|- J. Preston Eby -
"And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive A MARK in their right hand, or in their foreheads..." (Rev. 13:16). "if any man worship the beast and his image, and receive HIS MARK in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God" (Rev. 14:9-10).
For many decades and centuries God's people have been speculating about the strange phenomenon the Scripture calls the "mark of the beast". There has been an immense increase in such speculation over the past decade as mankind has moved swiftly into the computer age. One recent book points out the increased international use of the number 666 in the following areas:
(1) World Bank code number is "666". (2) Australia's national bank cards have on them "666". (3) New credit cards in U.S. are now being assigned the prefix "666". (4) Central computers for Sears, Belks, Penneys, and Wards around the world have all their transactions prefixed with "666". (5) Shoes made in European Common Market countries have stamped on inside label "666". (6) Computers made by Lear Siegler have a seal on the side on which is stamped the number "666". (7) IRS Instructions for Non-profit Corporation Employee 1979, W-2 Form requires the prefix "666". (8) IRS began to require the prefix "666" on some forms; for example, W-2P, disability is 666.3; death is 666.4 etc., as early as 1977. (9) Tanks built by Chrysler Corporation ... have on their sides "666". (10) South Central Bell's new Telco Credit Union cards require the prefix "666", then the person's social security number. (11) Metric rulers distributed in 1979 throughout the U.S. have in the center the number "666". (12) ID tags on 1979 GM cars produced in Flint, Michigan contain the number "666". (13) United States Selective Cards have on them "666". (14) Overseas telephone operator number from Israel is "666". (15) Arab-owned vehicles in Jerusalem have license plates prefixed with "666". (16) Record album released by a rock group, Black Sabbath, is named "666". (16) The films, OMEN I and II concern themselves with a world dictator and the number "666". (17) Some IBM supermarket equipment is prefixed with the number 3 - "666". (18) JC Penney began prefixing account numbers in August, 1980, with "666". (19) Master Card began using on their August, 1980, statements "66". (20) Formula for NCR Model 304 Supermarket Computer System is 6 60 6, 11666".
You have probably read or heard the story printed some time ago in THE SCROLL, published by Darrell Dunn Ministries, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then picked up by numerous other papers across the country. The article stated that during the months of July and August, 1980, the Internal Revenue Service made a mistake that it wishes could be reversed. Several states such as Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Virginia confirmed the startling news item. It seems that scores of Social Security checks were accidentally mailed to recipients that required a special and unusual process for cashing. The process was so unusual that the banks refused to even try to cash them. Now here is what made them different: on the back of government checks is printed a paragraph with instructions and requirements for cashing. It normally states that proper identification must be shown, with the check being endorsed at the time of cashing. The instructional paragraph on these particular checks was changed to read that the party cashing the check must have the proper identification "mark in the right hand or forehead". Without it, the check could not be cashed. The banks as well as the receivers of the checks were surprised, confused and frustrated. In spite of all demands the banks refused to cash any of the checks. The IRS was contacted in each case. After much confusion, denials and arguing the IRS admitted the mistakes, according to the article. The checks were said to be valid Social Security checks. However, they were not usable at this time. In fact, the only problem with them, was that they were sent out too soon. The government checks, requiring a "mark" in a person's "right hand or forehead" are not to be put into use until 1984! (from 1982)
Similar experiences have allegedly been reported by various persons. One story states, "A friend of mine stopped overnight with a friend near Montgomery, Alabama. A neighbor of this friend recently received her Social Security check. The number of this check was prefaced by '666' printed in red. The authorities were contacted and informed that she did not want the check. She was informed that this was a mistake for now; but in 1982 all Social Security checks would bear this number. This is exactly in line with what our banker had told me here in Florida." Another report says, "Just recently I have received word from different sources that a lady who sent after a Visa card received one with her prefixed by the number '666'. She took the card to and took it to the bank. The banker apologized and card with that number was not supposed to be issued until the year 1982."
