the Sabbath, he has chosen to follow and obey the beast above the God of heaven. He has rejected the seal of God (Sabbathkeeping) and has made the choice to receive the mark of the beast. These scenes are just around the corner.
It may seem like such a minute point. Someone may think, “It is only a day.” Yes, it is only a day, but it’s the decision behind the day. Eve convinced herself that it was only a tree and it wouldn’t really matter if she ate of the forbidden fruit. “After all,” she may have thought, “it is just like any other tree. There are thousands of trees, surely this one is no different from any of the others. God is not that particular. God loves me.” The tree of knowledge of good and evil was just like all the other trees and it was only a tree, but it was the choice behind the tree. Eve chose to disbelieve God and believe the serpent. Eve obeyed the serpent instead of God, and paradise was lost. It is the same way with the Sabbath day. Oh, it may seem like such a mute point. It may not seem that important, but it is the difference between serving God or the beast. God says to keep holy the seventh day; the beast says to keep the first day. Who are you going to serve? Who are you going to love? Who are you going to obey? “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” Romans 6:16. If we obey the beast’s laws we become his slaves, but if we obey the laws of our loving God we become his servants. Whose servant will you be?
There are only two marks, it is only two days, it is only a choice, but the consequences are eternal. Those who choose to receive the seal of God will be safely hidden under God’s wing of protection, but for those who go along with the rest of the world and receive the mark of the beast; it will be the most dreadful scourge ever to fall upon mankind.
Those who receive the seal of God are protected from the terrible disasters that fall upon the earth. “They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” Revelation 9:4. The judgments fall not upon those who have the seal of God, but upon those who have rejected it and received the mark of the beast. “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;” Psalm 91:9, 10. Those who have followed the Lord, no matter what the cost, are now protected from the horrendous disasters falling all around them. They can see it with their eyes, but it cannot come any closer than that because the Lord’s protecting hedge is about them. “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past.” Isaiah 26:20. Those who have received the seal of the Living God are safely hidden in God’s chambers. His sheltering wings are over them, and no evil shall befall them. It requires a sacrifice to keep holy God’s Sabbath day because the entire world is doing something different, but it is worth it in the end. There is a cross to lift (Matthew 16:24), but the eternal consequences well repay the burden that must be borne. Those who honor the Lord by loving and obeying Him, will be honored by the Lord by being preserved from the terrible judgments so soon to fall. (I Samuel 2:30.)
As there are two marks, there are likewise two consequences. The vast majority of the world will receive the mark of the beast (See Revelation 13:8), but those who receive this mark of apostasy will also receive of the dreadful consequences. Those who receive the mark of the beast do not have a heavy cross to lift. They go along with the rest of the world. They do not have to be different from the rest of the world. They are not boycotted by the ban “that no one may buy or sell” (See Revelation 13:17) for they have the mark of the beast. They can buy and sell all that they desire. They do not have to worry about losing their life because they have the mark of the beast and have no fear of death by man. Although it appears like the easy way, it is the hardest way imaginable. (See Proverbs 13:15.) They may have all the things that this world has to offer, but they have lost the most valuable possession in the whole world—God’s presence. (See Exodus 33:14, 15.) They have forfeited God’s loving protection and he can do no more. The words that Jesus wept over Jerusalem so many years ago apply with even greater force to the entire world who have chosen the Beast’s mark instead of God’s. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37. The world has rejected the last pleas of God’s Spirit and there is nothing more that our loving Lord can do. He has pled and called year after year, “Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord has waited year after year, until there is no more hope. He has borne as long as He possibly can, but the vast majority has chosen to go along with the world instead of their Creator. Now the only thing that God can do is pour out His dreadful judgments upon the despisers of His grace.
God is a God of love. All that He does is because He loves His children, but He is also a God of justice. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;” Psalm 89:14. God bears long, but there is a limit to His forbearance. Justice must also be done. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7. If a person persists in following his own course and receiving the mark of the beast, he must reap the judgments of a just God. “Then a Third Angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.” Revelation 14:9, 10. All who obey the Beast instead of God; will receive of the wrath of God; but what is the wrath of God? “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.” Revelation 15:1. The terrible judgments that are poured on those who receive the mark of the beast are none other than the seven last plagues. God’s wrath is complete in these dreadful seven last plagues. The consequences for receiving the seal of God is protection from the final judgments, but the consequences of accepting the mark of the beast is to experience the outpouring of the seven last plagues.
