No, the COVID vaccine is not the Mark of the Beast

Sep 21, 2020 5:00 PM

Before going any further I want to make it clear that this post is not an argument either for or against taking a (as yet unreleased and unavailable) vaccine for the COVID-19 virus or any other medical treatment. It is strictly about biblical interpretation which, as often happens when people feel they are living in apocalyptic times, has in some quarters gone off the rail.

Yes, there have been preachers who have seriously made the association between the acceptance of a vaccine and the so-called Mark of the Beast spoken of in Revelation 13. The passage contains a vision of a vicious, blasphemous beast rising out of the sea, empowered by the Great Dragon (Satan) to rule and to oppress God’s saints. Rising out of the earth to accompany and support him is a beast rising out of the earth who exercises the authority of the first beast and directs worship toward him. Those who take a futurist interpretation of the book (and many reputable commentators do) believe these beasts represent persons who will head up a one-world totalitarian government that will stand in direct opposition to God and Christ—and hence are known as the Antichrist. One of the things that will be done to secure the power of the Antichrist will be to institute a mark that will determine whether anyone will be able to carry on economic activity.

Here is the key passage from Revelation 13:

Also [the second beast] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

How does this get interpreted as a vaccination? It’s a combination of seeing how modern technology has made it easier than ever before in history to control people’s lives—through implanted computer chips, mysterious medical treatments—with a suspicion about governmental compulsion to accept such things.

Again, I’m not going to use this space right now to debate those issues. But is this what is meant by the mark? It’s an important question because the stakes are nothing less than one’s eternal soul. This is from Chapter 14:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

So what shall we say about this mark? (I’m going to assume here the futurist interpretation is correct and that the government of Antichrist is going to be a real thing.)

While the Antichrist will doubtless make effective use of whatever technology is at his disposal, the mark of the beast' has nothing whatever to do with physical marking. It is parallel to the mark that is on the forehead of the elect, specifically a group identified as 144,000 from the 12 Tribes of Israel in Revelation 7:2-3

Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

In 9:3, agents of God’s judgment are "told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”  In 14:1 they are identified as "144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.” They are faithful worshipers of God and “the Lamb” who continue to be steadfast even under fierce persecution and martyrdom.

But further, in 22:3-4 where the heavenly New Jerusalem is revealed, all the inhabitants thereof will be similarly marked: "The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads."

The background for these marks is found in…wait for it…the Torah, specifically the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.

Exodus 13:9, 16

Let it serve as a sign for you on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead, so that the Lord’s instruction may be in your mouth; for the Lord brought you out of Egypt with a strong hand…. So let it be a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead, for the Lord brought us out of Egypt by the strength of his hand.

In Deuteronomy 6:7-8, the same imagery is brought forward as an emblem of commitment to God’s commandments.

Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.

Once again, in Deuteronomy 11:18 

Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads.

While the Pharisees of old and the Hasids of today take these words literally and wear verses of the law in boxes bound to their hands and foreheads, clearly the primary meaning of these words is that Israel was commanded to embrace the covenant as their own and wear it outwardly and openly.

Likewise the Antichrist will make it mandatory for all to display their worship and allegiance to him and will penalize those who do not.

And Christ will know those whose true allegiance belongs to him, and it will be proudly displayed by all the citizens of the New Heaven and New Earth

As for interpreting the “number of his name…666”—that’s a subject for another day.


New Additions to Video Bible Study 

 out the new additions to the Studies in the Gospel of John: 5 more lessons covering Chapters 10-12, plus a lesson focused on the 7 Signs—what are those signs and why did John select those particular miracles?

Click here for Studies in the Gospel of John, Part 3.