"Guarding the Sabbath" Series
and The Mark of the Beast
Identifying Your Loyalty
By David M Rogers
Second Edition: 2007
Table of Contents
When it comes to speculative interpretation of the Scriptures (which theologians and believers at all levels of learning seem to immensely enjoy), there may be no topic which has been the subject of more laughable speculation than that of the mystery of the Mark of the Beast. The Book of Revelation mentions the mark of the beast as something which nearly everyone on planet earth will accept at the end of time. And because of our natural interest in what the future holds, people want to figure out what is going to take place. This opens the door to a plethora of interpretive errors and greater confusion about the meaning of the book of Revelation.
Yet, it behooves us to minimize all of the ridiculous speculation, and use some solid biblical exegesis to dig up an authoritative handle on what the mark of the beast really is. When we do so, the Bible offers up some surprisingly detailed explanations of what John meant when he wrote about the mark of the Beast and the seal of the living Elohim ("God"). So, let's give the Bible a chance to tell us what this mark is, and let's put an end to all of the fanciful speculation which is so prevalent out there.
The meaning of the mark of the beast may be correctly determined only if we understand how to read and interpret the apocalyptic book of Revelation. Revelation is not a "closed" book. Its symbols, pictures and allusions were not intended to keep us from understanding it. Rather, it is a "revealing" of the events in history which will climax in Christ's coming. John intended for his readers to readily perceive what the pictures, allusions and symbols meant and what the issues will be regarding the beast and his mark. Although Revelation does not contain a single quotation from the Old Testament, most scholars recognize that there are hundreds of allusions to Old Testament texts throughout the book. For those first century Christian believers who were skilled in the Torah and knowledgeable in the Prophets and the Scriptures, the pictures and allusions in Revelation were intended to draw a clear and concise picture of those future events.
The single most important key to unlocking the meaning of the Mark of the Beast is the striking contrast which is made between the Mark of the Beast on the unbeliever and the Mark of Elohim on the faithful follower of Yahusha. John explains that the beast out of the earth "forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead..." (13:16). This mark, he continues, is "the name of the beast or the number of his name" (v.17).
In contrast to the mark of the beast branded on the forehead of his followers is the name of the Father which is written on the foreheads of the followers of the Lamb: "I looked, and there before me was the Lamb... and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads" (14:1). Regarding the mark of the beast, G.R. Beasley-Murray suggests that
clearly the idea is to provide a parallel with 'the seal of the living God' (7:2), stamped on the foreheads of God's servants (7:1-8; the connection is explicit in 14:1). The seal of God marks out people as belonging to him, and...the mark of the beast similarly identifies men as his servants. (The New Century Bible Commentary: The Book of Revelation, Eerdman's: Grand Rapids, 1983, p.218)
Roy Allan Anderson's assessment of John's language game is the same. He asserts that "the mark of the beast must be in contradistinction to the 'seal' or mark of God." (Unfolding The Revelation, Pacific Press: Mountain View, Cal., 1983, p.155)
Furthermore, it is enormously significant that both the mark of the beast and the mark or seal of Elohim pertain to worship. Revelation13:8 says that "all inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast." But in chapter 14:4 a plea is made to "worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." The inhabitants of the earth in the final days will evidently be forced to decide whether their loyalty is with Elohim and his Son or with Satan and his beast.
Although the mark of the beast will have obvious economic ramifications (see Revelation 13:17), the central issue in receiving that mark is that of loyalty and worship. So let us first investigate the relevant biblical texts for information which will clarify for us what the mark of Elohim on the believer is and how that mark is related to the true worship of the Elohim in heaven. By doing this, understanding the mark of the beast should become more meaningful to us as it must have been to John's first century readers.
The Greek word charagma which is translated "mark" in Revelation 13:16 is a "mark or stamp engraved, etched, branded, cut (or) imprinted." This word could be used of a brand on an animal, a stamp on a document or an impression on a coin. (Bauer, p.876) Beasley-Murray points out that this mark placed on the right hand or forehead
seems to reflect the practice in ancient society of marking men, by branding or tattooing, as the property of others, whether of slave owners or of gods. (The New Century Bible Commentary: The Book of Revelation, Eerdman's: Grand Rapids, 1983, p.218)
The mark of the beast and the corresponding mark on the believer seem to identify the person so marked as a slave (or servant) to the one whose mark he bears.
What, then, is this mark on the believer which signifies that he is Elohim's slave? Do the Holy Scriptures anywhere speak of some kind of mark which is in the hand or forehead of Elohim's faithful ones which identifies those who belong to Elohim? Yes, the believer is instructed to have an identifying token on his hand and in his forehead! Moses commanded the Israelites to
Love the Yahuwah your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts... Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads (Deuteronomy 6:5,6,8).
