It was then permitted to breathe life into the beast's image, so that the beast's image could speak and (could) have anyone who did not worship it put to death. [He] forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast's name or the number that stood for its name. Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six (Revelation 13:15-18).
Biblical scholars have, for centuries, interpreted this passage to speak of the Anti-Christ, whose advent will precede Christ's second advent. It will be a time of great tribulation for the world -- and especially for Israel and for the Church. Jesus spoke of the time in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), and He warned His children to understand the signs that would precede that time.
I thought of the passage in Revelation (above) in relation to the latest brouhaha surrounding the scanning through clothing and the perceived groping by TSA agents at airports across America -- all for the sake (we are told) of flight security. In the first week or so of its implementation, opinions -- and not a few tempers -- flared and raged in airports and across the internet about the safety, morality, and constitutionality of it all.
But (at this writing), people are acquiescing to the scans and the physical searches of their private parts. After all -- we are told -- it's all done for the sake of our security.
Which brings me back to the passage in Revelation about the stamped image, without which no one will be able to buy food, pay the light bill, the rent, doctor bills . . . . and about which Jesus warned the Church. And I have to wonder -- if we are so willing to acquiesce to getting essentially naked for a TSA camera, if we are so willing to let a stranger grope our wives and our children (and ourselves) . . . is it really that far a stretch of our imagination to consider how easily we will acquiesce to the government when it orders us to have our government-issued IDs stamped into our skin -- for the sake of everyone's security?
For me, that is a scary thought, for when the Lord Jesus warned the apostle -- and through him, the Church -- about the Anti-Christ's 'mark,' Jesus also warned, anyone who " . . . accepts [the Beast's] mark on forehead or hand, will also drink the wine of God's fury, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb . . . and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name" (Revelation 14:9-11).
Lord, how much longer before You return for your children?