Naturally, most of these kinds of stories cannot be authenticated, they are generally based on "hearsay" evidence, the statements being attributed to "a neighbor of a friend of a friend" etc. etc. It should be obvious to all thinking persons, however, that with the vast increases in the use of numbers in the modern technological world of commerce, with untold millions of account numbers and computer billings and transactions monthly, someone, somewhere - in fact, a great number of someones, somewhere! - will automatically receive the number 666 as a part of their account, card, or identification numbers. This will happen as a matter of course in any numbering system. The fact is - the number 666 actually appears WITH NO GREATER FREQUENCY than the triple combination of any other number, i.e., 222, 333, 444, 555, 777, 888, or 999. In addition to this, at least some of the statements quoted on the preceding page concerning the current use of 666 simply ARE NOT TRUE. It is said, for instance, that J. C. Penney began prefixing account numbers in August, 1980, with "666". I have in my possession a copy of a bill from Sears, reproduced by the same author, showing the number 666 in their billing. It is inferred that Sears' billing system is based on the use of 666. But I maintain an account with both Sears and J. C. Penney, and upon examining recent bills from these companies, find NO SEQUENCE OF 6's ANYWHERE! It is my conviction that in many other cases the use of the number 666 has been greatly sensationalized and highly exaggerated.
It is with the prayer of the sweet singer of Israel as the earnest cry of my heart, that I share this message and challenge with God's precious apprehended ones: "Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth, and teach me" (Ps. 25:4-5).
There has been much confusion surrounding the "mark of the beast" as people cast apprehensive eyes toward various events that arise - Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, identification numbers, "Bar Code" Marking Systems, etc. - wondering if these developments portend some future hour which shall climax with a fearful "beast" or "antichrist" demanding that they take a mark, without which they cannot buy or sell, which will forever seal their doom, or else cause them to give their life in martyrdom as the price for remaining true to God. It is a shocking marvel to see how easily Christians are deceived by the DEAD LETTER OF THE WORD! There is nothing more carnal than the message men have preached about the antichrist and the mark of the beast. I say that it is carnal because it genders fear, not perfection. It has created a whole world full of Christians who are cowards waiting to be "raptured" off to some far-off heaven somewhere instead of becoming overcomers right here upon the earth. Above all, it stresses a natural, physical concept rather than a SPIRITUAL REALITY. There have been multitudes of people who have lived their entire lives in fear of the mark of the beast. They died believing and fearing that some day this would come. I ask, my dear brother, precious sister, what good did it do them to believe that? it did not bring life, peace, joy, love, victory, overcoming power, nor any of the things men so desperately need. Without any hesitation whatever I must reiterate that this kind of literal interpretation and fear tactics HAS NOT ADDED ANYTHING TO OUR SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING, but has rather caused God's people to continue groping about in the dense darkness of spiritual ignorance and superstition.
It seems to me that the key to the thirteenth chapter of Revelation is found in verse nine, "If any man have an ear to hear, let him hear." Throughout the Scriptures these words always accompany statements of profound SPIRITUAL significance. They are found first in the words of Jesus Himself when declaring the mission of His forerunner, John the Baptist: "And if you will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. HE THAT HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR" (Mat. 11:14-15). If some of our writers of prophetical books had had "ears to hear" the revelatory words of Jesus, they would not have been so ready to tell us that the actual Elijah must in fact come again to the earth and be one of the Two Witnesses of Rev. 11. What the Lord is saying is that Elijah has ALREADY COME, and the prophecy in Mal. 4:5 is fulfilled in John the Baptist who came in the SPIRIT AND POWER of Elijah. The Jews did not recognize the fulfillment of the prophecy in John the Baptist because they did not have "ears to hear". They were unable, by reason of the hardness of their hearts, and their literal letter-of-the-Word mentality, to perceive the spiritual in the external.
These words abound in the ministry of Christ who again and again warned the Jews that they could not understand because they did not have ears to hear! In Mat. 13:9 Jesus warns that the parable of the sower (and all other Kingdom Parables) could not be understood except by those with ears to hear - spiritual ears, "Why speaks in parables?" asked the disciples. "Because," replied the Lord, "it is GIVEN UNTO YOU TO KNOW THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, but to them it is NOT GIVEN." Can we not see by this that the beloved John is telling us in chapter thirteen of Revelation that the astonishing visions described there are the unfolding of deep SPIRITUAL MYSTERIES? Few of those who write sensational books about a coming world government with its superman dictator, the new money system, lasered numbers on the forehead and hand, etc. heed this principle! My sincere prayer is that the spirit of wisdom and revelation from on High shall so quicken our pure minds until we see clearly and unmistakably that what is here disclosed is not to be understood in any carnal or earthly sense, but has a deep spiritual meaning ascertainable only to those who wait upon the Lord and walk in the Spirit.
If the beast and his mark are to be fulfilled LITERALLY then one has but to read the words with natural eyes, understand them with a natural mind, interpret them with natural reason, and watch the panorama of world events to see the natural fulfillment. But if the message is deeply SPIRITUAL, it will be understood only by "He that has an ear to hear"! And so it is with this truth in mind that we have sought the Lord for an understanding of the SPIRITUAL NATURE of the MARK, and would share with you that which has now been quickened to us. May the Spirit make it personally real to every heart.
