Monthly Archives: January 2012

When the World Makes its Mark

The mark, everyone will want it, but who will take it along with all that it implies? At some point in the future (maybe years, maybe centuries), the Holy Bible discusses a specific milestone that will require each person to make a decision. It will be a decision whether to function within the regular economic system of society and pledge allegiance to a certain authority or decline this authority in firm commitment to Almighty God. The decision will not be easy and when that hour arrives, one should be prepared for his/her resolution well beforehand. The book of Revelation in the Bible speaks of a mark that everyone will be forced to take in order to function within a future economic system.

And it [the beast] maketh all, the small, and the great, and the rich, and the poor, and the freemen, and the servants, that it may give to them a mark upon their right hand or upon their foreheads, and that no one may be able to buy, or to sell, except he who is having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is the wisdom! He who is having the understanding, let him count the number of the beast, for the number of a man it is, and its number [is] 666. Revelation 13:16-18 (YLT)

The “beast”, commonly referred to as the “Antichrist” in the Christian community, is spoken about in detail throughout various books of the Bible. It is worth noting that writings about this same Antichrist are not unique to the biblical scriptures alone; the Antichrist is referred to as “Masih Ad-Dajjal” in the Qur’an and the “Third Antichrist” in Les Propheties by Nostradamus, so further biblical study of this authority figure will be presented in later articles. The Internet is saturated with so many conspiracy theories, and unfortunately, many well-respected authors who refute these theories also categorize an antichrist regime as being one such theory. Regardless of the conspiracies one may encounter, the Bible is clear on this particular anti-Christian superpower that will emerge. Most Christians believe the Antichrist will one day take control of the world, though they may not openly talk about it. Individuals who are unfamiliar with Christian theology should have the opportunity to discover how these ancient teachings of the Bible apply to our modern world today.

The topic of the Antichrist and “the mark of the beast” is one not commonly discussed in the church forum: either the topic is avoided altogether or the teaching is taken for granted under the assumption that believers will be raptured before this mark takes effect. Consequently, one may study further by searching the Internet for topics related to “the mark of the beast” or “666” and find a plethora of articles, many of which (a) are speculative of the defining technology of the mark and (b) offer definitive “proof” that this mark is imminent. This article is not an attempt to provoke fear or to predict what this mark will be, but to promote awareness, demonstrate the technological progression in society today and consider how this progression is converging to one day fulfill that which was predicted by the ancient authors of the Bible.

NFC Mobile Phone (Credit: Wikipedia.org)

Simply stated, we do not know what this “mark” will be, although there is much speculation in the Christian community. Thirty years ago, some Christians suspected it would be a tattoo of “666”; a decade later, others contemplated a barcode stamped in the hand, possibly separated in three groups of six lines. These earlier ideas sound archaic today and now the common theory is that each person will receive some kind of near field communication (NFC) device, such as a RFID chip, inserted in his/her hand or forehead. It could be more advanced than a chip, such as a quantum computing device, maybe a mind-reading nano device permanently mounted in a person’s head or even an invisible DNA storage mechanism. These are only hypotheses and there is no point in speculating—a few decades from now, these ideas could seem archaic too. We may not really know what the mark (or device) is until the moment of decision arrives, if that moment arrives in our lifetime at all.

Peruse the regular news headlines and one will plainly see that Generation Y is more open to the idea of being monitored and giving up his/her privacy than any previous generation.  This openness will only continue with future generations. With social media rampant, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+, individuals’ personal details are being voluntarily recorded and offered to the public for review. There is an underlying need to feel connected—that if one is not visible in social media, he/she is missing the party altogether.  Imagine a world where everything and everyone are connected.

Credit: Making You Your Own Password MyDigitalSLR via Flickr

This electronic age has brought all kinds of tools and devices to bolster security, such as signcryption, and audit trails are required to monitor quality service in industry and banking. We have progressed from a society of cash and cheque transactions to one of credit and debit card transactions. Debit cards were introduced in the early 1990′s, have taken approximately twenty years to become a common means of transferring funds and are the first step towards a direct cashless transaction system. To reduce fraudulent copying and theft, magnetic strip credit and debit cards have been/are being replaced with chip cards that require a security code. However, these cards only offer security provided they are not stolen and the security codes aren’t compromised. Managing security codes is even a concern for all the different access points we encounter today and other solutions are being developed, such as reading mental or behavioral traits. Some credit card companies are already offering a more advanced payment option, such as a digital wallet and global acceptance mark.

