pdf of The Good News – January 1986 e-Book of The Good News – January 1986 link to The Good News – January 1986
The Good News – January 1986
The Good News – January 1986
Part Three:
Who Or What Is The Prophetic Beast?

What Is the Mark of the Beast?

by Herbert W. Armstrong

Better be sure whether this brand is upon you! Without it, no man will be able to buy or sell! Without it, you may be tortured even to death! But with it, you shall suffer the SEVEN LAST PLAGUES OF GOD!

The Good News is publishing, serially, Editor-in-Chief Herbert W. Armstrong’s new booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?

Some used to say this mystic “mark” was the fasces on the Old United States dimes. During World War II many said it was Hitler’s swastika. During the Depression New Deal many said it was Roosevelt’s NRA!

No subject has been more intriguing and baffling to our generation. Thousands of sermons have been preached on it– by professed ministers and evangelists who themselves did not know what it is! Millions have been curious.

Only text usually read

The average sermon on this subject considers one text of Scripture only!

This is the sole passage ordinarily quoted by those trying to explain this mysterious mark:

“And he [the second “beast”] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a MARK in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

From this one passage the speaker customarily uses his imagination. One might reason that since you will not be able to buy or sell without this mysterious mark, and since we all wish to be able to buy and sell, therefore we ought to do all in our power to receive this mark!

But here is an additional passage of Scripture they neglect to show you: “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God… . And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues …

“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the WRATH OF GOD upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image” (Revelation 15:1, 6, 16:1-2).

If you do have the “mark of the beast,” you will receive the seven last plagues of God, and those plagues will be terrible beyond description!

How to tell what it is!

There are many more references to this subject in the Bible. Instead of looking at one passage only, then turning away from God’s own revelation of this mystery, and using human imagination and fancy to conjure up the many ridiculous conclusions being foisted upon a deceived public by men devoid of understanding, let us see what GOD says this MARK really is!

Make no mistake, God tells us plainly what it is! It is unmistakably, clearly revealed and explained in the Bible! But to find God’s answer, we must have before us all of the scriptures referring to this subject!

First, from the text universally quoted (Revelation 13:16-17), notice this: The mark is something that will be very popular –something the majority of people will be in favor of, will seek–which custom will approve as right.

Everyone wants to be able to “buy or sell.” In this scriptural usage the expression “buy or sell” more literally indicates being able to buy–not that stores or those from whom one might make purchases of the necessities of life would refuse to accept the person’s money, but that the one refusing the mark would actually not be able to buy, would not be able to earn a living, to earn a wage or salary, or to engage himself in business.

The mark of the beast, then, has direct bearing on ability to engage in business, or to hold a job and earn a living.

But let’s look at all the facts God reveals on the subject of the mark–all the Bible scriptures bearing on it.

What is the beast?

First, then, the “beast” itself. The “mark” is the mark of the “BEAST.” This is described in the first verses of this chapter:

“And I stood upon the sand of the sea,” records John, speaking of his prophetic vision, “and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:1-2).

The identity of this weird beast was revealed in previous installments. We have clearly identified this wild animal–a composite wild animal with the strongest characteristics of the four wild animals that are symbolically described in Daniel 7 –as the Roman Empire.

Daniel 7 reveals that these beasts, or wild animals, symbolize civil GOVERNMENTS, or world empires. Daniel’s first beast was like a lion, and it represented the Chaldean Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, called Babylon. His second beast, like a bear, pictured the Persian Empire; his third, with four heads, like a leopard, represented Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian Empire and its succeeding four divisions after his death; and his fourth beast, unlike any existing wild animal, the Roman Empire, which swallowed up and absorbed all the others, and embodied the strongest physical and military characteristics of all its predecessors.

This beast of Revelation 13 had the mouth, the strongest part, of the lion; the feet, the strongest part, of the bear; the body of the leopard. It included, in the ONE empire it represents, the strength of ALL of Daniel’s beasts.


Notice, the “dragon” gave this empire its seat and power, and great authority. Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 both tell us in plain words this “dragon” is Satan the devil.

This empire is, then, the political instrument of Satan in ruling and deceiving the world.

WHOSE mark?

Note this well! The mark is the mark of the BEAST–and the beast is the ROMAN EMPIRE. In Revelation 17 a later stage of this same wild beast is pictured, and there a “woman”–a great CHURCH–sits astride it, guides it, rules over it. But the MARK is the mark of the ROMAN EMPIRE–not the Roman Catholic Church.

That is fact No. 1. Keep that in mind.

Now in Revelation 13:11 another beast is pictured. This beast had two horns like a lamb, but spoke as a dragon.

This second beast of Revelation 13 is also pictured in Revelation 17 as the harlot woman who rode the beast. This fallen woman or church is different from all other churches in one respect. She is organized as a civil government, as well as an ecclesiastical church. Nations of the world send ambassadors to her, the same as they do the capitals of other nations.

This church, just as the woman riding an animal guides and directs the animal–like, for example, a woman riding a horse–took over, exercised, wielded, all the power of the first beast–the Roman Empire. After A.D. 554, the church did do this for 1,260 years, as prophesied!

Notice, further, what is revealed in Revelation 13:15-16: “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all … to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (Revelation 13:15-16).

