There’s a lot of scary talk about the Mark of the Beast. There’s a lot of speculation, a lot of uncertainty. Some say it’s an RFID chip that will be placed in our hands. Some say it’s already here…but it’s just implemented on the elderly, the sick, and animals. Some aren’t sure what it is. Many don’t really know…and don’t really care. Well, that mark is true, but…
Sometimes, things aren’t always what we think they are. Sometimes, they mean MORE than what we thought. Here are some thoughts to consider:
Story 1: I once saw a Bobcat bulldozer…with stickers all over left and right sides, and stickers on back..with the company’s name and phone number on all of the stickers. There was no mistaking who owned this machine.
Story 2: My son kept getting his shoes mixed up with his older brothers’ shoes because they all looked alike. When he complained about it to me, I mentioned that maybe he ought to put some kind of a mark on his shoes…a piece of tape or something…so that he’d know which shoes were his.
Story 3: Before I come out of a grocery-type store, I line up with all the other customers who have made their purchases and are on their way out the Exit. Before each one can leave, a person by the door makes a mark on our receipts. Why? I’m not sure. We’ve already made our purchases, there’s only one way out the door, but somehow, I get the impression that whoever designed this method of checking wished to instill a particular kind of behavior and perception: you can’t complete this purchase without receiving this mark on your receipt. Even though you’ve made your purchase, you cannot leave unless we say so.
What’s common between these stories?
Markings on something tell you who its Master or Owner is.
Now, consider these:
* Imagine a Tech-aholic…with the latest laptop/tablet, latest smartphone, latest whiz-bang gadget, latest HDTV, with a dozen flash drives, utilizing the latest mobile apps to buy, sell, manage life. He talks tech, thinks tech, walks tech, desires tech, and keeps up on all things tech. He’s watching for the latest and greatest. He wants all the bells and whistles. He’s wearing the wearables, watching the watchables, thinking the unthinkables. There’s no mistaking what owns this guy by the tech “markings” that surround and encompass his life.
* Imagine a sports enthusiast for a particular team….with the pendants and banners and stickers and t-shirts and colors and conversations and jokes and stories and gear and athlete stats. You mention his team…and his eyes light up. Any question by the markings in his life what his thoughts, his mind, and his actions reflect?
* Imagine a person mired in pornography. What marks him as one addicted to it? The websites he visits, the pictures he’s drawn to, the videos he watches, the magazines he gazes at, the way he looks at women, the things he thinks of when he’s got some spare time, the careful conversation, the backwards glance to see if someone’s watching. These markings are less publicly pronounced…but they are markings nonetheless.
* Imagine an honorable person…someone who is honest, gracious, loving. One with integrity. Material possessions do not affect how he treats others…whether he lives a simple life or a more materially abundant life. He is generous, is virtuous, serves willingly, tackles problems with diligence and patience, works hard, and shows understanding. He treats others just the same, whether rich or poor, popular or an outcast, male or female, and whatever color under the sun. He has compassion for the struggler, joy for those who succeed, and encouragement for the distressed.
Markings help connect Something to its Master. The marks are usually known through the physical, visual, or otherwise outward representations (word, deed)…but there are also the unseen, privately known marks (thoughts, desires, feelings).
Markings are placed upon an Object by its Master. However, markings on a person can either be imposed/forced upon him, or he can willingly receive these and put them on himself. Force always meets Resistance. So, it’s always better when we are allowed to choose the markings we wish to put on. (Even Satan knows that. So, if he can cause you to choose his side…whether you realize it or not…even better. Because he didn’t have to force you, you won’t resist.)
And so…we are Invited…or Tempted. Encouraged or Enticed. Taught to choose wisely or Manipulated into choosing a particular way. And that is how markings find themselves upon us: It is because of how we choose to receive them.
Marks from the Scriptures
There are 2 kinds of marks mentioned in the scriptures: The Mark of the Beast, and the Mark of Christ. Both are symbols…and both have physical representations.
The Mark of the Beast
This is from the Book of Revelations. The first part talks about a particular “master”. The second part talks about that master’s mark.
Rev. 13:11-15, 16-18 – This is the “Beast” part; it’s the Master:
11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Here’s The Mark of that master:
16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
17 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.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The beast will cause people to receive this mark (v. 16). People will not be forced to receive it. However, they will be manipulated into receiving it…often without realizing it. In other words, people will be made to choose to take—or receive–this mark…willingly. And how will that happen? Marketing. Commercials. PR. Propaganda. Why do you suppose that millions of dollars are spent for 30 seconds of advertising, on customer surveys, on ad campaigns? Because advertisers understand the idea of causing people to accept (to “willingly take in”…a.k.a. “receive”) a product or idea. They’ll plant the ideas into our heads constantly…and we are inflenced into buying, or believing, their product.
So, what is this “beast” and “mark of the “beast”? Look for clues in today’s pop culture. Look at what’s being pushed in the current marketplace. What’s being touted as the “this is the best thing yet”? What products, methodologies, and ideas are advertisers spending their time and money the most? I’ll suggest a few: Portable computing like tablets and smartphones, high-def TV, smart homes, smart cars, surveillance devices for homes and businesses, smart control devices, ubiquitous systems. A cashless system that uses NFC (near field communications), smart cards, online banking, virtual money. RFID tracking . Identification systems. QR codes and bar codes, scanning. Ease and convenience in the marketplace. Artificial Intelligence. Drone technology with Surveillance (omniscient) technology. It’s being sold to us as Omnipotence, Omni-presence, Omniscience, at the touch of a button, at your control.