And again in another place, Elohim commands his followers to
fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads... Observe all these commands I am giving you to follow--to love the Yahuwah your Elohim, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him" (Deuteronomy 11:18,22).
The Hebrew word 'oth, which is translated "symbols" in Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18, means a "signal, mark, sign or token." The commandments of Elohim are the identifying mark that is to be upon the hand and forehead of the believer which identifies him as a slave of Elohim!
Phylacteries were used by Jews of old times and are still worn by some. Pictured in the graphic above, these boxes were placed on the forehead ("shel rosh") and on the hand ("shel yad"). These boxes contained some of the commandments of the Torah written out. The commandment to "tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads" was and is taken literally by devout men of the Torah! And this commandment needs to be believed and obeyed by devout men of faith today.
In the Brit Hadashah, the apostle Paul similarly describes his attachment to Elohim in terms of being a slave:
Thanks be to God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law (law="Torah" - Romans 7:25 KJV).
It is instructive to note that Paul chose to portray his loyalty to Elohim in terms of the Law - as a slave to Elohim's Torah! For Paul, being a voluntary bond-servant to Elohim is akin to being an obedient bond-servant to all of the words which proceed from the mouth of Elohim, which are written in the Torah.
This discovery should strike a familiar chord in view of our previous discoveries about the abiding validity of the law of Elohim for New Testament believers and the lawlessness which will be prevalent in the last days. Since the true believer and follower of the Lamb will have the Torah (law of Elohim) on his heart, and will accordingly obey his commands, it is not surprising to find out that obedience to the Torah, which contains the commandments of Elohim, is the Mark of the Elohim on the follower of Messiah.
It makes perfectly good sense that the Torah (or law of Elohim) is the mark which John is referring to in Revelation. Chapter 13 speaks of an intense battle between Satan and Elohim for the control of human beings. The beast stamps his mark on men who worship and follow him and Elohim places his mark on those who worship him and obey his commandments. The book of Revelation twice emphatically identifies Elohim's people as those who obey the commandments of Elohim. First, in chapter 14:12, Christians are described as those "who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Yahusha." They are also identified as "those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Yahusha" (Revelation12:17)
The Bible is explicit about the connection between the mark of the believer and his obedient worship of Elohim. There are several passages which describe the mark on the believer's hand and forehead as Elohim's commandments, particularly the keeping of the weekly and annual Sabbaths, which are intimately related to worship. Moses, for example, explained that the observance of the annual Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread "will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips" (Exodus13:9). In fact, all of the commandments are to be symbolically written on the hand and forehead of the faithful follower of Elohim:
You shall love Yahuwah your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, NAS)
By having the commandments of Elohim written of the hand and forehead, the Old Covenant believer had a constant reminder in front of him of whose he is and to whom he belongs.
But the same is true for the New Covenant believer. The commandments of Elohim also visibly identify the genuine child of Elohim.
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. (1 John 2:3-5 NAS)
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21)
The New Testament Christian will keep the commandments of Elohim if he is a sheep and not a wolf. John says that this is the way of identifying the genuine believer. The commandments of Elohim which the believer in Messiah performs and walks in, then, is the mark of the true Christian.
As most casual readers of the Bible are aware, the weekly Sabbath and the annual feasts described in the Old Testament Scriptures were Yahuwah's special worship days which were to be regarded as sacred (holy). Since these Sabbaths are the only biblical laws regulating the time of worshiping the true Elohim of heaven, and since they are kept as a reminder on the hand and forehead of the believer that the law of the Lord is to be on his lips and on his heart, then the observance of these special worship days must be the visible "mark" of the loyal followers of Yahusha in the last days. Thus, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath and observing the annual holy days are the unmistakable outward public testimony of the New Testament Christian that he has remained loyal in his worship of the true Elohim in heaven. Observance of the biblical appointed times of worship identifies who Messiah's bond-slave and servant really is.
Contrary to the theology expressed by popular Bible expositors in our day that the Sabbaths of the Lord have been done away with under the New Covenant, these laws governing worship of the true Elohim are especially appropriate for the New Testament believer. The observance of these special worship days reflects the believer's acceptance of the New Covenant. For the prophet said,
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people (Hebrews 8:10).
By keeping the Sabbaths of the Lord, the New Testament Christian is testifying that Elohim's laws truly are written on his mind and on his heart, as it is written, "it will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips" (Exodus13:9). So when the Christian observes these special worship times, he is bearing witness that he has a personal relationship with Yahusha Christ through the New Covenant, because he has Elohim's Law (Torah, "instructions") in his mind and on his heart, and he demonstrates this by faithful obedience to Elohim's commandments pertaining to worship.
