The book of Revelation can be confusing. Theories abound and churches differ on "end times" theology. For those of us who dislike straining ourselves to understand it is easy to write this part of the Bible off as simply for "end times" theology with no relevance to us today. For many of us it is hard to engage with the book, this revelation.
One part of Revelation that has received a lot of attention over the years is the mark of the beast. The scripture is referring to a mark people will take in the end times with most interpreting this as a physical mark of some sort, taken on the hand or on the head.
Revelation chapter 14, verse 11 says there will be no rest for those who worship the beast or receive the mark of its name. This is often overlooked, and it's a very intense repercussion for taking the sign of the beast. It's something we certainly do not want for ourselves!
God's people are marked also. Revelation chapter 7, verse 3 and chapter 9, verse 8 refer to a "seal of God" on the foreheads of believers.
Binding tefillin, a Jewish holy practice
Many Jews practise the binding of tefillin which is based on the scripture in Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 8 which says to tie God's commandments as symbols to your hands and foreheads.
Hillel ben David writes "it should be noted that the mark of the beast is a sign on the hand and forehead and the Torah passages about the tefillin are the only other places in scripture where anything else is ever spoken of as a sign or mark on both the hand and the forehead".
Could this orthodox Jewish practise be a signpost pointing to the mark of God?
We assume taking the mark of the beast would be something we would have to do deliberately, so it is easy to think we are safe. We think we have this one safely covered because we have not physically taken a mark of the beast.
But what if, today we are marked by what we do and what we think?
Maybe the mark today is subtle and sneaky. Maybe we don't realise we are being marked by our actions and who we follow.
In literature heads often represent beliefs and thoughts. Our beliefs and thoughts shape us, as we shape the world around us. Our minds control us whether consciously or unconsciously. Everything we do stems from something we believe about the world, about God and about ourselves.
When we allow negative, destructive thoughts to grow they will produce negative and destructive actions. Are we growing good in our minds or bad? 2 Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 5 says to take every thought captive and make it obedient to the will of God. Perhaps this is why.
Hands often symbolise actions. With our hands we can reach out to heal or reach out to hurt. With our hands we build or we destroy. Perhaps, right now, we need to think about our actions and how they are marking us. As followers of Christ or as followers of the world.
Marked by what we produce
Matthew chapter 7 speaks of knowing people by their fruit. It speaks of good fruit only coming from good trees and bad fruit coming from bad trees.
The actions we produce make us known, mark us. We will be marked as belonging to God or the world.
What are you believing and producing? How are you marking yourself today?
Kara Greening trained in biology, works in chemistry and wonders about the physics of the tardis in Doctor Who. She is passionate about exploring her faith and being wholehearted in life. She is married to a primary school teacher and they have two fluffy fat cats.
Kara Greening's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/kara-greening.html