Christendom is about to be blindsided by the greatest sin of all human history, just because the "pastors and teachers", Ephesians 4:11, and those with the Gift of "governments", 1 Corinthians 12:28, operate in two separate worlds which seldom communicate.
The Mark of the Beast is described in Revelation as the greatest sin of all human history: the only sin which will take every doer of it to Hell, besides Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (about which Christians are divided over exactly what it is).
Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Well meaning Bible-believing Christians who love the Lord are in danger of ignorantly winding up on the Paving Crew for the Road to Hell, because exegetical knowledge is not readily available to discern whether the latest technologies they are promoting might match the warnings of Revelation, and Bible scholars who could tell them don't realize the need to tell them, because they aren't keeping up with the latest technologies.
But the biggest enabler of ignorance is the weak sense of Christian responsibility for the sins of our nation. Christians feel little sense of stewardship of their vote. So "Mark of the Beast" stories are purchased to entertain, not to inspire political involvement.
The consensus of popular Christian fiction, and end-times radio preachers, is that the Mark of the Beast will be none other than an implantable chip. Therefore prolife, Moral Conservative, Christian leaders like Congressmen Tom Tancredo, Steve King, Brian Bilbray, and Senators Jeff Sessions and Kay Hutchinson Bailey, guided by the consensus of popular Christian literature, assume it is Biblically safe to require the Real ID Card before anyone can get a job, open a bank account, board a plane, cross the border, etc., so long as no one is talking about an implantable chip.
They say this degree of national tracking is necessary in order to drive out "illegals", which is another area in which Christian activists are marching in the theological darkness without pastoral direction through such passages as Matthew 25:39-45 (which threatens Hell for those inhospitable to immigrants).
But what if Revelation does not foresee implantable chips at all? What if it describes a technology that is far more useful to Big Brother? A technology which is already being implemented by these very same well meaning Christian political leaders?
When bar codes were invented, Christian authors identified them as The Mark. When implantable chips were invented, the bar code stories were replaced with implantable chip stories.
In order to keep the theory salable, the match between the technology and the Bible is, unfortunately, overstated. It is seldom mentioned that chips can't be implanted next to bones, ruling out the forehead. In the hand, they are inserted in the large pad of flesh between the thumb and first finger. The practicality of chips is likewise overstated. It is often alleged that satellites can track them, while the truth is that they can be read from usually no more than a meter away. Transponders have to be battery powered before satellites can track them, but battery powered chips aren't implantable. It is surely true that researchers are trying to figure out how to make implantable chips readable from great distances, but the theoretical obstacles are formidable. And no research is being done to figure out how to put them in foreheads.
There is another technology which is far more useful, far cheaper, far closer to implementation, and in which the Department of Homeland Security has far greater interest. In fact, the DHS has ruled out chips, but adamantly insists on this new technology.
Facial recognition software can enable remote cameras to identify everyone walking or driving by, and to create a computer log of where everyone goes.
You donít learn this stuff in seminary. Even if you did, itís out of date now. You can only learn correct, up to date information about this from people who keep Congressional Budget Office reports in their bathrooms, devour Department of Homeland Security press conference transcripts, and go to sleep reading the Congressional Record.
All that is needed to track every American with facial recognition software is a few more surveillance cameras, and a national database of everyone's photo. The Real ID Act, passed in 2005 and scheduled to become mandatory by May 11, 2008, creates that database, forcing states to combine their drivers license databases into a huge national database that includes digitial photos. Iowa has already replaced its laminated polaroids with digital photos. Greater accuracy is available if the photo is taken by a special camera that shows the face from all angles, a procedure slowly proliferating, but facial recognition software can do fairly well with a simple digital photo.
That leaves the question, "but what does that have to do with a mark which the Bible says is in or on the hand or the forehead?"
There is no neat, tidy answer with which all authorities agree. Maybe Revelation describes technology yet to be created. The real point is that there are serious enough Biblical and practical problems with implantable chips that assuming that is the only thing to watch for may blind Christians to whatever the real threat may be.
Nevertheless, the Biblical case for facial recognition software may be worth considering.
Is The Mark "in" or "on" the hand? The KJV says "in". Modern translations say "on". Greek apo can mean either; Arndt-Gingrich says it can also mean "based upon". If that is so, a digital photo based upon the face, along with an FBI record based upon the fingerprint, might qualify. (The DHS has ruled out implantable chips, but adamantly insists on the digital photos, in a database that includes the FBI IDENT fingerprint database.)
