Recent discussion regarding the dispensational view of eschatology and the specific relative conclusions about the “mark of the beast” has resulted in the following post. As always, I present my findings for consideration, but challenge all readers to conduct their own independent research into scripture and all related recorded history.
In 1 John 2:18, we find an instruction, 2000 years after the original delivery, making it one of the more suspect verses for those who are strictly dispensationalists. Since John declares that “even Now” antichrist is already at work (in his time), the temptation has been for many to conclude that the Antichrist has ALREADY appeared – Caesar was declared by the first century church as Antichrist – and Rome was considered “the Beast“, a revived Babylon:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come,
even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
John clearly states that by these things we “know that it is the last time.”
So, THAT alone should put the TIME-TABLE in order . . . .
John goes on to generalize the term ANTICHRIST by applying it to ANYONE who denies that Jesus is THE CHRIST. . .
” Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist,
that denieth the Father and the Son“ 1 John 2:22.
” And every spirit that confesses NOT that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh
is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard
that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” – 1 John 4:3.
His final word on the subject makes a strong argument for a general application as being a better interpretation than the few verses that seem to support an arrival of ANTICHRIST in one single personality at some specific point in time – past, present, or future.
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ
is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist“ – 2 John 1:7.
I’ve been an interested student of End-Times Prophetic teaching for all my Christian life. I was first exposed to a “pre-trib” Rapture theory that involved a rise to global power by an individual who will reveal himself as god and demand that the world worship him, and it is such an individual that will impose his MARK (the Mark of the Beast) on everyone, world-wide. This of course will necessitate a one-world government, which he also will supposedly head.
I am still strongly “pre-trib” as far as the “Rapture”. No other interpretation makes sense to me when held up to disciplined Biblical research. Unfortunately, there remains much debate about the actual how, when, where, and why such a “catching up” is mentioned in scripture. That is of course, quite ANOTHER subject, although closely related.
As for my call on the MARK. I do believe there is a good reason to expect that some day such an edict will pass, and I suspect that it could indeed be global. Technology certainly has caught up with the most far-fetched ideas that preachers of the END-TIMES forty years ago were foretelling. Be it a tattoo, a laser scribe, an implanted GPS, whatever!
“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“. – Rev. 13:16-18
However, I’ve lived through several decades of preposed dates already that dispensational preachers predicted would be the culmination of “ALL THINGS”, and obviously, they were quite wrong about them. Therefore, since they were wrong about those times, it is likely that they were equally wrong about other things too.
So I researched extensively what now appears to be a major misinterpretation on their parts, and I found that most of dispensationalism eschatology (including a personal ANTICHRIST and MARK) is heavily based upon an interpretation of Scripture related to a “Biblical Generation”.
Dispensationalist teaching concludes a biblical generation to be precisely 40 years. Liewise, they concur that since Israel became a nation in 1948, everything had to culminate within “THAT GENERATION” because of what Jesus said during the Olivette Discourse in Mat. 24:31-33.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his BRANCH is yet tender,
and puts forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: . . . So likewise ye,
when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Mind you, the ORIGINAL hearers of this prophecy thought that THEIR generation would not pass before ALL was fulfilled. Obviously, many generations have seen signs and heard interpretations that indicated that THEY were THE generation. It may be a fairly reasonable assumption that as time goes on, each new generation is far more likely, because of advances in technology, to be that generation. Are we to ignore the signs of OUR times? Maybe . . .
My personal research in Old Testament Hebrew gives me a different TRANSLATION of the word “Generation”. When used to speak of time as “this generation”, I discovered that a more proper understanding of the time involved is NOT 40 years but, before everyone born within that 40 year span has lived out the sum of their lives. That could mean that a baby born in 1948 who lived to be 100 years old (or more?) would date the END (of that generation). Today that would be in 2048! Quite a substantial difference in time-table theology (to which I absolutely caution against), that is the setting of specific times based solely upon prophetic interpretation.
But my research presented other conclusions as well. The generation Jesus was prophesying about is properly translated as “THIS” generation. That would mean the generation living at the time of Christ’s earthly appearance over 2000 years ago. With this in mind sincere seekers of truth must then consider what things included in Christ’s prophecy actually di occur during THAT generation.
A careful sytematic study of history (from sources both secular and scriptural) reveals that everything predicted actualy happened to that generation culminated by the destruction of the Temple and disbursion of the Jews in 70 AD. With the elimination of the Temple, and the New Testament having replaced the Old, the nation of Israel ceased to exist — it came to an END.
Without a temple, all worship and ceremony related to their religion ended. Without a homeland all gatherings and national identity ceased as well. With the Old Covenant void, the conditional promises contained within became moot, having been replaced by a better one — the New Testament.
God’s dealings with His chosen people (Israel) had come to an END.
Because ALL the promises contained within the Old Covenant related to Israel were strictly CONDITIONAL (meaning that God would act ONLY if and when Israel did their part) their failure
to comply prevented the achievement of the goal. Therefore the prophesies of Christ regarding
the END and the fulfillment of “all things” was a final warning to Israel that their covenant relationship with God was about to expire.