The weekly Sabbath is particularly suited to be Elohim's mark of ownership on the New Testament "slave" of Elohim. The fact that the Sabbath is a mark of ownership is suggested in the text which reads:
"You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you will know that I am the Lord who makes you holy" (Exodus 31:13).
The Sabbath is a "sign between me and you." It is a pact - a symbol of the covenant relationship between Elohim and the believer. Its weekly observance amounts to a confirmation of that covenant on a regular basis. It is a constant reminder to the covenantee of whose he is.
The Sabbath is the mark on the Christian which identifies Elohim as the one who sanctifies him. By keeping the Sabbath, the New Testament believer is not trying to earn his salvation through works of the law. Rather, he is testifying that Elohim is the one who is doing the work. Elohim is the one who is setting him apart for holy use: "This will be a sign between me and you... that you may know that I am Yahuwah who makes you holy" (Exodus 31:13). When the Christian keeps the Sabbath, Elohim uses that experience to set the believer in a special place of proximity with Christ, thereby making the believer holy. So the observance of the Sabbath is a testimony the Christian has that Elohim is working in his life to make him all that Elohim wants him to be.
The book of Revelation contrasts the mark placed on those who worship the beast with the mark or seal which is placed on those who worship the true Elohim in heaven. It is most illuminating when we compare the allusions to worship in Revelation with the biblical laws governing worship of the living Elohim. The first four of the Ten Commandments specifically deal with the relationship between man and Elohim and correspond to the greatest commandment "to love Yahuwah your Elohim." The last six commandments pertain to the horizontal relationships between fellow humans and correspond to the second great command "to love your neighbor as yourself." The first four commandments, then, are the laws which describe loyal worship of the true Elohim of heaven.
The first commandment reads, "you shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). But in the last days, we are told, "men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast" (Revelation 13:4). Clearly, the worship of the dragon and of the beast is in direct defiance of the first commandment which calls for singular worship of Yahuwah.
In the second commandment, the Scriptures tell us, "you shall not make for yourself an idol...you shall not bow down to them or worship them" (Exodus 20:4,5). But men in the last days will also transgress this command when they set up an image to the beast and bow down and worship it (see Revelation 13:14,15; 14:9; 16:2).
Likewise, the third commandment will be disobeyed by the beast and its followers. The Bible says, "you shall not misuse the name of the Lord you Elohim" (Exodus 20:7). Nevertheless, the beast "opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place" (Revelation 13:6). Those who receive the mark of the beast also "cursed the name of God" (Revelation 16:9; see also verse 11).
Since these specific commandments pertaining to worship of Elohim are clearly alluded to in Revelation, it should not surprise us that John intended for his readers to understand that the fourth commandment also plays an important role in the loyal worship of Elohim in the last days. Indeed, there are three specific Sabbath motifs in Revelation 14 which are clearly intended to point to the need for the faithful followers of Christ to obey the Sabbath commandment. (A motif is a prominent thematic element in a work of art or literature. Thus a Sabbath motif is a literary element relating peculiarly to the Sabbath commandment.)
The first Sabbath motif is that of worshiping the Creator. The first of the three angels who were flying in midair announced: "Fear Elohim and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water" (14:7). Two Sabbath themes suggest this. First, the Sabbath is the day of the week Elohim set aside for worshiping the Creator. Leviticus 23:3 describes the seventh day as the day of worship: "There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly." And second, the creation language of Revelation 14:7 is an allusion specifically to the Fourth Commandment. It was evidently intended to bring to the readers mind Exodus 20:8-11, in which Elohim explains why the Sabbath day is to be observed:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahuwah your Elohim. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days Yahuwah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahuwah blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
The phrase, "the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them" is purposely echoed in Revelation 14:7 in the first angel's call to "worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." This invitation to worship the Creator of all things is evidently rooted in the experience of worshiping him on the Sabbath day.
Contrary to the zealous opponents of Sabbath-keeping who insist that this holy day was given to Israel only, the Scriptures depict the Sabbath as a creation ordinance. Not in the days of Moses, but during the creation week Elohim established the Sabbath day as the time of remembering and worshiping the Creator. The commandment tells us to remember the Sabbath because it was first instituted at creation but was subsequently forgotten and neglected. In Genesis 2:2,3, the Bible declares that
by the seventh day Elohim had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And Elohim blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
So the Sabbath is the universal time set aside for worshiping the Creator.
Yahusha declared that "the Sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27). It was given to all mankind, not to the nation of Israel only. All who want to worship the Creator Elohim and show their loyal allegiance to him will do so on the day he set aside for that very purpose.
