- Published: Saturday, 18 July 2020 21:40
In Revelation chapter thirteen there is a popular reference to the so-called ‘mark’ and number 666 of the beast that Christians should not accept. If they do, then they can’t buy or sell anything, and may be killed.
This is by far the most solemn warning for Christians in the bible, and therefore should be taken seriously.
Within mainstream modern Christianity you hear of many different possible interpretations of what this is, often stemming back to accepting a microchip in your hand or head, or having the number 666 stamped on your head.
However, the Seventh Day Adventist Church believe that this is something else, which when you first hear about is not only shocking but possibly offensive if you have come from a non-Adventist Church background.
Because they believe that Saturday is the correct Sabbath day of rest every week, then they believe that treating Sunday as this day is the alternative ‘mark’ against God.
So, in short, keeping Sunday instead of Saturday as a day’s rest is this mark of the beast.
Now that’s plain weird when someone like myself first hears this, who for over four decades has attended and been actively involved in churches on Sunday and have treated this as the special day of the week.
Therefore, I get the issue with this claim, and it has taken me nearly two years to begin to not only understand how this has been arrived at, but to appreciate how no offence should be taken form this.
In actual fact, I think it should be more openly discussed, and it’s a pity to see Seventh Day Adventists not even mention and address the issue. It needs to be explained for people to then make their own decision.
Plus, Adventists believe in what they call the three angels message which emerges in Revelation where there is a specific need to warn people about accepting this mark before it suddenly crops up on everyone.
Even if they are wrong in this conclusion, then fair play for having a position that tries to explain this mark of the beast issue rather than leave it to just vague possibilities as with most other denominations it seems.
The Seven ‘Things’
In a minute we’re going to go through ten main points I have come to appreciate about this belief about Sunday-keeping being the mark of the beast, but before then it’s important to look at seven ‘things’ which are happening in chapter thirteen of Revelation.
The mention of the mark is the finale of this chapter, but we need to first understand what’s happening before then.
These seven aspects are split into the first three being main players in this scene, and then the next four things emerging from these three main players.
1. The Dragon
First up is the dragon, which is an easy one to identify as Satan himself. He is the wider force against God and Christ who is working through various guises and kingdoms on earth.
2. The First Beast
This comes from the sea in this chapter, with Seventh Day Adventists believing this is the Papacy and Catholicism.
Although not a popular stance nowadays, all the great Reformers like Martin Luther believed this, and after going through the book of Daniel I now personally believe this as well (a more Historicism perspective on things).
The take-away point here is that although this kingdom appears religious, and in actual fact the whole world ends up following, it actually goes against God and Christ’s true sacrifice, and the attacks God’s believers and saints. It’s powers are also given it from the Dragon.
This is historically seen in the Dark Ages and the millions of Christian Protestant believers killed, however, with this chapter indicating that the Papacy will recover back to world-wide dominance and being against God’s saints.
3. The Second Beast
This appears from the earth, and in effect mirrors and back-ups the first beast in many respects, and directs people to worship the first beast.
In particular this beast has the ability to perform amazing wonders and miracles, including fire coming down from heaven, which ends up deceiving people.
In terms of who this is, Seventh day Adventists believe this is fallen Protestant churches in America supporting the Pope and Papacy.
4. Image of the Beast
Now we have the three main players outlined, we come to the first of four particular aspects and features in the happenings between them.
Here is a reference to an ‘image’ of the beast – almost like a picture, or mirror effect.
Specifically, the second beast tells people to make such an image of the first beast as the ultimate beneficiary of this.
Going further, this image then speaks, with people demanded to worship this image of (as well as the actual beast), failing which they will be killed.
5. Mark of the Beast
This is the main reference that people latch onto, and although it does has a specific mention here it does tend to get incorrectly mixed-up with the other points.
This is basically a ‘mark’ of some description that is on either the right hand of people or their foreheads (one of the other of these, not necessarily both).
It is also brought in by the second beast, with those not having this then not being able to trade and buy/sell.
Technically, it appears that they won’t be killed for this according to scripture, with death coming from the above image and below number).
