"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives" 2 Peter 3:11 (NIV)
Let's ask ourselves what effect our study of prophecy is having on us. We have session after session ahead of us more shocking news, more things the Devil could use to make us depressed or fearful. All of this should make us realize that we are on the winning side! We have the victory in the Lord Jesus Christ.. He who is going to come back at the end as King of Kings and Lord of Lords is the one we are following. So we are not afraid, and we are not depressed, but we are being motivated and purified as we study these things.
When President Ronald Reagan left office in 1989, he bought a ranch in the area above Santa Barbara, and the address of that piece of property was 666 St. Cloud Road. President Reagan said, ""No way! I'm not moving into there until you change the address. They changed it to 668, then he moved in.
Some of you have heard this commercial from Glendale Federal Savings.. One of you mentioned it to me. I was a little stunned when I heard it. It is part of this interesting series where the lady is so sarcastic and down on the big banks. On this particular one she starts out saying that she can never talk to a real person at her bank any more. She raves on about how she can only get answering machines and so on. Then she ends it with something like this: "I can hardly wait for them to put my account number right on my forehead." I called Glendale Federal to ask permission to get a copy and play that commercial, and they denied it. They said they had already received complaints that they were promoting something Satanic. He told me that that was not their intent. The lady who wrote it didn't have the prophecy in mind. He knew all about it himself, but he said she was just talking about the way things are going. Well, we are there, folks! You don't even have to know the prophecy to talk about the mark on your forehead.
THE THEOLOGICAL SIDE OF THE ISSUE
I would like to give two aspects of this. The first will be brief, but it is the most important of the two. That is the theological side of this issue. It is found in Revelation chapter 13. As you turn there, I will read something from Deuteronomy, chapter 6, that I'm sure you have heard before.
See if you notice anything in this very well known Old Testament passage that stands out in the light of our subject of the Mark of The Beast.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)
The Scriptures are so sacred to those who believed the Old Testament that they put the little boxes with a piece of Scripture in it, outside their homes, and they would touch it or kiss it as they came in or went out.
They also had these phylacteries, little boxes with scriptures, that they would bind on their foreheads and on their hands. Isn't that incredible? The forehead and the hands were the most obvious places where people could see, and where they themselves could be reminded, that they were under the authority that they were devoted to that they were worshippers of Jehovah.
With that in mind, we turn to Revelation 13:
Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.
If you have the Internet, and you type in the number 666, you will be appalled at the number of references that are returned. Some of them are from accounting documents, but there is much, much material available about the meaning of the number 666. It is probably the best known number in our society today. This is interesting, and a little bit scary. On the other hand, it is also frustrating, because people have become so accustomed to it that they really don't take it very seriously.
What is this passage all about? It's about a day coming, when people will not be able to buy or sell unless they have the Mark of The Beast. That's obvious. This is control of a global commerce system. We all understand this. We are still putting together the bits and pieces of how this would all come about. But I think, more important than all of that, it's really about worship of the Devil. It's about worship of Antichrist and the Dragon who is behind him. Chapters 12 and 13 go together. In chapter 12 there is a seven-headed red dragon, and it is said plainly in that chapter that it is the Devil. Then in chapter 13 there is another seven-headed dragon which is the Antichrist the Beast who is injured, and is apparently brought back to life. He allows people to buy or sell according to whether or not they have the mark. So a very fascinating sub-theme is world commerce, but the real theme is worship of the Beast, and of the Devil behind him.
Remember that this is what Satan has always wanted, and has never been satisfied in getting. He has always wanted to be worshipped. That's why he was banned from Heaven in the first place. He wanted to ascend to the highest place and be adored as his maker was. And because of this pride and rebellion he was disenfranchised from Heaven. He has always wanted people to worship him, and he has tried in so many ways in the Garden of Eden, and even with the Lord Jesus. Isn't it amazing that when the Lord Jesus was tempted, the Devil said, "If you will just worship me, I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth." In a sense, he did have the right to offer this. Most of you, being students of prophecy understand this that he is the force behind these world empires, all of which were evil, and all of which were represented in the seven heads of the dragon. He did have the world's kingdoms, and he could have given them to the Lord Jesus in a sort of shortcut of the mission Jesus had.