Mobile Payments (Credit: GigaOM.com)

The latest emerging technology in the consumer industry is mobile payments with smartphones—a novel idea with an obvious convenience, considering one device could house a person’s wallet, calendar, online communication tools and provide rapid payment and access potential. Although this payment technology is not yet common for the consumer, based on history, society will eventually adapt to the technology.

The internet has become a critical resource for business and personal use. There is no question that an audit trail exists for all activity done online. Online consumer activity is expected to double by 2016. According to statistics from mobiThinking, approximately 87 percent of the world’s population now has a mobile phone, with only 17% of the population using smartphone technology, which will soon increase. How many of us can go a day without our smartphone? Checking messages, staying connected, being able to find information whenever and wherever we want is a convenience few of us would forfeit. In fact, studies have shown that the young generation is addicted to internet connection and experience severe withdrawal symptoms after only 24 hours without it!

mobiThinking: Global Mobile Statistics 2012

The last frontier of communication isolation, air travel, is now accessible through WiFi connection. In the near future, almost everyone will be accessible anywhere anytime. Access to the internet is even being considered a basic human right: there are plans to provide connections to previously remote areas in the world and even for free in other parts! There is no question, having mobile internet connection provides many benefits to society and it alone is not the concern—the long term development related to mobility and the world economic system is to be observed.

Christians who believe in a rapture event before an antichrist regime comes to power may think they are immune to this inevitable technology; however, Christians are just as technologically savvy as anyone else and should therefore be prepared. It may seem outrageous to think that the population would be willing to receive a kind of mark to continue in the world’s economy. Yet, body tattooing and piercing are becoming common place for all classes of people. Furthermore, if this mark also offers extremely advanced potential in mobility and security, could acceptance by the general population be all that surprising? Given sufficient time for society to adapt, the population may eventually be compelled to get one—we even see this drive with the current technology today, such as in China recently.

Many biblical prophecies couldn’t even be visualized until recent years and many more will be apparent as time progresses. The mark will not just be a way to function within the world’s economic system: it will be coupled with a pledge of allegiance to the Antichrist, the one who attempts to replace God through strong deception.

The Bible is clear on the eternal repercussions of receiving the mark in allegiance to the antichrist regime.

If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. Revelation 14:9-11 (NIV)

And for those who refuse the mark and commit to God, the Bible provides an eternal promise of hope.

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 (KJV)

The goal of this article is for the reader to observe the trends of today and retain a few key points so that as the economic system changes, he/she will recall that which was predicted in the holy scriptures and be prepared for the decision, whether in his/her lifetime or in those of his/her descendents. The truth will still be taught when the antichrist regime comes to power, but it will be through extremely difficult times.

And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he [the beast] corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Daniel 11:32-33 (KJV)

Every Christian generation is confident that the End Times will start during their lifetime; however, it could still be centuries away. It is crucial that the next generation does not forget what the former generation taught regarding the biblical prophecies (rather than mainstream speculation), so as not to be deceived by the mark when the time eventually arrives. And once (i) the technological infrastructure is put in place, (ii) there is a need for tighter control on the economy than ever before, (iii) citizens are ready to accept it and (iv) the appointed time has arrived, the mark will sweep across the world like a flood.

And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. Daniel 11:22 (KJV)

As previously stated, the intent of this article is not to predict what or when the mark will be, but to illustrate the progressive systems in society, watch the biblical signs unfold, and encourage the reader to make a decision for Almighty God today.

So be on your guard; I [Jesus Christ] have told you everything ahead of time. Mark 13:23 (NIV)

 

Beyond 2012: Not the End… Yet

2012 is the most anticipated apocalyptic year of modern times, so it seems fitting that many of this year’s articles should focus on apocalyptic predictions from the bible. There has been so much attention paid to predictions that the world will either end or enter into a new age on the winter solstice of December 21, 2012, based mainly on the prophesies in the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel and the timing of the ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar. The prophecies in the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel deal mainly (and accurately) with the arrival of a new religion (Christianity) in the mid 16th century by Spanish missionaries, who were thought to be the return of the Mayan feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.

Mayan Long Count Calendar

The Long Count system is a count of days of a Great Cycle that starts on 13.0.0.0.0, which was first deciphered by an American journalist, Joseph T. Goodman in 1897. Later archeological study determined that the 13.0.0.0.0 date was the creation date for the Maya. This creation date led the German scholar Ernst Forstemann, during the turn of the century, to interpret the end of this Great Cycle as the destruction of the world. Then, in 1966 and through the mixing of Aztec mythology, American archaeologist Michael Coe, in his book The Maya, distorted this “world destruction” by linking it to Armageddon, as described in the biblical account in the Book of Revelation.