6. Number of the Beast
Drilling-down further, the specific number of 666 is referred to, which as with the above mark, tends to be mixed up with all these other features.
Therefore, this is separate to the above mark, with the number 666 being stamped on your head or hand and therefore not necessarily the actual mark as stated above.
The consequence of not having this number is like the mark and name below i.e. not being able to trade and buy/sell (death not actually mentioned as well).
The other important aspect to this is that scripture says it is wise to have understanding of this number and what it counts up to; a man’s number.
7. Name of the Beast
And the final point may sound very obvious in that it is the name of the first beast.
Although that should naturally be the case as we identify what this beast is, it’s name is specifically referred to at the end of the chapter.
In short, those with either the name of the beast, the number of the beast, or the mark of the beast will not be able to trade economically; death is technically linked to the image of the beast.
And these all appear to be very separately identified features, not just all one big mark and name entity with the number 666.
The Ten Mark Factors
Now we have more clarity on what all these different references are in Revelation chapter thirteen, it’s time to get back to the Seventh Day Adventist’s claim that taking the wrong Sabbath day of Sunday is this ‘mark’ that people can inherit.
For this purpose we’ll go back to referring to everything as the ‘mark’, with the general outcome of lack-of-trade and even death, even though as above there are differences. This will help us to just look at this Sabbath-day principle, although by first breaking this down into seven parts will then help unfold this belief.
So here are the ten main factors to this belief of the mark that helps place this in context:
1. The Mark is Different to the Number of the Beast
This leads on from the points above, that the four different features in Revelation are different – the mark, number, name, and image of the beast.
I think a particularly important distinction is the number of the beast, which is clearly stated as 666 here which most people have heard of and refer to.
According to scripture we’re supposed to understand what this number refers to. There’s a good YouTube video here linking this to man’s ways, and another here how this can be shown to identify the beast as the Papacy.
Therefore, the purpose of the number is to confirm who the beast is that we need to watch out for. It’s not the actual ‘mark’ or ‘image’ of that beast.
So, logically, the mark is not just the number 666 placed on people’s foreheads or hands; there is a much deeper meaning.
It may be that we do practically have such a number, but that is not the mark as again, the purpose of the number is to show who the beast is, not be the beast’s actual ‘mark’.
Personally, I now believe that the first beast is the Papacy and Catholicism, and this number helps confirm this.
The mark is something different and deeper, particularly when we’re dealing with a religion system where there are core doctrinal differences to differentiate between.
2. The Mark is Identifying What We believe and Do
Leading on from this first point, the mark must have something to do with religious beliefs and actions which helps sift-out true saints and Christians from those involved with the mainstream Papacy and anti-christ system.
I was astonished myself in 2017 when I realised how the mainstream protestant churches and denominations now accept the Papacy system and are basically doing a U-turn back from what the Old Reformers believed and the Historicism interpretation of bible prophecy like in the book of Daniel.
So, this makes sense to me now – that there needs to be a religious ‘something’ that sifts out people from a false religious system.
I see this aligning with scripture here by the mark being on the hand of forehead of people.
These locations are identified elsewhere in scripture where people believe the right or wrong thing (the forehead), or do the right or wrong thing with actions (the hand).
Therefore, such a beast and anti-Christ system will be enforcing one of these, as the mark can be on either of these, not necessarily both.
They will dictate that you believe certain (religious) things, or act in a certain way – or else consequences.
You can also compare this to the alternative seal of God elsewhere in scripture and revelation, with everyone at the end of time having one of these two things, a mark of the beast, or seal of God.
However, it’s interesting to note that this seal is only of people’s heads and not their hands. I see this as signifying that God asks us to believe and have faith in Him, and will not be coercing us into behaving a certain way just for the sake of it.
The other point I’ve noticed here with reference to hands and heads in terms of belief and action, is that this is not involving feelings or spiritual experiences at all.
As a protestant Christian with an evangelical and Pentecostal background, I appreciate the importance of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, gifts, miracles, and saving grace. But I now understand more that Satan has the ability to also come up with counterfeit miracles and signs, which is specifically referred to in this chapter thirteen of Revelation.
