The Mark of the Beast?
Could this be the "mark of the beast"? As long as there have been forms of required registration, there have been believers who saw them with foreboding as a potential mark. Driver's licenses and Social Security numbers aroused concern when they were introduced because they were administered by government and used ID numbers.
How far technology has come since then! Now, as databases have collected more and more information about us and that information is being shared more widely, it is virtually impossible to remain anonymous.
Some technologies can end up being used in ways their inventors may not have intended. For example, RFID (radio frequency identification) is a tracking technology designed to monitor goods as they move through the supply chain. A chip is affixed to each item that identifies it and, using global positioning, tracks its location.
That's great for manufacturing, shipping, and retailing. But, it's also been applied to animals and people. Embedded chips can carry identification information, complete medical histories and, if GPS-enabled, track location. One school in California made the news recently by issuing RFID ID cards to students.
The latest technology to get attention is Pay by Touch™ (www.paybytouch.com), a system in which you swipe your finger over a pad instead of using a striped card or keychain tag. (You can get similar devices as an alternate to entering passwords on your computer).
It doesn't actually store your fingerprint—nor can it be "reverse engineered" to reproduce it—since the scanning process converts your fingerprint into a unique ID number. What prompts the most concern for technologies like this as "the mark" is the use of the body for identification.
Here's what a few people on the Left Behind message boards have to say about the new technologies and their bearing on the mark of the beast:
- "Wow! That is pretty scary! It seem so attractive I'm afraid the average Joe without the knowledge of the Lord will be very impressed and eager to apply.
- What do I think? I say everyone should start using cash and bring back it's importance.
- I think once people start to accept using their finger it won't take long for them to accept using their hand or their forehead.
- Whew! I think we are on the threshold of the beast. However it is implemented I want no part in it.
- I do believe we should counter everything as best we can by not participating in any new technology with identifying features that are to be used on, in, or relating to any part of the body.
Thomas Ice and Mark Hitchcock, in their book The Truth Behind Left Behind (Multnomah 2004), make the following points about the "Tribulation Trademark":
- Revelation 13:15 makes it clear that the key issue underlying this whole hand-or-forehead-business is "worship of the image of the beast." In other words, the infamous mark is simply a vehicle to force people to declare allegiance—to the Antichrist or Jesus Christ.
- All peoples of the Earth who remain in the post-rapture Tribulation (emphasis ours) will be separated into two camps. It will be impossible to take a position of neutrality or indecision, as many people throughout history have been permitted to do.
- The mark will be external and visible. It will literally be the number 666, as a kind of brand. [Personal identification may not be necessary, since we're already well on our way to technologies that do that].
- The mark will be a "treacherous ticket," required for any commercial transaction in the last half of the tribulation (Rev. 13:17).
- While God will demonstrate unmistakably to all creation that He alone has the right to rule, it will be the first and only time in history that people will have a deadline for declaring their allegiance to Christ.
- While those who reject Jesus Christ won't have a clue, wisdom and understanding about the identity of Antichrist will be given to those who become believers during the Tribulation, so they might steadfastly refuse this evil mark of ownership, even if it means death.
- While the number 666 will have significance in the Tribulation, it has no such meaning today, and to believe so only means a believer has fallen prey to superstition.
- Antichrist is restrained during the church age and will not be revealed until "his time" during the Tribulation.
- The mark of the beast—666—is not cashless society or biometric. Chip implants, scanning technologies, and biometrics will be used to support Antichrist's cashless society as a tool to regulate and enforce his restrictive global policies—but none of these will be the mark.
If, in fact, the technology we see is part of the stage dressing, getting ready for the last act of history, should it not drive us with ever greater urgency to tell others about Jesus—while there is still time to decide?