The Mark of the Beast Part I
There is a lot of chatter about receiving the mark of the beast during the current pandemic. Is it a vaccine, an under the skin microchip, or a tattoo? Speculations about this “mark” have been juicy fodder for apocalyptic literature, whether fiction or nonfiction, for decades, and even centuries. Fear about receiving this damnable mark bolsters countless conspiracies and an endless supply of consumers eager to swallow them. Fear is a very powerful motivator. But, one that serves the Most High is to fear Him alone. Not man. Not circumstances. And, certainly not the mark of the beast.
While one can find numerous books, articles, websites, and YouTube videos about the mark of the beast, little is available about the sign or mark of Adonai. There is such a disparity, that many Believers aren’t even aware that the LORD also gives a sign upon one’s hand and forehead. So, there are millions that focus solely on the counterfeit, having no experience with the real, authentic sign. No wonder there is such confusion! That is the intent of the beast system, spiritual Babylon.
Thus, if one wants to understand the mark of the beast, one must first understand the positive side of the contranym, which is the sign or mark of Adonai. This is a lengthy article, because it contains extensive Biblical quotes. And yet, this mini-series will only scratch the surface of this ancient dichotomy. The enemy is not creative, though he is crafty and cunning. He can only imitate and pervert God’s genuine Word and creation. With that in mind, let’s read about Adonai’s sign upon one’s hand and forehead.
The Passover is a Sign
Ex. 13:4-10 (NASB) On this day in the month of Abib, you are about to go forth. 5 It shall be when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month. 6 For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, saying, “It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.” 9 And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10 Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.
The sign upon one’s hand and forehead is repeated further down in Exodus 13. The context is still Pesach and Unleavened Bread, but the emphasis in verse 16 is the redemption of the firstborn. In both cases, obedience to celebrating, commemorating, and telling the next generation about YHWH’s mighty works in delivering Israel from the slavery and bondage of Egypt, and His preservation of Israel’s firstborns serves as a SIGN upon one’s hand.
Ex. 13:11-16 (NKJV) And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, 12 that you shall set apart to the LORD all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the LORD’s. 13 But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14 So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, “What is this?” that you shall say to him, “By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.” 16 It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.
Defining Hand & Sign
What does the hand signify in Hebraic thought? One acts, performs, or works with their hands. It is a symbol of “doing” something or having the strength to do or act; thus, it can be translated as power. (Dt 32:36, Pr. 18:21, Hos. 13:14, etc.) One’s hand denotes strength to obey, whether that obedience is toward righteousness or wickedness. Whatever one gives their hand to is what (or who) they serve. (Rom. 6:16)
The “sign” in these passages is אות in Hebrew. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (BDB) defines it as:
H226 BDB Definition: 1) sign, signal. 1a) a distinguishing mark. 1b) banner. 1c) remembrance. 1d) miraculous sign. 1e) omen. 1f) warning. 2) token, ensign, standard, miracle, proof. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: probably from H225 (in the sense of appearing)
The following verses are samples of how the word oht or sign is used in Scripture:
Gen. 1:14 (NASB) Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…
Gen. 4:15 (NASB) So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.
Gen. 9:12-13 (NASB) God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; 13 I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.”
Gen. 17:10-11 (NASB) “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.”
Ex. 12:11-13 (NASB) “Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
Dt. 28:45-48 (NASB) So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.
Ps. 78:41-43 (NASB) Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary, 43 when He performed His signs in Egypt And His marvels in the field of Zoan…
Is. 7:14 (NASB) Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
An oht or sign is physical symbol of something figurative or spiritual. For example, oht is also the Hebrew word for a single “letter” or character, such as aleph. Thus, even the Hebrew letters can contain signs and meaning beyond the physical. In the case of covenants, the sign is a physical mark such as circumcision or a heavenly appearance of something like the rainbow. Keeping Passover is physical sign upon one’s hand, not as something seen with the eyes, but something physically performed with one’s hand. Observing this moed serves as the sign on the hand. It is both physical and spiritual. In other uses, a sign is the physical miracles and/or judgments of Adonai. Again, these signs are both physical and spiritual.
Defining Forehead or Frontlets Between Your Eyes
What do the phrases “reminder on your forehead” and “frontlets between your eyes” from Exodus 13 mean? In the first case, the Hebrew word for reminder is zikron. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (BDB) defines it as:
H2146 זכרון zikrôn BDB Definition: 1) memorial, reminder, remembrance. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2142
Zikron comes from the Hebrew root zakar, which Strong’s Definitions defines as:
Strong’s: H2142 זָכַר zâkar A primitive root; properly to mark (so as to be recognized), that is, to remember; by implication to mention; also (as denominative from H2145) to be male: – X burn [incense], X earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record (-er), remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance, X still, think on, X well. Total KJV occurrences: 231
The word for forehead in the NASB translation is literally “between your eyes” in the Hebrew of Exodus 13:9. Observing and telling one’s children about the Passover and exodus from Egypt wrought by the Mighty Hand of Adonai is to be a memorial, a mark, and a reminder, between one’s eyes. This phrase and the following one in verse 16, imply undivided attention, thought, intent, and action. The Passover should be right at the forefront of one’s mind, right before one’s “eyes.”
The similar phrase in Exodus 13:16, “frontlets between your eyes,” reveals the same message, but gives one even more information. BDB defines frontlets as:
H2903 טופפה ṭôphâphâh BDB Definition: 1) bands, phylacteries, frontlets, marks. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from an unused root meaning to go around or bind.
This word gives physicality to intangible thought being a mark. The Passover memorial is like a band wrapped around one’s head. Just as Pesach cycles around and around on Adonai’s calendar, it is to circle and cycle through one’s thoughts and mind. One should NEVER forget that: “with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.” This reminder is a standing testimony of the God of Israel.
