What is the Mark of the Beast?

Weird times, right? How much weirder can things get? I shouldn't ask, right? Why ask for trouble? During these weird times, I’ve noticed something else. There’s a big increase in the amount of wild ways people use the Bible to advance their own agenda, to gain attention, or to put money in their pockets. Especially the Revelation and end times speculation. One of the ways this is happening is with wild things being said about a possible COVID-19 vaccine being the mark of the beast in Revelation 13. I’m not going to tell you whether you should be vaccinated or not. My job is to help you understand truth from error in how the Bible is understood.

Revelation 13:17 says a beast compels all people to receive a mark on their hand or forehead, the name of the Antichrist or the number of his name, without which they can’t buy or sell. This isn't’ just an economic issue, however. Revelation 14:9-11 plainly says deciding to receive the mark results in eternal damnation in hell. It’s clearly a big deal. But is getting a vaccine in your hip or arm the same as receiving the mark of a name or a number in your hand or forehead? No. Plainly no.  Here’s why.

When Revelation talks about a mark on the hand or forehead, we need to notice that comes as part of a series of things in which Satan is copying the things of God, everything from a false trinity to worship (chapter 13) to a prostitute to commit adultery with (chapter 18)  instead of a pure bride to marry (chapter 19). But how is a mark on the forehead or hand a parody of what God does?

Because this mark isn’t the only mark Revelation speaks of. Revelation tells us that those who know Jesus are sealed with a mark on their foreheads. That mark is mentioned in connection with the 144,000 in 7:2-3 and in 14:1. It is mentioned in 9:3. And finally, we read in 22:3-4 that the residents of New Jerusalem are marked, “They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads.” But what is the background of this mark or seal?

Scripture. The Old Testament. Exodus 13 tells Israel that their observance of Passover would be “a sign on your head and a symbol on their forehead,” that God brought them out of Egypt. In Deuteronomy 6:7-8, Israel is told to tie God’s commands on their forearms and fasten them on their foreheads so they will remember them. In Deuteronomy 11:18, we read, “Imprint these words in your mind and heart, tie them as a reminder on your hands, and let them be reminders on your forehead.” People did, and do, take this literally, but it seems to me that the purpose of these things is most clearly expressed by the last scripture. The things of God are to be fixed in our minds, thinking, heart, and being always. And the right hand? Your right hand being marked is a way of saying that your power, your strength, is given to doing what the word of God says. These symbols are a way of saying, “I am devoted, and I am obedient.”

The mark of the beast in Revelation is the same thing. Satan wants those who belong to him to openly show they are devoted to him in their minds and that the strength of their hands is his too. He is calling for open allegiance and service. He will penalize those who do not.

What does that have to do with getting a vaccine? Nothing. Nothing at all. Take the vaccine when available. Or not if you aren’t afraid of COVID-19. But whatever you do, be fully devoted in heart, mind, and strength to Christ Jesus as Lord. And, please, be careful who you trust to teach you the things of God. There are so many odd voices out there in these weird times. Be careful.