THE ORIGIN OF THE MARK
The mark of the beast made its first appearance in the Garden of Eden. Our eyes behold its presence with the understanding of these words: "Now the serpent was more subtle than ANY BEAST of the field which the Lord God had made" (Gen. 3:1). The picture here goes beyond a slithering snake in the grass. Even the dullest and most unimaginative mind catches the thought that the true character involved here is "that old serpent, the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole earth" (Rev. 12:9). This problem of a mark by the beast is something man has been faced with ever since that fateful day in Eden. In Gen. 2:15 we read how "the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to KEEP (guard) it." These words tell us that there was not only a beast (the serpent) in the earth in that hour, but there was a beastly spirit and a bestial system already waiting to place its mark upon Adam and his Garden. Of all the bestial kingdom "the serpent was more subtle than any BEAST of the field which the Lord God had made."
The serpent was called a BEAST, and was not dwelling alone, but was the most subtle of the whole bestial realm, the great dictator of the bestial kingdom, and the mind of the serpent IS THE MIND OF THE BESTIAL SYSTEM. In the fall of man the mind was involved, for there was an appeal made to the mind, to be as gods KNOWING good and evil. Likewise the hand was involved, for it speaks of the outer action of participation as they reached forth and TOOK of the forbidden fruit. In Revelation, again, the hand and the mind are brought under the mark of the beast - under the influence that brings forth an expression of the beastial character, the image of the bestial system. Adam, made in the image and likeness of God, exchanged that blessed realm for that which pertains to the bestial kingdom. And man in the natural today is most bestial except when he is controlled by the Spirit of God. Man, in his imagery, is corrupted into the similitude of beasts, believes he evolved as such, therefore the manifestation of his character is rooted in the nature of the bestial realm.
The thing of greatest importance here is the awful fact that, before ever man's HAND was extended and the transgression committed, that old serpent, the king of the bestial system, the devil, had IMPARTED HIS MIND TO THEM. The MARK OF THE BEAST was in their hearts, in their MINDS, and in their FOREHEADS, and what they did afterward was the MARK OF THE BEAST in their HANDS. It is not difficult to see that the things which men are doing today and have done in ages past are but the MANIFESTATION of that which is in their minds, for, "As a man THINKS in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7) and "a good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Mat. 12:34-35). The mark of the beast that appears IN THE HAND (outward actions) is the direct result of the mark of the beast IN THE FOREHEAD (mind, nature). This is the mind that inspires the ever increasing confusion and violence that is running rampant among all nations.
From the day of the fall in Eden even unto this hour man has borne the imprint of the satanic mind, the nature of the serpent, the MARK OF THE BEAST. That mark IN HIS MIND has been manifested in everything he has set HIS HAND to do. The whole bestial system is one that has filled the world with wars and rumors of wars, greed, hatred, bloodshed, and oppression. Out from this bestial nature has emerged every imaginable devilish perversion. And as a result of the bestial system the mind of Christ has been replaced with the carnal mind to bring about a form of godliness devoid of power or reality, but filled with empty ritual and ceremony, static creeds and doctrines, and a confusion of human ideas and methods that stagger the imagination.
Revelation, chapters thirteen and fourteen belong to each other and should be read and studied together. The neglect of this principle has caused much mischief in modern times. If many present day writers and preachers had set THE MARK OF THE BEAST of chapter thirteen against THE MARK OF THE FATHER'S NAME on the foreheads of the saints described in chapter fourteen, we would have had less of frightful and ghastly events so confidently foretold in books and pamphlets so readily devoured by precious Christians highly susceptible to prophetic sensationalism.
It must be obvious to every spiritual mind that the writing of the Father's name in the foreheads of those standing on mount Zion is a SPIRITUAL WORK. Zion represents the very highest position attainable in the Kingdom of God. From the literal mount Zion David and the kings of Israel reigned gloriously, and the Ark of God rested there all through the reign of David and for several years afterward until the temple was completed by Solomon. Mount Zion, the hill of David the king, was the highest pinnacle of glory attainable in Israel. But that Zion was only a faint shadow of THE ZION TO WHICH WE ARE COME (Heb. 12:18-22). David was king over natural Israel. Christ is King over spiritual Israel. David dwelt on the natural mount Zion. Therefore Christ dwells upon the spiritual mount Zion, And this spiritual mount Zion is composed of those who reach the very highest pinnacle attainable in the Kingdom of God: those who, like king David of old are "a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfill ALL MY WILL" (Acts 13:22). This Mount Zion Company is the ruling class, the overcomers of whom it is written: "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). These are the Kings and Priests unto God, after the order of Melchizedek, those who have attained to the highest postion of honor and might and true greatness in the Kingdom of God. It comprises those who are such as have gone all the way with their Lord and shall now rule with Christ upon His throne over God's infinite realm for evermore.
