The Book of Revelation, in chapter 13, talks of “the mark, or the name of the beast” which is “the number of a man.” I’m sure you’ve heard of the mystical number 666. Speculation on what the mark and the number 666 mean is endless.
I’m not a big fan of speculation. It feels empty to me. It’s overly complex and often shoots beyond the mark, way beyond. But we can follow a higher road by taking the Holy Spirit as our guide (see D&C 45:57), not the wild, overly self-assured, endless speculations of men.
I am only going to cite a few verses that discuss the mark and comment on what those scriptures say. The important thing to me is that we become aware of what the scriptures say about the Second Coming, not what they fully mean. We will know that in time. Everyone will, whether they like it or not.
The headnote of chapter 13 reads:
John sees fierce-looking beasts that represent degenerate earthly kingdoms controlled by Satan—The devil works miracles and deceives men. (Emphasis added.)
Satan’s influence will dominate nations, and corrupt rulers of nations, in the last days. This beast mentioned in the passage that follows (and there are lots of beasts in Revelation) appears to be a political leader who makes everyone receive a mark on their foreheads or on their right hand:
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: 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. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six . (Revelation 13:16–18; emphasis added.)
Here’s the basic idea: If you don’t have this mark, you won’t be able to buy or sell—or, rather, to participate in commerce. If you cannot participate in commerce, it will be rather difficult to make a living or to live a normal life. So the inducement to take this mark upon you will be strong, as is the inducement to prepare now.
But the mark also seems to symbolize an allegiance to idolatry or to the worship of a false god or idol and at the last day, such allegiance will come with a price:
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 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, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:9–11; see also Revelation 16:2; 19:19–21; emphasis added.)
For those who overcome the beast and his mark, there is a far better destiny, even a place in the celestial world:
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. (Revelation 15:2; see also Revelation 20:4; emphasis added.)
I am not going to offer an interpretation of these verses, only some advice: Watch to see if political leaders, governments, and nations tighten their grip on commerce in such a way that it forces people to compromise their faith and allegiance to God. I don’t even allow myself to guess at this point what countries or who may be involved. I am not implying who and where and when. I am only advising to watch, be wary, and prepare.
I find comfort in these words from the Doctrine and Covenants about standing “independent above all other creatures”:
That through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world; that you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion . . . . (D&C 78:14–15.)
Now is a great time to prepare.
Note: For an interesting and reliable discussion of the symbols in Revelation, see Richard D. Draper’s “Understanding Images and Symbols in the Book of Revelation.” See footnote 41.