The mark of the beast (666) - What is it?
The mark of the beast is found in Revelation 13:16-18: "Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666" (Also in Revelation 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4.). What is this mark and why is it important? Several things can be stated.
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It is clear from Revelation 13 that this mark will be the work of a false prophet called the second beast (Revelation 13:11-15). This evil leader will enforce all people to receive a mark on the right hand or forehead that will be used in all commercial transactions. Without it, no financial purchases or sales can be made.
The identification of the number is 666. This number is called "the number of a man," but the identification of this man is uncertain. Many see a connection between this leader and Nero, whose name can be associated with the number 666 through adding the units of numerical value in his name. While the association with a governing leader may be true, similar to how American dollars include the image of a past president's face, the identity of the individual is unknown. It is likely this mark of the beast will include an image of a global leader and an associated string of numbers not unlike those used on modern currencies. The differences will include that it will be a mark required on each person's body and that it will be required for all transactions.
It is important to understand the timing of this activity. The mark of the beast will come about sometime during the seven-year tribulation period that follows the rapture of believers from the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Since this is the case, no Christian needs to fear whether he or she is accidentally taking the mark of the beast by using some type of modern technology. The use of the Internet, a credit card, or other digital transaction system is not the mark of the beast.
This prophecy should induce a sense of urgency to share the Gospel message and live holy lives at the present moment. Why? Modern technology could certainly allow for the adoption of an identification system similar to the mark of the beast in today's world. What seemed impossible a century ago could take place in the near future with the rapid spread of communications devices and digital technology.
We must admit that some details are yet unknown regarding the mark of the beast. Some see the development of a global currency as part of the process leading to this mark, yet global transactions already take place despite the wide variety of currencies in use. Others believe a particular type of technology will be used, such as a RFID chip implanted within the skin, but the prophecy does not specify this detail.
The mark of the beast will mark an important fulfillment of prophecy during the terrible judgments of the last days. However, those living today are called to read this prophecy and choose to follow Jesus today, knowing that heaven awaits those who believe in Him (John 3:16) while judgment awaits those who reject God's Son.
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