After an exhausting 18 hours in labor, a mother delivers a healthy baby. The parents are overwhelmed with emotion to see their firstborn come into the world. Nursing staff wheel the child into the newborn ward, with a smiling father following.
But his joyful expression suddenly changes into a distressed frown when a nurse takes a stainless steel syringe and inserts a microchip capsule into the child’s right hand. The healthcare worker quickly reassures the concerned father this is standard procedure.
This scenario depicts the much-discussed, often-feared, possible expanded use of radio-frequency identification (RFID).
RFID is an advanced identification process in which an individual or item is tagged with a specific ID number. Using radio waves, a computerized reader can scan a tag’s unique serial number and access any stored information.
The advantage of this system? Beyond today’s barcode technology, the tagged object need only come within a few feet of a reader to process an identity number. The device, which is inserted through the skin in a procedure that takes less than 10 minutes, is no bigger than a grain of rice.
Although this now-$8.89-billion-dollar industry was developed 10 years ago and the technology is already in use today—in cars, merchandise, swipe cards, phones—it has yet to gain steam as a viable option to insert into the human body.
That is, until now.
In January 2015, a high-tech office block in Sweden began offering employees the option of receiving a tiny sensor under their skin in place of a swipe card to access amenities such as printers or pay for food from the cafe. Around the same time, Massachusetts-based MicroCHIPS created a remote control contraceptive chip that allows a woman to turn shots of birth control medicine on and off.
Even digital RFID tattoos are now being made available for those who want to monitor their body temperature, hydration levels, UV exposure, and other bodily factors. Hospitals have also begun to harness it to diagnose and treat patients.
Despite obvious benefits, the technology causes uneasiness for many, particularly with recent concerns over privacy violations and the improper handling of sensitive data. Clearly, if someone can read it, then there is always someone who can hack into it.
For others, though, it sparks thoughts of George Orwell’s 1984 or the biblical mark of the Beast described in the book of Revelation.
Many prophecy watchers and evangelical Christians are convinced that an RFID chip inserted into one’s body is this prophesied mark. Articles, books and websites offer a cacophony of wildly different ideas on this subject. Self-proclaimed experts merely contribute to the confusion.
Is microchip technology the mark of the Beast?
The only place in the Bible the mark is mentioned is in the book of Revelation: “And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (13:16-17).
A chapter later, the mark is mentioned again: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark…the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God…” (14:9-10).
After reading this account, some conclude the mark is an implanted computer chip or a barcode tattooed on a recipient’s right hand or forehead by a figure known as the “Beast.” Others feel the Nazi swastika is the mark. Then there are those who think the Worldwide Web (or “www”) is the mark, with a few even considering it the H1N1 swine-flu virus.
Yet just one mark of the Beast is described in the Bible. Which is correct? And how can you know?
Consider. If God did not somehow show exactly what to avoid, then how could anyone be under “the wrath of God” without knowing what the mark was? Would God leave people clueless regarding this subject and then punish them for not knowing?
God never leaves His followers in the dark about matters He wants them to understand. Notice the first verse of the book of Revelation: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass…” (1:1).
Simply put, God shows His servants what “must shortly come to pass”—including the nature of the mark of the Beast! Therefore, the answer must be simple and crystal clear.
According to Scripture, the mark is something that will involve the vast majority of people as “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond” receive it. It is of such great importance that “no man might [or will be able to] buy or sell” if he does not have it.
The inclusion of the term “sell” along with “buy” indicates that the consequences of it go beyond having money to make purchases. When seen together, it becomes clear that those without the mark will not be able to earn a living or engage in business.
Recall that in Revelation the mark is placed in the “forehead” or “right hand.” This is where biblical theorists often make a jump in logic that this refers to an RFID chip, as this technology is currently the only kind that can be implanted in the body.
Yet a careful Bible student never forces conclusions. Instead, he allows the Bible to interpret itself. Simply breaking down these two terms reveals the actual meaning of the verses.
The frontal lobe of the human brain is the area where a person makes decisions. With his hands, he performs actions, deeds or works. Through the “right hand,” a person acts upon choices made in his “forehead”—the mind.
Similarly, a series of verses in Deuteronomy 6 shows the Bible uses symbolic language to discuss the mind and actions: “Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do…these words, which I command you…and you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (vs. 3, 6, 8).
Here, God is commanding obedience to His Law through a “sign” upon the hand and “frontlet” (a decorative band or ribbon worn across the forehead). Yet this does not mean the person will wear a literal sign or frontlet. Rather, it symbolizes obedience to God’s commandments in the mind and through one’s actions.
Any doubt of the connection to obedience is removed upon reading Revelation 14:12. This verse describes those who refuse to take the mark as “they that keep the commandments of God.”
Romans 6:16 reveals more on the subject of obedience: “Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey…”
Reread the last portion of this verse: “his servants you are to whom you obey.” Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance defines the word “servant” as “a slave,” whether “literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily.” A slave belongs to his master. In short, this verse shows a person belongs to whom he obeys.
Just as a Christian obeys God—and therefore belongs to Him—a person with the mark described in Revelation obeys and belongs to someone called the Beast.
Return to Revelation 13: “…no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark” (vs. 17). Under the Beast’s rule, if one does not obey him, he will be unable to work or do business with others. This requires those who do not take the mark to have tremendous faith as their continued survival is at stake.
For the Beast to control buying and selling, he must have the political power to implement laws and the military backing to enforce them. This combination of authority will lead to widespread influence.
Those who obey God and refuse to follow the laws of the Beast’s government system, including taking his mark, will stand out to those around them. The intense scrutiny will certainly test their resolve as the entire world will be watching.
Realize. No invention by itself could be the mark of the Beast, including an RFID chip or any other type of technology. Instead of being frightened by a computer chip, a diligent Bible student should consider his own thoughts and actions—and look to this Book for answers.
God clearly explains in His Word what this mark actually is. When the political-military leader known as the Beast rises to power, the world will ultimately be divided into two groups: those who obey the Beast and those who refuse. Remember, the mark is tied to obedience.
The decision to accept or reject the mark will present a great world test. All people will face it. Those who take it will incur God’s wrath; those who refuse it will have His favor.
Soon everyone will be confronted with a choice of whom to obey—either God or the Beast. To understand that choice in detail, read David C. Pack’s booklet Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation?