March 13, 2010

Charagma [ χάραγμα ]: "The Mark"

Revelation 13:16-17 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 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.

It never occurred to me why taking the "mark of the beast" [Gk: charagma tou therion] mentioned in Revelation is such a horrendous act. We know what the numerics are but why on the forehead or the hand? Why is it not acceptable? We need to revisit the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6 (the Sherma or Greatest Commandment) to find the answer.

Deuteronomy 6:4-8 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. In Deuteronomy 6 it is "oth" instead of 'charagma". Both words are set forth with the connotation of being signs. When used in the context of Deuteronomy 6, "mark" and "sign" are interchangeable. Regardless, as with other signs of the Old Testament they are meant to be permanent reminders. Signs direct people towards other things. What are that those things?

Verses 4-5 above are Israel's doctrinal confession in its most distilled form. It is the core principle to covenant and even Jesus reiterated it in the New Testament.

Matthew 22:36-37 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment..."

The key to understanding the inappropriateness of taking the mark of the beast on the forehead or hand is Deuteronomy 6:8. The Israelites were to bind the commandments on these areas. God's greatest commandments. Modern devout Jews still do this. They are called Phylacteries or Tefillin. The little square boxes that they bind to their head and arms/hands contain small folded pieces of Deuteronomy 6:5-9, 11:13-21 and Exodus 13:1-16.

Deuteronomy 11:13-21 So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul-then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Instead of binding what God commands His people to bind in the areas of the forehead and hand, His people will instead take the "mark" in these areas. It is essentially mocking and belittling what God told the Israelites was to be done to remind them what He considered most important, which is love and obedience. It is the most disobedient form of disobedience and shows a complete lack of love for God and His statutes by taking "the mark". By placing the number of man or man's identifier in God's place it is an attempt to bring God down to mans level or elevate man to Gods place (both are absurd). It is symbolically giving God the middle finger. I don't know about you but I felt really uncomfortable typing this sentence just now. I can't imagine being stupid enough to get an "emblem" on my forehead but apparently many will have absolutely no qualms in doing so. I pity them. Additionally, the right hand was a symbol of power as is noted when Scripture refers to Jesus sitting at the Fathers right hand.

The Phylacteries/Tefillin direct man towards God. The Mark of the Beast directs man towards man or towards evil and system of this world. A system that has nothing to do with Biblical love or obedience.

Only God alone is worthy of worship. To obey God is to love God (John 14:15). To identify anything else in the place of God is a mockery of God. God's proper position is above all. There should be no other God's before him.

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