The Marked and the Sealed
Revelation 13, Verse 16, parts c & d
r13h

13:16c
Two final groups: the marked and the sealed

      "And he causeth all . . . to receive a mark. . . ." (Rev. 13:16)

   In the final conflict between good and evil at the coming of Christ, everyone will be in one of two groups, the righteous and the wicked. In my study of the Bible, I find no get-ready-later group. We can see this in the story of the wheat and the tares (weeds).
   "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." (Matt. 13:24-30)

Image from an old book.
   At the time the wheat is gathered into the safety of the barn, the tares are already bound ready to be burned. They will make covenants, such as in labor unions, at the price of conscience and liberty for all. Before this time, no wheat is gathered from among the tares and no tares are uprooted. In another parable, the woman left grinding at the mill is never said to be taken into the safety of the ark (See Matt. 24:37 to end of chapter; and see Luke 17:36, 37). Jesus will deal with the two groups of people when he comes. Here is how it was shown to the Apostle John:
   "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." (Rev. 14:14-20) Also see on these verses.

Two classes
   Just before this passage about the grain and the grapes, the righteous and the wicked are represented as those with the mark of the beast who receive the full wrath of God (vs. 9, 10) and as the saints who endure (v. 12). We will look closely at these passages when we get to them in our study. At the beginning of chapter 7 we saw the two classes as the sealed ones and the earth, sea, and trees who were to be hurt by the four winds.
   "And 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 our God in their foreheads." (Rev. 7:1-3)

   In comparing this passage with the one describing the mark of the beast, we find the two final classes as the righteous, identified by the seal of God, and the wicked, by the mark of the beast. Because the prophecies of Revelation are in symbols, we think of what a seal or a mark might represent. The fact that the mark is called such indicates that it a kind of identification. In other words, everyone can know who has the mark. The word "seal" does not represent the same degree of observable clarity but everyone will finally know because the sealed ones will not have the mark. We would not expect the seal and the mark to be visible like a star or a "666" tattooed in the forehead. Malachi describes the time when righteous and wicked will be clearly identified.
   "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Mal. 3:16-18).

   We have read several precious passages of Scripture and have seen that the mark is a mark of identification. Earlier we realized that both the mark and the seal are symbols of loyalty. When we pick up again, we will look at the seal of God. Then we can more easily understand its counterfeit in the mark. One day the evil and the sorrow of this old earth will be over. We can be among those who abide eternally in Christ.

13:16d
A sign in the forehead or the hand

  Remember to pray as you read the Word.
    "And he causeth all . . . to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads." (Rev. 13:16)

   The hand of those who rebel by their behavior is marked. The forehead is marked for those who rebel by their decisions or motives. Compare Zech. 5:4.

  Standing as the alternative to the beast's mark is God's seal. Let's look at what we know about the seal in order to recognize the counterfeit.
   "And 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 our God in their foreheads." (Rev. 7:1-3)

   This statement doesn't exactly say what the seal is but we can learn quite a bit. First the winds are going to damage the whole earth. I hadn't noticed before that they are the "winds of the earth." The earth is the domain of the beast from the earth which sets up the image to the first beast, bringing on the mark of the beast. We may thus expect the winds to be the trouble brought on by the beast and the image. The earth and the sea which the winds will hurt are the domains of the earth people and the sea people, those who follow the beast from the earth and the beast from the sea.
   Who then are the trees? Since we have sea beast and earth beast, our first guess is that the trees are the people or place of the dragon. But trees just don't seem to fit that picture. Because the winds are held until the righteous are sealed, we may infer that the righteous are being protected. Might the trees represent this group?
   "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (Ps. 1:1-3)

   Ah, this fits better. The "servants of our God," in the vision of the angels holding the winds, are sealed in their commitment. They are like the tree planted by the waters. The prosperity mentioned in the last clause I see as spiritual and, in a sense, material. The behavior of those who meditate day and night on the divine instruction does not spoil their spiritual prosperity. They cannot be moved.
   "He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. . . . my refuge, is in God." (Ps. 62:6, 7)