These are they of whom it is written, "And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on mount Zion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having HIS FATHER'S NAME WRITTEN IN THEIR FOREHEADS," in distinction to those who, in Rev. 13:16 take "the mark of the beast". The mark of the beast denotes that those who bear it have been filled with the nature, spirit, ways, doctrines and idolatry of the bestial system. Therefore the mark which these 144,000 bear denotes that they are not defiled with the bestial spirit and shame and are in every respect cleansed, perfected, and made partakers of the Father's nature. I have no ability to believe that the Father's name in the forehead is anything more or less than the MIND OF CHRIST. Though we read many explanations of the mark of the beast, it is my conviction that it would be safe to lay them all aside in the understanding that the MARK OF THE BEAST is nothing more or less than the mind of the serpent in man. The carnal mind, which is everywhere evident in the religious systems, as in government, commerce, and every other institution spawned by man, is the enemy of God and had its beginning with the serpent in Eden. Neither the divine mark nor the devil's mark can be a visible thing. Both are symbols bespeaking a nature POSSESSING THE MIND and in turn MANIFESTING THROUGH THE OUTWARD ACTIONS of men.
SEALED IN THE FOREHEAD
Another wonderful picture of the working of God in His elect is found in Rev. 7:1-4. "After these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the SEAL OF THE LIVING GOD: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have SEALED THE SERVANTS OF GOD IN THEIR FOREHEADS."
A seal is defined to be an instrument of sealing, that which "is used by individuals, corporate bodies, and states, for making impressions on wax, upon instruments of writing, as an evidence of their authenticity." The original word in this text is defined, "A seal, i.e., a signet ring; a mark, stamp, badge; a token, a pledge." The verb signifies: "To secure to any one, to make sure; to set a seal or mark upon anything in token of its being genuine or approved; to attest, to confirm, to establish, to distinguish by a mark." With these definitions as a basis, we compare Gen. 17:11 with Rom. 4:11, and Rev. 7:3 with Eze. 9:4, and find that the words "token", "sign", "seal", and "mark" ARE USED IN THE BIBLE AS SYNONYMOUS TERMS. Thus, the "SEAL of God in the forehead", the "Father's NAME in the forehead", and the "MARK of the beast in the forehead" all indicate the same principle at work. In this case it is not some literal mark to be made in the flesh, but a state of being in mind and nature which serves as a "mark of distinction" between those who are HIS and those who are of the beastly system of the world.
The symbolism of the sealing is taken from Ezekiel, chapter nine. Six "men", agents of God's judgment against the rebellious city of Jerusalem, are seen with slaughter weapons in their hands, but amongst them there appears a seventh figure, clothed with linen, having a writer's inkhorn at his side. This man is ordered to go through the doomed city first, and set a MARK ON THE FOREHEAD of all who SIGH AND CRY for the abominations done in Jerusalem. History records that when, shortly after this vision, Jerusalem was in fact destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, men like Jeremiah and Baruch (Jer. 45) and Ebed-melech the Ethiopian (the king's servant) were preserved (Jer. 39:15-18). Indeed, in the case of Jeremiah himself, special charge was given concerning him that he was not to be molested in any way, but was to have liberty to go or to come as he pleased (Jer. 39:11-14). Many of the poor of the land, nameless people whose poverty was the mark of their election, were likewise spared in the overthrow.
As the man with the inkhorn symbolized the care of God for His elect, and as the mark he made on the foreheads of these faithful ones WAS AS SYMBOLIC AS HIS OWN INKHORN, so the sealing of the elect in their foreheads in Revelation, chapter seven is symbolic and spiritual, and not literal and physical. How we praise God that there is a remnant, a handful of men and women in the earth today who are aware of the dreadful sham and idolatry of the modern Church systems, and these are not, as some suppose, just critics, but these are SIGHING AND CRYING CONTINUALLY BEFORE GOD because of the conditions they see. Those who are sighing and crying are giving themselves to EARNEST PRAYER because of the situation in the Church systems and these will be found to be the people who have the MIND OF CHRIST in the end. The faithful cry of these is, "YOUR Kingdom come, YOUR WILL be done in earth, as it is in heaven!" A separation has already been made in mind and heart, separation UNTO GOD, AND THESE UNDERSTAND THAT ANY EFFORT TO BUILD UP, STRENGTHEN, REJUVENATE, RENEW, OR PRESERVE THE PRESENT SYSTEM is to wander further into spiritual Babylon.