The brand of Rome

Now here is a deceived church–both herself deceived by, and therefore used by, Satan the devil, and also deceiving the world. Notice, this church does not actually herself kill these martyrs–she merely causes them to be killed. And she it is, too, who CAUSES all under her domination to receive the dread MARK of the beast.

Notice carefully what the above text tells us:

1) “He”–the leader who originated human civil government, modeled after the government of the Roman Empire, in the church.

2) “Causeth” all to receive this mark. It is the church, not the civil government, which forces this brand on people.

3) It is the same power that caused the martyrdom of saints.

4) It brands on the people the mark of the “beast”–that is, the mark of the ROMAN EMPIRE, not the mark of the church.

5) This mark is received in the right hand, or in the forehead.

So the MARK is that of the Roman Empire, which this CHURCH did cause or shall cause the Western world to receive.

TWO martyrdoms

Next notice when these saints were killed. This will show us when the mark of the beast is enforced.

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10).

Here we find pictured the martyrs of the Middle Ages already dead, at the time of this vision–which is the approximate present.

They know “Vengeance is MINE, saith the Lord.” They know God’s judgments against this persecuting, deceiving, false church, as described in Revelation 18, are to be the seven last plagues, poured out “in the presence of the Lamb” at the Second Coming of Christ. Read of it in Revelation 18.

These dead saints are pictured as crying out to ask “HOW LONG” before the Second Coming of Christ and the seven last plagues, which will avenge their martyrdom. History tells us that in the Middle Ages more than 50 MILLION were killed, many for the BIBLE faith and obedience to God instead of obedience to this church government of man and the devil.

Notice, now, what must again happen before the seven last plagues and the coming of Christ!

“And white robes [symbolizing righteousness and purity] were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled” (Revelation 6:11). Christ will not come to take vengeance on this great false church UNTIL another great martyrdom has taken place!

Note it! There was one martyrdom. Those saints are already killed. Their resurrection will occur WHEN Jesus returns to earth –WHEN His judgments are poured out on this false BABYLON and her daughter churches!

But there is yet to be another universal persecution and martyrdom of saints, just prior to Christ’s coming in vengeance against the forces of evil! Here are TWO universal martyrdoms!

This coming great martyrdom is THE GREAT TRIBULATION (Matthew 24:9, 21-22). This tribulation is not the wrath of God–the last plagues. It is the wrath of Satan (Revelation 12:12), inflicted at the behest of HIS apostate church by the coming “United States of EUROPE” and against the true people of GOD!

It is a persecution–a torturing–a martyring of the saints of God–the very elect who cannot be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Except those days of Great Tribulation be shortened, no flesh could be saved alive. But, for THE SAKE OF GOD’S PERSECUTED SAINTS those days shall be shortened.

God shall intervene. Christ shall “come quickly.”

Mark then, and now

Now compare with these scriptures:

In Revelation 17, picturing this same church as the woman riding the beast, John writes: “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (verse 6). Also: Revelation 20:4–“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Now we see WHY these many millions were, and shall be, martyred! It was because they refused to receive this mark of the beast –refused to join in this worship of church and empire! They obeyed God rather than man! Their lives were governed by God. They were called out of this world–no longer any part of this world. They were the children, the heirs, the future citizens of His KINGDOM, not the kingdoms of men.

But–note it well!–they were, as God commands, subject to the government of MAN. They did not resist–they yielded themselves subject to the penalty. They were tortured –they were killed!

But they obeyed the government of God rather than man where there was conflict. And, at Christ’s coming to rule the world as KING of kings, they shall all be lesser priests and kings under Him and rule the world!

Do you see what this plainly reveals? Those martyrs, more than a thousand years ago, were killed BECAUSE they would not worship the church, conform to its idolatry and pagan beliefs and customs, or worship the so-called “Holy Roman Empire”–and BECAUSE they refused to receive the MARK of the beast!

This means the MARK of the beast is something that was forced on people, on pain of being killed, more than a thousand years ago! The MARK of the beast was in full existence and enforcement more than a thousand years ago!

BUT, since it is those who have the mark of the beast who shall suffer the seven last plagues at Christ’s coming, the dread mark is once again to be enforced! And those who refuse it are those who shall be MARTYRED in the coming GREAT TRIBULATION;

Now we begin to find real light shed on this baffling question!

Warning of third angel

Soon, now, the time is coming when gross spiritual darkness will cover this earth–when no human will be permitted to preach Christ’s true Gospel. We must work while it is day–the night is fast drawing on when no man can work for God.

At that time God shall send angels with His final warning to these apostate nations under sway of this great deceiving church as a final witness against them. Three such angel messages are foretold in Revelation 14.

Notice the final warning of the third angel: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his MARK in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” –the seven last plagues, full force, unmixed with mercy (Revelation 14:9-10)!

This shows that although the MARK was branded on all but the martyrs more than a thousand years ago, it is STILL the brand of traditional Christianity today, and is ONCE AGAIN going to be enforced.

Once again those who refuse it shall be martyred. But those who receive it shall suffer the wrath of God without mercy!

You must soon choose whom you will obey–this coming Roman Empire resurrected by a United States of EUROPE, and ruled over by traditional Christianity–or whether you shall OBEY GOD!

(To be continued)