   Notice that the four angels are commissioned to "hurt the earth and the sea," the homes of those who follow the beasts from those locations. They have no command to hurt the trees. This strengthens our identification of the trees as the righteous ones. The winds would certainly blow on followers of the dragon, too, but this group is not directly part of the picture in Revelation at the point of establishing the image. These people are perhaps included with worshippers of the sea beast since it inherited characteristics of the dragon (Rev. 13:2).
   The seal signifies loyalty to God just like the mark identifies those loyal to the beast. In our last study we saw how the marks in forehead and hand are patterned after God's requirement for His Old Testament people to remain faithful in their hands and minds behavior and thinking.

   These ideas are developed from Deuteronomy 6:5-8 and Exodus 13:9.

Sign of love for God
   Loving God with the whole heart and soul is symbolized by the sign between the eyes. Loving Him with all the might is having the sign in the hand. We saw how the passage in Deuteronomy came in the context of Moses' restatement of the ten commandments along with mention of other specific requirements for the time. The first four commandments require loyalty to God and the last six, loyalty to other humans (". . . and thy neighbor as thyself," Luke 10:27). Let's look at the first four in summary form:

        I  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
       II  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing . . . . Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. . . .
      III  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. . . .
      IV  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour. . . . But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. . . . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Ex. 20:3-11)

   Notice that commandments 2 and 4 directly require faithfulness in head and hand.

      II   You may not bow down to an image (forehead / worship)
           You may not serve an image (hand / behavior)
     IV  You must keep the Sabbath holy (forehead / worship)
           You may not work on the Sabbath (hand / behavior)

   Actually these two commandments are expansions of the ones that precede them (I and III). Image worship (II) is having other gods (I), and neglecting the Sabbath (IV) is taking the Lord's name in vain (III). Let me explain. The fourth commandment gives God's name the one who created everything. If we fail to acknowledge God, neglecting worship on the day that bears His name as creator, we are taking that name in vain.
   Satan wants our worship. He said, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." (Isa. 14:14). These first four commandments protect us from falling into His trap and receiving the mark of his beast.
   In chapter 9, we see an evil king with a name in two languages. We compare this to classes of people who receive the mark for two different reasons 0911.

The mark of Cain
   There are good reasons why the Holy Spirit had John describe following the false religious power as a mark. Remember that the end time conflict will be between the dragon and the remnant of the woman's seed r12w or here in chapter 13, between beast plus image and all who refuse the mark. This conflict will thus be all the forces of evil against the small group who are determined to remain faithful to God. Read the story of the first conflict between the righteous and the wicked. It's the account of Cain slaying Abel in Genesis 4. God separated Cain from His presence and placed a mark on him!

Satan's attack on the seal
   It is interesting that the second and fourth commandments were specifically set aside as the church that had begun with Christ and the apostles gradually adopted the concepts of Paganism. This apostasy had been predicted (Acts 20:29, 30; Rev. 2:2-5; Jude 3; 2 Thess. 2:3).
   As the Protestant reformers gradually discovered living by faith (Rom. 1:17; Hab. 2:4) and other forgotten truths of the word of God, their followers discontinued image worship among other things. For the most part, however, the Sabbath commandment is still obscured by tradition. Various reasons are given for Sunday worship which I'll leave you to think about, or see the page of links to the topic. I appreciate your patience in allowing me to share how I read the Scriptures.
   As I understand our chapter, the beast from the earth has not yet set up the image. We know that no religious power has commanded, on pain of death or economic isolation, that everyone believe or worship something (mark in the forehead) or do something (mark in the hand) to show loyalty. Obviously, until that happens, no one will have the mark of the beast. I have shared what I see as the Biblical evidence for identifying the mark of the beast, and I have hinted about what I believe it will be. As religious and political forces begin to demand more and more from us, we can go to Revelation 13 and ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then we will know.
   May we each pray for the sealing power of the Holy Spirit to help us be loyal day by day like trees planted in Jesus Christ by the rivers of water (Ps. 1)!

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