Therefore, accepting say a miracle, no matter how amazing it is, is simply not enough in the sense that it can be ambiguous in discerning where this actually comes from, as it could be a counterfeit, just as much as the real thing.
In the crazy end-times, I think the distinction between the true work of God and the devil will need to be more grass-roots and simple – what you accept and belief in faith, or act upon in faith.
It may sound too simple and almost boring, but that’s the whole point – simple child-like faith in God.
3. The Fourth Commandment is the Clincher
The next point is therefore a good time to bring in reference to Sabbath-keeping by the Seventh Day Adventist church as the mark-of-the-beast issue.
This is actually the fourth of the Ten Commandments; to keep the Sabbath day holy, and the only commandment with a remember-this instruction in there as well.
There is a whole debate here of course on whether the Saturday or Sunday is a the right ‘Sabbath’ or ‘Lord’s Day’, and then whether we need to even keep this now under New Covenant grace.
Personally I now agree with the Adventist’s stance on this now (apart from whether this turns into the ‘mark’) – Saturday is the correct day to observe, and there is clear reference to God expecting us to follow His commandments and ways post-salvation (by His grace and Holy Spirit’s ability).
It would just seem weird and go against my own conscience to say to people it’s okay to follow the nine other Ten Commandments but now ignore the fourth one.
Turning now to how the Adventist interpret this as the mark, the Papacy system (the beast) has admittedly changed the day from a Saturday to a Sunday.
Again, there is a whole debate here about whether early Christians accepted this or not and took Sunday as the Lord’s Day going forward, but I think we can accept for certain that the Papacy officially permitted Sunday rather than Saturday by law through Emperor Constantine in the early third century.
Therefore, this Sabbath-keeping principle has, let’s say, the ability to turn into a mark and sign of authority of the beast’s system on a Sunday, as opposed to what God originally intended as still being a Saturday in scripture.
Also, there is reference to God’s true believers and saints in the last days in Revelation keeping the commandments of God, although some may say that Jesus’ New-Covenant ones are different, whereas Seventh day Adventists believe that the Ten Commandments are still the core moral ones that will never change, as opposed to the temporal ceremonial ones under the Old Covenant that were removed at Calvary.
This is going off into a whole different law-and-grace conversation, but for this purpose it’s worth noting that there is reference to believers needing to keep such ‘commandments’ in end times, not just a general faith without any Holy-Spirit powered works to substantiate this as outlined in the book of James.
4. The Opposite Seal With Sabbath Reference
The opposite to the beast’s mark in revelation is God’s seal as mentioned earlier, with people receiving one or the other at the very end of time.
There is reference to ‘seals’ of God in the Old Testament to Sabbath keeping, which Adventists focus on. Even before the Ten Commandments were issued through Moses which include Sabbath-keeping, God required His Children to take a seventh day of rest prior to this after coming out of Egypt and wandering in the dessert, with Him providing extra food on the sixth day for them on the seventh.
Although others may argue this was only meant for the Israelites at the time under the Old Covenant, you still have reference to the ‘seal’ of God being Sabbath observance.
However, this also links back to Revelation in the sense that this whole Sabbath-observance thing is all about a simple rest before God. For those with the mark in Revelation there is reference to them having no rest, day or night, also receiving this mark afterwards - the opposite to the sealing-resting principle.
5. Importance of the Sabbath Generally
This point is more of a personal testimony, but does relate to this issues of Sabbath observance.
I personally now belief that as a New Covenant, Spirit-filled, New Testament and born-again Christian in the twenty-first century, we still need to observe the Sabbath day on the correct day of Saturday.
God specifically revealed this to me in 2017, which I’m currently preparing notes on this, but in short, I honestly believe that God showed me the significance of this generally. This was without first studying scripture and therefore doing it from a sense of duty – it was first revealed to me, and I then saw the reference to in scripture afterwards.
Therefore, I see Sabbath-keeping as an important act of worship to God and honouring of His ways and commandments, irrespective of any inference of a seal or mark afterwards.
