And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
The question that I want to ask is this, Whoever the beast is, what makes him a beast? What is the bestial element in him, whoever he be? And the answer is not far to find, Godless selfishness, that is "the mark of the beast." Wherever a human nature is self-centred, God forgetting, and therefore God-opposing (for whoever forgets God defies Him), that nature has gone down below humanity, and has touched the lower level of the brutes. Men are so made as that they must either rise to the level of God, or certainly go down to the level of the brute. And wherever you get men living by their own fancies, for their own pleasure, in forgetfulness and neglect of the sweet and mystic bonds that should knit them to God, there you get "the image of the beast and the number of his name." And besides that godless selfishness, we may point to simple animalism as literally the mark of the beast. He who lives not by conscience and by faith, but by fleshly inclination and sense, lowers himself to the level of the instinctive brute-life, and beneath it, because he refuses to obey faculties which they do not possess, and what is nature in them is degradation in us. Look at the unblushing sensuality which marks many "respectable people" nowadays. Look at the foul fleshliness of much of popular art and poetry. Look at the way in which pure animal passion, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the love of good things to eat and plenty to drink is swaying and destroying men and women by the thousand among us. Look at the temptations that lie along every street in Manchester for every young man after dusk. Look at the thin veneer of culture over the ugliest lust. Scratch the gentleman and you find the satyr. Is it much of an exaggeration, in view of the facts of English life to-day, to say that all the world wanders after and worships this beast?
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: