Can Christians Receive the Mark of the Beast?

Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die. He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666 (Rev. 13:15-18 NLT).

Many believers walk in an inordinate amount of fear concerning the mark of the Beast. Their fear is deep, pervasive, and emotionally debilitating. Over the years, numerous questions have come up in my pastoral ministry as to the characteristics of the mark of the Beast mentioned in Rev. 13. Believers are anxious that they might be forced against their will to receive this dreaded mark. Is it possible for Christians to receive the mark of the Beast? Is the mark of the beast a tattoo, or a computer chip, or a bar code, etc.? Some despicable use of current computer technology? Should Christians fear the Second Coming of Christ because of the mark?

First, the context (Rev. 13:11-14:5) of the passage speaks of a mark of the beast and a seal of the Lamb. If you receive a tattoo or a computer chip for following the Beast, then in turn, you must also be given a tattoo or computer chip for following the Lamb. Present day End Times teaching emphasises the negative mark, Beast, not the positive seal, Lamb. What is true for the mark of the beast must also be true for the mark of the Lamb.

Second, the symbols in Revelation should be interpreted first by their counterpart in the Old Testament. The “mark” comes from Ezekiel 9:4-6, where an angel is instructed not to kill those who have the mark. The mark is invisible to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, it is seen and known only by God and the angels. The mark is indicative of the individual’s heartfelt allegiance to God. Notice that the “mark” is the Hebrew letter “taw” which is roughly the shape of a cross.

Third, the beast in the Book of Revelation is the city of Rome and her empire (Rev. 17:7-9), the “seven hills” would have been known in the first century as the “City of the Seven Hills,” Rome. Therefore, the beast, Caesar, is asking for lordship over the lives of all the Empire’s inhabitants. True believers refuse Rome’s domination for Christ is Lord over their lives. Several Caesars expected to be worshipped as a god, yet the early church only recognized Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world (Phil. 2:10-11; 3:20).

Last, the Roman Empire was so oppressive that only those who worship Caesar as divine were allowed to do business in the empire (Rev. 13:16-17). One’s allegiance is obvious by the way one worships, dresses, serves, and lives. You could not do business in Roman trade guilds if a citizen did not declare Caesar as Lord and eat food sacrificed to idols. Similarly, believers under communist rule in the Soviet Union suffered penalties during the dark days of the Cold War if they did not declare their loyalty to the State and their acceptance of atheism. The visible mark of Christian believers is the distinctive manner in which they live the life of love (John 13:35, 1 John, Epistle to Diognetus).

By way of application, the Beast today is any governmental authority who sets themselves up, over, and against faith in God and love of Christ. The Beast is any civil government that persecutes Christians and attempts to destroy the church. The Beast is idolatry and love of all worldly things: economic control, unbridled sex, and thirst for power. The love of the Beast and the seal of the Lamb are heart issues, therefore, unseen by men, except by their outward behavior.

Conclusion: The mark is invisible, seen only by God, nothing to be feared by believers, and indicative of one’s true allegiance: the systems of the world, Beast, or the Lordship of Jesus, the Lamb.

Like the other markings in Revelation, it seems to be symbolic (see comments on Rev. 3:12; 7:3; cf. 14:1; 17:5; 19:12; 22:4); some Jewish texts speak of a symbolic mark of destruction on the forehead of the wicked (Psalms of Solomon 15:9) in contrast to the mark of the righteous (15:6). Some interpreters have nevertheless seen a tangible expression of allegiance to the world system; in at least the last two major imperial persecutions of Christians, both in the third century, certificates were issued to those who had fulfilled the mandated rite of emperor worship. But the text may simply imply a figurative slave brand identifying to whom a person belongs — God or the world. Participation in idolatry appeared to be almost an economic necessity in many cities in Asia Minor (see comment on 2:18-29), and John warns that commercial discrimination would grow more severe, alongside the graver danger of martyrdom.

Craig S. Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993).

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Things Deep and Mysterious

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Rom 11:33 ESV

I’m a pastor-theologian, I enjoy theological discussions as much as the next pastor-theologian. However, there are times when discussions need to end and worship should begin. Theological discussion is only helpful if it leads to awe-inspired adoration, mind-exulting praise, and heart-searching holiness for our Lord Jesus Christ. God is deep and mysterious and to think that we might ever figure him out goes beyond human pride and self-deception.

