One of the most remarkable examples of Bible prophecy making the leap from the pages of the Bible to the front pages of the daily newspapers is also among the most well-known — the Mark of the Beast.
“And he causeth all both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:17-18)
Now, take a few moments to think about what would be necessary to fulfill this prophecy as written. Keep in mind the fact that the Apostle John penned this prophecy sometime around AD 87.
In AD 87, literacy was largely limited to members of the upper classes. It was a world in which a person was whom he claimed to be. A person who lived in Asia Minor, for example, could travel a few hundred miles away and become a completely new person.
Say you are a petty thief wanted by the Romans in Judea, so you move to Athens. In Judea, you were Joseph, son of Barnabas. But when you move to Athens, you identify yourself as Dionysius, son of Alexander.
Unless you run into somebody from your home town in Judea who knows you well, (an unlikely prospect) you are now Dionysius. Joseph might be wanted by the Romans, but Dionysius has a clean slate.
Who is to say any differently? It isn’t like you have to carry an identification card — as already noted, most people couldn’t read it if you had one.
But according to the prophecy of the Mark of the Beast, the antichrist would not only be able to positively identify every single person, but would be able to restrict individual freedoms based on their identification.
Sure, there is the “mark” — but the economy of the ancient world was based on the barter system. Currency was whatever the seller would accept in exchange for goods and services.
While it might be possible to hamper an individual’s ability to engage in commerce in the big cities, many people in the ancient world lived their entire lives without ever setting foot inside one.
At best, the restrictions described by John would make it more expensive for someone outside the system to buy or sell, human nature and greed dictate that it could never be universally imposed.
For the right price, anybody can buy anything. It is true today, and it was even more true in AD 87 when currency was as anonymous and untraceable as the buyers or sellers.
In the modern world, we have strict laws against trafficking in drugs, human slavery, child pornography, stolen merchandise, etc. But if one is willing to pay the price demanded, one can still buy any or all of the above.
Even in a literate world like ours where our wallets and purses bulge with different forms of identification, our faces can be identified by biometric scans, our fingerprints are cataloged and the examination of a single hair can not only identify an individual, but can also identify members of an entire family.
If it were not so, there would be no drug cartels, child porn rings, organized crime, etc.
In short, the details of John’s prophecy was impossible in John’s day. It was impossible fifteen hundred years later when Columbus embarked on his voyage of discovery in 1492.
It was even impossible only sixty years ago. Even the Nazis weren’t able to round up EVERY Jew, or completely eliminate a Jew’s ability to buy and sell. Even concentration camp inmates were able to bribe their guards, if they had the wherewithal to do so.
But John’s prophecy says “all” and “no man” — and if we are to take the Bible literally, then this prophecy, to be valid, must be literally fulfilled. Even to this moment in history, John’s prophecy has not been literally fulfilled.
One cannot open a bank account without satisfactory identification, and one cannot make a major purchase using large amounts cash, but small cash transactions are still relatively anonymous.
The proof is that drug dealers, terrorist rings, child porn rings, etc., etc., still exist.
That window of economic opportunity is slowly closing — and the technology exists, for the first time in history, to slam it shut completely.
All that is missing is someone with the political clout and popular support needed to impose a system such as John describes.
In some cities in the US and, especially in Europe, citizens are already under round-the-clock surveillance by the government. Combining motion detection technology with the learning capabilities of video game software, new surveillance systems can detect people loitering, walking in circles or leaving a package.
New microphone technology can isolate the sound of a gunshot and direct the attached camera to swivel and zoom in on the source. Sensitivity may reach the point where microphones could pick out the word “explosives” spoken in a crowd. Since 9/11, sections of New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago are already under such round-the-clock surveillance.
And in Great Britain, the government has more than 4.2 MILLION security cameras trained on its citizens. Each person can be identified by software that can identify someone’s face by scanning it and comparing it to public photographic records.
If a photograph of your face has ever been linked to your name, via a driver’s license, passport, newspaper clipping, student identification card, etc., then you can be picked out of a crowd, positively identified, and your location pinpointed without your ever knowing it.
Moreover, the implementation of technologies like the VeriSign implantable chip has the potential to forever eliminate anonymous economic activity.
Such chips can carry the equivalent of more than 11,000 pages of information about you.
Your name, medical history, driving record, banking records, etc., can be retrieved by simply scanning your chip using the same RFID scanning that WalMart uses to make sure you don’t walk out of a store with merchandise you didn’t pay for.
Or it can be revoked or flagged as belonging to a ‘person of interest’ — using the same remote RFID technology. Your bank account balance could be zeroed out, or your location could be pinpointed and instantly transmitted to law enforcement.
There are already pilot programs in existence in which purchasers can pay for merchandise by simply walking by a scanner in the story.
The RFID reads the chip on the merchandise, then reads the information on your chip and deducts the price electronically from your bank account. You need only come within range of the scanner.
The technology necessary to fulfill John’s prediction never existed until this generation.
The political will and popular support needed to implement this kind of technology didn’t exist until the events of first year of the 21st century demonstrated the need to implement it on a universal basis for reasons of public safety and security.
That political will and popular support is by no means universal — yet. Privacy advocacy groups and civil libertarians still oppose it — but public opposition is balanced by the recognition that without it, the events of September 11 would be repeated over and over.
It wouldn’t take too many more attacks of the magnitude of September 11 before the public would begin DEMANDING some form of universal electronic identification system.
Post 9/11, the most effective tool in the fight against terror has been the effort to cut off funding to the terrorists. Bank transfers, large cash transactions, and all kinds of suspicious financial activity is already being closely monitored.
Recently, two guys from Richardson, Texas bought a bunch of pay-as-you-go cell phones from a Wal-Mart in Michigan. They weren’t required to produce identification, they paid cash for their purchases, and walked out of a store located 1200 miles away from home.
They never made it out of Michigan before they were busted by Homeland Security. Nobody was complaining about privacy rights or even questioned how Homeland Security was able to catch them.
Since cell-phones are often used by terrorists as remote-control detonation devices, if anything, the public breathed a collective sigh of relief and heaped praise on the government’s ability to intercept them.
John says the Mark of the Beast can be identified by its connection to the number 666.
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” (Revelation 13:18)
Take a look at any barcode — most have numbers printed below the bars.
Find a barcode that contains the number “6” and locate the parallel bars that correspond to it. Now look at the three slightly longer parallel bars that divide the number into three sections.
Do you see it? Each of these dividers corresponds to the barcode that represents a “6”.
This isn’t the Mark of the Beast. Before there can be a Mark of the Beast, there must first be a beast, and secondarily, there must be a mark imposed by his system.
But what are the odds that the Apostle John’s prophecy of the Mark of the Beast and link it to computer-sensitivity to the number ‘6’? Or that it would be used in multiples of ‘3’?
Everything about John’s prophecy demands the existence of a global computer network tied into a global economy and overseen by a global governmental authority.
Until this generation, it was impossible. Since September 11, it is inevitable.
“And when these things BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)