“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God upon the earth.’ So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image.” Revelation 16:1, 2. When the plagues begin to be poured on those who have received the mark of the beast, the consequences of obeying man instead of God begin to be felt. Those who have the mark of the beast receive a terrible sore, but those who have the seal of God do not have one sore on their bodies. Which side would you rather be on then? Probably it will be as when Job was smitten with painful boils. The pain was so great that he said, “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?” Job 3:11. But the terrible sores are just the beginning; it gets much worse. Under the second and third plagues the oceans and fresh waters become as the blood of a dead man. “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” Revelation 16:6. Imagine having only blood to drink! The wicked have slain some of God’s true followers and now the Lord gives them their reward of blood to drink. Indeed “the way of transgressors is hard.” Proverbs 13:15, KJV. But for those who have chosen to follow and obey the Lord no matter what, the promise is “Bread will be given him, his water will be sure.” Isaiah 33:16. Then, while men are still dying from thirst, the Lord turns the sun on double high and scorches those who have followed the traditions of man. “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.” Revelation 16:8. By exalting Sunday above the true Sabbath of God, the world has been worshipping the sun, and now the Lord smites them with the god of their choosing. God’s faithful people can, in calm faith, claim the promises in the Word of God. “For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.” Isaiah 4:5, 6. Under the fifth plague, the Lord turns off the scorching sun and sends painful darkness on the seat of the beast, but still there is no repentance for “the day of salvation” has passed. (II Corinthians 6:2.) In the sixth plague, the Euphrates is dried up and Armageddon is prepared for, but then the seventh and final plague brings an end to the terrible judgments of God and he finally delivers His people. “Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, every hailstone about the weight of a talent. And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceeding great.” Revelation 16:17-21. The destruction wrought by this final plague is indescribable. The sky unleashes its fury, the greatest earthquake ever to occur shakes this planet to pieces, and hail weighing from sixty to seventy pounds pelts the surface of the earth. It is the last plague, for at the end of this plague there is nothing left. It is as if the earth is turned upside down (See Isaiah 24:1, KJV) and every wall falls to the ground (Ezekiel 38:20.) The destruction wrought upon the wicked and all their habitations under the seventh plague leaves the earth without form and void. (Jeremiah 4:23.) Although the terrible destruction is terrifying to those who have received the mark of the beast, the worst is when they see their Creator coming with great power and glory. “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” Revelation 6:14-17.
Two Marks, Two Choices
In the final generation there are only two marks, only two choices, and only two consequences. We must decide whom we are going to obey. Will we obey the God of heaven or the traditions and customs of the men? Our destiny depends upon the choice that we make. The most terrible judgments known to man will be poured upon those who chose to obey man instead of God. It will be worse than the holocaust. It will be worse than World War I and World War II combined. It will make all the terrible atrocities of this world pale in insignificance. It is the “just due” of those who have despised the Word and mercy of God. Which side will you be on? Which choice will you make? The mournful words are forced from the lips of the lost during the seventh plague, “Who is able to stand?” There is only one group who is able to stand in that day. It is those who have received the seal of the Living God. Those who love the Lord enough to keep His commandments instead of the traditions of man. Those who will stand for the Word of God though the heavens fall. Those who will not follow a crowd to do evil. (See Exodus 23:2.) Those who keep holy the seventh day Sabbath of the Lord our God instead of the pagan Sunday of the beast. It doesn’t seem like such a big thing now, but think of the day when that mournful cry is forced from the lips of the lost. How they will wish that they had yielded to the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit, but now it is too late. They have made their decision. They have made their choice. They have received their mark. They are lost. There are just two marks, just two days, just two choices, and just two destinies. Which mark will you chose?
All emphasis the authors unless otherwise stated.
All texts from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
An Abridgement of Christian Doctrine, page 58.
The Beast’s Mark, Michael Wells, Steps to Life, 1999.
The Catholic Record, London, Ontario, Canada, September 1, 1923.
The Catholic World (March 1984), page 809.
Priest Thomas Enright, CSSR, President of Redemptorist College, Kansas City, MO, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 22, 1884, and The American Sentinel, a New York Roman Catholic Journal in June 1893, page 173.
Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, “Seal,” pg. 997, 998, Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1979.
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