Ah, the sealed ones know that this is not the time to be singing, "It is a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle," rather this is a time for sighing and crying for all the abominations about us. The man with the inkhorn was to put a mark ON THE FOREHEAD of the men who sighed and cried for the abominations that prevailed in the temple of that day. And come the day of judgment, everything was destroyed utterly EXCEPT THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAD THE MARK OF GOD IN THEIR FOREHEADS. The whole system was demolished! Oh, how dreadful it is that so few today have any thought for the mind of Christ or the perfect will of God or conformation to the image of God! Christians now as always would willingly do GOD'S WILL if they did not have to give up their OWN, and they would willingly put on the mind of Christ if it did not mean that their own carnal mind with all its fleshly purposes would have to be crucified! But praise God, HE has a people, those marked by HIS SPIRIT, a little flock, for those who sit with Christ to reign in the Kingdom of God are to be a very small company, but be very sure of this, they will ALL have died to the carnal mind and will have partaken of the MIND OF CHRIST.
THE SEAL OF OWNERSHIP
The term SEAL is used both of the engraved instrument which serves as a mold to form the impression, as well as of the image or mark left upon the clay or other material receiving the impress. Some of the most ancient seals were small cylinders through which a hole was drilled the entire length so that a ligament or cord might be passed through. This cord was then knotted to form a loop to be worn about the neck or arm for safekeeping. When the seal was put to use, the cord was held firmly at either end of the cylinder as it was pressed into wet clay or wax and rolled like a tiny rolling pin. In His amazing conversation with Job, God speaks of the movement of the earth upon its axis, using the example of the rolling of a cylindrical seal on clay to describe it. He says of the earth, "It is turned like clay to the seal" (Job. 38:14).
The seal was used throughout the Near East to secure goods against any tampering. Such a seal not only secured one's property against tampering, but DECLARED ONE'S OWNERSHIP. Considerable light can be thrown upon the subject of the sealing of God's elect and of the mark of the beast by consulting Roman history for the origin of such expressions. The many conquests of the Roman armies furnished so many prisoners that they became a glut in the slave-markets of the world, and were so numerous that in many places they outnumbered the Roman citizens ten to one. In the first century before Christ it is said that some Sicilian estates were worked by as many as twenty thousand slaves. That each owner might know his own, the poor creatures were BRANDED LIKE CATTLE.
It was customary among the ancients for servants to receive the mark of their masters, and soldiers of their general, and those who were devoted to any particular diety, of the particular diety to whom they were devoted. These marks were usually impressed on their right hand or on their foreheads and consisted of some hieroglyphic characters, or of the name expressed in letters, or of the name disguised in numerical letters according to the fancy of the imposer. Even today, if you have a title to an automobile or to a piece of real estate, you want a seal on the document to assure you that the property is actually yours and that you may rely on receiving its benefits.
Ah, precious friend of mine, have you wondered if you are truly HIS, if He will really keep and preserve you, whether He will perfect that which concerns you, or whether He shall bring you all the way in to the fullness of Sonship to God? See with what holy assurance the heart is filled when it casts its anchor in such a certain rock as this: "Grieve not the HOLY SPIRIT of God whereby YOU ARE SEALED unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). Again, "Now He which established us with you in Christ, and has anointed us IS GOD; who has also SEALED US, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (II Cor. 1:21-22). The time this sealing of the elect of God takes place is thus described: "AFTER that you believed, you were SEALED with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:13).
God's seal is none other than the Holy Spirit, declaring that we BELONG TO GOD, and sealing up our lives UNTO HIS PURPOSES. And I dare say, while we may not understand just what are all God's plans and purposes for us, whatever GOD has in mind, that is what we desire. Not just what some preacher says it is, nor what some theology teaches about it, but what God has marked out for us - we would have an eye that is SINGLE UNTO HIM. Those who actively yield to HIS SPIRIT, thus submit to HIS SEAL, and by continual surrender to HIS WILL are guaranteed that all He has chosen them for SHALL SURELY BE FULFILLED!