With the assumption that the 13.0.0.0.0 Long Count date is the date of creation for the Maya, scholars determined that the equivalent Gregorian calendar date was August 11, 3114 B.C. Given the Great Cycle spans 5,125 years, this creation date led to the next Long Count 13.0.0.0.0 date to occur on December 21, 2012 (“Apocalypse 2012“) in our current Gregorian calendar.

The Apocalypse 2012 pop culture phenomenon really began with the publication of The Mayan Factor by Jose Arguelles in 1987, part of a New Age movement at the time. This phenomenon has been gathering momentum ever since, capturing attention in the media, scientific community and even Christian communities!

  1. The broadcasting of TV documentaries, including 2012 Apocalypse on Discovery Channel and Mayan Doomsday Prophecy on History Channel
  2. The release of apocalyptic films, such as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow
  3. A myriad of websites dedicated to Apocalypse 2012
  4. Scientific publications indicating significant changes on Earth during this year
  5. Evangelical Christian extremists promoting Armageddon to usher in the Rapture and the Messiah’s return

It is interesting to note that some authors who have published articles and books on Apocalypse 2012 had also previously published on apocalyptic dates that have since passed (such as Y2K)!

The Great Pyramid of Giza

It is also worth noting that even the designs within and structure of The Great Pyramid, many of which have accurately aligned to significant (Judeo-Christian) events in history according to prominent researchers in the field, show no signs of December 21, 2012 being even a notable date of a future event. (This topic is one for later review.)

Society has an inherit interest in the end of the world. Whether we acknowledge it or not, there is a sense of wonder in anticipation of a possible end, so it is imperative to hold fast to the truth laid out in the holy scriptures of the Bible. The most disturbing factor with all this hype around Apocalypse 2012 is the anxiety and trepidation many people have/will have as we approach the December 21, 2012 date; some even believe the Mayan god Quetzalcoatl will make an appearance! Many will be on a heightened sense of alert and may act irrational—whether it be financially, physically, psychologically, emotionally, and/or spiritually—in expectation that their reality will drastically change on that day. The consequences for their personal lives could be grim post December 21, solely because they acted for the moment rather than planned for the remainder of their lives.

The same could be said of Christians who believe December 21, 2012 is the date when they will be Raptured and the Great Tribution period begins. A common practice among evangelical Christian extremists is to use the descriptions in the Book of Revelation to predict an imminent return of Christ by linking together the latest news broadcasts with pending fulfillment of biblical prophecies. This practice often requires searching out new material in an attempt to predict the next likely opportunity when Christ will return and the Great Tribulation will begin. With this interpretation of scripture, people are left wanting for a great event to begin the End Times: enter Apocalypse 2012.

Before getting carried away with the outrageous claims of Apocalypse 2012, we should consider what the Bible states regarding the end of the world. Prophecies permeate the books of the Bible, from the Book of Genesis through to the Book of Revelation. Many prophecies have already been fulfilled, especially those foretelling the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ; many other prophecies have yet to be fulfilled and these deal with the end of this world. The end of time on Earth is one of the most prolific themes in the bible, spoken about by ancient prophets before Jesus’ birth, by Jesus Christ himself while He was on Earth, and even by the apostles after Jesus ascended. The purpose of this dominating theme is not to predict what will happen next, but to spiritually prepare believers for what is to come, demonstrate God’s all-knowing character, and, most importantly, impact believers with a sense of urgency to share the Gospel message while their time on Earth allows.

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. Romans 13:11-12 (NLT)

The books of Daniel and Revelation are the most well-known prophetic books of the Bible because of their descriptions of specific details, cataclysms and final events that will conclude the end of this world. There are many other books of the Bible that prophecy the final events on Earth, written by many different authors over hundreds of years, and these books are in perfect alignment with the books of Daniel and Revelation, all providing an unmatched prophetic quality in holy scripture to mankind.

The events described in Daniel and Revelation are what many Christians refer to as “The End Times”. The definition of End Times and the events that will occur during these times are open to considerable debate on so many fronts (some of which will be discussed in later articles).

The End Times can be categorized into the following segments.

