On Their Right Hands or On Their Foreheads

In my first post in this series, I shared my understanding of the prophetic meaning behind the symbol of a ‘beast.’  In this post, I will share how I understand the warning in The Book of Revelation about taking the mark of the beast on my head or on my hand.

Let’s start by looking at the passage that has fascinated and alarmed so many over the centuries:

Revelation 13:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,…

[NOTE: this passage calls the beast an ‘it,’ which further affirms my conclusion in my last post in this series: that the beast is a kingdom.]

The first thing I want to do in this post is to make it clear that I do not intend to explore what the mark of the beast may be.  We’ll save that discussion for the next post in this series.  In this post, we will focus on the description of where this mark will be placed — namely because I believe it is key to understanding what the mark is.

With this in mind, let us start to look closely at the phrase, ‘to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,…‘  It may surprise a few readers to learn that Revelation 13:16 is not the first place we find words similar to this in the Scriptures.  In fact, we will find a very similar phrase in at least four other passages.  Let’s have a look at these passages:

Exodus 13:9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.

Exodus 13:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

16 So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 6:8 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

Deuteronomy 11:18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

These commands lead to a Hebrew idiom where in your hand and forehead roughly equates to what you think and do, or what you believe and how you act.  We even see this reflected in the words of Y’Shuah:

Matthew 15:15-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Heart of Man

15 Peter said to Him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17 Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

[NOTE: this same idea that words come from the evil that lies in the heart is echoed in James 3:1-12.]

Therefore, at least to the way I understand this issue, “On Their Right Hands or On Their Foreheads,” would seem to have something to do with what we think and do.  Furthermore, I believe that it’s here, in Matthew 15, that we find an affirmation of this understanding, as well as the key to properly understanding the warning in Revelation 13:16.  We will pick this discussion up again in my next post in this series, when we will look more closely at what the mark of the beast might be.



I thought these links might be of interest to some.  I neither endorse it, nor deny it, as this is no longer my way.  I merely encourage you to read it and sift what it says, picking out and holding tight to whatever grains of truth you might find within.

Meaning of: “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads”