Revelation 14:9-11 “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
Here is one of the most severe warnings you will find in the Bible. Today there are a multitude of interpretations on what 666 and the mark of the beast is. Many people believe that 666 is the mark of the beast but note closely what Revelation 13:17 says, “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.” Did you note that the number and the mark are two separate things?
Considering the consequences are so severe for receiving 666 or the mark, it is highly advisable we study this topic thoroughly and find out what the Bible really reveals. The documentation below is from an excellent book by Pastor Steve Wohlberg, a leading specialist in the area of Bible prophecy and endtime events. The content below is from his book called "Truth Left Behind." It is a complete topic on the mark and I have no doubt you will enjoy it. Steve has very kindly granted his permission to use this chapter of his book here.
666 and the Mark of the Beast
By Steve Wohlberg
Taken from Chapter 8 of his eye-opening book, Truth Left Behind.
Because the San Andreas fault line runs through the vast city of Los Angeles, those who live in the area are justly concerned about the coming of the “big one”—an earthquake above 7.0. When it comes to apocalyptic issues described in the book of Revelation, the “big one” is definitely the mark of the beast. If this subject could be measured by a Richter scale capable of weighing spiritual significance, its magnitude would be well above 1,000. The consequences of receiving 666 and the mark are truly catastrophic. Those who get it will experience the wrath of God and lose their souls (Revelation 14:9-11). Therefore nothing could be more serious.
The eighth book in the Left Behind drama, The Mark—The Beast Rules the World, continues the developing saga of the “Tribulation Force” against the beast after the Rapture. At the height of his sinister reign over mankind, Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia unveils his secret weapon to gain full control of the world—a highly sophisticated “miniature biochip” to be inserted under the skin of people’s foreheads and hands “as painlessly as a vaccination in a matter of seconds” (p. 86). “The visible evidence of loyalty to the potentate,” this techno-mark also “serves as a method of payment and receipting for buying and selling. Eye-level scanners will allow customers and merchants to merely pass by and be billed or receipted” (pp. 86, 87). This forces Rayford Steele, Buck Williams, and the rest of the Tribulation Force to make a final decision: either submit fully to the Antichrist or expose themselves as Christians. For all who refuse to follow Carpathia, “loyalty enforcement facilitators await with sharpened guillotines” (p. 170).
This incredible scenario reveals what most prophecy-minded Christians today imagine when it comes to 666 and the mark of the beast. They know it will come from the devil, will be enforced by the Antichrist, will be used to control buying and selling, and they assume it will be centered around some sort of high-tech computer technology. And as we have already seen, the majority also believe it will come after the Rapture. Beyond this, there seems little else to know. Or is there? In this book we have challenged the accuracy of Left Behind when it comes to the beast, the image, and the timing of the Rapture. If this blockbuster best-selling series is off track in these key areas, what about its basic theology regarding the mark itself? Is it trustworthy? When it comes to the mark, could Left Behind be once again sincerely and yet mistakenly out in left field?
“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” (Revelation 13:16). Here the Bible says a mark will be received in the hand or in the forehead. Yet the Bible does not specifically say it will be a “miniature biochip,” or even that it will involve technology at all. These modern words, “computer,” “biochip,” “verichip,” “technology,” “bar code,” and “scanner,” do not appear in Revelation. People just assume it will happen this way. It’s a little bit like the Catholic doctrine of the assumption of the Virgin Mary established in 1950. Because Pope Pius XII proclaimed the assumption to be true, many Catholics now believe Mary was “assumed” or taken to heaven without dying at the end of her earthly life. Yet this is really just a huge “assumption” not supported by the Bible!
Likewise with 666 and the mark of the beast. Christians assume the mark will involve computer technology developed by a Microsoft or an Intel, yet the Bible itself does not specifically say this. I call this the “Great Microchip Assumption.”
The Bible specifically does say, “He deceived them that had received the mark of the beast” (Revelation 19:20). Notice carefully. Those who receive the mark are deceived. Therefore the mark must involve some sort of subtle deception. That is, it must not be too obvious or easily noticed. If it were, how could almost the entire world be mislead? Jesus warned us that Satan’s deceptions are so tricky they can “‘deceive, if possible, even the elect’ ” (Matthew 24:24, NKJV).
It seems to me that the Left Behind scenario portrays the mass of humankind as altogether too gullible. Think about it. How deceptive would it be for someone like Nicolae Carpathia to command everyone to accept a computerized biochip in their foreheads or in their hands? Honestly, let’s get away from fiction and talk about real people. How many real people do you know who would accept big government implanting biochip technology inside their heads? The idea becomes slightly more believable if one imagines a world in which millions of people have just vanished. But what if people don’t vanish? What if we are dealing with this world—the real world and real people? Even more than this, what if we are talking about you and me facing the mark of the beast? How deceptive would that be to us? How could this “deceive, if possible, even the elect”?