Important as it is that we recognize God working in us, I would yet warn against a too-great preoccupation with the thought. It is a sure road to sterile passivity. God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty.

The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, “O Lord, Thou knowest.” Those things belong to the deep and mysterious profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread, 1982), 64.

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Christ Permeating You

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

1 John 4:9

At Lamb of God: A Three Streams Church, we talk much of the indwelling Christ who is present in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Christian growth comes by trusting the Christ who lives in us. Jesus is grace in us–a person not a quantity. Christ in us is freedom from performance-driven Christianity. The question is not what would Jesus do if he were here, but what is Jesus doing in us at this moment. Jesus is the moment-by-moment, minute-by-minute, constant, conscious presence of God. Christ in us is the freedom to enjoy God now in this life at this moment in this very place.

Again, Christ lives in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. All that Christ is in the gospels, all that Christ is as the second person of the Trinity, and all that Christ is as Lord now lives in us as believers. Since Christ lives in us, we are never alone. Since Christ lives in us, we have the power to live holy lives. Since Christ lives in us, we can respond (not react) to every life situation according to the will of God. Since Christ lives in us, we can daily experience Him intimately and powerfully. Therefore, we desire all of Him in all of us all the time.

Unbelief says: Some other time, but not now; some other place, but not here; some other people, but not us. Faith says: Anything He did anywhere else He will do here; anything He did any other time He is willing to do now; anything He ever did for other people He is willing to do for us! With our feet on the ground, and our head cool, but with our heart ablaze with the love of God, we walk out in this fullness of the Spirit, if we will yield and obey. God wants to work through you!

A. W. Tozer, The Counselor  (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 122.


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Do You Have the Right Job? Or, What is Contentment?

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have” (Phil. 4:11).

Contentment is deep and abiding satisfaction in God himself. Contentment focuses on God’s presence, joy, and love as opposed to our wants, needs, and wishes. Nothing the world offers compares with this deep sense of fulfillment gifted us in the love of Christ. Contentment is found when are our emotional needs are met in God’s love and our inadequacies are overwhelmed in God’s sufficiency. We experience true joy because Jesus has met our deepest need–peace with God. We are fulfilled in Christ. Therefore, we are content with the necessities of life that the Lord has provided.

Contentment is developed over time: it is not an instant virtue. Contentment is obtained through trusting Christ and a willingness to live without the world’s passing fashions (Phil 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6; Heb. 13:5). Contentment is found by trusting God’s will, submitting to his appointments (even if they may be disappointments), and drawing strength from Christ (Phil. 4:13). We want contentment because we want him and contentment give us more of him and less of us.

“There is no such thing as the right place, the right job, the right calling or ministry. I can be happy or unhappy in all situations. I am sure of it, because I have been. I have felt distraught and joyful in situations of abundance as well as poverty, in situations of popularity and anonymity, in situations of success and failure.

The difference was never based on the situation itself, but always on my state of mind and heart. When I knew I was walking with God, I always felt happy and at peace. When I was entangled in my own complaints and emotional needs, I always felt restless and divided.”

~~ Henri Nouwen, Seeking Peace

ht: daily dig

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Prayer of Dedication: Day 21: 21 Days of Prayer

“Then he said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days” (Dan. 10:12–14).

Thank you for joining Lamb of God parish during our 21 days of prayer and fasting emphasis. As you prayed with us each day, many of you commented through email and Facebook, that the daily written prayers greatly encouraged you in your walk with God. For that, we are deeply grateful. Thanks to Fr. Glenn, Fr. Scott, India, and Nicholas for writing prayers that kept us focused on the magnificence of the Father, the beauty of the Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit. May your walk with the Lord abound and prosper as you continue to seek, follow, and obey our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

~~Book of Common Prayer, Prayer of Self-Dedication, 832.

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Proclaiming Jesus: Day 20, 21 Days of Prayer

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:21, 22 ESV).

Yesterday we prayed for boldness in our proclamation of Jesus. As we grow in our relationship with Him, our hearts are transformed and we share His loves, His priorities, His concerns. Our prayers contain a little less “Do this for me” and more “Your will be done, Your Kingdom come.” We will find ourselves yearning for others to know Jesus and, eventually, our hearts may begin to break for the masses of people who have never heard the name of Jesus or how He came to set them free from their sin and reconnect them with their Creator God. Some of us will hear a call to go or to release sons or daughters to take this message to these desperate people.

