- Sermon Notes
The Mark of the Beast
Revelation 13:16 to 14:10
Perhaps for many, the most memorable part of the book of Revelation is the mark of the beast. No one can buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. And of course, that number is 666.
But these verses are a study in contrasts. Satan’s original sin was his desire to be like the Most High God. Therefore, you see many ways that Satan imitates God.
This mark is placed on their right hand or on their forehead, and though it is very real, it is an imitation of the seal that God places on the foreheads of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses during the Tribulation. Interestingly, that seal upon them is the name of the Lamb and His Father.
The satanic mark is that of the Beast, or the Antichrist and the power of the Antichrist is Satan himself. But there is also another beast that arises in those days who will have two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon. Thus, you have what can be called the unholy trinity.
For much of our study through Revelation John wrote of scenes of heaven. He described the One sitting on the throne of God having a scroll upon which was written the edicts and declarations of the events of the last days.
John also saw Jesus who was worthy to open the scroll and to break the seven seals with which it was sealed; each seal revealing awesome events of the Tribulation seven-year period that is coming in the near future.
The seventh seal was broken, and it revealed seven angels with seven trumpets, each revealing cataclysmic events that will destroy and devastate the earth as the wrath of God is poured out.
But here the scene is on the earth. In John’s vision he sees Jesus standing on Mount Zion and with him are the 144,000 Jewish witnesses for Christ that we read about in chapter 7. These 144,000 have the seal of God on their foreheads. They have been going through the Tribulation and are victorious through it.
Today, I want us to contrast the mark of the beast with the seal on the foreheads of these 144,000 faithful witnesses and what each of them represent.
I. Victory Begins Where God’s Name is Written
- The mark of the beast is the name of the beast or the number of his name, which is 666. Verse 18 says the number is that of a man and that him who has understanding should count the number of the beast.
- Some have taken that to mean that they should use a method called gematria, which is a word from the Greek with the same root as geometry.
- Gematria is the process of taking names or words and finding the numeric value of those words by adding up the value of each letter. We use such numbers even today.
- The next Super Bowl, where the Eagles will play the Patriots, is written in Latin numerical values. Hebrew and Greek also used letters to represent numbers. We could do the same in English if we made the letter A=1, B=2, etc. Using that method, my name equals 966.
The problem with that method, however, is that many names end up adding up to 666. Many people have made much of the fact that Caesar Nero’s name added up to 666; however, he died almost 30 years before John wrote this book.
- In the Middle Ages reformers often taught that the Catholic Church and various popes showed the value of 666. The Catholic Church shot back, however, showing the numerical values of Martin Luther and John Calvin as 666.
- In more recent history, others have suggested the names of various world leaders such as Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin. Even more recently, others have pointed out that Netanyahu, Recep Erdogan, Pres. of Turkey, all have names that add up to 666; not to mention Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin.
- The significance of 666 goes all the way back to Babylon. The Babylonian occultic religion was a blend of religion, astrology and mathematics. Each of their gods were represented by a number from 1 to 36. Ancient astrology divided the starry heavens into 36 constellations, a god representing each of the constellations.
- The pagan priests wore an amulet called the ‘Magic Square,’ which was based on a 6x6 sided square with numbers ranging from 1 to 36, six numbers in each line which added up to 111. The total numerical value of the entire square was equal to 666, the number which represented the sun-god, who was the god who created all other gods, which also represents the Antichrist.
- The mark of the beast is on their forehead or right hand. The seal on the 144,000 Jewish witnesses also was on their forehead. The significance cannot be missed.
A. Let Him Be Lord of Your Mind
- This was a mark of ownership, but it also had symbolic importance for being on the forehead that we can see far back in the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
- Notice that in the context of loving God with their heart, He adds that they should bind them on their forehead.
- When your mind is the Lord’s, the result is peace…
Isaiah 26:3, The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.
B. There is power in praise
- The Antichrist will set himself in the Temple to be worshipped and honored there, but it is only because of fear that people give him honor.
- John hears the voice of many waters, like the sound of harpists, and then they sang a new song which no one can learn except the 144,000. They sing because their hearts are alive.
- A new song in scripture is always good. It will be a declaration of praise and rejoicing.
Psalm 98:1, O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.
The Four Living Beings and the 24 elders sing a new song (Revelation 5:7-10)
- One of most important expressions of joy is when there is a song in the heart.
Illus – I was traveling with one of our elders, Greg, and as we were driving down the road when he said out of the blue, “Quick, what song is in your head right now?” And I knew the answer immediately.
Illus –When Paul and Silas were in Philippi, they found themselves in the inner dungeon after having been beaten with rods. But there was a song of hope in their hearts.
Acts 16:25-26, But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened.
- Notice that they were not singing hymns of complaint, but hymns of praise.The word “imitate” in the Greek is “mimic.”
II. The Faithful Heart Bears Godly Fruit
- We are given a description of how they lived their lives and we see the holiness of their character. They honor God with how they lived.
A. Follow wherever He goes
- There is mention here that these were chaste; meaning that they were never married and always pure. For that day of Tribulation, that would be wholly appropriate.
- There was group in the first century called the Essenes that also practiced this, but for some strange reason, their sect died out (go figure).
- We follow the Lamb when we are following God’s ways in how we live our lives and have a love for Him in our hearts.
App – Though God’s ways are not our ways, we know what God’s ways are and know that they can transform us to be like Him.
Isaiah 55:8-9, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
His ways are grace, compassion, forgiveness, righteousness, patience, kindness, etc.
Illus – One of the first praise songs of our modern era was also one of the most powerful, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” One of the most powerful lines in the song is, “the cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back, no turning back.”
B. The fruit of our lips is key
- Vs 5 - John wrote that the 144,000 did not speak lies, or in other words, there was no guile on their lips; they loved the truth.
- Jesus taught that the fruit of our lives comes from the treasure that is in our hearts.
Matthew 12:33-35, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.”
- The heart cannot be turned off and on – it’s always on. Therefore, speak no hurtful words of at home when no one else is listening.
- Have a heart that follows after God and godly words will follow.
Proverbs 16:24, Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Ephesians 4:29, Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
C. The fruit God desires is a changed life
- John wrote that these 144,000 are the first fruits unto God – in other words, their lives are good and honoring to the Lord.
- Yet they were living in the most difficult period that man will ever endure.
- First fruits of all their crops were always dedicated to God. The first fruits were considered the best.
Illus – There are two types of fruit in scripture that are not good; one is sour grapes – bitterness.
The other is fruit that is bad due to rottenness – sinful heart. They have fallen from the tree, they are no longer receiving nourishment from the tree.
John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
- These 144,000 are wholly committed to the Lord and the result is holiness, a mind belonging to the Lord, a song of praise in their heart, and lips that are pure, and fruit that is good.
Revelation13:16 - 14:10
16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.