What, then, is the beast? My take: Technology. And the mark? Tech gadgetry (“in their right hand”) and tech philosophy (“in their foreheads”). Would you rather use a GPS-enabled, Internet-connected, information-streaming, RFID bracelet that is imposed upon you (like what prisoners or patients wear), or would you rather use a smartphone, tablet, whiz-bang computer, or wearable fitness tracker that you buy voluntarily that does the very same thing? We use our gadgets to buy and do things online. However, these gadgets simultaneously harvest our information, location, thoughts, images, behaviors and so on….for a “more improved customer experience”, of course.
The Marks of a Christian
There is, however, “an opposition in all things”. The Lord has his own marks counter to Satan’s marks. Here are a few examples:
Rev. 3:12 –
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the aname of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is bnew Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will WRITE UPON HIM MY NEW NAME.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and HIS NAME SHALL BE IN THEIR FOREHEADS.
The LDS temple also gives us clues on how the Lord marks us…and they’re based on how we place the Lord in our lives (a mark on the knee), on how we keep our word and our covenants (a square), and which direction we’re living our lives…especially if we’re striving to go towards God or not (a compass).
What are the marks of a believer of Christ?
In Alma 27:27-30:
– They have a zeal towards God and towards men.
– They are honest and upright in all things.
– They are firm in the faith of Christ…to the end.
– They abhor bloodshed.
– They don’t want to fight and kill anyone.
– They’re not afraid of death…because they understand the Resurrection
– They’d rather suffer death before being forced to kill someone else.
This makes Christians easy targets, and easily picked on by true aggressors. While they are peaceful and peace-loving, they also do not stand idly by. They understand the need to protect themselves and may choose to do so as necessary.
In Alma 48:14-16
– They defend themselves against their enemies.
– They do not attack or start any manner of aggression.
– They don’t delight in any kind of bloodshed.
– They only shed blood if necessary, while defending themselves, only to preserve their lives when in danger.
– They preserve and follow the commandments of God.
– They trust God to preserve them and deliver them from enemies. It’s not their own strength, ability, or might that does so.
Christians must understand that the fight isn’t theirs to fight. While they must face the Adversary and do what’s necessary to defend themselves, the fight is really the Lord’s fight. It is the condition of their trust in God and their willingness to follow His instructions in their time of need that will be the deciding factor: by faith…and obedience… they are saved, delivered, upheld, preserved. God give us the reason to trust Him (Adversity, and the Adversary). Our part is to actually trust Him and do as He needs us to.
In Ezekiel 20:20 and Isaiah 58:13-14
– They use the Sabbath Day as a reminder of putting God first and of using that day to do His work and strive to be like Him.
– They delight in having a relationship with the Lord.
Christians must put God first if they are to survive the last days. They must realize that only He can provide what they need…materially, or spiritually. He will provide the means, and it’s up to us to make use of those means. Our relationship with God cannot be lip-service only. We can’t just claim to be Christians-in-name only. Many are. There’s no power to that.
In Moroni 7:47-48:
– They have a love for Christ, feel Christ’s love for themselves, and love others as Christ does.
– They are like Christ. They want to be like him. They strive to think like him, talk like him, act like him, and be like him….because they want to. Because they love him. And because they want others to do so likewise.
Who are the Lord’s People?
The Lord knows we are his by the way we live our lives. Is Jesus Christ our Master…as we claim?
We are marked through our behavior and our thoughts and desires of our hearts—essentially, the things we choose to think (marked in the forehead), the things we choose to desire (written in our hearts), and the things we choose to do (marked in our hands). This is how we show who or what our Master truly is.
“I will write upon him my new name” – this is when “CHRIST” is in our attitude, our desires, and our actions…and this is when Christ marks us as His. And how will his name be in our foreheads? When His thoughts become ours…which will lead to His ways becoming ours as well. While God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and his ways are higher than ours, our goal is to make our thoughts be like His thoughts, and our ways to be like His ways…so that we match Him.
The Marks are Already Here
If the beast (Technology) is our master, we willingly take upon ourselves the marks of that beast (our focus, our thoughts, and our behavior that we fill our lives with are tech-based…and we’re comfortable with it).
If the Lord is our Master, then our thoughts are His thoughts, our ways are His ways…and we are marked by how we live our lives. We are comfortable living in His ways.
And what is “worship”…and how do we “worship” our Master? Worship is really “Who or What we place as First in our Life.” We show that by how and where and to whom or what we *devote* our time. In other words, how we “WORSHIP” is where our DEVOTION is placed: is it upon God, or upon some other thing?
The mark of the beast of technology and the mark of the Lord are already here. However…we are still in the voluntary phase of things where we are choosing how to mark ourselves. There will come a point when the mark of technology will be forced and enforced…such that if you do not participate in the beast’s mark, some kind of death will be faced…whether spiritual death or a physical death, I’m not sure…but either is possible.
The good news is: There’s still time. We can still choose our Master, now.
The LDS Lamplighter
27 And they were…numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.
28 And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.
29 Therefore, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them.
30 And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord.
14 Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
15 And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
16 And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.
47 …Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is;
And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord;