It’s been many years since we saw a trilogy of films about the “mark of the beast,” named for the mark prophesied in Revelation 13:16-17.
As so often happens with apocalyptic versions of the future, the interpretations were a bit off base.
Add to that some of the alarmist predictions that swept through evangelical circles in the 1980s—including the idea that humans would never survive past the turn of the century—and it’s easy to see how many people got disillusioned or turned off to faith.
And yet, the recent news about a Wisconsin technology company implanting microchips in its employees is a fascinating development. Especially considering those long-ago predictions.
The Convenience Factor
Nearly half the 85 employees of Three Square Market in River Falls agreed to be voluntarily “chipped” at a party at company headquarters.
The leading reason: convenience. The implant will allow them to wave their hand to open doors, log onto computers, or buy snacks at a vending machine.
It didn’t take long for some observers to note the biblical significance of the event. USA Today quickly noted the speculation it raised.
However, the newspaper it quoted a Wheaton College professor as saying it was more a fulfillment of end times novels and movies than Revelation.
Chris Vlachos said one key is taking the mark goes hand in hand with pledging one’s allegiance to the beast and worshiping his image: “No name, no worries.”
Others weren’t so sure. Ricky Bakker, son of evangelist Jim Bakker (whose image has been rehabilitated since the late 1980s), commented to Charisma’s news service that it seemed so casual.
“It’s convenient,” Bakker said. “I don’t want to have to carry my wallet around or I don’t want to have cash in my pocket, so I’ll just take a little microchip inside my hand. I’ll scan it, I’ll have my lunch for the day. . . . But what happens when we get to the point where our credit cards, Social Security numbers, every little detail about our lives is on this thing?”
Voluntary to Mandatory
While I agree with Vlachos that parts of Revelation are to be taken symbolically, I think it’s a short distance from a company microchipping volunteers to a world system demanding it.
Given the parallel technological developments that have accompanied the move away from cash and checks, it doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to envision the day when anyone who wants to transact business will need an implanted microchip.
It won’t seem sinister. Especially to those who have no regard for biblical prophecy.
Indeed, I can see people demanding this convenience and ridiculing and ostracizing those who refuse it. Just wait 20, 30 or 40 years.
Given the chip party that is sure to be followed by others, it is worth recalling the relevant passages from Revelation, starting with 13:16-17: “He causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so that no one may buy or sell, except he who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name” (MEV).
The next chapter says, “A third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out in full strength into the cup of His anger. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb’” (Revelation 14:9-10).
Laugh at your own risk.