God's blessing and sanctifying the day, meant that He separated it from a common to a religious use, to be a perpetual memorial or sign that all who thus observe it would show themselves to be the worshipers of that God who made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. (Binney's Theological Compend, pp. 169,170, quoted in Anderson, p.151)
The second Sabbath motif in Revelation is that of keeping Elohim's commandments. In contrast to those who worship the beast and receive his mark are the worshipers of Elohim "who obey Elohim's commandments and remain faithful to Yahusha" (Revelation14:12). They are elsewhere described as "those who obey Elohim's commandments and hold to the testimony of Yahusha" (Revelation12:17). The obedience to the commands of Elohim regarding true worship, in contrast to the worshipers of the beast, calls to mind the fourth commandment which instructs the believer to worship Elohim on the seventh day of the week. Thus, obedience to the commands of Elohim, particularly the fourth commandment, results in faithful worship of the Creator.
The third Sabbath motif in Revelation is that of resting. That the Sabbath day is a day of rest is well established. However, about the worshipers of the beast, John says that "there is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name" (Revelation14:11). But, about the true worshipers of the Creator, who keep the commands of Elohim and remain faithful to Yahusha, John writes, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them" (Revelation14:13). The play on words with this Sabbath theme is clever. The true worshipers of Elohim, who rest on the Sabbath day in obedience to the command, will be rewarded with the ultimate "rest" of Elohim because of their loyal worship.
Each of these three Sabbath motifs independently imply that the mark of Elohim is tied in with loyal worship on Elohim's holy Sabbath. But when used in combination, their force is much more powerful. John obviously intended his Christian readers to see the Sabbath command in these allusions as that mark on the Christian which identifies him as belonging to Elohim.
As we noted earlier, a mark is an impression made on a person or object denoting ownership of that person or object. A mark could be a stamp on a document or an impression on a coin. This is also what a seal is. Paul uses the terms "seal" to describe circumcision. He explains that Abraham "received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith" (Rom.4:11). The Scriptures describe the obedience to the commands of Elohim as a special mark on the hand and forehead of the believer, and the Sabbath as a sign between Elohim and the believer (see Exodus31:13; Ezekiel 20:20). The mark and the sign of Elohim is also his seal. The Torah of Elohim is that seal.
According to Webster's Dictionary, a seal may be either "something that confirms, ratifies, or makes secure," or it may be "a symbol or mark of office" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, p.1058). The Sabbath acts as a seal in both of these ways. C. Mervyn Maxwell describes how seals were used in biblical times to keep the contents of a document secure:
In the case of a scroll, a string was tied around it, a lump of moist clay was placed over the string, and an engraved stamp or seal was pressed into the clay. Both the engraved stamp and the stamped clay were known as seals.... Private individuals as well as government officials and business establishments used seals, which were engraved with the owner's name.... Each seal was distinctively the owner's and served as a signature. (Mervyn Maxwell, God Cares, Vol.2, Pacific Press: Boise, Idaho, 1985, p.210)
A seal, then, is a legal instrument. In modern times, official documents are made legally binding by the signature or mark of a person in authority. An important piece of legislation might include the name, title and sphere of authority of the official who is signing. The seal of the president of the United States, for example, includes the name of the man ("George W. Bush"), his official title ("President") and his sphere of authority ("of the United States").
A. Jan Marcussen observes that "just as the President's seal is in his laws to make them official, Elohim's seal is in His law." ("National Sunday Law" Amazing Truth Publications: Homosassa Springs, Fl., 1987, p.47) The Sabbath is the official mark or seal of the Creator Elohim. It contains His name ("Yahuwah"), His title ("made" = "Creator") and His sphere of authority ("the heavens and the earth..."). The fourth commandment says this:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.... For in six days the Lord (Hebrew, "Yahuwah") made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahuwah blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:11).
Since this commandment contains the name, title and sphere of authority of the Creator and Lawgiver, then the Sabbath envelopes the seal or signature of Elohim which makes His Law authoritative.
The name of Elohim is also described as a seal in the book of Revelation. In chapter 7:2,3, John mentions the seal of the living Elohim which is to be placed on the "foreheads of the servants of our Elohim." And in Revelation 14:1, he refers to the "Father's name written on their foreheads." Then again in Revelation 22:4, we are told that "his name will be in their foreheads." The seal of Elohim, therefore, is the name of Elohim and is placed in the forehead of the believer. (More about the name of Elohim in the page entitled, The Truth About God's Holy Name.)
The Holy Spirit is also depicted as the seal which marks the believer. Paul addresses his friends at Ephesus, reminding them that
having believed, you were marked in (Christ) with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Elohim's possession - to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13,14).