Put another way, I would still be observing Sabbath even it isn’t the mark issue as Adventists believe.
And even if this is the correct understand of the mark-of-the-beast issue, Christians will still need to go back to basics and appreciate why the Sabbath is important anyway. Without that, and doing it from faith in Christ, it is just a religious ritual – there are thousands of others like Jews following the Saturday Sabbath day without this emphasis.
6. The Mark Loosing Salvation
Next up, is the point about the mark of the beast loosing our salvation.
Therefore, the logical conclusion is that Sabbath keeping is a salvation issue here. Even though you might be a Christian now, unless you observe the Sabbath you will loose your salvation, therefore grace is now all about works and not faith.
This links I think to the wider doctrines of the Seventh day Adventist church on say the investigative judgement (with a post here on this) and general following of God’s commandments and principles.
Now in one sense, this claim is right. By not following the Sabbath in the End Times according to this understanding of the mark, you will loose your salvation.
However, what I don’t think is appreciated is that something else will still loose your salvation anyway, if it isn’t this one. That’s the nature of the mark, with clear reference to Christians having their name taken out of the book of life, and needing to be overcomers and commandment keepers.
So, even if you believe the simple numbers 666 on your head or hands is the mark – this means you will lose you salvation.
Or if accepting a chip under your skin is the mark – you will still become a ‘non-Christian’ in that sense.
The mark is a salvation-looser, no matter what it is, period. This mark business is certainly the most series of warnings in the whole bible, and something where you can loose your faith.
This really opens up another debate all about the ‘once saved always saved’ debate which I touch on a bit in the post on judgment.
Or look at the story of Ananias and Saphira in the New Testament – suddenly dying and turning again God and believers it seems from sinning, and all in the New Covenant.
7. No One Has the Mark at the Moment
This point is really important, and worth bringing in now with some background on the whole subject already covered.
This mark/seal issue only takes effect at the very end of time. It’s in the thick of the final happenings of earth’s history in Revelation just before Christ’s Second Coming.
Therefore, this ‘mark’ is only applicable at that time. It is a specific forcing of circumstances by the beast in those times for people to think or act in a certain way.
So, at the moment no one has the mark, or even the sela in that sense. It does not exist at all, and it will only take effect in the future whenever that is.
Therefore, this means that this Sabbath-keeping principle is nothing to do with the mark of the beast at the moment. You can still be going to church and treating the Sabbath as Sunday, or not at all, until the cows come home – it can never be the mark of the beast now.
As an aside, it may still be going against Gods Commandments and therefore arguably the ‘wrong’ thing to do – but it’s not a mark.
We are all work in progress anyway, and unfortunately still sin and break the Ten Commandments to some degree. Breaking one is the same as breaking another as Jesus points out – in actual fact, He goes deeper and says that what happens in our heart is more important.
Putting this another way, there may well be the basis of the mark of the beast already in existence now, and need to observe the Sabbath anyway if this is the correct thing to do. So, there is the basis of a mark available now, but the actual mark is not yet in force.
At the time when the mark does take effect, we’ll all clearly know about it. People who don’t accept this cannot trade and buy/sell according to scripture, and reference to the beast at this time killing the saints who don’t toe the line of observance.
At that time it will be a clear choice with definite consequences that we will all need to make individually – whether it’s false Sabbath keeping, a chip under the skin, or some other ‘thing’.
8. The Mark Needs to be Clear
Leading on from this is a point that the mark of the beast will need to become clearer the nearer we all come to the point of it taking effect.
This may sound obvious, after all, we can’t fairly be blamed for accepting such a mark if we don’t even know what the thing is.
God is a just God, and not the author of any confusion – with such a serious warning that can loose your salvation, it must surely become more obvious at some point, and need to be a black and white yes or no response amongst such craziness in the word at the time.
Even though it is confusing at the moment with various different interpretations out there, and even though deception and false-spirituality as mentioned earlier will be a huge issue in the End Times anyway - for those true-seekers of God, he will make the whole issue clear at the right time to people individually.
