“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.