Monday, May 2, 2011

The Mark of God and the Mark of the Beast

I was reading the other day in Rev. 22:4, "They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads." It occurred to me that the great majority of people know about the mark of the beast but most probably didn't realize that Revelation has more to say about the mark of God on the saints than it does about the mark of the beast which is only mentioned once.

This is sad for a couple of reasons. First of all without knowing about the mark God puts on his elect one doesn't understand what the mark of the beast means. And this has led to sensationalizing the meaning to be an actual mark implanted or tattooed on the forehead and hand by some political leader during the "Great Tribulation". Books and movies have been written and made over this usually focusing on the Devil and the Antichrist while saying little about what God is doing in this world. The reason is that people are not interested in knowing God but they are terribly interested in anything that has to do with Satan and the Antichrist and the End Times. It makes for a good story but poor theology.

The second reason this is sad is because by ignoring God's mark you really miss the whole point of both marks. Beginning in chapter 7 when God gets ready to do his work during this present age which will include many judgments on the world ending with the final judgment of sinners, the first thing he does is to put a mark or seal on his people to assure us that no matter what happens we will be brought safely through this life and end up in glory. That is why in chapter 22 when the eternal state begins we see this same group standing before the throne reigning forever. It reminds me of Romans 8:29-30, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." Notice that all who are predestined are glorified, none are lost.

While this is apparent as you read all the times it is referred to in Revelation, it is made easier to see by looking back at Ezekiel 9:4 where John draws for his illustration. There God is about to judge Jerusalem for her idolatry but tells an angel to put a mark on everyone who has kept themselves from idolatry and kill everyone else. This gives us great calmness and assurance in this present age that "the Lord knows them that are his" and that "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out."

We are being given one of the great privileges of the election of God; "He that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and no matter how bad it gets in this world we have the power, purpose and promise of God that he won't lose one of us.

But as we read through Revelation we notice something else about these two very different marks; something that Ezekiel also showed. They also represent two very different lifestyles. Those with the mark of God are those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This makes sense because the indwelling Holy Spirit is the seal. He makes us new creations. Those with the mark of the beast are those that do whatever it takes to get along in this world and that is the very identification of this mark. It isn't a tattoo or an implanted chip in your brain, it is the unregenerate heart. One mark identifies a heart that worships the Lord and the other identifies one whose god is himself.

So which mark do you find more interesting?

3 comments:

  1. Wow! So good Nathan. That was just so good. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I often quote 1 Thess. 5:24, a favorite encouragement, but this reminded me to include v. 23.

    1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    1Th 5:24 Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].
    Thanks, Nathan

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is a good verse also since it reminds us whose hands our salvation is in. It is too bad that so many Christians aren't taught the security that election and the atonement brings to our salvation. Either this is something God is in control of or we are and the Bible is clear that God will not lose a one that he chose to save from eternity.

    ReplyDelete