When we look carefully at Revelation, we discover that the mark is not the only thing placed in people’s foreheads. Amazingly, the forehead is mentioned many times apart from the mark. The first time the mark is mentioned is in Revelation 13:16. Three verses later John saw a group called the 144,000 with the “Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1). This solitary sentence flashes new light on this whole topic. One group gets the mark of the beast while the other group has the name of God in their foreheads. Referring to the saved, the very last chapter of the Bible says, “They shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). Therefore, both saints and sinners will all one day have something in their foreheads. Does this mean God’s people will walk around with actual, visible letters written on their foreheads?
John also saw an evil scarlet woman riding a beast. “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (Revelation 17:5). No one doubts this is a symbolic prophecy. There will be no real prostitute riding a beast. Therefore, the writing of that mysterious name upon her forehead must also be symbolic. Are the scales beginning to fall from your eyes? The real issues are more than skin deep.
This idea about the forehead or the hand is not unique to Revelation. Moses told the Israelites, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. . . . Thou shalt bind them for a sign on thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 8). Again Moses said, “Therefore shall ye lay up these mine words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 11:18). What did God intend the Israelites to learn from this? Did the Lord want them to take a fine-point pen and write a whole lot of words on the tiny bit of skin between their eyes above their noses? How could their faces contain the entire book of Deuteronomy? It has thirty-four chapters!
With a little bit of reflection we should be able to understand what this idea of the forehead and hand is really all about. Anciently, God wanted His words on the foreheads of the Israelites. This must mean He wanted them inside of their minds. What about His words on their hands? This must apply to their actions. So, the forehead represents the mind, and the hand represents the actions. That’s simple enough. Therefore, what the book of Revelation is really saying when it speaks of a mark in the forehead or in the hand is that one day the masses of humanity will fully yield their minds and their actions to some specific idea, or tradition, or “mark” that comes from the beast. They will be marked in their minds. Yet God’s true people will see through this deception. Why? Because they have the name of God in their foreheads.
What is the name of God? Is it only a specific set of syllables God would like us to use when we address Him, or does this issue involve more than mere pronunciation? When Moses ascended Mount Sinai, “The LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD” (Exodus 34:5). Then God described His character. He revealed Himself as merciful, gracious, patient, forgiving, just, and full of truth (Exodus 34:6, 7). These wonderful attributes are referred to as “the name of the LORD.” At the end of His earthly life, in a prayer to His Father, our Saviour said, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (John 17:6). Jesus didn’t say this simply because He had been pronouncing certain syllables correctly, but because His life revealed the true character of God. So when the Bible says people will have the name of God on their foreheads, this means that His gracious attributes of character have become a deep part of their thinking and actions. They are truly connected with Jesus Christ. In the final days, God will have a people who are so firmly rooted in Jesus and in His attributes of character that they will not be deceived or go along with 666 and the mark of the beast. Thus, we are dealing with deep spiritual issues.
The mark is mentioned eight times in Revelation (13:16, 17; 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16: 2; 19:20; 20:4), but there is only one unique section that specifically and comprehensively clarifies the issues and warns the entire world against receiving this evil mark. It is the three angels’ messages found in Revelation 14:6-12. Sadly, most Christians have never even heard of these messages, yet they are of cosmic significance. They are just as important as the message of Noah before the Flood. Why? Because they contain Heaven’s last call before the return of Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:14-16).
John saw the first “angel flying in the midst of heaven,” followed by “another angel,” and then by a “third angel” (Revelation 14:6, 8, 9). All three of these angels have tremendous things to say “to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6, NKJV). This does not mean that literal angels will appear in the sky flying over Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, and Moscow. As with many other things in Revelation, these angels are symbolic. They represent a final group of Christians who proclaim God’s last message to the whole world from the pulpit, on the radio, on television, in print, and via satellite. Instead of the fictitious “Tribulation Force,” we might call them God’s real “Three Angels’ Messages Force.” They expose the real Antichrist, counteract the tidal wave of Jesuit futurism, and teach the actual truth about Satan’s evil mark.
