“The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. 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 13:15-18
The phrase “mark of the beast” and the numbers “666” capture people's attention quickly enough.
Mention one of these references to the Antichrist or Satan in a sentence about technology, and that attention is magnified.
That's what recently happened when an Oklahoma woman said she was concerned that biometric palm scanners used by her hospital employer to collect patient information were too similar to the “mark of the beast” referenced in the biblical Book of Revelation.
The Grove woman isn't alone in her concerns that some technological advances are subterfuge for the mark of the devil.
Over the years, people have expressed apprehension about biometric digital photographs such as those used for driver's licenses in several states. Parents of students in some school districts across the country have become alarmed about vein scanners and student I.D. cards that include a biochip implant system, or radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, to track students on school grounds at all times.
Even the Social Security number, first issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration in 1935, has come under suspicion by some as a possible precursor to the “mark of the beast” and one world government. One world government also is mentioned in Revelation as a sign of the end times and the reign of the Antichrist.
The Rev. Steve Kern, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, 1201 NW 10, said many Christians are troubled by happenings that seem to indicate that the world is moving toward one government, as prophesied in Revelation. He said that is where the recent concerns with technology come in.
“The Christian community is very much concerned with not just the ‘mark of the beast' but the move toward ‘one world order,'” he said. Kern said they are troubled because they believe that an individual's rights come from God, not from a world government.
“All of a sudden you've got a situation where rights come from government, not from God,” he said.
“Things don't happen just all at once. Things happen one at a time. There are these little concerns.”
Not time yet?
Two Bible scholars, the Rev. Mark Hitchcock and Doug Miller, both of Edmond, said they understand people's anxiety about prophesies detailed in Revelation, but they should not worry about the “mark of the beast” just yet.
Hitchcock said invasion of privacy may be a real concern for people these days with technological advances.
Hitchcock, a Bible prophecy expert and pastor of Faith Bible Church, 600 N Coltrane in Edmond, said he believes Revelation is full of literal prophecy, so he is not saying that there will not be a time when people will be forced to choose between accepting the “mark of the beast” or death. He said he simply does not think that time — which he called the Tribulation — has come.
“It's basically going to be a Pledge of Allegiance to the Antichrist. It's going to be in the future. It's not right now,” Hitchcock said.
He said, according to Bible prophecy, the Tribulation is a seven-year period after the Lord “raptures” Christians to heaven. The people left behind will then be subjected to the Tribulation, dark days when the Antichrist will come to prominence. He said the Tribulation will be immediately followed by the second coming of Christ, according to Scripture.
Miller, host of the Bott Radio Bible study show “Dialogue,” shared the viewpoint.
“If there are still born-again believers out there, then the beast has not yet appeared,” Miller said. “If you're left behind for the Tribulation, you'll have more than the ‘mark of the beast' to worry about.”
Hitchcock said he interprets Scripture to indicate that people will take the mark with purpose and intention and that there will be no deception about it.
“They will be rejecting the true God and taking the Antichrist as their god, so no one is going to take the mark of the beast accidentally,” he said.
“It's going to be something that's purposeful and intentional, because it says in Revelation 14 that people who take the mark of the beast are going to be doomed and cast into hell. God is not going to send people to hell for doing something unintentional.”
Hitchcock said people have always seemed interested in the Book of Revelation, written by the apostle John. He said he is not surprised that interest in the prophecy revealed in Revelation appears to have grown in recent years.
“We live in times where everything is magnified because of the information that's out there 24/7, and there are a lot of things happening in our world that are very troubling to a lot of people,” Hitchcock said.
“Then people read the Bible and they see parallels there, and so they wonder if this is the thing that the Bible is talking about. It just highlights that we need to be careful about these things and not engage in sensationalism and fear and of those things.”
When asked what he says to naysayers who reject Bible prophecy as nonsense, Hitchcock had a ready answer.
“Some people say it's just mythology or legends or whatever, but there are 500 prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled already,” he said.
“That gives a solid foundation for believing that future prophecies that haven't been fulfilled, will be fulfilled.”