Prayer: “Dear Lord Jesus, every day the news brings before me the masses of people who have never heard your Name and who have no idea what you did for them. I pray, as you commanded us through your Apostles, that you send out workers into the harvest of souls (Luke 10:2). Bless those who labor now, both here and abroad. Grant them boldness and wisdom, direction, favor and protection. Empower them with your Holy Spirit to proclaim Jesus to those lost in darkness. Grant them signs and miracles that point people’s attention to you. And if you made me to be a worker in your harvest, give me faith to obey your leading wherever it takes me. And if my children or close friends are called away to be your witnesses, give me grace to release them on their journey and to pray fervently for them daily. For the glory of your name. Amen.”

~~ Fr. Scott Howard

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Boldness: Day 19, 21 Days of Prayer

“’And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29-31 ESV).

The early Christians soon faced intense opposition to the message of God’s free salvation in Jesus Christ. Their response was to pray together for boldness to speak God’s word without fear and for God to back their preaching up with signs. We live in an age when people are rejecting Christianity, but many are rejecting a false idea of it. The Enemy uses this to keep us silent, “Surely your coworker doesn’t want to hear about Jesus. Of course they won’t come to church if you invite them.” But so many are hurting and God is able to guide and embolden us to speak honestly to those around us who desperately need Jesus.

Prayer: “Father, you know I am afraid of rejection, of being seen as one of those weird Christians, but I know that so many around me need Jesus as I need Him. Open my eyes to opportunities to tell people about Him, to share how He has been my help in times of need, my healer and friend. Give me boldness and words to speak when these opportunities come. And show yourself strong on their behalf by healing, providing, encouraging and meeting them in their deepest needs. Amen.”
~~Fr. Scott Howard

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Our Victory: Day 18, 21 Days of Prayer

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.“ (Colossians 1:13-15 ESV)

Any forward progress in our relationship with Jesus—any victory over sin, any growth in holiness, any usefulness in ministry with our neighbor—will be met with opposition by Satan and his demons. (1 Peter 5:8) But we need not fear this resistance. Jesus has won the decisive victory over Satan. (Hebrews 2:14–18) in Jesus we can resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:5-10).

Prayer: Holy Father, at times it looks like the Enemy is winning, and evil prevails everywhere, and we will never get past Satan’s persistent attacks. But you tell us to “fear not,” because Jesus has won the victory over Satan by his death and resurrection. We believe, Father, as your Word says, that Satan flees when we resist him. Grant us faith to stand when opposition comes, the humility to confess and receive forgiveness when we fail, the strength to rise when we stumble and the discernment to see through Satan’s lies. We stand in the strength that Jesus gives, not our own, and we know you will bring us through trials into victory both in this life and ultimately when you receive us in glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

~~ Fr. Scott Howard

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Fill Us, Holy Spirit: Day 17, 21 Days of Prayer

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself'”(Acts 2:38, 39 ESV).

Having confessed our sins and received forgiveness as He promised (1 John 1:8-10), we confidently ask for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit for ourselves, but also, as promised in today’s verse, we can also ask this for our children, our church, and the Church worldwide.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, through the ascension of your Son Jesus, our Lord, you sent the Holy Spirit to come along side us and to fill us, to give us power to live lives of faithful obedience, to love our neighbor and minister effectively. We know you to be a good Father who gives good gifts to His children and the Holy Spirit to those who ask. Fill me, my family, and my fellow believers afresh with your Holy Spirit today. Give us the gifts of the Spirit so we may minister to each other and our community in His power. Lastly, manifest through us the fruits of your Spirit so that our lives display Jesus and bring you glory. Amen.

~~ Fr. Scott Howard

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Purity: Day 16, 21 Days of Prayer


Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23, 24 NASB95).

Prayer: Today begins five days of supplication as our 21 days of prayer draw to an end. When we honestly and humbly open our hearts to God we are struck by the contradiction of God’s ferocious love for us and our utter unworthiness to receive it. As we progress in our relationship with Him this contradiction only deepens and we realize our desperate need of Jesus who alone resolves this contradiction by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Hope awakens when we learn that by His blood He removes all barriers between us and God and He invites us to come to Him as children with even our smallest concerns. (Hebrews 4:16) With that confidence, let us ask God to draw us closer to Him and make us more like Jesus by praying the familiar, but profound Collect for Purity:

“Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

~~Fr. Scott Howard

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