Further consideration of the Olivate Discourse (Mt. 24:31 – 33) should include an important cross-reference to the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 11:1-3.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse,
and a BRANCH shall grow out of his roots:
and the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon HIM”.
When the two passages are compared, it is apparent that the “BRANCH” is the intended subject, NOT the fig tree. Obviously, the reference is to the BRANCH of whom Isaiah declares “the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon HIM”. If this had its fulfillment in the appearance of Jesus Christ (upon whom the Spirit of the Lord descended at His baptism by John), then clearly, the reference to “this generation” would have to point to the generation living at the time of Christ.
The New Testament Epistles reveal the shift from God’s dealing exclusively through the Jews to a universal application of acceptance and anointing among the Gentiles. The early years of the Church just prior to 70 AD show how and why the transition took place. By the time of the END of Old Testament Judaism, a permanent distinction was made between Old Testament Jews and New Tetsament believers; Judaism and Christianity have since been recognised a two separate religious groups.
If then the END that Jesus was prophesying was indeed the culmination of God’s endorsement of and choice to work exclusively through the Jews, historical accounts related to their demise surely supports what must be conceived as their END.
Most of what the Book of Revelation declares in figurative prose can rightly be interpreted as having already happened when traced through historical evidence of the first century. Clearly within a generation of the time of Christ, EVERYTHING regarding the rise and fall of a world dictator and persecutor occurred.To the Jews of Christ’s day, the whole world was under the Roman Empire.
Although many scholars hold to the argument that John wrote Revelation some time around 90AD, deeper research presents evidence to the contrary. A much earlier date of 60-63AD can just as reliably be concluded. If the earlier date (60-63AD) is the more accurate, then ALL of the warnings presented by John relate precisely to the persecution and domination of Rome culminating in 70 AD.
Now, with these things in mind, reconsider the dispensational idea concerning the MARK of the BEAST. What exactly does scripture reveal about the MARK, and more importantly, who or what is the BEAST?
Throughout scripture a MARK refers to a seal, sign, token, or frontlet. It is placed upon the forehead or hands, either as a sign of a curse or as a sign of redemption.
With this understanding prayerfully review these passages of scripture:
Genesis 4:15: God places a mark on the covenant breaking Cain, as a sign of a curse, but so nobody would kill him.
Exodus 28:36-38: Priests of God wore a gold plate upon their forehead, symbolizing the redeemed man.
Exodus 13:9,16, Deuteronomy 6:6,8; 11:18: A mark upon the forehead and hand was a symbol of total obedience to God’s Law.
Solomon 8:6: A seal upon the heart and arm is symbolic of a love for someone.
Isaiah 49:16: God has graven His people on the palms of His hands as a sign that he would not forget them.
Ezekiel 9:4: A mark upon the forehead was indicative of their allegiance to the Lord in the midst of abomination.
Revelation 13:16-17: The Beast places a mark on the hand or forehead of his followers. This mark is his name (which represents ones character).
Revelation 14:9-11; 16:2; 19:20: Those who receive the mark of the Beast (worship something other than God) will be tormented. Which means…
Revelation 9:4: Those who do not have the seal of God in their forehead will be tormented. The Beast’s mark is contrasted to God’s mark!
Revelation 20:4: Those who do not receive the Beasts’ mark are the keepers of God’s commandments and have the testimony of Jesus.
Revelation 15:2: To keep the Word of God is to overcome (and be victorious over the mark, or name, or character, of the Beast).
Revelation 3:12: The name of God will be written upon those who overcome.
Revelation 7:3; 14:1; 22:4: Where will the name of God be written? It will be sealed in their foreheads!
Revelation 19:13: What exactly is the name of God that’ll be written in their foreheads? It is The Word Of God! (See also John 1:1,14). In other words, Scripture, God’s Word, will be in their hearts, minds, and souls!
Revelation 13:16-18 is based on Ezekiel 8 and 9. The “MARK” symbolized the spiritual condition of Israel. The ones with the “MARK” were in allegiance with God. However, in Revelation, the MARK is reversed. That is to say, the MARK was there on those who were against God and had allegiance to the “BEAST”.
So, who then can rightly be identified as the “BEAST” referred to in Revelation?
As was the case with grasping a fuller understanding of the MARK, a comparison of Old Testament prophecy is given here.
“Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” – Deut. 6:8.
This passage refers to the words of God, the law, and using the symbols on the hands and foreheads as a symbolic MARK of the Israelites knowing and acting on the covenant delivered to them by Moses. It contained the Law which is holy, but no one was capable of keeping that Law, so it was NEVER possible for anyone to achieve rightgeousness through it.
A similarity is present with the MARK in Revelation. There, the opposite MARK is put on them – the number of man – which is 666 (an indepth explanation of this is the topic of another article). The Law that had been instituted as God’s covenant was demonstrated by the unique MARK on their hands and foreheads became instead, an evil MARK, because Jesus brought a new covenant, and those who would not stop practicing the Law were then no longer aligned with God, but became alienated .
For further relative information please read the article: “The Beast”.