So, the Devil has always wanted to be worshipped, and this is going to be his best shot at it. At that time he will be able to control the economy of the world so well that he can literally force people to worship him. Most people who study this get carried away with the technology, which I will spend most of our time considering whatever physical tattoos there might be, and whatever might be implanted. We are going to talk about all of that. But whatever that turns out to be, let's say it might be a biochip placed in your right hand, that biochip would be an identification number for you for the rest of your life, but it would not be the Mark of The Beast. Because the mark is plainly said to be either his name, or the number of his name. This has nothing to do with identification for commerce. It is tied together, because it says here that when people receive the Mark of The Beast they are allowed to buy and sell, but the mark itself is an act of worship of Antichrist, and, therefore of the Devil. It's tantamount to wearing those phylacteries of the Old Testament on your hand or forehead, but it will be an admission that the wearer is under the authority of Antichrist, and not of God. This explains why it is said very, very, plainly that those who receive the Mark of The Beast are literally doomed. We are told, for instance in Revelation 14
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
It's not even talking about commerce there. Commerce is involved, but the greater issue is worship of Antichrist. And those who receive the mark will never be able to stand before God and say, "I didn't know!" " Someone put it on in my sleep!" " I was lied to by a smooth salesman. " " I knew better, but I just didn't have the courage to say 'no.'" None of those excuses will do. If you get the mark, you are doomed eternally.
I don't believe that you and I are ever going to have to make that choice, because I firmly believe that we are going up in Rapture before the Tribulation begins. However, whether the Rapture takes place at that time or not has nothing to do with the rest of what we are studying here. The Mark of The Beast is primarily an act of worship. And it is something that a person can never take back, or say "I'm sorry, I wish I hadn't done it." It is interesting that the book of Revelation also tells us that just before this registration takes place, angels are going to fly through the heavens after the 144,000 powerful witnesses have made their impact on the world. Just to make sure that every person really knows the issues before they receive the mark, these angels are going to fly through the heavens and proclaim the Gospel. So that, literally every person in the world will know, and every adult who receives or rejects the Mark will know what he or she is doing.
For an example, now, let's suppose that Tim LaHaye's novel is correct. Suppose Antichrist's name is Nicolae Carpathia. When a person goes up to receive the mark, they will say, "Do you want his name? Can you picture his name on your forehead or right hand? Or would you prefer just to have the number of his name? It will be one or the other. It will be like Christians wearing a cross. It will be a public declaration of one's allegiance and worship of Antichrist. Nothing but the very strongest tools of cooersion would cause people to receive something like that. But in that day, it will mean life or death to the ones who will have to make that choice.
THE TECHNOLOGICAL SIDE OF THE ISSUE
Let's talk about the technological side of the issue. All of this information is currently available most of it on the Internet.
First, let's look at Daniel 12:4.
"But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge."
We were told this morning that the "going here and there" was travel. I agree with that, but there is another kind of travel that we do today that the writer of the book of Daniel could have never imagined, and that is the travel we do on the "information superhighway." Literally, in a split second, going from here to the far corners of the earth and back again millions of little packets of information.
I want to talk with you first about the advances of the microcomputer. My first computer was an Apple I, believe it or not. I remember so vividly, reading Popular Mechanics in a barber shop in October of 1977. The article said Radio Shack was planning to come out with a computer that the average person could own. My mind just went bonkers. I always loved technology. If I hadn't been called into the ministry, I'm sure I would have wanted to be a scientist. I thought to myself, "What a dream to be able to actually use a computer in your own home." So I could hardly wait for the barber to finish the haircut, and I went straight over to Radio Shack, and asked them about it. They didn't have a clue. No one there knew anything about it.
I couldn't accept that answer, so I started looking around, and within a week I found a place called "Computer Playground" where they had installed really primitive Apple I computers hooked up to televisions. All you could do with it was play simple computer games or learn how to use BASIC for computer programming. I made arrangements with them to rent an Apple I computer. It was just a board, hand made by Wozniac and Jobs, who were unknown at the time, put into a wooden box that the computer store owner had made, hooked up to our home television. It had 4K memory! No graphics, no color, no sound, but I loved it. There was no storage of data. I had to use a regular tape recorder to capture the strange sounds from the computer, and if we were lucky, we could play them back in next time we started the computer. But we loved it.
After a few months of using that, we graduated to an Apple II, and thought that was just the greatest thing in the world! It has gone like that just every year or year and a half there has been a newer and better computer, from that day until now.
Future of Microcomputers
And today, Intel says they are working on microprocessors that will operate, not at today's 200 megahertz, but, by the year 2011, it will run at 10 gigahertz. That's 10,000 megaherts instead of 200! The February issue of Fortune Magazine says it will have 1 billion components! You see, Andy Groves, Intel's CEO predicted that the power of a computer chip would double every 18 months, and so far, Intel has lived up to that "law."
