Rising Up Out of the Sea : What the Bible Says about the Mark of the Beast
By Betty Miller
Much has been said on this subject of the mark of the beast, but little said about the mark of God. Will there be a literal mark tattooed on people’s foreheads and/or their hands in these end times to make it possible to buy and sell in a one-world monetary system that is being set up by an antichrist?
We can certainly see the possibilities of this becoming a literal reality in our day with the technology of laser beam tattoos and our president speaking of a “new world order.” Even now, pets can be tracked by tiny computer chips about the size of a grain of rice which have an identification number programmed into it that can be injected under the skin with a hypodermic needle. A special scanner generates a radio signal that reads the number through the skin of the animal when it is found.
This is not disputing the possibilities of a literal tattoo, but rather exposing the spiritual implications behind that plan of Satan. How will this come about? Will it be one of the above new technologies or something yet to come? We don’t believe men are going to be tattooed or branded with a literal set of three sixes on their foreheads or hands, any more than we believe the letters J-E-S-U-S will be on the foreheads of God’s servants as spoken of in Revelation 22: 3-4: “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
The Beast: A System or A Man
How will the beast mark those who follow him, and what is the mark of God set upon those who follow Christ? Let us begin with the mark of the beast, then look at how we are to receive God’s mark which protects us from destruction in these end times.
Throughout the Scriptures, the word ‘beast’ refers to a system, and not to a man. The beast is a system that rules the world; it’s an antichrist system. Daniel 7 speaks of beasts and identifies them as earthly kingdoms. So the beast in Revelation is a beastly system that’s ruling the world (it’s a dictator beast). This beast is not just one human being, rather it is a system that has infiltrated every area whether it be politics, medicine, art or science; the beastly system is everywhere. This system is typically overseen by a powerful government with those in power making decisions that perpetrate the worldly system throughout mankind. When Revelation 13:1 speaks of the beast rising up out of the sea, what is meant by the sea? The Scriptures speak of the sea as “masses of humanity.” This beastly system is rising up out of humanity, out of all the people on the earth. When John, the author of Revelation, stood upon the sand of the sea, he was standing upon that which could not be numbered, among all the people of the earth.
Scripture’s Description of the Beast
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies: and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. Revelation 13:1-18
Revelation is a coded book. It was written for Christians so that only they could understand it. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit are bewildered by the imagery in this book of the Bible. Even as Christians we have difficulty when approaching Revelation. How do we understand its code? The Bible interprets itself so we can understand Revelation by looking to other portions of the Bible for clues to its interpretation. When we study one portion of the Bible, we can find the same truth in another portion that sheds light on what we are studying. Since Revelation is a coded book, we won’t understand it without the help of God’s Spirit who inspired it, plus a child-like approach to His Word. We must have God’s Spirit and an understanding of the Scriptures to comprehend Revelation. Revelation was written symbolically; a great deal of it is not literal. If we don’t understand that Revelation is speaking of spiritual things, then we’re going to misinterpret it. We’ll end up looking for literal frogs and heads and horns and an actual beast.
To illustrate a portion of the code that almost all Christians are familiar with, consider the usage of the term “lamb.” We know when the Scripture refers to “the Lamb,” it is symbolically referring to Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross as He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). It is not referring to a literal lamb, the offspring of a sheep. So for us to understand the symbolism of the “beast,” we must go to the Scripture for that definition. A modern-day analogy is that we could not operate a computer unless we understood computer language. We must get a Bible definition of “beast” and the Bible definition of “mark” to understand the mark of the beast.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rise up and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. Revelation 13:1
God wants us to understand the meaning of the terms in this verse, and throughout all of Revelation. He promises that if we wholeheartedly seek Him, He will hear and answer (Jeremiah 29: 12, 13). If we want to understand, we can. It may not come all at once, but as we seek Him, He will open our eyes. One of our shortcomings as Christians is that many of us have listened to end-time teachings but never have asked the Holy Spirit if the teaching is the truth. We’ve considered ourselves ignorant and assumed the teachers must have all the answers. But God wants each one of us to understand His Word, and He will give us understanding as we seek Him for it. He will confirm His true teachings if we seek Him by faith and with a pure heart. We have a responsibility to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Identifying the Beast
The beast spoken of in Revelation 13:1 is not the so-called Antichrist. In fact, the word “antichrist” is not even found in Revelation. When the Bible speaks of antichrist, it speaks of ” the spirit of antichrist” and speaks in the plural rather than the singular. There are several such references in 1 and 2 John.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that anti-christ shall come, even now are there many anti-christs; whereby we know that it is the last time.” 1 John 2: 18
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is anti-christ, that denieth the Father and the Son. 1 John 2: 22
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 1 John 4: 3
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-christ. 2 John 1: 7
Throughout the Scriptures, the word “beast” refers to a system, and not to a man. The beast is a system that rules the world; it’s an antichrist system. Daniel 7 speaks of beasts and identifies them as earthly kingdoms. So the beast in Revelation is a beastly system that’s ruling the world (it’s a dictator beast). This beast is not just one human being, rather it is a system that has infiltrated every area whether it be politics, medicine, art or science; the beastly system is everywhere. This system is typically overseen by a powerful government with those in power making decisions that perpetrate the worldly system throughout mankind.
