An Overview of The Beast,
Its Image, and Their Mark,
in the Book of Revelation

THE Book of Revelation is composed of highly symbolic language. Much of the book deals with the development of God’s true church down through the present age since the first advent of Jesus, and its preparation to share in the reign of the future kingdom of Christ. They are referred to in Revelation 14:3,4, as one hundred and forty-four thousand who “follow the Lamb [Jesus],” who are “redeemed from among men being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb.” In Revelation 15:2 they are spoken of as those who had gotten the victory “over the beast … and over his mark.”

In opposition to those following the Lamb is Satan, symbolized by a dragon. (Rev. 12:9) Satan’s principal human agencies are described in Revelation 13:1,2 as a great “beast,” and, in verses fourteen and fifteen, a likeness made of the beast called the “image of the beast.” The various descriptive features of this beast, and by inference also its image, well identify a church-state system through which Satan (the dragon) promulgated the false doctrine of Christ’s kingdom being established through their own human organization. “And the dragon [Satan] gave him [the beast] his power, and his seat and great authority.”—vs. 2

It is written concerning the beast (the first church-state system): “It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds and tongues, and nations.” (vs. 7) How well this describes historically what resulted when christianity (so-called) ruled the Roman Empire for several centuries. Eventually rebellion and demand for reform caused the severance of large protest movements in northern Europe. But aside from breaking away, they changed very little. Their doctrine of church ascendancy over state was much the same. They made a similar claim of representing the kingdom of Christ on earth. They tended to disfellowship and persecute those who would not recognize their authority, and in contra-distinction marked with favor those who were supporters of their cause. (vs. 16) They were indeed an image (likeness) of the original beast.

The Greek word translated mark, in verse sixteen, is defined by Strong’s Concordance of the Bible as meaning ‘a badge of servitude.’ This symbol of servitude is well represented in those who in the past and still today either actively (as a mark on the hand) or through mental consent (a mark on the forehead) render service to those systems that teach the theology of the church-state kingdom of Christ through existing ecclesiastical and civil governments of the earth. During the Dark Ages, and the later Reformation period, this concept was nearly universal and was forced upon the people of christendom. Those in disagreement were ostracized (could not buy or sell—Rev. 13:17), and strong measures were used to silence any public proclamation of religious or political tenets contrary to the interests of those in power.

In the fourteenth chapter of Revelation, verses eight through ten, these same symbols are carried over and updated in history into the timeframe of our day. Within the last century, the philosophies of the Middle Ages have been more and more losing credence with the people, and the objectives of the old orthodox theologies are slipping further and further from the grasp of those who still espouse them. In our era of liberality and materialism their voice has been reduced to but a whisper in world affairs, and the resulting dilemma and perplexity brought to the proponents of these old creeds is prophesied symbolically in Revelation 14:8-11. They see that in which their hopes are placed collapsing and the portending destruction of what remains of the worship of the beast and his image. “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 19:20 speaks of the final end of these systems. Their doctrine of present governments representing the kingdom of Christ will, in the end, prove false. This verse calls it a deception which “deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image.” The lake of fire burning with brimstone into which they were cast, well describes the total destruction which comes upon these ideologies and philosophies (not people) when the systems that support them completely fail.

Finally, Revelation 20:4 reveals who will be associated with the true kingdom of Christ reserved for the future Millennial Age. The rulers who will sit upon the thrones of that government are those who “had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands: and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” All down through the age those of the true church, enlightened as to God’s plan of the ages, have resisted paying homage to the vain, cruel kingdom philosophies of christendom and have looked forward to the time when Christ would return in power and great glory and set up his true kingdom of blessing and righteousness.

Virtually the entire span of the Gospel Age, beginning with our Lord’s first advent, is encompassed in the few references cited above which contain these symbols. And in the sequence of their Biblical context it becomes apparent that the beast, its image, and its mark, and their power to oppress, are primarily in the past. Today they are fighting an ever-losing battle for existence, and will soon pass from history forever.

Viewing it thus, much of the other detail contained in these prophecies, which we have not touched on, falls into place and becomes understandable.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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