How can we reconcile these Scriptures which indicate that the seal of Elohim is several different things. We do so by realizing that each of these entities which are represented as the seal of Elohim have something in common. Each is connected in some way to the Torah.
The Sabbath and the sacred days, as we have already explained above, are at the heart of the Torah. The name of the Father and the name of the Lamb, which are written of the forehead of the believer, represents the personal relationship each believer has with the living Elohim. The third commandment implores us to keep his name sacred and not to misuse his name in any way. Thus, by keeping this commandment, the man of faith is sealed as a child of Elohim.
That the New Testament church is marked with the Holy Spirit also is compatible with the view that the Torah is the Seal of Elohim. Peter asserts that the Holy Spirit is given only to those who obey Elohim. Speaking of the exaltation of Christ, the apostle said, "we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom Elohim has given to those who obey him" (Acts 5:32). So, to those who trust Christ and obey his commands - all of his commandments written in the law - Elohim gives his Holy Spirit, who is a seal, marking and securing (guaranteeing) those destined to inherit eternal life.
Faithful obedience to the Torah of Elohim, as summed up in His commandments, can serve both as a private sign and as a public sign. Observance of Yahuwah's appointed days (his Sabbaths), in particular, were to serve as a private sign. The festival holy days were to be "as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that Yahuwah's law may be in your mouth" (Exodus 13:9). And the seventh-day Sabbath is to be a sign between Elohim and the believer. Speaking of the seventh-day Sabbath, Elohim said, "This will be a sign between me and you... that you may know that I am Yahuwah who makes you holy" (Exodus 31:13).
That the Sabbaths of Yahuwah are a private sign is indicated by the phrases, "that you may know," and "between me and you," and so that his law may be "in your mouth." The Sabbaths serve the function of providing assurance to the complying believer that he is accepted into the covenant relationship with his Creator. The special Sabbath holy days were part of the larger body of commandments which are summed up by Yahusha in the two great "love" commandments - to love Elohim and to love your fellow man.
"Loving one another," which is one of the two summary commandments, serves as a public sign. In the Brit Hadashah (New Testament), the love that we are supposed to have for one another is depicted as a sign to the world indicating that we are Yahusha's genuine disciples. Yahusha told his disciples that
All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another" (John 13:35)
So, the disciples were to display Christ-like love for one another which would attract all men and convince non-believers that Christ's message is true. And those who exhibit unselfish love for one another can be correctly identified as the true disciples of Christ. Thus, by obedience to Elohim's law of love, we exhibit the public sign.
On the basis of the above mentioned text, it is argued by some theologians that the only mark of a true believer of Yahusha Christ is the love he has for his fellow Christian. Francis A. Schaeffer, for example, identifies the mark of the Christian as the love the believer has for his brother (The Church at the End of the 20th Century, InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 1970, p.133).
Schaeffer's conclusion, however, has not taken into account the whole picture. Whoever has the law of Elohim in his mind and in his heart will, indeed, have love for all men and a special love for his brother, because he will be keeping the second greatest commandment of all, according to Yahusha, which is to "love your neighbor as yourself." The Old Testament law reveals to us more precisely what this love is that we are to have for one another. So, by keeping the whole law of Elohim, including the observance of the special appointed days for worshiping Yahuwah, which is summarized and expressed by loving Elohim and by loving one another, the believers demonstrate to the on-looking world that they truly are Yahusha's disciples.
Now that we have examined the mark on Yah's loyal one and the seal of Elohim, we need only to take a glance at history to identify the beast and its mark. Revelation 13 describes the beast - a politico-religious system of the last days which will control world economy and stand opposed to Elohim:
He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority...Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast... (verses 1,2,4).
There are several striking similarities between this beast from the sea and the fourth beast in Daniel's vision (chpt7). Both have ten horns. The ten horns of both represent ten kings. Both are set in the context of the conflict in the last days. Both persecute the saints of Elohim. And both will be ultimately overthrown when Elohim sets up his everlasting kingdom.
For many centuries, Bible interpreters have been saying that the beast of Daniel 7 and of Revelation 13 springs up from Rome. This was one of the main tenants of the reformers, who saw in the Roman Church a complete fulfillment of those biblical prophecies. William Kimball points out that "the twofold truth that 'the just shall live by faith' and the claim that the Roman Church characterized the antichrist system represented the battle cry of the Reformation." (Kimball, pp.30,31)
This interpretation is still held by many expositors in our own day because of the enormous weight of evidence pointing to the church in Rome. First, we might consider that the seven heads of the beast "are seven hills on which the woman sits" (Revelation17:9). From ancient times, it has been common knowledge that Rome is the city of seven hills. And according to method of interpretation which sees the prophesies of Revelation as being fulfilled historically throughout the church age, the prophecy of the ten horns of the beast, which represent ten kings, was fulfilled in the 5th century of the modern era when the Roman Empire split up into ten distinct tribes, which correspond to present day Europe.
