Sunday, April 27, 2008

False Ideas (7) - Mark of the Beast

Modern Christian make a lot of the mark of the beast described in Revelation.

He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for Wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. Rev 13:16-18
This persecution takes place in a time of famine, when food is scarce. Every person is given a mark, which is a sign of allegiance to the Beast. It is the number or name of the Beast. Any person who does not have this mark, will not be allowed to buy or sell. Christians would not be able to take the mark, so they will not be able to buy or sell. The persecution will take the form of economic discrimination. The actual procedure will be implemented by the false prophet (Rev 17:6).

A great deal has been made about the introduction of credit cards and computerised check-out counters. It has been suggested that each person would be tattooed with a credit number on their wrist or forehead. These would be used to make all financial transactions, in what would be a cashless society. It has even been suggested that there is a giant computer in Brussels which will provide the link-up, and that its operators euphemistically call it "the beast". Some people have even imagined that they see the number 666 on some credit cards.

We should not get too carried away with all this. If we look closely at what John says, we see that each person is not given their own individual number, but the number of the Beast. Each person is given the same number or mark, and not a personal credit number. In fact the mark is not a credit number but a mark of allegiance to a political ruler, the Beast.

This vision does not need modern computer technology to be implemented. In John’s time when a slave was sold in the market-place, he was branded with a hot iron on the forehead or arm with the mark of his owner. This made it impossible for the slave to escape. It would be something like this that John saw.

A ruler could have done this in any age. He would have all his people tattooed with a mark representing his name. A decree would then be issued forbidding all citizens from trading with a person who did not have the mark. Anyone who refused to take the mark would be effectively outlawed. The persecution John saw in the vision could have taken place in any age. We should not place too much importance on the advances in computer technology. Computer technology may be used to bring it about, but the existence of computers and credit cards, does not necessarily mean that it is coming soon.

John did not have a vision of a cashless society. He only saw people being branded with a mark of allegiance. The fact that we appear to be advancing towards a cashless society, does not mean that this part of the vision is being fulfilled.

More here.

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