The Image and Mark of God - and of the Beast
The following study was done by email@example.com (4/99).
The image of the beast in Revelation comes to my mind frequently and so I found myself thinking about the word "image" today and decided to investigate it a little bit. I thought I'd share with you where my thoughts and investigations went.
OLD TESTAMENT "Image"
It seems fitting to first consider the word "image" as it is used in the Old Testament. Right away in GENESIS 1:27 we are told that God made man in his own image. That's the Hebrew word "tselem" (Strong's 6754) and it means that man resembled him or was like him ... could even have been a paler version, a shade or a phantom or shadow. God wanted us to be like him. After man's fall to Satan in the garden, man must have lost something that made him like God, for God would send his Son to bring man back to him through salvation ... and it was God's goal for us to grow in likeness to his Son, to be conformed in his Son's image. What image ? Christ was the image of God, as we shall see. We were created to be like God and God wants us to return to that state through Christ. Not to be God ... but to be like him ... like-minded, like-spirited perhaps.
From Genesis we turn to Exodus where we find God telling his chosen people in EXODUS 20:4 not to have any gods before him, nor to make any graven images or likenesses of anything to worship. God wanted to be first in the minds, hearts and affections of his people. Anything man puts before God draws him away from God and changes man to be like it (dead) and not like God (alive). There are several words given in both EXODUS 20:4 and LEVITICUS 26:1 and DEUTERONOMY 9:12 that deal with this graven image/likeness concept, "pecel" (6459) a carven, graven idol, "maskiyth" (4906) which means a figure in the imagination, a picture, a wish, a show-piece and then it's really interesting prime "Sekuw" (7906) which is a place name meaning observatory or the watch-tower. And then "maccekah" (4541) which brings in the concept of something poured out, like a cast image ... something that covers over, hides, obscures ... like a coverlet, a web, a covering, a veil, woven stuff ... and the prime "nacak" (5258) relates to a libation (covenant sacrifice) and the annointing of a king. The other word for image I found in JOB 4:16, "temuwnah" (8544) and "miyn" (4327) where Job speaks of an image before his eyes, something fashioned to look like something else.
So in thinking about this, I believe God was telling man don't create any physical idol or picture in your imagination, nor any institution masquerading as a watch-tower that replaces me. Don't create anything that covers over my image, that hides or veils it. Don't make a covenant sacrifice with anyone nor annoint any king but me.
We all know that Lucifer seeks to take God's rightful place. This "annointing of a king" definition brings to my mind that fascinating story in Judges 9 about the bramble that becomes king over the trees. God's people always seem to be seeking a king other than God. No wonder the first two commandments are about putting God first !
Here are the uses of the words for "image" in the Old Testament (there are more references that use the same words - these are only a random sampling of verses - one for each different word):
NEW TESTAMENT "Image"
Interestingly, there are only two words in the New Testament that is translated as "image". The first is the word "eikon" (1504) which means a likeness, literally it means a profile or statue, figuratively it means a resemblance or a representation of something. It's prime is the word "eiko" (1503) to be like or to resemble, possibly through the idea of faintness of a copy. So an image in the New Testament may mean something that is like the original but is merely a copy of it.
The second word is "charakter" (5481) and it means God's character stamped upon Christ like a mark ... an exact copy ... it can refer to both the tool that does the stamping or engraving ... or the person himself. It's like when metal is pressed into a die .. or like the impression a seal makes on wax. This word is only used one time in the New Testament ... in Hebrews 1:3 where it describes Christ as being the "express image" of God ... meaning he is the exact image of God, an exact copy. Jesus is the one and only son that is the exact copy of God. He is God's substance and being, poured out into a flesh body.
The New Testament speaks about how the image of God has been corrupted by ungodly men, how Christ is the image of God and we are to be changed to be like him ... it speaks of the Law and how it is just a shadow, an image, a faint copy of what was to come in the form of Christ. It even asks the question, "who's image is on the money ? Ceasar's ... it's not God's.
Here are all the uses of the word "eikon" or "image" in the New Testament so that you can get a feel for the word and how it's used:
Where the Old Testament speaks of the image of God or the image of idols, it's interesting to note that half the references of the word "eikon" or "image" in the New Testament deal with Christ, the image of God (as well as the reference to "charakter") and the other half deal with the image of the Beast in Revelation. The true image vs. the false image.
An image of the beast is fashioned ... a copy that is like the original ... and the beast has the power to make it "live" and "speak" ... and to insist that people worship this image. Of course God has told us from the beginning that we'd better not worship any but him ... especially not an image of some other god. That's pretty basic. I see the mark as the stamp of ownership upon the person that worships this idolatrous image that is offered as a replacement to God - it could even mean that the person is "conformed to the image" that he worships, the "features" of that image stamped upon him, has Satan's character the way we have God's character. Satan owns those that worship his image, his representation in the flesh and they become like him, molded according to HIS image. We're free of his ownership because Christ ransomed us, sealed us with his stamp of ownership and we are become like God/Christ again - conformed in his image and his character. I think you can readily tell who has Satan's stamp or mark already today.
This image of the beast seems to me to be a counterpart to the flesh image of God which is Christ. So when a person worships the image then they are worshipping the false copy or idol - the instead-of Christ. Not earth-shattering news to us but it is interesting to document the conclusion by parallel.
So ... if the image of God was Christ ... what will the image of Lucifer be ? I keep remembering that Revelation points out to us in several places that he is just a man. Does that fly in the face of what PM [my pastor] says about Satan being supernatural here ? I don't think so. Christ was in the flesh but still did miracles. I do not think he lacked any supernatural power. And I really think that the image of the beast and his mark are intertwined concepts just like the image of Christ and the seal of God are intertwined concepts.
Though we are not like Christ, who IS the image of the living God, we can be like him in character because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. And if you don't have that Spirit in you then you will be conformed to the image of the Beast ... and have it's mark stamped upon your character.
See also Dinosaurs (info on different "kinds" of creatures).
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