From my Desk: Mark of the Beast

I recently read an article on Facebook posted by a well-meaning friend from church. The article was about a company who have decided to provide an option for their employees to have a microchip embedded in their skin. This microchip would allow them to bypass company badges and corporate log-ons to computers. Similar to how smartphones pay for goods, chips can be read for payment and identification. There’s no tracker or GPS like smartphones so there is no way for the bosses to track their employees, but people are still concerned about privacy.

In recent times, it has become a trend in certain Christian circles to associate the Mark of the Beast in Revelation to anything electronic that is embedded in someone’s body. However, I think there are some problems with this association. Revelation is a book about end times. The book contains three different types of genres: the prophetic, epistolary, and the apocalyptic. All of these genres are heavily metaphorical. It’s very hard for us to know what is literal and what is metaphorical in this book. 

Christians (and non-Christians alike) for millennia have been comparing their time period to the end times described in Revelation. They point to wars, natural disasters, unbelief, and upheaval in the Middle East. But these things constantly happen throughout time. The Bible says that no one knows the time or place when Christ will come again. 

My deduction is that first off, an iPhone is a lot more invasive of privacy than the microchip. While the chip is more intimate in that it is placed under the skin, we place our phones in our pockets which isn’t much different. Our phones have cameras that can be on and recording even when our phones are turned off. They can track us by GPS anywhere we go. So we should be a lot more worried about a smartphone than a microchip. Also, the Bible never says anything explicit about what the Mark of the Beast is. There are many things we could link it to besides a microchip, it’s just the current trend to link it to a microchip. Finally, we may be hundreds, if not thousands of years, away from the second coming, or we may be days away. We have no idea. But we shouldn’t be racing to make any hasty conclusions like so many have done in error in the past. Let us proceed cautiously with wisdom in these complicated times and not contribute to the mass of hysteria that surrounds us.

(originally published in the newspaper The Post Dispatch on 10/18/19)

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