"In the last days, knowledge will increase." You see, all of us are able to do things today that we never could have done without that little computer. Today's smart cards, that I will talk about later, look like credit cards, but they have more memory in them than that Apple ! computer had..
And while all of this has been going on, while we now have in our homes a computer which is much more powerful than the mainframe computers of a couple of decades ago, supercomputers have just been getting better and better. They are tens of times faster and better.
Here's something interesting from the history of Apple Computer. I didn't discover this until recently. In July of their first year they came out with their Apple I board, and the retail price was set at $666.66. I took this right off Apple's site.
Year 2000 Problem
A huge problem is brewing in the world of computers. The main Internet site for this problem tells you exactly how many months, days, hours, minutes and seconds there are until the beginning of the year 2000. The reason for that, is that they expect, exactly at that moment, many computers are going to fail because of their dating system which only alows for two digits. They will need four digits for the date at that point. Big companies are working feverishly to try to make sure that, in every little formula hidden in their millions of lines of code, has been taken care of. They are paranoid about this. Almost every big company in the world is working on this!
Newsweek came out with a cover story about this recently. They said that on New Year's Eve, be very careful where you are and what you're doing. Your car may not function. The elevators may lock up, airplanes could crash. You could suddenly owe millions of dollars to your phone company. They fear that some of the major computer failures at that time might trigger failure of others all over the world. It could even result in a great recession. They are deadly serious about this.
I have had people write to my Internet site asking if we think Antichrist could take advantage of this situation? Honestly, we don't know, but if he can possibly provide a solution, he definitely would be a world hero. We've devoted a special page to this problem.
World-Wide Connectivity and Information Technologies
Fiber Optic Cables
One small Fiber Optic cable can replace 10,000 ordinary telephone lines! Because of that, the Internet, which is the basic backbone of information sharing all over the world, has been increasing its power with the cable.
They are now working on a new generation of the Internet. It is called Internet II, and it is described as vBNS (very high speed Backbone Network Service).
MCI is the provider for a super-fast information network mandated in 1993 by the National Science Foundation. Part of it is already in place, using speeds of 155 million bits per second. When fully functional, it will connect the Supercomputing Centers at speeds of up to 2.5 billion bits (2.5 gigabits) per second. At this speed the new network could transmit the contents of two public libraries per second.
840 satellites will bring Internet to world beginning 2000
The Internet of the future won't even be limited by fiber optic cables. Last March Bill Gates, who is the richest man in the world, and easily the most powerful person in all the world of technology, went into a partnership with another man and announced the "Internet In The Sky" which they will begin in the year 2000 and it will be fully functional by the year 2002. It will be 840 low-altitude satellites that will be connected in 21 orbits, with 40 satellites in every orbit. They have an animation on their Teledesic website. It's like a big moving net around the entire earth. What it means is, that anywhere on the face of the planet a person with an inexpensive portable wireless Internet communicator, can communicate with anyone else on the earth. It could be at the top of the Himalayas or at the Dead Sea..
You might want to keep your eye on Bill Gates. He is buying up all kinds of interests, and just recently bought $150 million worth of non-voting stock in his main competitor, Apple Computer. By doing this, he got the Justice Department off his back because the can't prosecute him for putting Apple out of business, but at the same time he can unofficially dictate what should happen at Apple.
The real big news right now is what is happening with smart cards. Smart cards are a little different than the cards most of us have in our wallets. The are very popular in Europe. The look the same, except a little thicker you can hardly notice it. Some of them have little contacts in the middle of the card, but many now use radio waves so they don't need contacts. Inside the card there is actually a little computer, with a tiny battery, and 4K or 8K memory.
Smartcard New consortium
The smart card manufacturers are beginning to band together so they have a standardized platform. They call it MULTOS. They call this "the smart card getting smarter," because now the machine that can read one card will be able to read all the cards. In the United States the major credit card companies are getting ready to switch over. I don't know if they will tell us, or just send us a new card.
With a smart card you can do all kinds of things you can't do with a magnetic stripe card like the ones we have now. The magnetic stripe card lets us store a little information about our account numbers and some personal information, but with a smart card you'll be able to do all kinds of special things: like keep all your passwords. It will store money. Money of the future will not be bills and coins, but digital information. You won't have to go back to the ATM for money because you'll have it right in your smart card. So when you go to a vending machine, you'll just put your card in and the amount will be subtracted from the card. This is already being done in many places in the world. They call it electronic wallets or purses.
Smarty Smart Card Reader
Another big advance in this area is the Smarty Smart Card Reader. It utilizes the floppy disk drive of your personal computer, allows you to insert your smart card into a slot, and then insert it in the drive which becomes a reader, which will then act like a personal ATM hooked up to your computer. It won't be able to put out money, but you won't need it because the card itself takes the place of money. This is something that the ordinary person will be able to afford. I predict that it will eventually come as a standard peripheral on new computer systems. You will be able to download or even upload money from your bank, or from another person, right at your own computer.
It seems like we have gone about as far as we need to go for somebody to be able to control the commerce of the world. Don't you agree?
Miniaturization of Components
Miniaturization is another issue of importance in this arena. In Japan they recently introduced their latest innovation: Robo-Roach. It is a large cockroach with a radio controlled printed circuit backpack. With this they can control where it goes by tying in to its antennae. If they can do this kind of thing, just imagine what they could do to us!
You've been hearing about biochips for a long time. They have not been putting them into people as a rule. They are only about the size of a grain of rice. They don't need batteries. They have a little coil, and a pre-programmed number, all encapsulated in glass. This can be inserted under your skin with a special hypodermic needle. It won't get infected, and you would hardly know it is there. But scanning devices will know it's there. It could be used to tie into your bank accounts, or whatever they want to do with it.
In the future, they could perfect this so that it can actually be your smart card. The technology is not that advanced yet. But the advantage of something like this is that you wouldn't have to remember to take your wallet with you, it will always be a part of you. You couldn't loose it. When you want to get money out, you could just go to your personal computer, wave your hand in front of it, and transfer what you need into the device. You could pay your bills the same way. You could start your car that way because it could take the place of your keys. These are all possibilities for the future. None of it is necessary for Antichrist to take over. We have enough in place right now.
Here's something that uses the same technology in a much more acceptable form. Some of you may already have these. It is known as the Mobil Speed Pass. It has the same type of device in it that responds to the radio waves and sends back a number. You just drive up, and when you come within five feet of the gas pump, it gets ready to service you. It knows who you are and how to charge your purchase. You still have to get out and put the nozzle in your tank, but the rest is automatic! You don't pull your wallet out. You don't punch in a PIN number. You just wave this little thing and it happens. If you don't want one of these on your key ring, you can get another device from the same company that just sticks on your back window and does the same thing without even handling it. They even make a card version for your wallet, but you don't have to take it out, it just happens.
Other technologies are also leading in the same direction. They have a face recognition device you can hook up to your personal computer, and throw away your passwords, because your computer knows it is you. They have a little scanner for your fingerprint that does the same thing. It's called BioMouse.
I saw a very interesting commercial for Martin McDonnell just last week. It started with a beautiful space shot. A man in the foreground is pointing at it. Then the camera goes around and closes in on the finger until all you see is his finger tip with a printed circuit board superimposed over it. They talk about their wonderful fingerprint scanning technology. Then they end the commercial by saying, by the way, they are also proud of their trips to Mars and other planets. The meaning of this is, that of all the things they're doing now, they are the most proud of their fingerprint scanning, because it is so important for all the things we've been talking about.
There's just one other thing I would like to mention. As you can see, we are already close enough, that if Antichrist came to power today, he could do what he needs to do.
There's a "Programmable Tattoo" they put under your wrist that is actually an LCD display panel that can serve as a watch to tell the time, or give reports on your vital functions like blood pressure or insulin count: anything you need to know about yourself. The people who have the patents on this are from a company called Interval Research Corporation. You probably have not heard of them. They are very secretive. They say they don't even know what they want to do with this yet. Interval was cofounded by Paul Allen, who was also cofounder of Microsoft. All of the things they are doing right now, they are keeping a lid on it. There is an interval, you see. They're thinking five, ten, twenty years down the road, all the things they are developing will be put into service.
Maybe they will be put into service when the Mark of The Beast is ready.
What is the bottom line, my friends? Should we be terrified? If you're terrified, I suggest that you don't study prophecy. It's not good for you. Remember the verse we started with:
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives" 2 Peter 3:11 (NIV)
If prophecy motivates you, because you see that what the Bible has prophesied is coming to pass right now; if it purifies you; if it causes you to want to win people to Christ while there is still time; then you're on the right track. May the Lord bless you and help you use your time and strength for Him until He returns!