THE SEAL OF SAFE DELIVERY
As previously pointed out, very often the ancients would place their seals upon their possessions to guarantee correct and safe delivery. A man might purchase jugs, pitchers, and plates of clay in the house of a potter on a custom-design basis. The potter would be entrusted with the particular seal designed for embossing soft clay. As each item was finished, while the clay was still wet, the seal of the owner was impressed into its handle or base. The seal was the guarantee that proper delivery would be made. This, then, is the seal of SAFE DELIVERY!
How beautifully this corresponds with the thought expressed by Paul in Eph. 4:30, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby Y-O-U A-R-E S-E-A-L-E-D UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION." Sealed - unto redemption! Oh yes, it is true that we have been redeemed, but, like salvation, redemption is no single act or experience, as one has stated, it is "a crisis leading to a process" as we are progressively "loosed away" from one realm to another, from one mind to another, from one nature to another, from one state of being to another. Truly we are being freed from the dominion of the carnal mind, from a world of self-assertive religious activities, and from the power of sin and death, first in spirit, working outward into the emotions and will of the soul life, and finally in body by the mighty working of Him who is even able to change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body (Phil. 3:21).
The prefix "re" in "re-deem" means "again" (as in re-copy, re-wash, re-write). The main part of the word is from a root that means "to purchase, to buy". So an article that is left in a pawn shop can be redeemed by paying the money that was borrowed, plus the interest charges. The word is also used when a company finds it possible to call some of its indebtedness, pay the borrower and cancel the obligation: this is the redemption of bond issues. Spiritually, it means a RETURN to that place, wisdom, life, glory and dominion which we once had in God before the ages were framed and this present cosmos, world arrangement began.
The English word "redeem" translates three Greek words, each of which has a rich meaning in connection with our salvation. One Greek word, "apolutro", means "to loose, untie, deliver". Another Greek word used in the Scriptures and translated by our word "redemption" is "agorazo", the common Greek word for marketing. The noun "agora" means the market place, and the verb "agorazo" means to buy. In the New Testament the word is applied to souls. This would be readily understood in the ancient world, since there was a slave market that operated almost every day, and the traffic in slaves was very great. That Christ should have walked into the slave market and purchased, or redeemed, men who were slaves of the realm of carnality, sin, and death, would have been easily comprehended.
There is another Greek word which gives additional light on the thought of redemption. The word is "exagorazo", ("agorazo" with the prefix "ex") and carries the idea of buying something OUT of the market. There is a difference between a purchase that is for resale and a purchase that is made in order to take an article out of commerce. For example, a dealer in rare books and works of art might purchase an item at a London or New York sale, and hold it for resale to a customer. Some pictures, books, manuscripts, and other art objects are bought and sold again and again. But finally, when a great work of art is bought by a museum, it is thus TAKEN OUT OF CIRCULATION PERMANENTLY. An example of this is a Shakespeare folio which was bought and sold in several sales until it came to rest in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Under the terms of the trust it is to remain there permanently, and can never be put on the market again. Praise God, the Lord bought us in order that He might forever TAKE US OUT OF THE MARKET OF THE BESTIAL SYSTEM OF THIS WORLD!
This can mean nothing less than a total transformation of being. And a full and complete provision has been made! "According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME before Him in love ... in whom we have REDEMPTION" (Eph. 1:4,7). The apostle Paul, speaking of redemption, declares that the elect were chosen in eternity past in Christ Jesus, and then states some reasons for the divine choosing. The first is that the elect should be "holy". The Greek word translated "holy" is "hagios" meaning "that which is SET APART, SEPARATED UNTO". Therefore Paul is saying that the saints were "chosen" by the Father that they should be "set apart, separated UNTO HIMSELF and for His purposes". God's elect are never separated unto their own purposes nor for their own benefit, but for the purposes of God and for the benefit of His creation. God told Jacob why he was being separated in these words: "And in you, and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 28:14). Separated to BE A BLESSING! The Lord later made this covenant with the children of Israel: "If you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then you shall be a PECULIAR TREASURE UNTO ME above all people: for all the earth is Mine: and you shall be unto Me A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and an holy nation" (Ex. 19:5-6). Separated - to BE A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS! Because "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Ps. 24:1), God has purposed to raise up a royal priesthood, the FIRSTFRUITS OF HIS REDEMPTION, unto whom is committed the ministry of reconciliation that all the peoples of earth may be reconciled unto God and blessed.
Holy and without blame! Not only did the Father choose which persons He would make holy, separated as a firstfruit of redemption, but He also chose whom He would cause to be "without blame before Him". A better translation of the Greek word here rendered "without blame" (amomos) is "without blemish". Utterly amazing! Vile sinners such as we - assured that it is the unfailing purpose of God in election that we should be WITHOUT BLEMISH before the Father! Such a condition is first stated to be true in Christ Himself who "through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot (blemish) to God" (Heb. 9:14), and we are thus redeemed by "the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish" (I Pet. 1:19).