When Revelation 13:1 speaks of the beast rising up out of the sea, what is meant by the sea? The Scriptures speak of the sea as “masses of humanity.” This beastly system is rising up out of humanity, out of all the people on the earth. When John, the author of Revelation, stood upon the sand of the sea, he was standing upon that which could not be numbered, among all the people of the earth.
Symbolism of Numbers in Scripture
This beast rising up out of the sea has seven heads (Revelation 13:1). Numbers are often symbolic in the Scriptures with the number seven standing for perfection, completion. For example, when Jesus told Peter to forgive “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”); He did not mean to forgive 490 times. He was telling Peter to forgive completely and perfectly. To the Jew, numbers were descriptions rather than mathematics as each number represented something. Since we will be dealing with several of these symbolic numbers in this chapter, listed below are the Jewish equivalents for each number (see glossary for detailed definitions):
- One symbolizes new beginnings and unity.
- Two symbolizes witness and division.
- Three symbolizes divinity, heaven and God.
- Four symbolizes earth and man.
- Five symbolizes grace and favor.
- Six symbolizes the world and is man’s number; it falls short of seven; therefore, it is imperfection.
- Seven symbolizes perfection, completeness and abundance.
- Ten symbolizes obedience, completeness of order.
- Twelve symbolizes government, authority.
- Three and a half, being half of seven (perfection), is an indefinite period of time; it is a number of trouble and judgment.
When the beast is described as having seven heads, it speaks of completion or fullness of the wickedness and evil. Heads refer to leadership, to governments and to ruling. When we refer to the head of an organization or a group, we’re speaking of the leadership. So seven heads would refer to fullness of governments. Seven heads mean the governments of the whole world (a New World order?). The headship of the governments is upon the beast. The ruling governments are right in the midst of the beastly system. In man’s eyes, some governments are good and some evil. But in God’s eyes they’re all evil because they’re not performing the will of God. No country is truly doing the will of God, even my own country which I do love and pray for. Of course, some governments are better than others because of the greater freedom they allow.
The beast in Revelation has ten horns. In the Bible, horns are symbolic of countries with world power and influence. A horn does not represent the whole beastly system that pervades the earth, but rather a country. A little horn would represent a little country. The countries have influence, but not as much as the whole power of the beast. So when the beast is seen with ten horns it speaks of influential countries in the world that are part of the system of the beast. One meaning of the number ten is completeness of order, so ten horns indicate how complete the involvement of smaller countries is with the beast, just as the seven heads of the beast show the involvement of major world powers.
Upon the horns are ten crowns. Crowns stand for authority and political influence. So we further see the beast system coming through the authority in the world, the governmental and political system.
The Name of Blasphemy
The name of blasphemy is seen upon the heads. There’s not a country in the world that’s doing the will of God. They’re all part of the beast system. To blaspheme is to speak irreverently or profanely of God, or to attribute something to God that is not of Him. An example is Saddam Hussein stating that God was on their side in the Persian Gulf War (1991) and therefore they would win. Allah, Saddam’s god, is a false god as the war proved. However, America’s winning the war doesn’t prove America to be a Christian nation. We are blaspheming God by calling ourselves a Christian nation when our greed, materialism, drunkenness, addiction, murder, abortion, pride, etc. prove otherwise. We won the war because of a holy nation within this nation, that is, God’s true praying people who were interceding not only for all Americans and allies, but also for the Arabs because we desire to see all men come to the knowledge of the true and living God. The beast does things in the name of God, yet is blasphemous because the motives are wrong. Currently, no nation or country is primarily concerned about the gospel going forth as its main focus. (We do see God’s people — His holy nation — from every country with that concern.) We know the nations of the world won’t do God’s will until Christ returns and His millennial reign is established.
We’re to be preparing for Christ’s return when God will set up His authority on the earth. The earth will have a theocracy; being ruled by God will bring perfection into the earth. But until that day, none of the earthly authority is pleasing to God. All of it is blasphemy. Even in the better countries there’s evil within the system. In our own country of America we’re seeing much sin being uncovered that’s within the system.
The Beastly System World-wide
We see, then, that we’re not looking for an antichrist; we’re looking for a beastly system. And it’s already here. In error, people have been naming specific individuals as the antichrist, such as Hitler or even Hussein. Such individuals are all part of the beast system, but it’s not a single person we’re looking for. The beast is everywhere and we’ve all been contaminated to varying degrees by that system. People don’t even realize they’re being contaminated as they give heed to the thinking of the world’s political and social leaders. They’re receiving the system into their minds, then doing the works of the devil because they’ve unknowingly picked up his thinking.
