As a very prominent and readily seen feature of an individual, the forehead was, in ancient times, a place for marking slaves so that all could see to what master they belonged. Also, the devotees of certain pagan gods were thus marked. Even today some follow the practice of putting religious marks on the forehead, so that all others can be aware of their devotion to their religious beliefs.
MARK IN THE FOREHEAD
Bearing a mark in the “forehead” is similarly used in a figurative way in the Bible to signify that one is a slave to the true God or to another. At Revelation 7:2-4, reference is made to angelic sealing of 144,000 persons in their foreheads. The Bible indicates that such seal is a symbol of God’s holy spirit and that the sealing began at Pentecost, 33 C.E., with the last remaining ones being sealed in the “time of the end.” (Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30) These, by their following Christ Jesus and their activity in preaching and supporting his kingdom, display the seal of the outpoured spirit and thus are clearly identifiable as slaves of Jehovah God. (Rev. 20:4) In another part of the vision of Revelation, the 144,000 are represented as having the name of the Lamb Jesus Christ and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. As the Bride of the Lamb, they would properly take his name. (Rev. 14:1; 22:3, 4) Since the Hebrew language is twice mentioned in the book of Revelation (9:11; 16:16) and since the apostle John was a Hebrew, it may have been the sacred Tetragrammaton that was written on the foreheads of the 144,000, identifying them as Jehovah’s servants and witnesses.
As described at Ezekiel 9:3-6, a class of persons is marked in the forehead for protection from destruction by God’s executional forces, not being marked by angels in this instance, nor with a “seal,” but by a man having a “recorder’s inkhorn.” Pictured as “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done,” these, when ‘marked,’ show themselves to be slaves and devotees of Jehovah, their actions, practices and personalities evidently giving evidence of this before all, as if written ‘on their foreheads.’
In branding slaves for the world political “wild beast” (see BEASTS, SYMBOLIC [The seven-headed wild beast out of the sea]) a symbolic mark is put on the foreheads or the right hands of persons, even by compulsion, as depicted at Revelation 13:16, 17. Those receiving such mark identify themselves as against God and are due to receive his anger in undiluted form.—Rev. 14:9-11; see MARK, II.
ISRAEL’S HIGH PRIEST
In Israel the high priest’s turban had on its front, over the priest’s forehead, a gold plate, “the holy sign of dedication,” upon which was inscribed “with the engravings of a seal” the words “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.” (Ex. 28:36-38; 39:30) As Israel’s chief representative of Jehovah’s worship, it was fitting that the high priest keep his office holy, and this inscription would also serve as a reminder to all Israel of the need of constant holiness in the service of Jehovah. It also served as a suitable picture of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, and his dedication and holiness to Jehovah.—Heb. 7:26.
BABYLON THE GREAT
Conversely, the symbolical great harlot has the name “Babylon the Great” on her forehead. Ancient Babylon long represented that which was unholy and in opposition to God.—Rev. 17:1-6; see BABYLON THE GREAT.
OTHER USES OF TERM
Other figurative uses of the word “forehead” are found at Isaiah 48:4, where Jehovah stated that Israel’s forehead was copper, evidently because so great was her stubbornness and rebelliousness; also at Ezekiel 3:7-9, God told Ezekiel, who prophesied to hardheaded, hardhearted Israelites, that he had made the prophet’s forehead “like a diamond,” in that he had given him the resolution, determination and boldness to deliver God’s message to them.
When King Uzziah presumptuously and illegally usurped a priest’s duties in attempting to offer incense upon the altar of incense in the temple of Jehovah, his sin and Jehovah’s judgment were plainly and immediately made manifest by leprosy flashing up in his forehead.—2 Chron. 26:16, 19, 20.