Thursday, June 22, 2023

Allegiance to whom?

Discussions on the “Mark of the Beast” focus on the significance of its Number, ‘666.’ We wish to understand it, and thereby avoid taking it. To appreciate the ramifications of taking its “Mark,” we must perceive that Revelation contrasts the “Mark of the Beast” with the “Seal of God.” Every man must choose between two irreconcilable alternatives, and either choice has consequences. Above all, every would-be disciple of Jesus must decide where and in whom his loyalty lies.

The demand of the “Beast” for absolute allegiance has characterized virtually every human government. Since Jesus is the absolute Lord and King of his followers, the conflict presented graphically in Revelation between Church and State is inevitable. It also describes the dire consequences faced by every man who gives his allegiance to the “Beast from the Sea,” the ultimate incarnation of the World Empire.

Caesar - Photo by Ilona Frey on Unsplash
[Caesar - Photo by Ilona Frey on Unsplash]

The “Mark of the Beast” is the satanic counterpart to the “
Seal of God.” Everyone who takes the beastly “Mark” pledges absolute allegiance to the “Beast.” In contrast, men who receive the “Seal of God” follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.”

Humanity is divided into two groups: Those whose “names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life,” and those whose names are not. Everyone falling into the latter category will taste the “Second Death.” To whom one swears fealty determines his or her eternal fate.

The Book is addressed to churches in the Roman Empire where believers were pressured to conform to local religious practices, especially the imperial cult that paid divine honors to the Emperor and offered incense to Caesar’s image.

The ancient world had no concept of separation of Religion and State. Political ideology and religious practices were intermingled. One’s religion was determined by place of origin and ethnicity. The central government left local populations alone to practice their native religions, but Rome expected all its subjects to pay homage to Caesar on public occasions.

To venerate the Emperor was a religious act and political duty. It demonstrated allegiance to the Empire. Refusal to participate constituted disloyalty to the state. Christians were taught to be law-abiding citizens, but their faith prevented them from acknowledging anyone as “Lord” other than Jesus. Conflict and persecution were inevitable - (Romans 13:1-7).

This is reflected in the Greek verbs used for “worship” in Revelation - The verbs latreuō and proskuneō. The former denotes the “rendering of divine service” to a divine person or image. In the Greek scriptures, it was applied to priests serving in the Tabernacle and Temple. It occurs twice in the Book for priestly service to God.

The second verb occurs twenty-four times. It is a compound of the preposition pros or “toward” and the verb kuneō or “kiss.” The basic idea is “to kiss towards,” to prostrate oneself. Derived meanings include “render homage,” “give obeisance,” “revere,” and “venerate.” It described the deference and honor one paid to a superior being or rank, human or divine. To “render homage” was to give allegiance, whether to God, Jesus, or the “Beast” - (Revelation 7:15, 22:3).


Two groups are presented in Chapter 13: The “Inhabitants of the Earth” and those who “Tabernacle in Heaven.” Awed by the “Beast,” the first group “rendered homage to the Beast.” Their names “were not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb” - (Revelation 13:6-7, 12:12).

Those who “tabernacled in Heaven” were the “saints,” the same group targeted for persecution by the “Dragon” and “war” by the “Beast” – “Those who have the faith of Jesus.” Their names were “written in the Book of Life” - (“It was given to the Beast to make war with the saints” - Revelation 12:17, 13:7-10).

The “Mark of the Beast” is the counterfeit of the “Seal of God” received by the “Servants of our God.” Elsewhere, they are identified as the followers of the “Lamb.” The “sealed” company is also the “great innumerable multitude from every nation and tribe and people and tongue” redeemed by the Lamb - (Revelation 2:11, 7:1-3, 20:6).

The “Seal of God” identifies those who belong to Jesus. They endure but also are preserved through the Great Tribulation. Their identification with the “Lamb” exempts them from the “Second Death” - (Revelation 2:11, 7:1-3, 7:9-17, 20:6).

In contrast, any man who “renders homage to the image of the Beast” is “branded” with its “Mark” and authorized to participate in the economic life of society. Everyone who refuses the beastly “Mark” is ostracized and faces economic deprivation and possible martyrdom.

Men who belong to the “Lamb” and “follow him wherever he goes” have “his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” Consequently, they will be found before the Throne. They have been “purchased from the Earth by the Lamb,” hence their names are written in his “Book of Life.”

Everyone who “renders homage to the image of the Beast” automatically takes its “Mark” and his name is “blotted out of the Book.”

If the “Seal of God” is figurative, so is the “Mark of the Beast.” In this way, Revelation divides humanity into two groups. An individual belongs to the “Lamb” or the “Beast.” There is no third alternative.

This is made clear when the angel warned: “Anyone who renders homage to the Beast and his Image and receives its Mark will drink of the wine of the Wrath of God.” To give allegiance to the beastly World Empire is to take its “Mark.” Every man who does so will partake of the “Wrath of God” - (Revelation 14:9-11).

Storm Clouds with Lightning - Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash
[Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash]

This coming “wrath” is not a series of plagues, but the full and everlasting “wrath” “prepared unmixed” and poured out at the final judgment before the “Great White Throne of Judgment” when the wicked are cast into the “Lake of  Fire” - (
Revelation 20:11-15).

The “Saints” who “keep the faithfulness of Jesus” will overcome the “Beast” and find themselves “standing on the glassy sea” before the Throne, “singing the Song of the Lamb.” In contrast to the “Inhabitants of the Earth” who embraced the “Beast,” they will participate in the “First Resurrection” and “live and reign with Christ.”

  • The Recurring Empire - (Babylon is both a historical kingdom and the symbol of the repeated rise of the World Empire)
  • Usurping God - (The submission of Jesus to an unjust death stands in stark contrast to the political systems and ideologies of this world)
  • The Shining City - (Contrary to the claims of politicians and far too many church leaders, Jesus is the only light able to illuminate this dark world)