The Number Of The Beast, Coming Soon (in 2017)

With the help of a friend — who probably doesn’t want to be cited here, for various reasons — I came across this tidbit [old link removed]:

“Bible study scheduled on worldwide number system

New Life Apostolic Faith Church conducts a special Bible study on Revelation 13 about how a new chip will be put into each person in the world. Church leaders say the Bible teaches against this number system that they say will happen in 2017. For more information [contact information removed]”

I’m not sure where they got the date; it’s not mentioned in Revelations 13 — I use the New International Version because I believe its translation to be orders of magnitude more accurate than the King James (though it’s close enough in most passages), and because it uses relatively current English instead of a language long dead.

Perhaps it came from far right-wing articles like this one, which says Obamacare will require us all to have an RFID chip implanted by 2017. Earlier this year, Snopes debunked this crazy rumor by looking at the actual words in the Affordable Care Act — though I’m aware that the far right has already labeled as “an extreme leftist propaganda misinformation source”.

As for “the Bible teaches against this number system”…

First, the Bible doesn’t teach against any number system, despite some ultra-conservatives’ inclination to avoid higher learning.

Second, Revelations 13 doesn’t mention a “number system” per se. The only reference to numbers in the entire chapter is the last bit:

“…they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. (Rev. 13:17-18)”

Even the most studied of theologians have argued over this passage for centuries. You can conduct your own poll of religious persons in your circle of friends to discover that all of them either disagree as to its meaning or will admit to not knowing.

One thing is (relatively) clear. It says the mark IS the name of the beast OR the number of its name. While an RFID chip (remember, not mandated by the Affordable Care Act) might bear a serial number or the name of its manufacturer, it is itself not a name or number.

Another thing is clear from Revelations 13. It could in no way be referring to something mandated by the United States government, because it’s referring to a “beast” who had power “over every tribe, people, language and nation”. Further: “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life”. This doesn’t sound like the work of a government that (1) exercises authority over less than 5% of the Earth’s people and (2) isn’t worshiped by almost anyone.

Feel free to study and exercise any religion you like — as long as it’s not hurting anyone — but for the sake of your own religion, try not to distort the meaning of your own holy book just because you don’t like a bill signed by a Democrat president.

Part of a larger series I’ve begun calling “De-distorting Christianity”. Even I later change the series title, this tag link should still work.

  1. You can’t make this stuff up.

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