Revelation 13 - The Identity Crisis

 Jamma Mokhriby


Almost 2,000 years ago on the Island of Patmos, the Apostle John recorded for us in Ch. 13 of the Bible Book of Revelation an awesome and frightening prophecy for the very close of the age. In this prophecy John told us by revelation of the Lord that shortly before the return of Jesus Christ a global government would feverishly pursue a totalitarian identification system for every individual on earth.

The end result is to be the placing of a mark upon the right hand or forehead of every person in order for them to be spared from execution.

Quoting verses 16-18 of Rev. 13 we read, "And he [that is the False Prophet] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast [that is the last world dictator known as Anti-Christ], or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666."

Consider the incredible technology required to accomplish such a monumental task - then consider the day we now live in. Ever since the Sept. 11th 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, security concerns have produced a dramatic acceleration in providing methods for verifying the identity of individuals.

The Denver Post article of Oct. 23, ’01 which headlined, "Face it, security will change" reported that, "Hordes of Super Bowl spectators didn’t know it, but as they streamed into Tampa Bay stadium in January, they were being watched. Remote cameras, connected to sophisticated computers, scanned the 100,000 faces of ticket-holders, looking for matches in a database of known criminals. Several were identified, although no arrests were made. The Super Bowl test was a high-profile example of the progress researchers have made in enabling computers to "recognize" the faces of people passing before a camera. - Posed for prime time - That has some experts predicting that security concerns stemming from the Sept. 11 terror attacks will fuel vast increases in the use of face-recognition systems to boost screening procedures at public facilities. "You’re finally starting to see that the technology is getting ready for prime time," said Claudio Ballard, chief executive of DataTreasury Corp., a Long Island, N.Y., company that specializes in electronic identification. "You’re suddenly going to see people waking up to the reality that the current system for identity verification just plain doesn’t work." But the vision of computerized cameras scanning public places has privacy advocates concerned about the potential for "Big Brother" surveillance by government and private business. "You have to ask yourself: Where are they going to start using the technology next and what are they going to do with it?" said Kate Rears, a policy analyst for the Electronic Privacy Information Center. For years, systems that identify people by measuring unique parts of their bodies - known as biometrics - were largely the stuff of science fiction and spy novels. But many believe they are ready to move out of the research lab and into practical use identifying criminals and terrorists…But there are also questions about the reliability of face recognition systems. Critics say false alarms could allow innocent people to be accused or criminals to evade identification - False alarms - …Joseph Atick, chairman and chief executive of Visionics Corp. of Jersey City, N.J., a leading maker of face recognition systems, said…"Accuracy will improve," "I believe we will shortly see the introduction of face scanning as part of the security of airports." In fact, Visage Corp., of Littleton, Mass., another leading maker of face-recognition systems, announced this month that it had secured a contract with an unnamed "major U.S. airport" to install its FaceFINDER identification systems…People now identify themselves with something they know, such as a password or Social Security number, or with something they carry, such as a drivers license or passport. But as these items have become easier to steal or forge, experts are focusing on biometrics as the best way to prove who someone is. "I think you’re going to see in the next year a vast expansion of people trying to put the technology in," said Michael O’Dea, vice president of engineering for Biometric Access Corp. in Mont Vernon, N.H., which makes face-recognition system used in casinos. "It’s bringing out a lot of opportunities."

Next we have this article from the Oct. 30, ’01 edition of the Denver Post which headlined, "Military more secure with ‘smart’ ID cards" which reported, "The nation’s increasingly high-tech soldiers are getting another computer in their arsenal - this one wallet-sized. The Pentagon began arming 4 million troops and civilians on Monday with "smart" ID cards that will allow them to open secure doors, get cash, buy food - and soon check out weapons and other military hardware. The cards, about the size of credit cards, will replace the standard green ID cards now used by Defense Department employees. The card includes a bar code, circuit chip and magnetic stripe to store personal information about its holder. With the cards, soldiers can access secure Defense Department websites, log into their computers and digitally encrypt and sign their e-mail. "It is their passport to the electronic world," Defense Department personnel chief David S.C. Chu said. Through the Internet at more than 900 issuance sites worldwide, soldiers get their digital pictures taken and fingerprint stored, and pick personal identification numbers. In abut 10 to 15 minutes, a soldier gets his or her card…If a card is lost, officials said, its digital signatures will be deactivated once it is reported gone and the employee will get a new card. The smart cards cost the government about $8 each…Within months, soldiers will be able to swipe cards to check out weapons or ammunition, and the cards can store sharpshooting scores. There are about 3 billion smart cards worldwide, according to industry analyst Frost & Sullivan, but the vast majority are tiny cards used to activate cellular phones on the network mot common to Europe. Smart cards are also used extensively in South Africa and Argentina."