The devil has so deceived the world, even the church. For example, even the church is full of divorces because the government and society say it’s acceptable. They also say abortions are acceptable, so we have abortions even in the church. The beastly system has crept into the church and we’re being marked by it. Many have it in their minds that divorce and abortion are acceptable, then they’ve committed those deeds with their hands. They’ve been marked in their minds and on their hands without even knowing it. They’re waiting for some tattoo, thinking they’ll refuse it when it comes, yet they’re already receiving the spiritual mark of the beast. Should they come to a literal mark, they’ll not be able to refuse it because the beast system has already become such a part of them. If we’re not getting our minds marked with the Word of God (reading and meditating in the Bible and obeying it’s commands), when the hour comes for a literal mark we’ll not be able to say no to the system.
The system has become such a part of us. The government takes care of us. It has become God to many. The government takes care of the sick; they perform many social works; they handle much of retirement through social security here in the USA. Are we dependent upon the government, or are we dependent upon God Almighty to take care of us? When the whole system of this world fails (and it will because it is not based on the word of God), we’ll fall with it if we’re not grounded in the system of God’s kingdom. It’s not wrong for us to receive from the government now as long as we acknowledge God as our source and not the system. Should the system fail and we no longer have social security or other provisions from the government, those overcoming Christians who have been receiving it will simply turn to God as their source, and He will provide for them another way as their faith is in God and not the system.
Humanism Behind the Beastly System
“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). Toward understanding this description, remember that Scripture interprets Scripture. In Daniel 7, four different beasts are described, beasts that represented different beastly systems. “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked” (Daniel 7:4a). In other words, that beastly system failed. “And it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:4b). Men were behind this beastly system, men’s ideas, humanism. Humanism is nothing new; it’s been here from the beginning. Man has considered himself smarter than God, which is the essence of humanism.
The Beast Behind War
“And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it” (Daniel 7:5-7a). This breaking of everything into pieces indicates warring and division, everyone crushing one another which is the goal of the dragon, the devil.
These beasts are governments of the world and the devil is within them. “It had great iron teeth” – tools for devouring, for warring. “Dreadful and terrible” – when the devil gets a hold of governments, they are dreadful and terrible. Every government that exists today got its power and position by overcoming and crushing the previous government or people who existed on that land. They are all beastly.
In studying Daniel, most theologians teach that these were four different powers that each ruled for a time and then fell. These were the Babylonian empire, the Media-Persian empire, the Greek empire under Alexander the Great, and the Roman empire. I have no problem with that as many times in Scripture there is a literal application as well as a spiritual one. In fact, the writing of this book is to show the spiritual application to the mark of the beast, while not discarding the fact we can face a literal mark also. But long before we face the literal mark, many may already be marked spiritually. So deceived, they will be unable to refuse the literal mark.
Now let’s consider these beasts from a spiritual perspective. A leopard, an extremely fast animal, represents speed of conquest. He takes his prey quickly. We’re living in an hour when men can take their prey quickly through high tech weapons and nuclear warfare. The powerful bear has a crushing force. A bear can easily crush the life out of a man. This bear symbolizes governmental systems that can easily crush people through military force. The lion symbolizes pride, ruling with pompous power. He looks majestic in his rule, but he’s not, for he also eats his prey. So it is with world governments ruling in pride and pomp, yet within they’re full of evil and devouring. They devour their own. The dragon, of course, represents Satan. He’s behind every one of these beastly powers.
The Beast’s Head is Wounded
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Revelation 13:4
One thing this verse speaks of is war. Jesus prophesied that before His return there would be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24: 6). Concerning the wounding of one of the beast’s heads, I believe that refers to an event that happened at Calvary. Some people try to fit all of Revelation into only the end times. But Revelation was not written just for us today; it was written for all of the church throughout history. Note how the wound came to this beast’s head. Revelation 13:14 says the beast “had the wound by a sword, and did live.” The dragon, which represents the devil, is part of the beast system. Who wounded the devil? Did not Jesus wound him with a crushing blow to the head? By His death on the cross, Jesus crushed Satan beneath his feet as was prophesied in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
God’s promise to Eve was that from her seed would come the one that would crush the enemy who deceived her. When Jesus died on the cross, he stripped Satan of all power. Satan was given a deadly blow. However, from there the church didn’t take advantage of the truth that the enemy was stripped of his power. Because the church didn’t take her authority over the defeated foe and hasn’t throughout the centuries, the deadly wound was healed and the beast again raised his head.
The deadly wound came by a sword, which represents the Word of God (Ephesians 6: 17). God’s Word wounded Satan and those believers who have received the truth of Satan’s defeat have walked in victory. Throughout history, individuals who’ve recognized Satan’s defeat have been victorious Christians. But the corporate church body as a whole never received the revelation of Satan’s defeat. Therefore the beast’s wound was healed, and Satan yet rules this earth through his beastly system. People still look at the devil and think he’s going to continue ruling. But God is telling the church that we’re to rise up in Jesus’ name and take our authority over Satan. We’re to take back control over this earth for Jesus Christ.
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Topic: What the Bible Says about the Mark of the Beast
Related Topics: What the Bible Says about Satan; Demons; Evil in The World; The One True God; The Blood of Jesus; The Gift of the Holy Spirit; Scripture Prayer for Fear and Anxiety; Scriptural Prayer for Protection