He won’t leave his believers stuck in confusion and rash assumptions. This mark/seal issue is basically designed by God to be a quick sifter of true and false believers – there is no grey area at that point, you are either fully for Christ or you’re not, as he’s about to return to earth and take His people home.
Therefore in this context, I have actually come to respect the Seventh day Adventist church for having this claim. Instead of shying away from declaring this, quite the opposite – it should be openly proclaimed and debated.
Although I appreciate the potential offence this can cause after being a Sunday-Church person for over four decades of my life, and even though at the time of writing this I’m not completely sure that this is the actual mark of the beast, I now understand how it has been fairly arrived at.
After all, if true, I appreciate the fact that you have to choose one day over another in your heart and of worship to God, with no grey areas or confusion with complex and spiritual experiences or exercises to follow in order to somehow arrive at that point.
Therefore, fair play for trying to arrive at what the mark of the beast could be.
9. Time Will Help Make Things Clearer
If this interpretation of the mark of the beast is true, then in one sense there are huge consequences, however, in another sense there are not.
On the assumption that most Christians will be used to attending a church and treating Sundays as the special day of the week, then there at catastrophic changes to switching to a Saturday.
Believe me, I’ve been there, and it’s only by walking in faith one step at a time that by God’s grace it has made more sense and been possible.
Therefore, this can understandably make it too hard and almost impossible. And yet, for someone who is new to the faith with no church-going background then picking either a Saturday or Sunday is a lot simpler.
But over time this will become easier, and therefore more acceptable.
As the world becomes a crazier place, and as I’m writing this during the Covid-19 lock-down when no church is open anyway and you can pick whatever day of the week you want, then more flexibility will come to make other choices.
There will also need to be a whole new look of how Christians really stand out and be separate from the world in such times as anyway, with Sabbath-keeping being just one part of this.
However, saying that, in another way it could become harder the longer in time we get, as people need to make their own decision on whether this is right or not and be able to stand up for it even under pressure from the world, and dare I say it, the mainstream Christian world as the appeal of power-packed Sunday services becomes a reality.
10. There Needs to be Certain Criteria to Prove This
The final point is actually the most important one I think, however, we first need to go through all the other steps.
You see the nature of this beast-mark is that people are forced to do something. Within this context, this is more than just suggesting Sundays as the right Sabbath day of the week, but still allowing Saturday observance if people want – it’s forcing people to do this.
Seventh Day Adventist therefore believe it will be law to not only observe Sundays, but NOT observe Saturdays, failing which you can not trade and even lead to a point of death.
It’s called the National Sunday Law, stemming from the United States of America which most people will say is completely improbable at the moment with the American constitution and involve the first and second amendments being taken away.
Of course, this seems a bit way off and completely against anyone’s human rights and freedom of expression, and actually a form of anti-Semitism.
Therefore, the test is simple. If no such laws and restraints come about, this is the wrong interpretation of the mark of the beast.
Put another way, this specific set of circumstances must exist for this Sabbath point in the future to be a sealing/making point – if not, then it isn’t, and we need to look elsewhere.
Is it, or Isn’t it?
As we come to the end of these ten points about the claims of the Seventh Day Adventist church saying that the mark of the beast in the End Times will be Sabbath worship on the original day of the week Saturday, I want to bring it back to my own take on this.
I personally believe that such Sabbath observance is right, and that a weekly rest from our work and daily chores on the day that God has set apart if a powerful way of trusting in God Almighty as our only source of everything.
Neither this or anything else is the mark of the beast at the moment – that only emerges at the end of time.
And to be honest, I’m not fully convinced at the moment that this is the final mark of the beast anyway.
However, what I do know, which leads on from the last point above, is that in the future if ever there was a point when such laws came in that Saturday-Sabbath keeping was not only banned, but I was not able to trade and my life was even being threatened because of it, then that brings a whole different light on the subject.
Although this may seem completely unlikely – but if it DID happen, and there was no other credible mark-of-the-beast signs cropping up, then I’d have to say that this is then showing the signs of the Papacy-beast and a false-church, and I will choose to follow God’s ways.