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The beast from the earth, John prophesied, would be characterized by two notable things. First is the misuse of nature, or more specifically, weaponizing nature (atoms) for the purpose of subduing and enslaving other nations. Second, was the misuse of commerce, using money to enslave others. So the beast from the earth created weapons of mass destruction as well as a financial system that would allow no one to carry out commerce apart from using the money that they created.
Revelation 13:14, 15 says,
14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15 And there was given to him to give breath [pneuma, “spirit”] to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
The first thing John tells us is that the second beast is deceptive. The irony is in the fact that the beast, which has arisen from the earth “deceives those who dwell on the earth.” An important biblical metaphor is that if we are of the earth, then we are in the image of the first Adam. In spite of this, we are to rise above the earth as sons of God. Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:47,
47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.
The implication is that if we set our minds on heavenly things, we will not be deceived by earthly things or by the beast from the earth. Deut. 11:8, 16, and 18 instruct us,
8 You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today… 16 Beware, lest your hearts be deceived and you turn away and serve other gods and worship them… 18 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.
The law of God was the antidote to worshiping false gods. To prevent deception, we must (figuratively) bind the word of God on our foreheads and on our hands. This puts the mark of God upon us, and it is the opposite of the mark of lawlessness that was put upon Cain (Gen. 4:15, KJV). The desire of every true believer is to receive the mark (tav, “mark, sign, signature,”) of God upon his forehead, identifying him as a bond slave of Jesus Christ.
Originally written as an X or as a cross, this mark was placed on God’s chosen ones before the destruction of Jerusalem in Ezekiel 9:4,
4 And the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark [tav] on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.
This same manner of speaking is seen in Rev. 13:16,
16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead.
As Deuteronomy 11 shows us, the mark of God prevents the worship of false gods. Conversely, then, the mark of the earth beast signifies that people are worshiping false gods. They are “owned” by those other gods, even as the mark of the true God is a tav (mark, signature) of divine ownership.
What, then, is this “mark” or signature in Rev. 13:16? First, it is no more literal than the “frontals” in Deut. 11:18. The Jews, of course, often set forth their mark of righteousness by literally binding portions of Scripture to their foreheads for all to see. They were called towphaphah in Hebrew and phylakterion in Greek. Dr. Bullinger tells us in his notes on Exodus 13:1,
“There are two pair of Phylacteries, so called (in Greek) from their use = a prayer-fillet or band worn today on forehead and hands during prayer. First pair here, Exodus 13:3-10 and 13:11-16. Second pair in Deut. 6:4-9 and 11:13-21.”
This was a “sign” that their thoughts and the works of their hands were bound by the word of God, and that they were obedient to the word. One pair of frontals was taken from the first law (Exodus), and the second was taken from the second law (Deuteronomy). Of course, when we consult the mind of God in this matter, we see that this was never meant to be a literal requirement. At most, it was to be a teaching tool and reminder to be obedient as bond slaves of God. The heart issue was always the goal, not the physical “mark.”
It is the same with the mark of the beast in Rev. 13:16. Those who worship the beast are branded with his signature to mark his slaves. Those who worship God are branded with His signature to indicate divine ownership.
How does one know which mark he has received? Paul tells us in 1 Tim. 6:10 that “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.” Money itself is neutral. The love of money (i.e., greed) is what causes men to go astray and to worship other gods in the earth. Paul’s instruction actually begins earlier and shows us that he was writing on the topic of godliness. 1 Tim. 6:3-10 reads,
3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many a pang.
When men are motivated by the love of money, they are automatically owned by the beast from the earth, whether they know it or not. They bear his mark on their foreheads (minds), and so everything they do by the works of their hands is done in the pursuit of wealth. Wealth is their top priority.
In the prophetic context in Revelation 13, we find that the Jewish bankers, led (at least visibly) by the Rothschilds, were motivated by greed, the love of money, and the pursuit of wealth. In their quest, they finally obtained the privilege to create money itself and to loan it to governments at interest with very little cost to themselves. It is of interest to us that the currency of Germany (until 1999) was the mark. Rothschild was from Hamburg, Germany.
Rev. 13:14 speaks of “an image TO the beast.” This is how we are to interpret the next verse, which speaks of “the image OF the beast.” The image is not a picture of the beast. The image is “of” (originates from) the beast. The image “to” the beast (i.e., given to him) indicates that it is created for the beast and for his purposes.
The word translated “image” is eikon, or icon. In Luke 20:22-25 we read about such icons,
22 “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 23 But He detected their trickery and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness [eikon, “image”] and inscription [epigraphe, “title, writing”] does it have?” And they said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Every coin has an image, or icon, which officially monetizes the metal. Such coins often are struck with the image of the ruler of the nation or empire during whose time the coin was minted. Hence, the “image” is the picture and inscription of the one authorizing the coin. It is not a statue, as so many have pictured it to be. Men worship this image when they have the love of money and when everything they do with their hands is designed to accumulate wealth.
Jesus had no problem using Roman coinage, because He did not worship money, nor did He worship the image of Caesar.
The modern problem reached a culmination point in 1914 when the Federal Reserve Bank was established and certain wealthy Jewish banking families took control of the money supply. US dollars were abolished in favor of Federal Reserve Notes. Other nations’ currencies too came under the control of the powerful banking families. The result was that no one could buy or sell without using these private notes. So Rev. 13:17 says,
17 and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
There is much more to it than this, of course, for this beast system also turned all men into slaves. Birth certificates were soon required, having a commercial number on them, and these were sent to the Department of Commerce, where each citizen (by his number) is registered as a slave. (The term citizen literally means “subject, or slave.”) This is part of Babylonian slavery and commerce as described in Rev. 18:13.
So we see that the beast from the earth rules and enslaves mankind through the power of money creation. Its slave trade is its main commercial venture, and this is accomplished through deception. Few understand how the system works, and so not many understand their position as citizen-slaves of the earth beast.
It is not a sin to be a slave of the system as long as we are bond slaves of Jesus Christ in our manner of life. Such slavery did not start with the earth beast. It began a long time ago when God gave Jerusalem into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. This slavery is the result of sin. It is the divine judgment for the sins of past generations. The financial power that arose 200 years ago was merely the last form of divine judgment before the dominion was returned to the saints of the Most High.