In Eph. 5:25-27 Paul uses this term again, and shows how Christ ministers to the chosen ones to bring about this condition in them. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH." There is much difference between a spot and a wrinkle. A spot is "a stain coming from defilement," indicating an eruption of corruption in one's life. A wrinkle is "a fold, a drawing together". A wrinkle is a blemish, as much as a spot, though there may be no defilement with it. A garment may be spotlessly white with no stain upon it, but if it is wrinkled, its beauty and usefulness are marred. A wrinkle is a blemish revealed UNDER PRESSURE, bespeaking a weakness, such as discouragement, distraction, confusion, immaturity etc. - not defilement, no sin or wickedness involved, but marring the beauty and usefulness, nonetheless. God's firstfruit company shall not have even a wrinkle! Our precious Lord is going to cleanse the members of His body with the washing of water by the Word and make them whiter than snow. The hand of the Father will smooth out every wrinkle BY THE HEAT AND PRESSURE OF HIS DEALING HAND, until the body of Christ appears in all the beauty and glory of CHRIST'S COMELINESS.
That our Father shall bring this work to its final consummation is certain! Ah, under the searchlight of His holy presence, have you beheld your own weakness and unworthiness, despairing that your life could ever be conformed to the image of God's dear Son? True, in your own strength such a feat can never be performed, but praise God! the word is sure: "HE HAS CHOSEN US ... THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM!" Chosen - to be without blemish! Wonder of wonders! that there should be a people, a firstfruit, a royal priesthood, a seed of blessing, many Sons who are AS FREE OF BLEMISH as is the precious Lamb of God Himself! Dear chosen one of God, dare you believe it? claim it? Ah! If this were not the case, WHY would God be dealing so severely in your life? How sure is the Father's purpose! How powerful the cleansing of the blood of Christ! How thorough the Father's dealings! How faithful the Holy Spirit's teaching! How mighty His inworkings! This is the guarantee that "He is able to keep you from falling, and to PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS before the presence of His glory" (Jude 24). Praise His wonderful name, HE I-S A-B-L-E, and He WILL DO IT! He who has called us to virtue and glory has also SEALED US with THE SEAL OF SAFE DELIVERY! Whatever it takes - HE will get us there! His seal is upon those who are His, and His hand will not be lifted from us until we are safely delivered from every vestige of the beastly nature, transformed into the likeness of the Master who has purchased us UNTO HIMSELF FOREVER.
CHRIST'S PERSONALITY IMPRESSED ON US
The further we go with this thought the clearer our understanding becomes. God has PUT A MARK UPON US, we belong to HIM, and as one friend once said, when God puts His great big hand upon us, we are never the same again! And the way God leads His marked ones is often very strange to those about them. It is indeed strange to the natural mind to see some of these marked ones following their God-ordained pathways. In our natural thinking we would have such to be high and holy, pure and perfect, wise and powerful, far above all other people, for they are the MARKED ONES OF GOD, marked out to know the secret of His will, and marked out to be the rulers in His Kingdom. But as these marked out ones receive the seal of God in their foreheads they enter into a time of testing, a time of dealing, a time of training, a time of trial, a time of refining, a time of proving. Therefore, immediately upon their sealing, the four angels standing on the four corners of the earth and HOLDING THE WINDS OF ADVERSITY are commissioned to release those winds, the same winds that bring judgment to the earth realm bring testing and proving to God's marked ones!
God is taking this people to mount Zion to be formed into His government, and through that government all things shall be restored into God. These, therefore, must experiencially come to know HIS LORDSHIP in all things, for it is HIS LORDSHIP THROUGH THEM that constitutes the government of God for the ages to come.
The particular Greek word which has been translated "mark" in Rev. 13:16 is "charagma", translated eight times as MARK and once as GRAVEN. It is interesting to note that this Greek word for MARK is from the same root from which we get the Greek word CHARAKTER and our English word CHARACTER. In Heb. 1:3 this word is translated as "express image". "Who being the brightness of His glory, and the EXPRESS IMAGE of His person..." The EXPRESS IMAGE of God is, therefore, the manifestation of God as revealed through His and our CHARACTER. The MARK speaks of that handiwork and the inward thinking which brings forth an expression of character in line with the very source from which the mark comes. Either we will find ourselves expressing the CHARACTER OF GOD, or else the CHARACTER OF THE BEAST. It speaks not, dear ones, of a visible tattoo or brand, nor any outward form which could be pretended for a time, but it refers to that INNER QUALITY OF HIS CHARACTER WHICH IS BEING DEVELOPED IN US, and which in due time shall be revealed.