The historian Machiavelli, without the slightest reference to this prophecy, gives the following list of the nations which occupied the territory of the Western Empire at the time of the fall of Romulus Augustus (476 A.D.), the last emperor of Rome: the Lombards, the Franks, the Burgundians, the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, the Vandals, the Heruli, the Suevi, the Huns and the Saxons: ten in all. Following the fall of three of these nations - the Heruli, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths - the little horn (Daniel 7:8), that is, the Papacy, arose to power in a probable fulfillment of this prophecy. (H. Grattan Guenness, "The Divine Program of the World's History," pp.318-321)
Yet another clue to the identity of Beast is the title that is written on the forehead of the woman who rides it. Recall that the name of the Father (Yahuwah) and the name of the Lamb (Yahusha) are written on the foreheads of those who belong to Elohim (Revelation 14:1). But there is a different name written upon the followers of the Beast:
This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH (Revelation 17:5)
The harlot system who rides the Beast, comprised of those people who worship the Beast, is identified as those who have the same characteristics as those of ancient Babylon. We need to merely identify the worship practices of the ancient Babylonians, and we will know the worship style of those who comprise the Beast system.
The Babylonian mother-child cult religious system is well known. It featured worship on the first day of the week in honor of the "invincible sun," worship on the birthday of the cult-son at the winter solstice at or around December 25, worship at the spring equinox to honor the resurrection (rebirth) of Ishtar (hence, "Easter"), and sunrise services.
We have already read from the Scriptures that the mark which Elohim places on the believer is his holy and righteous Law. And the body of commandments is Elohim's seal because those who keep his commandments demonstrate that they genuinely love him. Therefore, since the Torah is Elohim's mark and His seal, then it stands to reason that lawlessness (or "anti-Torah") is the mark of the beast and living by another standard of worship other than the commandments of the Torah is the sign of the authority of the beast.
The prophet Daniel said that the little horn (which we believe is the catholic church) would "try to change the set times and laws" (7:25). And we have seen that lawlessness is the primary characteristic of the end times. The Roman Church fits the prophetic description. She even boasts of her authority to change Elohim's laws. An official decretal of the church states that "the Pope has power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, even the precepts of Christ" (Decretal, de tranlatic episcop, cited in Marcussen, p.33). The most striking example of the lawlessness of Rome has been her attitude toward changing the times of religious observance (the set times and laws of Elohim). And the Sabbath and the festival holy days of Yahuwah are at the heart of this proposed change.
As we discussed above, the weekly and annual Sabbaths (the Festival Holy Days) are the only laws in the Bible regulating the times of worship of the true Elohim of heaven. But the Papacy has changed the weekly day of worship from the Sabbath to Sunday. And the world church has changed holidays or festivals of the church from the annual Appointed Holy Days of the Bible to the pagan holidays of Christmas and Easter. And she has done so, not by the authority of the Bible, but by her own authority. One official of the Church of Rome insists that "it was the Catholic Church that authorized and sanctioned the change in the Lord's Day from the 7th day of the week with the 1st. She did it very early in her life."
This is the bold assertion of the Papacy, that they, contrary to anything written in the Bible, have changed the day of worship. In a Catholic work, we find this fascinating exchange:
Q. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holydays? "
A. By the very act of changing the sabbath into Sunday .
( Henry Tuberville, D.D., An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine, p.58)
Does the Roman Catholic Church realize that they have changed the Sabbath to Sunday without Scriptural authority? Why, of course! They even brag about it!
But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.
(James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of our Fathers, 88th ed., pp. 89)
Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her-she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.
(Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism 3rd ed., p. 174)
Of course, the Catholic Church claims that the change of worshiping the Creator from Sabbath to Sunday was her own act. And furthermore, the Papacy calls this right of hers to make changes in Elohim's law the mark of her authority!
It could not have been otherwise, as none in those days would have dreamed of doing anything in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical and religious without her. AND THE ACT IS A MARK of ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters. (From a letter written by James Cardinal Gibbons cited in Vance H. Ferrell, The Mark Of The Beast, Pilgrim's Books: Altamont, TN., 1985, p.56)
According to a Catholic weekly, the Protestants acknowledge the authority of the Pope when they continue to worship on Sunday:
Protestants...accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change...But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in accepting the Bible, in observing the Sunday, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the Church, the Pope. (Our Sunday Visitor, Feb.5, 1950)
Thus, to keep Sunday as the Lord's day rather than the Sabbath which is the biblical day of rest and worship is to buckle under the authority of the Papacy. But to keep the Sabbath as the Lord's holy day is to obey and honor the Lord of the Sabbath - the Lord Yahusha Christ.