Here’s a quick overview of these mighty messages. The first angel proclaims the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, the hour of judgment, and the importance of worshiping the Creator of heaven and earth (Revelation 14:6, 7). The second angel announces the fall of the Babylonian harlot, which has made the whole earth drunk with her confusing wine of deception (Revelation 14:8). The third angel solemnly warns about the beast, the image, and the deadly mark, stating that those who receive the mark will drink the wine of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:10, 11). The third angel concludes with these highly significant words, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). As soon as God’s real “Three Angels’ Messages Force” has completed its heavenly assignment, there follows a power-packed description of the return of Jesus Christ on a white cloud to reap the final harvest of the earth (Revelation 14:14-16).
Let’s unpack these mighty issues, beginning with the all-important topic of worshiping the Creator. The first angel says with a loud voice, “Worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7). Then the third angel thunders, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:9, 10). Here people are given the ultimate choice: Either worship the Creator or worship the beast and receive his mark. Thus, the issue of worshiping the Creator is central to avoiding the mark.
The next mighty issue is one few people are aware of. Most best-selling prophecy books and blockbuster Tribulation movies skip right over it. Those who believe the mark is a biochip developed by some high-tech firm like Microsoft or Intel usually miss it entirely. As we have already seen, immediately after the third angel warns humankind about receiving the mark, the very next sentence says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Here one group receives the mark, while the other group “keeps the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Thus, the issue of keeping the commandments of God is also central to avoiding the mark. In a little while we will place this hidden issue fully under the microscope.
Have you heard of a brand of toothpaste called “Close-Up”? It is designed to make one’s breath smell sweet. When we take a “Close-Up” look at the three angels’ messages, we discover that the sweetest part of all has to do with a Person, the person of Jesus Christ. The first angel announces to the world “the everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6), which literally means the good news of Jesus Christ. The third angel speaks of “the Lamb” in contrast with the beast (Revelation 14:9, 10), which is another reference to Jesus Christ, pointing to His unfathomable love and sacrifice on the cross. And the very last word of the third angel’s message is “Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). Thus, we discover a laser-like focus on “the gospel,” the “Lamb,” and on “Jesus” Himself. To summarize thus far: Those who believe in Jesus Christ, accept the gospel, follow the Lamb, worship the Creator, and keep the commandments of God—these will not worship the beast and receive his mark. Like the unparalleled majesty of Mount Everest, these mighty issues regarding 666 and the mark of the beast are now rising up before our very eyes.
Jesus Christ is center stage, and so is the worship of the Creator. Once again, let’s take a closer look. The first angel says, “Worship him that made heaven, and earth” (Revelation 14:7), but who is the Maker of heaven and earth? What does the New Testament really say? Speaking of Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10). Do you see it? John is saying that the One who was in the world is also the very One who made the world. Those in John’s time didn’t understand this, and neither do most people today. Yet the Bible is telling us that Jesus Christ is not only our Saviour, but He is also the Maker of planet Earth. That humble Man who walked our dusty roads, who ate our food, who slept outside under our stars, and who spoke words of love to those who were just plain stressed out, is actually the great Creator of all life.
Jesus Christ is “The Word.” We know this because John wrote, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). These words reveal that Jesus did not begin His life in a manger, but that He existed long before He became a tiny baby inside of Mary. Speaking of the One to be born in Bethlehem, an ancient prophet wrote, “Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Thus, the Baby of Bethlehem is an eternal Being who existed long before the time of Joseph, Herod, and the wise men.
The very first words in the book of John reveal, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Once again the wonderful and beautiful truth is established that Jesus is the Maker of everything. Nothing exists apart from Him. He made Adam and Eve, the mountains and the trees, the sun, moon and stars, all of the animals, every shiny fish, and your favourite pet.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16, 17). Let this thought both amaze and subdue us; the Eternal One who made this earth is the very One who died almost naked on a splintered cross in the Middle East. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). When we fully yield to God’s love, say “Goodbye” to every sin, stop trusting in ourselves, and start really believing in Jesus Christ, our merciful heavenly Father will forgive us, and grant us the free gift of eternal life (see Ephesians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Acts 20:21; and 1 John 1:9). This good news is called “the everlasting gospel” in the first angel’s message.
Therefore, when the first angel tells everyone to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7), this is a special end-time call to worship Jesus Christ, not only as Saviour, but also specifically as the Maker of all life. And amazingly, this very issue is closely tied in with the mark, for we have already discovered that those who worship the Creator are placed in contrast with those who worship the beast and receive his mark. Yet what exactly is the mark? Is it possible to know for sure without indulging in wild-eyed speculation? I believe it is. We still have a few more pieces to put together in this prophetic puzzle, yet when we are finished, it will become extremely clear what the mark of the beast is. In fact, there will be no mistaking it.
