According to a website of questionable credibility (the conspiracy laden site TipNews), “All European newborn Babies will be Microchipped from May 2014.” My wife remarked when she caught wind of the article, “If I shared this on Facebook, you know what the reaction would be?” It was more of a statement than a question. “Ya I do” I said. Few things ignite eschatological fervour among Christians like an article about embedded microchips.
Dozens of people left comments under the article including sentiments such as “The Anti-Christ is coming” and “All is going according to plan.” But I think the one comment that captures the sentiments of most is this one left by someone name Priscilla:
“This was written in the Bible.”
Really? Was it? Did I miss that memo? I’ve scoured the good Book for any clear reference to the European Union microchipping babies. I mean, I’ve read the Book dozens of times and I have yet to find a single reference to an RFID chip. Not one. I tried to find it. I gave people the benefit of the doubt. I scoured God’s word with a fine-tooth comb. Would someone please show me where in the Bible we find anything about microchips being embedded in humans?
Now of course I know what she’s referring to. When she says “This was written in the Bible” she’s alluding to the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelation. In chapter 13 verses 16 and 17 we read that the second beast
“… forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”
Although we are not told clearly what the mark of the beast is, many people conclude that it must be a physical mark of some sort and that it must be related, in some way, to economics since people without the mark cannot buy or sell. In the 70’s people thought the mark of the beast was some sort of bar code. In the 90’s it was a computer chip. In the new millennium people began to speculate that it might be both a computer chip and a retinal scan (“… their foreheads.”). These people interpret Revelation in a “consistent literal” fashion.
Biblical Example: How First Century Literalists Mistook the Old Testament
Today many people read Revelation in the same way that many first century Jews read the Old Testament. For example, most first century Jewish interpretations of the coming of the Messiah held that when the Messiah came he would destroy the Romans and set up Gods Kingdom in a violent way reminiscent of King David. Because they interpreted the Old Testament in a consistent literal fashion it’s no wonder that almost all of them, save a couple of dozen, did not recognize their visitation. Sadly I think it’s going to be the same today with many people who insist on a consistent literal interpretation of Revelation.
But more to the point of the mark of the beast, here’s a comparative analogy demonstrating how off the mark a literal reading of that passage can be when read apart from the rest of the scriptures. In Deuteronomy 6:8 Moses instructs the Israelites to “tie [the law] as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” (See also, Deuteronomy 11:18). Now to the best of my knowledge this was never literally practiced in ancient Israel. Neither Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon nor any other Israelite actually put “phylacteries” (small boxes filled with scripture) on their foreheads or hands.
The message of Deuteronomy 6:8 (and its surrounding verses) was that the Israelites were to remember (forehead) to love the One God who delivered them from Egypt and to serve (hand) him faithfully always.
But some time after the exile some Jews began to interpret Deuteronomy 6:8 literally. They began tying little leather boxes filled with scripture to their forehead. In fact Jesus even addresses this “consistent literal” interpretation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:5. Rather than interpret Deuteronomy to be a symbolic reference to their hearts, minds and actions, they took it literally (as a physical mark on their forehead and hands) so that people could see how careful they where to obey the Bible.
Today people who have been influenced by pop-culture Christianity – the likes of the Left Behind works of fiction, popular end times movies, television evangelists and so on – are making the same mistake.
In the scriptures the right hand and the forehead represent what you do and what you think respectively.
Just as in Revelation 13 there was not an actual dragon that stood on the shore, and just as an actual beast did not rise from the sea, and just like the 144,000 with God’s name on their foreheads in Revelation 14 are not actually 144,000 exact people with an actual mark (12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000: the number 12 represents the people of God – twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles – and 1000 represents completeness in the scriptures. Thus 144,000 represents all of the people of God.) and just like so many other things in Revelation, the mark of the beast is a symbolic reference to those who worship the beast in mind and in actions. The reference to the economy – to buying and selling – is reminiscent of when Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:19:
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
Prophetic language of Revelation is strongly hyperbolic like all poetic, prophetic, and apocalyptic language is. The point is that the “beast” (whoever he is) is going to deceive the world (as the devil has been doing from the beginning) so that the world will serve him with their mind and their actions. It’s the world loving the world and hating those who follow and serve Christ.
So in sum, what does the Bible say about computer chips? Nothing.