The prophecy regarding the mark of the beast is about religious intolerance, an economic boycott, persecution, and eventually a death decree. Surprisingly, it is also a message of encouragement. Even in the worst of times, God will sustain His people who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12, NKJV). And, among those commandments, of course, is the fourth — the seventh-day Sabbath.
The mark of the beast prophecy in Revelation 13:1-18 tells us about the worst, the absolute fever pitch, of Satan’s war against God. His first strategy in this campaign is deception. Revelation 13:1-18 tells about a time in the future when the devil will work through an earthly religiopolitical power called the beast and resort to force.
Religious persecution, of course, is not new. It has been around ever since Cain killed Abel for worshiping the way God instructed them to worship (see Genesis 4:1-8). Jesus said persecution would happen even to believers in the first century and down through the ages: “The time is coming,“ He warned, “that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service“ (John 16:2, NKJV; see also Matthew 10:22, 1 Peter 4:12).
The mark of the beast prophecy is about the final link in this ungodly chain. Like the persecutions in the past, it is designed to force everyone to conform to a certain set of beliefs and an approved system of worship.
Read Revelation 13:15-17. What will God’s end-time people face in the final crisis?
The prophecy says the persecution will start with economic sanctions: “No one can buy or sell” unless they have “the mark.” When this happens, the immense majority will capitulate. Anyone who refuses will eventually be placed under a death decree.
The devil is preparing professed Christians by compromises in their lives to receive the mark of the beast when the final test comes upon us in the future. God’s love for each one of us will strengthen us and preserve us during the troublous times ahead.