  1. The time span between Christ’s return to heaven and the arrival of the Antichrist (present time).
  2. The time span during which the Antichrist reigns on Earth (near future), commonly referred to as the Great Tribulation.
  3. The time span associated with the return of Christ to Earth and His millennial rule after He defeats the Antichrist.

According to the prophesies in the Bible, there are specific activities and events that must occur in each of these categories, with special details given in the books of Daniel and Revelation. These specific events are direct counter arguments to the Apocalypse 2012 phenomenon; only some of them will be introduced in this article (and expanded in subsequent articles). One must be careful to note that the prophecies of the Bible are meant to be specific enough that one can confirm their accuracy after the events occur, yet vague enough that one cannot predict the precise logistics and dates associated with each event.

The books of Daniel and Revelation describe the arrival and reign of the Antichrist (translated as “instead of Christ”) with specific details that have not yet transpired, but can reasonably be visualized considering the latest advancements in society today.

Some key global developments that are required to place the Antichrist in position include the following.

  1. The world will be divided into seven regions. (Revelation 17:9-10)
  2. There will be a group of ten rulers that will form one governing group. (Revelation 17:12)
  3. The ten rulers will relinquish some of their authority for a new ruler, the Antichrist. (Revelation 17:13)
  4. There will be a high-ranking false prophet who will deceptively lead people to the Antichrist. (Revelation 13:14)
  5. The Antichrist will be given authority over all people and nations—a welcomed dictatorship. (Revelation 13:3-4)

Once the Antichrist is in this position of authority, there will be major global changes to the world’s systems.

  1. The Antichrist will subdue three of the ten rulers and become the eighth ruler of the remaining seven. (Daniel 7:24)
  2. The Antichrist will be worshiped and glorified, so that people have no desire to revere Almighty God. (Revelation 13:4)
  3. Everyone will be forced to receive a mark, as a pledge of allegiance to the Antichrist. (Revelation 13:16-17)
  4. Everyone will require this mark to buy and sell, indicating an overhaul of the world’s economic system. (Revelation 13:16-17)

More detailed discussions on these developments will be presented in later articles. However at this time, it is worth noting that there are specific trends evolving in technology, social media, security, political unrest and economic uncertainty across the world. As one follows these affairs, he/she will observe the slow progression that the world has been going and continues to go through, which will eventually lead exactly to that which was predicted in the Bible. The crucial point is this: the culmination of these developments is complex, beyond any one person’s or group’s control, will take time (maybe years, maybe decades), and all must occur before the end of the world.

Furthermore and subsequent to the reign of the Antichrist, the book of Revelation provides details on many global cataclysms, which cause massive destruction on Earth, followed by Christ’s return to rule the nations for a millennial age (the duration of which is debatable). The final apocalyptic event of “Armageddon” does not logically occur until after this millennial age, which is a topic for a later discussion! In short, Apocalypse 2012 is null and void.

We do not know when the Antichrist will take control of the world system, nor do we know when Christ will return to Earth to defeat it/him. All we know is what we observe in the gradual progression of global events that all point to the prophesies outlined in the book of Revelation.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37-37 (NIV)

For Christians, believing that Apocalypse 2012 is the Armageddon spoken about in the book of Revelation is absolutely ridiculous. We cannot usher in the Apocalypse through our own efforts in hopes of Christ’s return. The Apocalypse of the Bible is not something that can be speeded or slowed and Christians shouldn’t be hoping that it will happen or fighting to stop it, but working together to take the gospel message of Christ to the world while time allows. God has an appointed time set for the End. He does not enjoy the suffering in this world, but He is patiently waiting so that as many as possible will come to know Him.

Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.  Daniel 11:35 (NIV)

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?  Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. II Peter 3:9 (NIV)

Apocalypse 2012 is perhaps, whether intentional or not, a great deception in our modern age. It is a relatively recent concept introduced at the end of the 19th century, represented as ancient knowledge for our modern world, permeates the unspoken thoughts of many in society and creates a sense of mystic wonder for people seeking to find God. For many who are seeking purpose in their lives, the arrival of the December 21 date may result in a complete non-event that leads to great disappointment or it could even serve as an opportune time for a staged event that leads to further deception. When it comes to Apocalypse 2012, one thing we can say with confidence is that whatever happens this year, especially on December 21, the world will continue its gradual progression towards the End as originally predicted in the Bible. Christians, having a proper understanding of bible prophecy and their hearts set on eternity, should use the Apocalypse 2012 trend as an opportunity to share the true message of Christ with a sense of urgency during the time we have left, whether it be a few years, a few decades or even a few centuries.