The problems cited with the failures of face recognition systems and the loss of an ID card leads to the consideration of merging technological identification physically with a person.

Ominously we have this Feb. 27, ’02 Denver Post article which headlined, "Firm to seek government OK for computer-chip implant." Quoting we read, "A Florida technology company is poised to ask the government to market a first-ever computer ID chip that could be embedded beneath a person’s skin. For airports, nuclear power plants and other high-security facilities, the immediate benefits would be a closer-to-foolproof security system. But privacy advocates warn the chip could lead to encroachments on civil liberties. No easy-to-counterfeit ID cards nor dozing security guards. Just a computer chip - about the size of a grain of rice - that would be difficult to remove and tough to mimic. Other possible uses of the technology, from an added device that would allow satellite tracking of an individual’s every movement to the storage of sensitive data such as medical records, are already attracting interest across the globe for tasks such as foiling kidnappings or assisting paramedics. Applied Digital Solutions’ new "VeriChip" is another sign that Sept. 11 has catapulted the science of security into a realm with uncharted possibilities - and also new fears for privacy. "The problem is that you always have to think about what the device will be used for tomorrow," said Lee Tien, a senior attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group. "It’s what we call ‘function creep.’ At first a device is used for applications we all agree are good, but then it slowly is used for more than it was intended," he said. Applied Digital, based in Palm Beach Fla., says it will soon begin the process of getting Food and Drug Administration approval for the device, and intends to limit its marketing to companies that ensure its human use is voluntary. "The line in the sand that we draw is that the use of the VeriChip would always be voluntarily," said Keith Bolton, chief technology officer and a vice president at Applied Digital. "We would never provide it to a company that intended to coerce people to use it." More than a decade ago, Applied Digital bought a competing firm, Destron Fearing, which had been making chips implanted in animals for years. Those chips were mainly bought by animal owners wanting to provide another way for pound workers to identify a lost pet. Chips for humans aren’t that much different. But the company was hesitant to market them for people because of ethnical questions. The devastation of Sept. 11 solidified the company’s resolve to market the human chip and brought about a new sensibility about the possible interest. The makers of the chip also see it being used to help emergency workers diagnose a lost Alzheimer’s patient or access an unconscious patient’s medical history. Getting the implant would go something like this: A person or company buys a chip from Applied Digital for about $200, and the company encodes it with the desired information. The person seeking the implant takes the chip to his doctor, who can insert it with a large needle device. The doctor monitors the device for several weeks to make sure it doesn’t move and that no infection develops. The device has no power supply; it contains a millimeter-long magnetic coil that is activated when a scanning device is run across the skin above it. A tiny transmitter on the chip sends the data. Without a scanner, the chip cannot be read. Applied Digital plans to give away chip readers to hospitals and ambulance companies. The chip has drawn attention from several religious groups. Theologian and author Terry Cook said he worries the chip could be the "mark of the beast," an identifying mark all people will be forced to wear just before the end times, according to the Bible. Applied Digital has consulted theologians and appeared on "The 700 Club" to assure viewers the chip doesn’t fit the biblical description of the mark because it is under the skin and hidden from view."

The previous article is fascinating in a number of respects. First is the physical application of a marking system to a person’s body, secondly the warning from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about "function creep" and then lastly how the manufacturer of the implant is defending its product against the possibility of it being one in the same as the mark of the beast found in Rev. Ch. 13.

Because of the original New Testament Greek language we would have to agree with the manufacturers contention while understandably skeptical as the implant being innocuous in these last days. The mark of the beast, according to New Testament Greek studies, is to be applied upon the right hand or forehead and not inside as required by the implant.

Simple logic must also be considered. Injecting the implant against the skull bone in the forehead does not seem reasonable and many people would be reluctant to undergo the injection of a foreign object into their body to begin with. The cost and time involved with injecting billions of people with computer ID chips would appear prohibitive.

Another technology utilizing instantaneous freeze or laser marking already exists and has been in commercial use for decades in areas such as fish hatcheries. These permanent marks can be applied at machine gun speeds.

Watch carefully in these last days as people become more accustomed and accepting to the idea of human beings having their hands scanned.

The Jan. 21, "02 Colorado Springs Gazette article which headlined, "Security screening getting a hand" reported that biometric hand scanners were in use at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and are in use "at nine international airports and scores of banks, casinos, prisons, military bases and schools."

We are living at the very close of the last days when Jesus intends to come and catch His Church up to heaven before the 7-year countdown reign of the Anti-Christ begins.

Very soon the trumpet of God will sound and the dead and living in Christ will meet the Lord in the air (see I Theses. 4:15-18). Today is the day to have your sins forgiven by trusting in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.