The MARK OF THE BEAST is the direct counterpart to the MARK OF GOD, being an expression, reproduction, yea, the very IMPRINT of the nature and character of the bestial system of this world, BABYLON IN ALL ITS RAMIFICATIONS AND MEANINGS, be it political, economical, or religious. The mark of God signifies the mind, nature, and character of God established within and without by the Holy Spirit, the process daily taking place. But let me assure you, the members of Babylon are also indelibly marked! The character of that system is so deep-rooted and deep-seated, written right in the forehead of all Christendom, that they cannot even THINK, much less ACT, except in terms of this world's political systems and parties, established orders, denominations, non-profit corporations, boards, creeds, church buildings, programs, activities, seminaries, rituals, sacraments, etc. etc. Often you can discern what particular denomination or movement they belong to by the style of their church building, the way they dress, how they pronounce certain words, how they pray, preach, or worship, or even the way they carry their Bible! They bear the MARK!
I want to know Christ, not antichrist. I want to know not just about Him, I want to intimately and fully know HIM. I want the Holy Spirit to take the things of Christ and make them real to me. Therefore I am more interested in the MARK OF GOD than I am in anything which belongs to the bestial system, since to bear the mark of God insures one against coming under the other (Rev. 13:8). Now Jesus came to IMPRINT OR IMPRESS H-I-M-S-E-L-F UPON MEN. Even from the time of His first appearance He sought to have HIS CHARACTER impressed upon those who followed Him. Jesus came not to just to be a great teacher or prophet. He came not just to forgive sins and take men to heaven. He came to IMPRINT OR IMPRESS HIS CHARACTER upon us. On God's side He places His mark upon us, but on our side we are exhorted to "PUT ON the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 13:14).
Can we not see by this that God is acting to SUPERIMPOSE Himself upon us, completely covering us, by the instrumentality of Jesus Christ. God will completely cover us that only HE can be seen. It shall be God all-in-all in everything. Everywhere we look or go we will see, hear, and feel only God. Those around us will no longer be able to see us, but they shall see only God in us and upon us by the instrumentality of Jesus Christ.
Both the mark of God and the mark of the beast are SUPERIMPOSED upon men. The word superimpose carries with it the idea of the fusion of metals, or even unrelated elements. In some instances in this fusion, there is no definite line of demarcation left, for both the elements have completely mixed, while in other instances the fusion is there, but the elements do not mix. Today we have various alloys which are metals that have actually mixed together. But this does not always happen. We have an illustration of it in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Different elements were brought together but there was no fusion. The planks in it were all covered with gold, as was the Ark of the Covenant etc. The gold was superimposed upon the wood until only gold could be seen. The wood was completely hidden but was not mixed with the gold.
This hiding is what we are being brought to by the seal of God, but in the end there will be the TOTAL FUSION OF GOD AND MAN. We are from both God and man, our spirit has come from the bosom of the Father, but body and soul from Adam. We are a combination of God and man. We are men with God superimposed upon us through Jesus Christ. We have not yet experienced this in its fullness, for when we do we shall have disappeared from sight and only God through Jesus Christ will ever be seen. "He that is JOINED TO THE LORD IS ONE SPIRIT" (I Cor. 6:17). All through the ages God will so combine Himself with us through Jesus Christ that we will be ONE with Him, but only HE shall be seen.
God superimposed Himself upon us by measure when He first sealed us with the "earnest", which is the "firstfruits" of the Spirit. "While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell ON all them which heard the word" (Acts 10:44). Here the word ON denotes SUPERIMPOSITION, upon, over. While Peter spoke the word, the Holy Spirit SUPERIMPOSED THE CHRIST upon all which heard the word, And now we continue on from glory to glory. Praise God, to some degree God has STAMPED THE IMPRINT OF HIMSELF upon us! Daily growing in grace, knowledge, wisdom, love, peace, righteousness and power we are constantly being changed by the Spirit to bear in our lives the mark, the image, the character of God. The end of the work is that "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (I Jn. 3:2). The deep cry of our heart is so wonderfully expressed in the words of the hymn:
"Oh to be like You, Oh to be like You,
Precious Redeemer, Pure as You are;
Come in Your sweetness, Come in Your fullness,
STAMP Your own image deep on my heart!"
Writings in This Series: