Last week, it was reported that a company named Three Square Market in River Falls, Wisconsin, is right now implanting tiny, rice-sized microchips in fifty of its employees. They are called Radio Frequency Identification chips (RFID). They are being inserted under the skin between the thumb and forefinger. It only takes two minutes to implant them. These electronic devices will contain stored data about employees. They will be scanned when employees enter company buildings, access their computers, and buy food at the cafeteria kiosks. The chips use Near Field Communications (NFC). It will be like using a credit card, only more convenient. Although these biochips could include GPS trackers, Three Square Market isn’t going that far, to make a pun, at least not yet.
Three Square Market is doing this implanting of microchips in people in partnership with Biohax International. In 2015, this company in Sweden started selling and implanting electronic microchips in people who attended technology fairs in Sweden. About 3,000 people now have them embedded in their hands. These devices can be scanned like some people now scan their cell phones.
In the U.S, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved this biochip technology way back in 2004. The purpose was to enable doctors to obtain medical information quickly. In 2014, the FDA announced it was monitoring such implants to learn if they could adversely affect pacemakers and defibrillators. Just imagine if such a bionic man got his signals mixed up.
Disadvantages of such microchips include risking personal information getting hacked. And they could assist stalkers. That could scare some women off. Advantages for these embedded electronic chips are that they will never be harmed, lost, or have battery life depleted.
But many people are freaking-out about such a concept. Of course, with technology advancing so rapidly to improve our lives, it seems inevitable that such an idea will someday become mainstream. Some Christians, however, are warning against it. They claim it will be the precursor of “the mark of the beast” mentioned in the Bible.
The most apocalyptic book ever written is the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. It predicts that a very evil man will appear in the future at the end of this age. Christians have rightly called him “the Antichrist” (cf. 1 John 2.18). He will claim to be a god (Daniel 11.36-37; 2 Thessalonians 2.4). Most people on earth will worship him as such (Revelation 13.4).God–and even this Antichrist’s worshippers, adoringly though–will call him “the beast” (vv. 1, 4-5). We read in Revelation that the beast “causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six” (Revelation 13.16-18 NRSV).
This number 666 refers to gematria. It was practiced in the ancient world. Our Arabic numeral system was not invented (actually by Indians) until the Middle Ages. So, during antiquity people attributed numerical values to certain letters in languages. Just think of the Latin numerals i, ii, iii, iv, and v, which are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Jewish people were well known for practicing gematria. So, the author of Revelation means that the numerical value of the Antichrist’s name will add up to the number 666.
Ever since the book of Revelation became known, there have been people who have been obsessed in trying to discover the Antichrist’s name, and thereby the Antichrist himself, by decoding this number 666. So, Bible readers have been just as familiar with the expression “the mark of the beast” as they have that his name adds up to 666. Because of this, many people have regarded 666 as an unlucky number, like crossing the path of a black cat, or something spooky on Halloween. Just check out high-rise hotels. Some don’t have a 13th floor or the room number 666 on the sixth floor.
Well, even though I have specialized in the study of Bible prophecy all of my adult life, I wouldn’t freak out about having such a microchip implanted in me. Now in my brain, that might be different. But to each his own. “Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin” (James 4.17). “Let all be fully convinced in their own minds” (Romans 14.7). However, in the future, taking the mark of the beast or the number of his name, now that is an entirely different matter. DON’T DO THAT!
“Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who received the mark of its name” (Revelation 14.9-11).