1 I looked and saw a beast coming up from the sea. This one had ten horns and seven heads, and a crown was on each of its ten horns. On each of its heads were names that were an insult to God. 2 The beast that I saw had the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The dragon handed over its own power and throne and great authority to this beast. (Revelation 13)
The mark of the beast symbolizes a hugh super government. Its rising up out of the sea means it derives its power from the masses. The seven heads are seven revival of this power, and the ten horns are symbols of governments, symbolized by the "crowns." Their amalgamation with a spiritual power God labels "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
The animal-like creature that was "like a leopard," represents Alexander the Great's empire. The feet like a bear symbolizes the Persians under Cyrus the Great. The mouth like a lion symbolizes the mighty empire of Rome. The "dragon" references God's adversary the devil.
The huge dragon was thrown out—that ancient serpent, named the Devil, or Satan, that deceived the whole world. (Revelation 12:9).
Therefore, this end-time POWER is the final, end-time resurrection of the same old system that was to reemerge many times down through history, until its final emergence just before the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, and the Second Coming of Christ. It is the devil who is the real power behind the Beast, the super-dictator who will rule 10 kings (see Revelation 13).
The Beast is a 10 nation group that'll be "ridden" or ruled over by a great ECCLESIASTICAL power! It will form prior to the Second Coming of Christ. This new world power will have an identifying sign or label, a MARK, which it will seek to impose on all who will submit to its will. It will not be a "secret" sign, or mark, but an obvious, outward, easily recognized sign, which the whole system wears just like a LABEL! The "little horn" of Daniel 7:8, which "has a mouth speaking great things," and which will "think to change TIMES and LAWS" is the spokesperson of this evil mystery religion, who, down through the centuries, have done just that! They have CHANGED God's laws; abolished His divinely appointed Sabbaths and annual holy days.
How can you worship an Image?
Remember, it is not only those who receive the mark of the beast who will suffer God's wrath in the Day of the Lord, but also those who "worship his image."
5 And there was given him a mouth full of boastful and blasphemous words; and liberty of action was granted him for forty-two months. 7 And permission was given him to make war upon God’s people and conquer them; and power was given him over every tribe, people, language and nation.
Those killed are not only those who refuse the Mark of the beast. They are also those who refuse to worship its 'image,' or its ecclesiastical counterpart! Let's continue:
16 The beast forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, slave and free, to have a mark placed on their right hands or on their foreheads. 17 No one could buy or sell without this mark, that is, the beast’s name or the number that stands for the name. 18 This calls for wisdom. Whoever is intelligent can figure out the meaning of the number of the beast, because the number stands for the name of someone. Its number is 666. (Revelation 13)
Six, in the Bible, represents man. 666 represents utter carnality.
Now, just what IS the image of the beast? It has two horns "like a lamb," yet "speaks as a dragon," which means he is directly influenced by the devil. It pretends to be Christ, yet is of Satan! The Bible clearly warns against those who falsely represent themselves as agents of God (Matthew 24:4-12)!
Paul wrote about the ability of false teachers and apostles like the devil to make themselves look like God's representatives (2 Corinthians 11: 13-15). The first of the famed "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" represents false Christs and false prophets. Some have made the mistake of falsely assuming the first horseman of the Apocalypse pictures Christ because of the white horse. However, the sequence of events depicted by the four horsemen of Revelation 6 is unmistakable when compared to Christ's prophecy of Matthew 24. This second of Revelation's four beasts which has two horns "like a Lamb" and yet speaks "as a dragon," with the forked tongue of Satan, is nothing more than a great false religious system, called "Babylon the great," under the power of the false prophet of biblical prophecy.
The false prophet is imbued with satanic power so that he can perform marvelous signs and wonders (Revelation 13:13-15). No wonder God describes such a system thus:
23 Never again will the light of a lamp be seen in you; no more will the voices of brides and grooms be heard in you. Your merchants were the most powerful in all the world, and with your false magic you deceived all the peoples of the world!” (Revelation 18)
The bible shows that a great religious-based GOVERNMENT would emerge, which would hold sway over the rulers in the world; which would be a STATE, just like any other state. It has and sends ambassadors; a political-religious system patterned after that of ancient Rome! This system is depicted by the famed "little horn" of Daniel 7:8. The heads of this great church have done exactly that! They have decreed that, unless one wholly submits to ONE HUMAN LEADER, who takes the blasphemous title of "holy father," one will not receive salvation!
Is taking the Mark of the Beast a CHOICE?
There are MANY false ideas about the mark of the beast which come from assuming the mark is something forceable placed on you unsuspectingly and secretly. This however is simple now true, as we read the following concerning a "mark of the beast."
4 And I saw thrones, and some who were seated on them, to whom judgment was entrusted. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded on account of the testimony that they had borne to Jesus and on account of God’s Message, and also the souls of those who had not worshipped the Wild Beast or his statue, nor received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands; and they came to Life and were kings with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20)
Those who refuse to worship the image, or to get the mark of the beast, will be honored by being made rulers with Jesus Christ during the millenium! They made a conscious choice to OBEY GOD and were martyred because of it!
If you read Revelation 6:10 you will see described those who were slain for the Word of God crying out from their graves. They were murdered CENTURIES ago and show the image and mark of the Beast have been around for quite some time! It is impossible for you to accidently lose eternal life. No one can impose on you, against your will, some "mark" that causes you to forfeit your salvation! As Paul states, NOTHING can come between us and our relationship with Jesus Christ (Romans 8)!
Your Bible absolutely promises that NOTHING - the sword (armed force), principalities, and powers - can separate you from the love of God, from salvation in and through Jesus Christ! Read Revelation 20:4 again! Here, resurrected saints inherit the thrones promised them by Jesus Christ! WHY did they receive martyrdom? It is because they REFUSED to receive the mark of the beast - a mark that will be ENFORCED.
The Mysterious Number 666
Is the mysterious number 666 the mark of the beast? The number has been associated to a great diversity of person, places, and things. Both the names of Romulus, first king of Rome, add up to 666. This, to some, indicates that everyone called "Roman" has the "name" of the man for whom Rome was named. From Revelation 13 will learn the following.
666 is defined as the "number of HIS NAME"!
The number is a man's number
No one can trade - purchase or sell goods - unless they have the beast's mark.
For those with wisdom the number can be counted
The BEAST is both the revived ROMAN EMPIRE and the MAN who presides over the revived military and political system. When he appears, those who have wisdom and understanding will recognize him. Those who resist the mark of the Beast and who overcome it, will receive martyrdom for their beliefs! Yet, they inherit eternal life!