In some Hollywood action movies, a high-impact “red button” is finally pushed inside some technological control center. In a symbolic sense, it’s time for us to push a “red button” of deep prophetic insight. Here goes. The deadly mark is the mark of the beast; it’s a mark that comes from the beast itself. John saw those who gained “the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark” (Revelation 15:2). Logic tells us that in order to understand “his mark,” we must correctly interpret who “he” is. Who is this beast? Some think the beast is a huge computer in Belgium. The Left Behind novels portray the beast as a super-powerful, devil-indwelt Romanian who gains control of the world after the Rapture. Yet what have we learned in this book? Who did Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, the translators of the King James Bible, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Spurgeon, and countless other historic Protestants think the beast was? What power arose out of the Roman Empire, has spoken great words against God, has made war on the saints, has received a deadly wound which is now healing, and has fulfilled every point of this prophecy? Now you know the answer. It is the Roman Catholic Church. And the mark is “his mark.” Therefore the mark must be something that comes from the Roman Catholic Church itself.
Not long ago someone handed me a copy of a very old Bible from the 1800s that had belonged to a Presbyterian lay pastor. Certain texts throughout this Bible contain footnotes reflecting the beliefs of Christians in the nineteenth century. I quickly turned to Revelation 13:16 about the mark of the beast, and I discovered footnotes that would probably not appear in a Scofield Reference Bible. I was stunned when I read: “Ver. 16. A mark. Submission to the rites and ceremonies of the papal communion. In their right hand. By active obedience to the papal power. Or in their foreheads. By outward profession of its doctrines and infallible authority” (The New Testament: With Commentaries, References, Harmony of the Gospels and the Helps Needed to Understand and Teach the Text. 1895. New York and St. Louis. N.D. Thompson Pub. Co., p. 530). When those words were written, Bill Gates wasn’t born yet, nor was there a company called Microsoft. In the footnotes of that Bible, when it came to 666 and the mark of the beast, computer technology was a non-issue. What mattered was submission or resistance to the Roman Catholic Church!
The third angel’s message is now crying out with a loud voice to everyone, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:9, 10). Now think about it. Would Jesus tell us in Revelation, “The mark is coming, so watch out. It will be tricky, almost deceiving the very elect. I love you, and died for you, yet I can’t tell you exactly what this mysterious mark is. If you get it, you’ll be lost. You’re on your own.” Does this sound logical? Would Jesus show and not tell? Why would God send a message to the whole world about the mark, and then keep its identity a secret? How could such a message be given with a loud voice? Imagine Noah preaching, “Quick! Get into the ark, because the Flood is coming! That is, I’m pretty sure, although I‘m not entirely positive.” Impossible! It is the same with the third angel’s message. Again, think about it. Can we know for sure who the beast is? Yes. Therefore, we must be able to find out from the Bible itself exactly what the mark is. Logic, reason, and the integrity of God’s loving character require this.
We are about to make another amazing discovery. Remember those X-ray eyeglasses I talked about in chapter 3 of this book? Well, there is a certain X-ray text in the Bible that will, if we let it, supernaturally enable us to see exactly what the mark of the beast is. I also call it our golden clue. We can find it by carefully comparing Revelation 13 with its Old Testament counterpart, Daniel 7. These two chapters fit together like a key fits into a lock. The connections are easily seen. Both chapters talk about beasts from the sea, a lion, a bear, a leopard, a dragon, ten horns, a mouth speaking great things, war on the saints, and a specific time period of three and a half years or forty-two months. Interpretations may vary, but almost all Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical scholars, including the authors of Left Behind, agree that the little horn of Daniel 7 and the first beast of Revelation 13 refer to the same thing—the Antichrist. Yet there is something many people have missed that is right there in God’s Word. And not only does it tie in with the mark but, it is a golden clue as to what it is.
The very first time 666 and the mark of the beast is mentioned in the Bible is near the end of Revelation 13. Now, if other aspects of the beast in Revelation 13 find such a perfect parallel in the little horn of Daniel 7, then what about the mark? Could there be something near the end of Daniel 7 that parallels the mark near the end of Revelation 13? Yes, there is. It is in verse 25. Daniel 7:25 says the little horn will speak great words against God, and this idea is also found in Revelation 13:5. Daniel 7:25 says he will wear out, or make war, on the saints, and this idea is also found in Revelation 13:7. Daniel 7:25 says the horn will rule for three and a half years, and this point is also restated in Revelation 13:5. Thus, every point of Daniel 7:25 finds a perfect parallel in Revelation 13. Yet there is one point in Daniel 7:25 we have not yet touched upon. Most people miss it, few ever explain it, yet there it is. It is our golden clue. You may not believe this, but the final destiny of the world is connected with it.