I’ve read the speculations that the “mark of the Beast” will be some government tattoo or maybe a barcode. Maybe it will be a microchip under the skin on the back of my hand. Any of those options makes me feel safe. I can look at my hand and say, “Nope, I ain’t got one. I’m good.” I can glance over at you. “Yep, you’re okay, too.” What if the mark isn’t barcodes or the covid vaccine–yep, that’s a thing. What if John meant the same thing as James: keeping ourselves unstained by the world (Ja. 1:27)? (For a discussion of what John’s readers likely understood, read here.) What if John was warning us not to have the world’s mark on what I think or what I do?
Rather than looking at today’s technology, maybe we should look back at the Bible. What would John’s readers have thought when they read about putting something on your head and hands? (Hint: it wouldn’t have been microchips.) I suspect any Jewish reader would have thought immediately about Deuteronomy 6. We are to love God’s commandments and cherish them in our hearts. We are to “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads” (Deut. 6:8). While some folks literally do that, perhaps we are being encouraged to keep it near, to have God’s law govern what we think and do. It should mark who we are. Whose mark is on us?
When we cut corners or bend rules at the office and then justify it with “That’s just the way business is done,” we may have the world’s mark on our hand. If we pad the numbers on our income tax return because “Everybody does it,” we may have the beast’s mark on our forehead. We’ve allowed the world to stain us.
When I pull out my wallet and reach my hand in, whose mark is on my hand, God’s or the world’s? I should stop looking for a tattoo and look at how I spend my money.
It sure is easier to feel complacent if I only have to worry about a 666 tattoo.
Whose mark is on your hand?
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