There are numerous other statements made by officials of the Roman Catholic Church and of other denominations confirming that the Roman Church has usurped this authority to change Elohim's Law. Here are some Catholic quotations:
Some theologians have held that God likewise directly determined the Sunday as the day of worship in the New Law, that He Himself has explicitly substituted the Sunday for the Sabbath. But this theory is now entirely abandoned. It is now commonly held that God simply gave His Church the power to set aside whatever day or days she would deem suitable as Holy Days. The Church chose Sunday, the first day of the week, and in the course of time added other days as holy days. (John Laux, A Course in Religion for Catholic High Schools and Academies, 1936, vol. 1, p.51.)
Question: How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holy days?
Answer. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of, and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same Church. (Daniel Ferres, ed., Manual of Christian Doctrine, 1916, p.67)
Is Saturday the seventh day according to the Bible and the Ten Commandments? I answer yes. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did the Church change the seventh day —Saturday — for Sunday, the first day? I answer yes. Did Christ change the day'? I answer no! Faithfully yours, J. Card. Gibbons (James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, 1877-1921, in a signed letter.)
The Catholic Church, . . . by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. (The Catholic Mirror, Sept. 23, 1893.)
For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the [Roman Catholic] church outside the Bible. ("To Tell You the Truth," Catholic Virginian, Oct. 3, 1947, p. 9.)
Question: Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday. (Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, 1957, p. 50.)
Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be changed from Saturday to Sunday .... Now the Church ... instituted, by God's authority, Sunday as the day of worship. This same Church, by the same divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory long before the Bible was made. We have, therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday. (Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked About, (1927, p. 136.)
Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday, I wish to draw your attention to the facts:
1) That Protestants, who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe the Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.
2) We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides the Bible we have the living Church, the authority of the Church, as a rule to guide us. We say, this Church, instituted by Christ to teach and guide man through life, has the right to change the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and hence, we accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday. We frankly say, yes, the Church made this change, made this law, as she made many other laws, for instance, the Friday abstinence, the unmarried priesthood, the laws concerning mixed marriages, the regulation of Catholic marriages and a thousand other laws.
It is always somewhat laughable, to see the Protestant churches, in pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, of which there is nothing in their Bible. (Peter R. Kraemer, Catholic Church Extension Society , 1975, Chicago, Illinois.)
"I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, 'Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.' The Catholic Church says: 'No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.' And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church." (T. Enright, C.S.S.R., in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, Feb. 18,1884.)
Protestant theologians and preachers from a wide spectrum of denominations have been quite candid in admitting that there is no Biblical authority for observing Sunday as a Sabbath. Here are some of their admissions regarding the solemnity of Sunday:
"And where are we told in the Scriptures that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day .... The reason why we keep the first day of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the church has enjoined it." (Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the Catechism, vol. 1, pp.334, 336.)
"There is no word, no hint, in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday .... into the rest of Sunday no divine law enters.... The observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent stands exactly on the same footing as the observance of Sunday." (Canon Eyton, The Ten Commandments, pp. 52, 63, 65.)
We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy Catholic Church." (Bishop Seymour, Why We Keep Sunday.)
"There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week .... Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament absolutely not.
"To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years' intercourse with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath question . . . never alluded to any transference of the day; also, that during forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated....Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history . . . . But what a pity it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!"
(Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, a paper read before a New York ministers' conference, Nov. 13, 1893, reported in New York Examiner, Nov.16, 1893.)
"There was never any formal or authoritative change from the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath to the Christian first-day observance." (William Owen Carver, The Lord's Day in Our Day, p. 49.)
" . . . it is quite clear that however rigidly or devotedly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath .... The Sabbath was founded on a specific Divine command. We can plead no such command for the obligation to observe Sunday .... There is not a single sentence in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday." (Dr. R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments, New York: Eaton &Mains, p. 127-129.)
" . . . the Christian Sabbath [Sunday] is not in the Scriptures, and was not by the primitive Church called the Sabbath." (Timothy Dwight, Theology: Explained and Defended, 1823, Ser. 107, vol. 3, p. 258.)
Disciples of Christ
'But,' say some, 'it was changed from the seventh to the first day.' Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell. No; it never was changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again: for the reason assigned must be changed before the observance, or respect to the reason, can be changed! It is all old wives' fables to talk of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. If it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes times and laws ex officio - I think his name is Doctor Antichrist.' (Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, Feb. 2, 1824, vol. 1. no. 7, p. 164.)
The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change. (First Day Observance, pp. 17, 19.)