"But the Bible says 'FOREHEAD', not 'FACE'!" Indeed, every version says "forehead". Which, according to Wikipedia, means the space above the eyebrows, or including the eyebrows. And most Greek lexicons say "forehead". But the original Webster's Dictionary says "forehead" means the front part of the head, the prominent part, the expressive part; Greek lexicons written a century ago meant that, according to Webster, when they translated "forehead". The Arndt-Gingrich lexicon cites Greek literature where the word has to mean the part of the face above a woman's veil, which includes the eyes; and NASB dictionaries point out the word combines "with" and "eye or face". (For more detail, see www.Saltshaker.US/HispanicHope/Mark-Beast.htm )
If Facial Recognition Software does not fulfill Revelation, that does not make promoting it spiritually harmless. Whether it does or doesn't only determines whether we are racing towards 99.9% of the Mark of the Beast, or only 97%. If the mere taking of 100% of the Mark takes one straight to Hell, are Christian political leaders safe, who drag America to 97% of the Mark? Are voters who insist on being dragged to the lips of Hell safe? Can pastors escape responsibility, who use their power to regulate communication between church members, to censor members who struggle to alert their brothers in Christ? Can Christian political activists escape responsibility, who censor Bible discussion among Christians driven from their churches to exercise their gift of "governments"?
(I remember Congressman Tancredo on the Jan Mickelson show responding to a caller with a Bible verse about immigration, as if quoting God in the middle of public policy discussion is intellectually irresponsible. As a former political candidate, I have often been censured for attempting the same stunt.)
This greatest of sins is not just a theological error, like denying that the Bible is the Word of God, or that Jesus was the Son of God. It is an extremely political issue. Besides being an act of worship, it is an act of allegience to a world political system.
It is a political sin in that (1) it is commanded by a political ruler; (2) political awareness helps to recognize how close it is; (3) political experience helps identify what it is about this sin which is so insidious, so that we may recognize lesser manifestations of this evil in our own days and resist them; and (4) when it comes up for a vote, half of Bible-believing Christians will vote agaisnt the other half, just as they do for every other government-protected sin.
But it also theological, in that (1) it is an act of worship; (2) Bible research needs to be updated to recognize whether the latest tracking technologies might possibly fit the descriptions of Revelation; and (3) Christians who take part in it, surely including those who facilitate it, will go to Hell.
Without updates from political sources, pastors lose track of whether what they read in their Bible matches what is going on around them. Without exegetical knowledge, guided only by the consensus of popular Christian literature, Christian, church-going, Bible-believing politicians climb on board the paving crew for the Road to Hell, without a clue.
For example, Congressman Tom Tancredo is a prolife, Christian, Moral Conservative leader who was the driving force for the Real ID Act in 2005, and is today the driving force behind H4088 which would require the same kind of digital photo ID before anyone could get a job. Can this passionate prolife Christian possibly know where the road he is building ends?
I know that his own staff doesn't understand. When the Des Moines Register published my op-ed article August 10, 2007, attracting 1238 views and 96 comments on the Register website, Tancredo's own press secretary logged on to comment, "Congressman Tancredo has never supported any type of national ID card agenda. ...please do not make up such wild stories. " He invited me to call him so he could set the record straight. I did.
I reported that conversation in detail, in that comment stream. Here is the summary: "Tom Tancredoís press secretary does not know that Tancredo supports the Electronic Employment Verification System, (as understood by the Senate and the Department of Homeland Security), was one of the loudest voices calling for the Real ID Act, and issued a press release commenting upon the 9/11 Commission report, calling for biometric scanning of citizens as well as noncitizens at our borders!"
The only solution to such ignorance: allow Christians to organize to act on concerns raised in their pastor's sermons, in a forum where the Bible is allowed to be quoted in the same room with updates from those forums where our nation decides whether to enact laws inspired by God or Satan.
(The link to the Register website: http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070810/OPINION01/708100347/1035/OPINION The link to the copy of that debate on my own website: www.Saltshaker.US/HispanicHope/ Moral-Conservatives-Lost-Way.htm)
Is this greatest of sins only possible in the future, or has a lesser form of it been available from early times? Is there nothing in Revelation's warnings which should alert us about our behavior in the present?
If there is something so wrong with a worldwide dictatorship, should we pay more attention to what God says about suppression of political freedom on a smaller scale, like 1 Samuel 8?
If there is something so wrong with a worldwide tracking system, should we pay more attention to the strange attitude God has towards a simple census, where God told Moses to collect $500 from everyone and count the money, in order to avoid pestilence, while King David didn't collect the money or avoid the pestilence, so he must have counted names and addresses?
Should church members be allowed to organize on church premises to do something about the sins which the pastor has just preached about?
"No", answer American Christians. Not if the sin is "political". Meaning, lawmakers are trying to decide whether to outlaw it or protect it.
The Mark of the Beast will be an extremely political sin.
Therefore, as long as current church custom continues, pastors will not allow laymen to educate each other about the Mark of the Beast, any more than they do today about any other sin that government has gotten involved with.
"Why, if you take political action inspired by our pastor's sermons, that will offend me", we activists are threatened by our fellow church members. The pastor overhears, and takes us aside with urgency and fear, saying, "Brother Big Giver is offended when you try to do something about the sins I preach against. And the Bible says to stop doing anything the minute some fool decides to be offended by it."
We ask, "Is that a direct quote?"
He answers, "Right out of 2 Denominations 93."
Indeed, Romans 14 tolerates considerable freedom to disagree with our pastors. "Every man should be persuaded in his own mind". But this does not mean we should not be actively persuading and correcting each other, Heb 10:24-25.