Whatever the mark of the beast is, it is needed to carry on the business of buying and selling (Revelation 13:17). The question is—buying and selling what? For example, in Jesus parable of the ten virgins the five foolish virgins are told to go to those who sell and buy the oil they need. It is implied that the oil has a spiritual value; so too the business of trading or buying and selling has a spiritual significance in his parables of the talents and pounds.
Clearly, the second portion of Revelation 13 tells of another beast, that is, he is not the first Beast. It is also clear that the Image of the Beast is not the image of the second beast but of the first. We know this because he is the image of the one who had the deadly wound (Revelation 13:14). The problem, is when we come to the last few verses of the chapter, it is not so clear which beast John mentions. Is referring to the first Beast, or is it the second (Annas)?
The second part of the chapter is speaking of the second beast and what he is able to do. Implying, the mark must have something to do with him as well as the number, 666. Moreover, the context of this present study, if true, demands that buying and selling must be thought of as carrying out the business of worship and that in the Temple at Jerusalem.
In Revelation 14:9 the mark can refer to either the Beast or his image. In Revelation 14:11 it is worded “the mark of his name.” It is possible, I believe, that this could refer to either the beast or his image, because both appear before this phrase. So, up until this Scripture the term, mark, seems to be an ambivalent description of something. However, since it is phrased “the mark of his name” we discover that the number 666 in Revelation 13:18, which is the number of the beast’s name, can also be used to reveal what the mark is, because if the mark is the symbol of the beast’s name and 666 can be used to find out the beast’s name, then 666 should have the attribute to reveal the symbol or mark of that name. I believe this is only logical.
In Revelation 16:2 it seems that both the mark and the image refer to the same thing, namely the Beast, and Revelation 13 shows that the image refers to the seven headed Beast with the deadly wound. So, at this point it seems clearer that the mark should refer to the seven headed Beast and the previous Scriptures, which seem ambivalent, should be understood to refer to it as well. The context of the remaining Scriptures, Revelation 19:20; 20:4, seem to point to the same thing—namely, the Mark of the Beast refers to the seven headed beast of Revelation 13.
I need to point out at this point that the Image of the Beast must be Jewish in character. It needed to be Jewish in order to be a deceptive image or a god that the Jews would worship ignorantly. It was set up in the Temple at Jerusalem to point to the beast with the deadly wound. Similarly, the Mark of the Beast must be Jewish in character in order to be used to deceive the Jewish nation and cause them to begin to abandon God. The mark need only to cause the Jewish people to worship the seven headed Beast in order to be understood as his mark.
I have seen several studies that concluded the buying and selling referred to commercialism of the first Beast, meaning one wouldn’t be able to hold a job or buy the necessities of life, unless one received this mark. The interpretation of the mark had taken many forms from a social security number to a tattoo on one’s hand. I have even heard of the mark being a microchip planted under the skin for identification purposes etc. The problem with these interpretations is there is really nothing sinful about any of them. Why would God punish anyone for doing something that was not sinful in itself? Where is the Biblical authority for such an opinion?
I hope to finish this study in my next post.