THE MARK OF THE BEAST
By Ed Tarkowski
1 Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Speculation is fairly rampant in the body of Christ today regarding who the antichrist is and what the mark of the beast will be. I found a good quote from the early church fathers which should be considered as wisdom for our time. It seems the early church had the same speculative spirit in their day regarding the identification of the beast and his mark:
"It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved. For if there are many names found possessing this number, it will be asked which among them shall the coming man bear." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V, Chapter 30)
I was researching what others believe the mark of the beast to be and found a long list of opinions at http://www.av1611.org/666/opinion.html. According to those quoted, here are some examples of what the mark or combinations of these could be: the Chinese Chop, an invisible laser tatoo (with a name coded into it equalling 666), an emebedded microchip, the Universal Product Code (UPC, bar code), social security number, laser scanning, credit card with a loyalty badge, a literal stamp on the forehead or right hand, a tattoo of the Soviet Union's Red Star, an actual physical brand, one's zip code preceding social security number with 666 in front of it, a loyalty mark containing one's home region, microchips in smart cards, a trade number in association with one's bank account, two greek letters that stand for Christ with a serpent between them. Others have suggested iris scans, fingerprints, voice patterns, facial features, etc. as related to the mark. Some totally spiritualize the mark, associating it with mind, and making it an invisible mark. There are also opinions of counting the number of his name in either Greek, Hebrew or, but not most likely, English.
Many Christians are confused about this mark due to others explaining it away as something enitrely spiritual. The mark certainly has spiritual ramifications, but taking Scripture in its simplicity, it is logical and reasonable to say that since it will be used to buy or sell, it is also logical and reasonable that it will be a physical mark of some sort:
Rev 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
1. Scripture says it is a physical mark that is placed on or in the right hand or the forehead of the one who receives it
If one is to totally spiritualize the mark, then one must spiritualize the buying and selling as well.
2. It is used to buy or sell material goods in the economies of the world, and it's rather obvious that the world is slowly working its way to such a system. This mark appears to be clearly linked to the physical, material realm, but it does have spiritual ramifications because of it connection to the name and number of the antichrist. To relegate the mark to JUST the spiritual realm strongly indicates the work of an active imagination explaining away the simple words of Scripture: it is used to buy and sell material goods. If one spiritualizes the mark in Revelation 13, then one must also spiritualize the buying and selling. There would have to be a transformation of some sort, to change it from a physical mark needed to buy and sell to a non-physical mark that would only be spiritually recognized and yet be used to buy and sell. There is no such transformation or evolution of such a mark in Scripture.
3. Chips embedded in the skin point to such a system. The technology for such a system is developing.
There is also the issue of the social security numbers being the mark of the beast. If this was the literal mark of Revelation 13, then millions of Christians would already be associated with the mark. It is approriate, I believe, to watch the embedded chip and the social security number as parts of what the mark will be while not negating some future evolution of a combination of these aspects. Often, today, we take a part of something and see it as the whole, when it is not. It reminds me of the story of the elephant and four blind men were placed in a room and asked to describe an elephant. One felt the ear and said the elephant is like a fan. Another felt the tail and said the beast was like a rope. The third grabbed hold of one of the elephant's legs and said the elephant was like a table leg. The fourth touched the side of the elephant and said it was like a wall. The truth was, the elephant was like all four and if one put together the parts, one would have a true picture of an elephant. The blind men took the parts of the elephant for the whole in their ignorance.
I report on the progress of these chips in the updates I send out whenever I get some news about them. I don't believe that they are at present THE mark of the beast. Does that mean I believe they'll evolve into that position of importance? I believe they most likely will and need to be watched. My gut says, Yes, it will evolve to that degree. But my attitude towards it all is to watch, pray, wait and see to see what combination of things mentioned above come together to be contained in the mark. I trust the Holy Spirit to not allow me to miss such an evolution as long as I seek His face to know the truth when the mark is clearly identified. Too much has been proclaimed as FACTUAL that is not confirmed, and we need to have the attitude of Scripture:
Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
The whole situation deserves to be watched with both eyes wide open instead of bending the mind out of shape by spiritualizing the mark. There's no sense in getting frustrated because we can't "figure it out" when Jesus never told us that we had to:
Eccl 3:17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
Prophetic events in Scripture will be fulfilled because all Scripture has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible was not meant to be a book of hints about what might or might not be the mark of the beast or anything else. The problem with many people with "prophetic insight" today is that much of their teaching is based on one or two facts mixed with speculation about current and future events, yet stated to be fact. To them, they have reason enough to proclaim the fulfillment of any particular Biblical prophecy before it's definitely established. In contrast, Pentecost is a good example of men recognizing a true fulfillment of prophecy. It was prophesied in Scripture, and when it came about, Peter said, "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). He said, "This is that"; there was no need to speculate. It was obvious that the events as described in the Old Testament were now occurring, visible and obvious to the naked eye. That's what prophecy is supposed to be, to inform the Church that something will happen and when it actually does, to point out the "This is that" reality. This gives the Church a sure way to know where it stands in the timetable of God.
There is a reasonable practice in Christianty today that is appropriate. That is to WATCH, but we must watch with a chain around the neck of our speculations. Some say the mark is spiritual, some say it is an actual physical mark, and others say it is a combination of both. There is nothing wrong with looking at the possible options and to watch their development, or lack of it. But to proclaim that the implantable chip, for instance, is the mark of the beast or the sosical security number is the mark and it is here now has to be in essence fact mixed with speculation, because the mark is not truly known yet. It has not been implemented where everyone has to have it to buy or sell. This is where the watching comes in. Watch what is happening, and even warn that the chip may very well be the mark or its precursor. When and if the day comes that we see it truly is, we will have a short time to proclaim that prophecy has indeed been fulfilled, and to warn others not to take it. Rest assured that when the mark of the beast makes its initial appearance in its actual form, it will be obvious to the Christian, and it will then be time to say, "Beware! This is that."
I remember back in the 70s when bar codes began to appear on merchandise, and the Church was filled with speculation. The "bar code as mark of the beast" was a major theme expounded on by the prophetic ministries. Many prophets, proclaiming that a major prophetic event was just around the proverbial corner, prospered through book and tape sales and appearances at conferences. But it never happened, and the Church suffered from the wasted time and energy and the lost opportunities to do God's real work. We need to heed not only the words of our Lord Jesus to watch AND pray, but those of Peter as well:
1 Pet 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;