We have seen how gradually the impression of the Jewish sabbath faded from the mind of the Christian Church, and how completely the newer thought underlying the observance of the first day took possession of the church. We have seen that the Christians of the first three centuries never confused one with the other, but for a time celebrated both. (The Sunday Problem, a study book of the United Lutheran Church, 1923, p. 36.)
They [Roman Catholics] refer to the Sabbath Day, as having been changed into the Lord's Day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath Day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments! (Augsburg Confession of Faith art. 28; written by Melanchthon, approved by Martin Luther, 1530; as published in The Book of Concord of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Henry Jacobs, ed., 1911, p. 63.)
The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic Church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday. (Dr. Augustus Neander, The History of the Christian Religion and Church Henry John Rose, tr., 1843, p. 186.)
But they err in teaching that Sunday has taken the place of the Old Testament Sabbath and therefore must be kept as the seventh day had to be kept by the children of Israel .... These churches err in their teaching, for Scripture has in no way ordained the first day of the week in place of the Sabbath. There is simply no law in the New Testament to that effect. (John Theodore Mueller, Sabbath or Sunday, pp. 15, 16.)
Take the matter of Sunday. There are indications in the New Testament as to how the church came to keep the first day of the week as its day of worship, but there is no passage telling Christians to keep that day, or to transfer the Jewish Sabbath to that day. (Harris Franklin Rall, Christian Advocate, July 2, 1942, p.26.)
But, the moral law contained in the ten commandments, and enforced by the prophets, he [Christ] did not take away. It was not the design of his coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken .... Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind, and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other. (John Wesley, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., John Emory, ed., New York: Eaton & Mains, Sermon 25,vol. 1, p. 221.)
Dwight L. Moody
The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word 'remember,' showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding? (D. L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting , Fleming H. Revell Co., New York, pp. 47, 48.)
The Sabbath is a part of the decalogue — the Ten Commandments. This alone forever settles the question as to the perpetuity of the institution .... Until, therefore, it can be shown that the whole moral law has been repealed, the Sabbath will stand.... The teaching of Christ confirms the perpetuity of the Sabbath. (T. C. Blake, D.D., Theology Condensed, pp.474, 475.)
(Note: the quotations above were borrowed from a website of a believer who has collected these quotes. My apologies for forgetting which web site that is.)
This very issue of Lord's day observance is the argument Rome used to refute the validity of the Reformation Movement. The Protestants motto was sola scriptura (the Scriptures alone). This was in direct defiance of the Catholic Church who put tradition and her own authority above the authority of the written Scriptures. When the Protestants clearly admitted in the Augsburg Confession (1530) that the Lord's day (Sunday) had been authorized by the Church and was observed on the basis of tradition, Rome's representatives argued that Protestants really didn't believe in the Scriptures alone, since they based their "Lord's Day" observance on tradition, not on the Bible. For this reason, the Council concluded that the Reformers relied upon the authority of the church, not upon the authority of the Bible. So, they officially dismissed the protestant reformation as a rebellious, unsubstantiated dissent against the Church. ("Rome's Challenge," Review and Herald: Takoma Park, ___, p.26)
But, although Rome has convinced most of the world that Sunday is the "Lord's day," the Bible still declares that the true follower of Messiah will rest on the seventh day from his work, as Elohim did from his. When the day which Elohim has established for the purpose of rest and worship is profaned, and another day is honored in it's place, then that kind of "worship" is not in accord with Elohim's will. Elohim has blessed the seventh day and made it holy. Man does not have the authority to nullify what Elohim has declared to be so. So let all who love him keep his Sabbaths holy.
The Torah ("law") of Elohim is the mark on the hand and forehead of the believer, and obedience to all of the commandments of Elohim is the testimony of the Christian that he loves Elohim. The keeping of the Appointed Festival Holy Days of Yahuwah (as part of the Torah) is Elohim's sign on the hand and forehead, and the proper use of Elohim's holy name "Yahuwah" is his seal - his mark of ownership on the believer's forehead. All who know the truth and obey Elohim will have this mark, signifying their allegiance to the Creator of the universe.
The beast, too, has his mark. It is lawlessness, the direct defiance of Elohim's Torah (law). The Papacy has boldly usurped the authority which Elohim alone possesses by declaring that she has the authority to replace Elohim's laws with her own. In this way, the world church, sometimes referred to as "Babylon," has rejected Elohim by rejecting the day He has set apart for worship of Him, and has exalted Sunday in its place. This, she declares, is her mark of authority.
Let all those who know their Elohim, those people who call upon the name of Yahuwah and who identify themselves by Yahusha's name, decide whom they will obey, to whom they will be loyal, and which day they will set apart for worshiping the Creator and Redeemer.