Two Beasts. The Mark to Buy and Sell.
“This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.”
Revelation 13:18 (NIV)
I obsessed over the epigram verse for years of my adolescence. First, I liked numbers, and I had always wondered why 666 was considered to be so viciously evil. This passage does not really explain why 666 is the number. Like most biblical assertions, we are meant to just accept it and move on. Second, it related to the prophecy of the Beast, who would demand that all of mankind receive his “mark” – assumed by my young brain to be a tattoo of these numbers on the hand or the forehead.
Let me back up for a second. Revelation introduces two new characters to the Tribulation in the form of a pair of evil beasts. The Beast out of the Sea resembles a leopard with bear-like feet and a lion’s mouth. Its pride is only matched by its ambitions, for he takes over the world by spouting blasphemy against God.
Then, the Beast out of the Earth appears and makes his indwelling. He has horns like a lamb and the voice of a dragon, and he makes incredible, miraculous signs for the entire world. By making fire pour from the sky, he deceives everyone except for the 144,000 Christians left behind, and the world begins to worship him. Furthermore, he demands that everyone who wishes to buy or sell anything receive a mark on their forehead or hand. He promises to kill anyone who does not comply.
Now fast forward two millennia (after this was written) to my bedroom circa 2006. I had just witnessed a groundbreaking commercial from IBM featuring a shady looking fellow stuffing grocery items into his jacket. Security guards and employees look at him cross, and after he successfully escapes the building, he is finally approached. The approaching guard says, “Excuse me,” and hands the gentleman his receipt.
This is the future, the commercial seems to say. Check it out here:
The moment I saw this, I immediately wrote an email to my Christian schoolteachers and friends. I told them this was clear proof of the coming Rapture, as this little digital device was obviously a modern version of the Mark of the Beast. I finished the letter off by begging them all to pray and avoid the technology at all costs.
No one replied to the email. I felt embarrassed a week after writing it. But my thoughts on the commercial were shared by other believers. If you go to the youtube page for the video above, then you’ll see related videos about “666” and the Mark of the Beast. Also, the first comment is the exact passage I quoted above. This technology – first teased back in 2006 and now coming partly to fruition with RFID chips in our phones (which enable functions like ApplePay) – scares some people. But why?
I think most have had a moment where they have look around and thought, Yeah this is probably going to be the end of the world. I certainly would have believed that if I was alive during the Plague, the Crusades, either of the World Wars, and the Cold War. I often feel that way living in the age of terrorism. Our enemies are off the grid now. How are we to defeat such a slippery foe?
Will technology destroy us all? Probably not. Evil people with technology might do the trick.
But it won’t be from an RFID chip.