The Word and Commandments of God are a Sign on One’s Hand and Forehead
Dt. 6:4-9 (NASB) Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Dt. 11:18 (NASB) You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
By reading the entirety of the chapter 6 above, along with chapters 7- 11 of Deuteronomy, one is given clear context of what it means to have the word of Adonai bound to one’s forehead and hand. The flank chapters (6 and 11) declare the exodus from Egypt as the archetype of deliverance and following after the One True God. In fact, if one substitutes the Land of Promise with the New Jerusalem, an even clearer picture emerges, for they are one.
If the Word is bound to one’s forehead, then one’s thoughts and mind are continually immersed and washed by the Words of Life. If the Word of God is bound to one’s hand, then their deeds (fruit) will follow the commandments and they will teach their children to follow suit, because it is understood that God’s Word and His commandments lead to life. They embody true love and wisdom, and engender reverence to the Holy One of Israel.
Both Deuteronomy passages above have the phrase “frontlets between your eyes.” Frontlets is the same Hebrew word explored from Exodus 13:16. It is tofafa. These verses are included in the Scripture passages that are placed inside the tefillin or phylactery boxes wore by religious Jews. Donning Tefillin (Totafot) or Phylacteries is the Jewish physical expression of the binding meaning of tafafa. It serves as a physical reminder of a spiritual reality.
While the topic of wearing tefillin during prayer is far too immense to cover in this article, I recommend this summary written by Alexander Cowen. A study of the history and intricacies of this tradition, the inner compartments, the included Scripture, and the design of the boxes with the three and four pronged shin can be found in The Creation Gospel Workbook 6: Hebrew Prayer and Worship Traditions by Dr. Hollisa Alewine. She states on page 237:
The Talmud indicates in Megillah 24b that by the time of its writing, it was primarily Jewish believers in Yeshua who wore the round phylacteries or decorated them with precious metals, and they wore them “without scruple.” (Bagatti, 1984, p.101)
Wearing phylacteries as a physical sign of the commandments and commemoration of the Passover was practiced among early believers in Yeshua. Though this custom is foreign to most modern Christians, it would have been common among John’s day when he wrote the Book of Revelation. A sign upon one’s hand and forehead held significant meaning that was not lost on his original audience. But before delving into his mystical book, we will examine a few more references of a godly sign in the Bible. The more context one has of the genuine sign or mark of Adonai, the better understanding one will have of what the counterfeit actually represents.
Weekly Sabbaths and Festival Sabbaths are a Sign
Ex. 31:12-17 (NASB) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”
In the above sense, Sabbath is a sign between Adonai and His children. It is like a wedding ring, signifying one that is in covenant with Him. Why the Sabbath? In Genesis chapter one, the Sabbath declares Him the Creator of all things. When one rests in Him by setting the seventh day apart as holy, this is a physical and temporal acknowledgment that He is the King and Creator of the Universe. In this way, it also sets one apart from those that refuse to recognize Him as their true rest and King. One must choose to don this “ring” or symbol of covenant.
Being in covenant with Adonai is often portrayed by the analogy of marriage in the Bible, and in Jewish and Christian tradition. For example, when donning the phylacteries, many Jews recite the following from Hosea.
Hos. 2:19-20 (NASB) “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, 20 and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.”
In Jewish wedding ceremonies, the bride encircles the groom three times (in some traditions it is seven), to symbolize a wall of protection and the creating of a new creation: the two becoming one flesh. The three “betroths” mentioned above in Hosea are mirrored as she encompasses her man. (Jer. 31:22) Likewise, those that encircle the groom seven times, reflect the seven days of creation culminating with the Shabbat, the sign between Adonai and His people.
Ezekiel also recalls the exodus from Egypt and the Sabbaths as a sign between Adonai and His people. Within his prophetic book, he mentions a mark placed upon the foreheads of those who sigh and moan over the abominations committed in Jerusalem. They are preserved from Adonai’s judgment that will start with His sanctuary.
Ezek. 20:10-12 (NASB) “So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. 12 Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”
Ezek. 9:4 (NASB) The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”
Like Shabbat, the Passover (and other moedim) declare the wondrous works of Adonai. They proclaim the good news: freedom for the captives. By rehearsing and commemorating His works again and again, one gets to know God as Creator, Redeemer, Deliverer, Savior, Sanctifier, Miracle Worker, Law-giver, Compassionate Father, Righteous Judge, Forgiver of Sins, Husband, and Immanuel. He is the first and the last, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning and the End, the Amen.
As one follows His divine cycles, the cycles encircle them with His water and fire, an immersion that cleans, purifies, guides, teaches, corrects, and leads. Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly this process of growth and sanctification continues. In this way, the Word is engraved upon the heart, which directs one’s feet in the Way of Life. Yeshua modelled this perfectly in His earthly ministry. If we follow Him, we will follow the same path that He walked (walks).
This is a sign upon one’s hand and one’s forehead that we are His. It reminds of us of who we are and to Whom we belong, like a wedding ring. But, it also is a sign to those outside of the covenant as well. Though they can’t see a physical or literal mark upon one’s hand and forehead, they can see that you are different. They will see the “sign” and know that you belong to God of Israel. What does that wedding ring look like?
Your calendar is not like their calendar. The oht you observe are not the oht they observe. Your celebrations and commemorations are not like their holidays. Your weekly life revolves around the holy Shabbat, not the constant 24/7 striving that the world enslaves the masses to. Your daily focus isn’t on the acquisition of worldly goods and wealth, but on the Kingdom of God. You don’t fear what they fear. You fear Adonai. You enter into rest, the antithesis to the beast system, which will be explored later in this series.
Continued in Part II.