researches that mystical mark so dreaded today by religious and
superstitious alike. The dire warnings in Revelation given to those
who receive the mark of the beast have caused quite a stir. Many
people have studied and questioned, "What is it? Is it bar-coding?
Could it be your Social Security number? Is it on a credit card?"
Fear of being tricked into receiving that mark has caused many to
look with suspicion on the symbols different groups have used to
identify themselves and their products.
does not intend to trick us into accepting that mark, does He? Why,
then, is it not specified more clearly what the mark is? That question
reminds me of a similar question the disciples asked Jesus. In Matthew
13 they said to Jesus, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"
Mark records this answer in Mark 4:11. Jesus said to them, "To
you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God;
but to those who are outside, all things come in parables."
He went on to explain that those who were already rejecting truth
would not be able to understand these mysteries even if they saw
and heard them. But to the faithful, loyal children of God, help
is given by the Spirit, and the hidden and secret things in God's
Word can be understood. (See 2 Corinthians 2:10.)
In our last
lesson we learned some of the characteristics that mark the beast.
We saw that it is fighting against God, it persecutes God's people,
it has no regard for God's law and government, and even attempts
to change God's law. All of this is done "under cover,"
however, as this beast leads the people to believe that he is really
on God's side. He even works miracles to prove it.
In our lesson
this week we will look more closely at "the mark" and
will study what it means to be marked. It is interesting to note
that not only do those who worship the beast receive a mark, but
those who worship God are also marked. How is it done? What does
it mean? Who can see it? Is it literal or just symbolic? These are
some of the questions that you will find answers to. Our stories
today look at some different marks we as humans have used.
was marshaled on the parade ground, at strict attention. The silence
could be felt.
A soldier one
of my friends had been caught stealing and held for court-martial.
He had been a good soldier so far as training was concerned. He
had come from a home with little of this world's goods. On brief
furloughs I had taken him to my home in Glasgow, Scotland. On our
latest trip he had asked for a loan, but unfortunately I had been
broke also. In the barracks the next day he had been caught stealing.
At the court-martial I had been called with others as a witness
and asked if I had lent him any money. Regretfully I had to answer
no. Whence then had the money in his pocket come? The evidence against
him was overwhelming. He had been found guilty and sentenced to
be drummed out of the British army.
Now, in the
awful silence a bugle sounded. The door to the guard room swung
open and the prisoner with his guards appeared. A quick march brought
them to the assembled troops where they halted before the officers.
The colonel in command addressed the prisoner, "Private, you
have been found guilty of stealing. You have disgraced your king,
your country, and your regiment. The court has sentenced you to
be drummed out of his majesty's service." Turning to an officer
he said, "Captain, you have your orders. Take over."
removed the prisoner's cap, cut off the badge identifying his regiment,
and removed from his shoulders the epaulets with the regimental
insignia. Next he cut the brass buttons from the man's uniform.
The prisoner stood uneasily before the regiment, his shoulders slumped,
his head hanging.
him from the barracks," ordered the captain. With a sad, sad
heart I saw my friend standing alone, bearing his tragedy before
Slowly the drummers
began a tattoo. As the sound rose in a swelling crescendo like the
roll of approaching thunder, the guards marched the disgraced man
to the gate and ordered him to leave. Rejected by his majesty the
king, banished from the army forever, my disgraced friend ran down
the street. The rolling drums suddenly ceased. The ceremony of disgrace
As I read this
sad story, I was struck with the importance of the symbols that
were cut off his uniform. While he was a loyal soldier he was allowed
to wear the emblems of honor that marked him as a member of the
king's army. Those symbols not only identified whose army he belonged
to, but they also implied something about the character and behavior
of the wearer. When he broke the laws of the king, his actions proved
that he was not worthy of the character implied by those ensigns,
and he was no longer allowed to bear those marks.
on his uniform were easily visible. His character was not so easily
visible. The Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart. Our next story illustrates one
of those less easily seen marks of character.
To the casual
onlooker it may seem that some successful men and women have had
a streak of good luck. But when we get to know these people who
are doing things, we find that luck did not enter into their success.
And there is no magic formula. It is no secret.
A number of
years ago the head of the great Carnegie Steel Company one day said
to the head of the drafting department, "Al, I would like to
have your best man for some special work."
men are all good men," the head of the department replied.
"I don't have a No. 1 man."
A few days later
an order came from the manager's office asking every man in the
drafting room to work two hours overtime each working day.
After some weeks
of these extra hours in the department, the manager inquired, "How
do the men like the accelerated program?"
They don't like it. They are kicking about it all but one man."
is that?" inquired the manager.
is Charlie Schwab. He just eats work. He seems to enjoy it."
to my office," the manager requested. "He is your No.
