|What marks you out? How can people tell you are a man
of the world?
If a lot of rubbish is written about the beast, even more rubbish is written about the mark and the number of the beast. Yet if we look for a simple explanation, everything falls into place.
|What marks you out?|
A parallel from Ezekiel
What is the mark? The simplest definition of a "mark" is something that sets someone apart as different. It need not be a physical mark, because the same kind of thing was described in Ezekiel chapter 9 (although in this case it was the righteous who had the mark). In Ezekiel 9, six angels are sent with plagues for Jerusalem. The righteous were spared because they had a mark on their forehead. The mark was painted with ink by an angel with an ink well. There is no suggestion that a literal angel would come down with a literal bottle of ink and draw a literal mark between peoples' eyes. However, the symbolism of one group being very different is clear.
If the beast is the modern world system (based on the Greek and Roman ideals), then the mark of the beast is the mark of that world: status symbols and shallow sophistication. To have the mark of the name of the beast (Revelation 14:11) is to be known as "a man of the world".
The economy says you must care about fashion. You must have the biggest house and car that you can. The latest perfume (as one brand used to put it, their scent was "the mark of a man"). When you talk to your friends you must talk about getting - and spending - money. That is how people in this modern world can tell you are "one of them". That is what defines you, what marks you out.
Status symbols and the last days.
"Wait a minute" you say, "but the need to fit in has always been there, this is not a sign of the last days". No? Think about why "the mark" is now so important. Until the renaissance, and the revolutions of technology, most people either did not buy and sell, or they would buy and sell with people they knew. But now everyone in the modern world deals with people they do not know on a daily basis. The universal need to look for marks that give a clue to your lifestyle is a sign of the last days.
In addition, the increasing wealth of the "advanced" world means that status symbols matter far more than ever as the years draw to a close.
On your forehead or your right hand
The mark of the beast is on the forehead or the right hand. The simplest explanation of this is familiar symbolism. Apart from Ezekiel chapter 9, we could also look at Deuteronomy 6:6, talking about the words of God:
"thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes"
The scriptures are a mark of the believer in God, even though nobody literally ties scriptures between their eyes (even orthodox Jews have their phylacteries further up the forehead). In the same way, the mark of the beast is what sets you apart because of how your life conforms to the teachings of the beast, not because of any literal paint job, bar code, or computer chip. This view would seem to be confirmed when we see that those who refuse to accept the mark of the beast in their forehead, instead get the mark of God in their forehead (Revelation 7:3; 9:4).
|The power of status symbols|
Being unable to buy or sell:
If you don't dress and think and talk like others, you won't fit in. I have a little experience of business, and I have found that making a buyer think "he is one of us" is what counts. The way people think, the things they are comfortable with, knowing what motivates them, these things are more important that having the right product, price, promotion, and place. Business is all about people contact. If you don't fit in with your target market, you do not do business. It is as simple as that. And people can tell if you are "one of them" by how you look, by your allegiance, and by any documents you bring - in other words, they look for a name, a mark, or a number. Revelation 13:17 is right - this is a sign of the last days.
One rather striking way of seeing the mark of the beast is in the fashion world (I know I'm getting controversial here - this is just my personal theory). Fashion marks you out immediately. Fashion is, in my opinion, a pure evil. I am not talking about style, which can be timeless, but rather the idea that your style has to change to suit what others are doing, or to say "I have money" ("visible consumption"). This gives zero net benefit, since by definition it always changes. But it consumes vast quantities of money while people in this world are starving. Fashion is the basis of pride - "I must have a nicer car, a bigger house, etc." - and is based on the sin of covetousness. ) Is it a coincidence that the modern fashion industry is based in Rome?
A perfect example
To illustrate the power of fashionable status symbols, consider a certain brand of footwear. I will not name it, for fear of being sued. Besides, this is no worse than any other money-led brand. In fact, I wear their shoes myself! (I have big feet and little choice in the remote area where I live.) But I digress. This brand appears on sports shoes, bags, and all manner of merchandise. It also appears on all kinds of clothing, no doubt including gloves ("on the right hand") and sweatbands ("on the forehead").
Its symbol is a tick - a tick of approval. If you wear this tick, it shows that you have money and you are fashionable. You fit in. If on the other hand you wear some cheaper brand, without a recognisable tag, you are marked out as unfashionable and poor. I know what I am talking about. I am a parent, and my kids know the pressures to be seen wearing the right labels.
Why single out this one company? Because they asked to be identified with Pagan Rome. The company's name is the name of the Roman goddess of victory. The last great battle between Christians and Pagans in the fourth Century was over the shrine to this goddess (according to Britannica). The Christians won the battle. But history shows that they lost the war.
the bottom line
Are you a "man of the world"? Is that what marks you out?