Question:

I would like to ask you a question concerning the 'mark' of Cain. In Genesis 4:15, it talks about the 'sign for Cain.' I understand this was something God did. In Rev. 20:4, it talks about the 'mark of the beast, on the forehead and hands'. My question is: Is there a connection or relationship between these two verses? I realize that the book of Revelation uses a lot of symbolism, so maybe these two verses are each talking about something separate from each other. Please, would you clarify this?

Answer:

In the past marks on a person's body were used to signify who a person belonged to. Thus in Israel a permanent slave was marked by a pierced ear. "But if the servant plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,' then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever" (Exodus 21:5-6).

Marks were also used in pagan religions to denote whom a person worshiped. This is why making scars and tattoos were forbidden in Israel. "You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 19:28).

But the spiritual concept of marking who belonged to whom is used frequently. "Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb" (Revelation 14:9-10). A mark on the forehead or hand is something in plain sight. Everyone notices whom this person is declaring to serve. So Revelation is not talking about a physical mark but the behavior of people which marks them as followers of Satan's false religions.

It was used in a positive sense in Ezekiel. "And the LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it"" (Ezekiel 9:4). Here people were marked because they did not like the immorality around them. God had them marked to spare them from the upcoming destruction. In is used in this way also in Revelation. "Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads" (Revelation 14:1). Again, the placement makes it a declaration for everyone to see.

The sign placed on Cain is not specified. The Hebrew word is one typically used for a miraculous sign of some sort. Whether it was a brand, or something else, we are not told. We only know that the sign was to warn people that Cain was under God's protection. "And the LORD said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him" (Genesis 4:15).

Thank you for your help in this matter. I remember when I was quite young, I had read this part in Leviticus about not cutting yourself or doing tatoos. It affected me to the point that I have never gotten a tatoo, even under peer pressure.

But I do think what you have pointed out is true today as well. Many people are seen with tatoos, i.e. gangs, bikers, etc. It obviously identifies them as being associated with a particular sub-culture or group. Which makes me even more glad I never did this.

I wonder, could we see baptism as a mark? Baptism is a commandment from Jesus, and maybe this is our mark? And the sin that is done and not repented of would be the mark for those who do not worship God? Does this sound like the right track to be on? Or am I thinking of this in the wrong manner?

Baptism is a mark or witness to a person's changed life. "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Colossians 2:11-12).

Paul makes the interesting claim, "From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Galatians 6:17). At first you might think he was talking about the scars from the beatings he took for being a Christian, something that Paul was willing to bear (Colossians 1:24), but Paul talk about marks in his body not on his body. He is talking about the changes in his life seen by others which mark him as a servant of Christ.