1 man he's the man I was asking about." And the world knows
that Charlie Schwab became steel king an outstanding man in the
Only a thoughtful
discerning eye could pick out a mark of character like that. But
God searches our hearts and discerns every tendency we have whether
for good or for evil. How thankful I am that as we surrender to
Him and cooperate with Him He can remove the evil tendencies and
replace them with the character of Jesus. How I long to have Him
finish writing His law in my heart so He can seal it for Himself
The young man
struggled fiercely with his captors. He was not about to give up
easily. Then it happened. A knifelike pain seared the skin on his
forehead as they overpowered him, held him down, and applied the
hot iron to his tender flesh. He screamed and struggled again, but
it was no use. He was helpless in their vice-like grip.
The smell of
burning flesh filled the air as they continued their terrible work.
Then it was over. The boy was free. He ran for water to cool the
ugly red burns on his forehead. The cool water brought a little
relief to the stinging throbbing pain, but nothing eased the pangs
in his heart. He looked in the mirror. The letters "ST"
glared back at him. How could he face life mutilated like this?
People would stare, wonder, question, taunt. The only answer to
their merciless questions would be, " 'ST' means stealer. They
caught me stealing and my punishment was to be branded so that everyone
would know I'm a thief."
settled over him like a fog. There seemed to be no way out. Forgiveness
such as God offers seemed to be beyond his reach. He was forever
doomed, forever marked. The burns healed, the skin no longer hurt,
but each time someone looked at the scars, he felt the stares and
burned with shame.
to be no balm, no ointment to ever heal the pain in his heart. As
time passed, however, he found the "Balm of Gilead." He
found the comfort, the solace, the strength that comes to the one
who seeks help and forgiveness from Jesus. As his repentance for
his past life of sin deepened, his resolve to live a noble, honest,
upright life increased. He didn't see how it would be possible to
do much for God with the shameful brand on his forehead, but he
determined to make the best he could of a bad situation.
As he spent
time learning of the lovely Saviour, his life came to reflect the
One he loved. Kind words, thoughtful acts, loving deeds became natural
shunned as a condemned criminal, the people in the community got
used to seeing the branded forehead. Everyone knew what the "ST"
stood for so the curious questions died down. As the years went
by, little by little his quiet unassuming life, full of gentleness
and honesty, broke down the prejudices of the people. They became
used to seeing him in church, and the little children learned to
love him before they ever learned the ABCs. They grew up knowing
him as a loving friend they felt safe with, and the brand on his
forehead just seemed to be a natural part of him. Eventually, the
story behind the mark on his forehead was almost forgotten. One
day a little fellow stood looking at his big kind friend. He was
just learning to read and was trying to read everything he saw.
"S-T" his lips moved and his forehead knotted as he tried
to figure out the letters on the man's forehead. "S-T."
Tugging at his young mother's hand he again tried to sound out the
letters. "Mother, what does that say on his head?" he
it just says 'S-T' " his mother replied. "It doesn't spell
Mommy?" he asked innocently. "Why does he have those letters
Mother was silent
for a moment. "I'm not sure, son," she replied. "Those
letters have a meaning but I've forgotten what it is. The only thing
I can think of is that they must mean 'saint'." Satisfied with
that explanation the young boy went back to his play.
What a flood
of joy those words must have brought to that then elderly man's
heart. Men had placed a mark of condemnation on the outside, but
God had made a mark that was more important. God had made a mark
on the delicate tissue of the mind just inside that forehead. God
had made a mark on his character. He had written something in his
heart. God's hidden mark could be seen and interpreted by man in
spite of the visible mark man had placed on him.
believe that the mark that will be received in the last days, whether
the mark of the beast, or the seal of the living God, will be more
than skin deep. Something more is involved here than externals.
All will be
marked. Even humans will be able to discern the difference between
those who have the mark of the beast and those who do not. But they
may not realize what the difference is. All they will see is that
these people that God has marked as His are different, and they
don't like the difference. They will try to force them to worship
as they do, not knowing that it is the beast they are worshipping.
May God bless
you as you seek to walk humbly with your God seeking to learn His
will, His ways, His laws, and His character so that He may mark
you as His friend for eternity.
From your friends
at Steps to Life
Steps to Life
PO Box 782828
Wichita KS 67278-2828
My blest Redeemer
and my Lord,
I read my duty
in Thy Word,
But in Thy life
the law appears,
Drawn out in
What truth and
love Thy bosom fill!
What zeal to
do Thy Father's will!
Such zeal, and
truth, and love divine,
I would transcribe,
and make them mine.
and the midnight air
fervor of Thy prayer;
The desert Thy
and the victory too.
Be Thou my pattern;
make me bear,
More of Thy
gracious image here,
Then God, the
Judge, shall own my name,
Among the followers
of the Lamb.