In order to understand what it means to dwell in Babylon, and to come out of her, we first have to understand what it means to be marked on the hand and the forehead. Stick with me, it will all become clear, I promise. A few chapters back in Revelation, those who worship the beast get marked on their right hand and their forehead. Along with the rest of Christianity, I used to think this was an actual, physical mark, like a tattoo or a microchip in an actual, physical hand. But it is not. Let me explain. This is not the first time in Scripture that persons are marked on their right hands and foreheads. Let’s look at the history of “marks” in Scripture, shall we?
Mark: oth in Hebrew, literally, a signal, a flag, a token, a pledge, evidence, a miracle, a sign, a warning, or a distinguishing mark (as a uniform distinguishes the one who wears it as belonging to a certain class, position, job, or company). We are looking at the Hebrew because, as we have seen with the Revelation series, the Old Testament is the dictionary of the Bible. It reveals what the New Testament writers and Jesus (all Hebrews, by the way) meant when they used terms such as “covenant,” “circumcision,” “sacrifice,” “righteousness,” “sin,” and so on.
The first occurrence of oth is in creation week:
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs (oth) and for seasons and for days and years;” Gen 1:14
And as we all know, the sun and moon and stars mark the passing of time, the seasons, days, and years for us. The next occurrence of oth is not much later:
So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign (oth) for Cain, lest anyone finding him should slay him. Gen 4:15
We don’t know what Cain’s mark was, just that he was marked in some distinguishing manner, and that others would know what it meant. Then after Noah’s Flood:
And God said, “This is the sign (oth) of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign (oth) of a covenant between Me and the earth.” Gen 9:12-13
And this introduces the fact that from here on out, God’s covenants with man were marked by a pledge, which would remind both parties of their covenant status. The mark of the Noahic covenant was the rainbow; the mark of the Abrahamic covenant was circumcision. Those who were circumcised acknowledged before God and man that they were partakers of Abraham’s covenant. The mark of the Mosaic covenant was the Sabbath. Those who observed Sabbath acknowledged before God and man that they were partakers in the covenant which God instituted on Sinai (which was a marriage covenant, according to Jeremiah. Jesus is returning as a Bridegroom for His Bride, just as a side note. We who are married also wear a sign showing that we are married: it is the wedding ring. You might say honoring the Sabbath is the wedding ring which the Bride wears, to indicate to all Whose she is). The mark of the Davidic covenant was the Temple. This is why, when the religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign of His authority to cleanse the Temple, He replied that if the Temple were destroyed, He would rebuild it in three days. He was essentially telling them that He was acting in the authority of David, as the branch of David (now you can understand why those who refused to believe that He was the root and branch of David were so infuriated with Him). And the mark of the New Covenant is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, for it says in 2 Cor 1:22 that we were sealed by the Holy Spirit as a pledge (sign, token, evidence, distinguishing mark) given to us by God that He has set us in firm union with Christ.
Now we are seeing a mark spoken of in Scripture as evidence of a covenant which exists between one party and another. But there is more …
Update: continued in part two