In the early 80’s I bought two books by Mary Stewart Relfe that dealt with the coming 666 “mark of the beast” endtime money system and allied technologies, such as bar codes.
Bar codes, you see, had a start/middle/stop signal for the reader that was also, coincidentally, the signal for the number 6. So, three sixes.
That has never stopped me using products with a barcode. Now, if you ask me do I think barcodes will eventually be part of the antichrist deception of the endtimes, my answer would problably be yes. But still today I have no worries about the barcodes on everything in my fridge; I think nothing of it.
Mary Stewart Relfe “When Your Money Fails” 1981 and “The New Money System 666” 1982
Although having some thought-provoking information, the books often missed the mark.
Relfe claimed that the Antichrist would appear in 1984 and he would be Anwar El Sadat. Except that he was assassinated in 1981. (Oops)
She said that the hash (#) and asterisk (*) symbols on phones (this was before the day of mobile phones) were introduced to link people electronically to the banking computer. Also that fibre-optics would be fitted with mind-altering rays via your TV; and satellites could melt stray dogs and eventually also those who refused to worship the antichrist. She thought George Orwell was a prophet and based her 1984 prediction upon his book “1984”.
Reviewed as: “Some good information but much paranoia” – and that could be a metaphor for 2020 as well as 1980.
How Far Have We Come
Mary Relfe’s book was ahead of its time. Today bar codes are on everything we buy. Whether or not they will ultimately be incorporated into the Beast Empire before Jesus returns, I don’t know. Nobody can know for sure. But I do know they are not the Mark of the Beast for me today.
Around the same time as the barcode scare, there was equal alarm in certain Christian circles about credit cards. They made transactions digital and contributed to the coming cashless society. After credit cards came contactless cards. Now just one tap on a machine and the transaction is complete.
Friends of mine refused to have any kind of card, whether a credit or a debit card, and steadfastly held to the belief that owning a bank card was tantamount to worship of the devil.
The World Wide Web
Then after the rise of the Internet, some linked the term WWW to the number 666, since the letter W in Hebrew had the numerical value of six.
It’s a bit of a stretch to get from the World-Wide-Web to the Mark of the Beast but nonetheless there were, and are, Christians who will not use the internet for that reason.
The Implantable Chip
Even more ominous (and something I covered in detail in the 90’s) was the arrival of the RFID chip.
This little identity chip, that is now almost universal in identifying and tracing animals, has undergone continuous refinement, and in recent years had been used in trials in humans.
The implantable ID chip comes the closest yet to the eventual “mark” in having the ability to merge all the former electronic systems into one personal ID – thus answering the question raised by John’s statement in the Book of Revelation, as to how the Mark of the Beast could curtail people’s buying and selling.
Implanting microchips in employees is proving to be convenient for both employers and employees. Data can be stored in chips that are readable by near field communication technology. But the jury is still out, whether this wouldn’t invade individual privacy.
We are used to biometric scanners, heart transplants, cosmetic implants and other scientific, medical and technological advances. For years we have tagged migratory birds and pet animals. A microchip implanted in the body is a technological advance that makes life faster, easier and simpler. Opening front doors, car doors, logging into computers, answering phones, making payments, diagnosing medical information, all these seem to be healthy advances to life and living.
Precursors, Not the Mark
How many of these ongoing bits of technology put Christians in danger of inadvertently accepting the Mark of the Beast?
The answer is NONE, as yet, for the simple reason that none are associated with the Antichrist nor the coming empire of the Beast. There is no way anyone can accidentally worship the devil through a computer chip, and by the time such a device becomes viable for universal implantation specifically as allegiance to the Antichrist, the Church will have been removed, we believe.
Barcodes are Benign
There are two flaws in claiming that barcodes are the Mark of the Beast, One, they are placed on products not hands and foreheads: “if any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand“.
Secondly, according to the scriptures, receiving the mark will be done with the full knowledge that you would be serving or worshiping the Beast and his coming Kingdom.
While being a precursor to the “cashless society” that Christians rightly fear, bank cards, whether credit or debit, don’t present any more danger than cash in terms of the devil’s mark.
Pat Robertson said this in his book ‘Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions‘ :
It would not be too difficult, technologically, to move from the smart card to a microchip implanted in the hand. This could be read by a laser-type device that would in turn be connected to a master computer. This could lead to a time when there would be no need for cash or checks: Everything would be done by computer.
However, since he wrote this hardly anything has changed in the use of credit card system to warrant a wholesale panic about the coming Mark of the Beast. There are the obvious dangers of overspending, surveillance and government control, as well as the move away from banknotes and coins, but not such as to fulfill John’s prophecy.
I don’t know that anyone today fears that the internet is leading us to the Mark of the Beast, although there are concerns about its use, and its abuse. Like other forms of technology, like the computer itself, the internet can be a tool for good as well as evil.
Once more, it is my belief that the interconnectedness of the entire world through phones and computers will eventually become a useful part of the devil’s system in the last days – which is probably why he inspired its invention and universal approval. One could say the same of many other inventions – TV, broadband, 3D, virtual reality, and much more – but at this present time we are still able to exercise godly wisdom and caution so as to use technology for good purposes.
- Are all these technologies open to abuse? YES.
- Do they impinge on our desire for anonymity? YES.
- Might they eventually be incorporated into the ‘mark of the beast’? Quite Possibly
BUT the question for evangelical Christians today is not, does the technology exist, but at what point will it be used to mark worshippers of the Beast on the right hand or forehead as a sign of their allegiance.
The Mark of the Beast
The sequence of events that leads up to the mark being offered, or forced, on the world’s population is quite distinct in Revelation.
Anything that happens before those events is a precursor only, a sign of things to come but not the actual mark.
We see from Revelation that six seals must be opened, with increasing disaster and chaos for the world, before the herald of a cataclysmic event (beginning in Seal Six but finalised with the seven trumpets sequence) in which a “great mountain” is cast into the sea. [I believe that ‘great mountain’ is satan and his troop of fallen angels being cast out of their current residence – see more fully in Revelation 12:9].
However, BEFORE that time, not only are 144000 from the tribes of Israel sealed to God for safekeeping, but the “great multitude gathered from all nations” suddenly appears before the throne.
It is only AFTER this awesome shaking and destruction that the Beast appears on earth, the Dragon gives him authority, and the False Prophet comes to coordinate worship of the Beast whose name is 666.
We Have Gone Before the Mark is Introduced
Now it becomes obvious from reading Revelation that no genuine Christian can “take the mark” today, because (as I believe) they will have been taken out of the “great tribulation” that is happening on the earth. (See Revelation Chapter 7). The mark does not exist until that day, when the Beast arises from “the sea” and demands worship.
Whether or not the Beast and his workers will utilise existing technology, having refined it for their own purposes, is a moot point for us today.
Almost certainly they will. However, believing that such technology can damn you to hell right here and now, just for using it, (as some have said) is unsupportable from scripture.
It is rather like saying, my gas stove could kill you. Yes, it could if you used it incorrectly, but that won’t stop me from using the gas stove for genuine and good purposes.
But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations… [Rev 2:24-26]