The article was aimed at dispelling fears that these individuals had received the mark of the beast - mentioned in Revelation 13. For this reason it was a valuable article because certain things have to be true for someone to be receiving the mark of the beast.
First, let us look at some biblical facts about this time in future prophetic history. The person called, “the beast” has to have been revealed to the world. As of yet, this has not happened. There is not yet a world leader who is galvanizing the entire planet under his evil leadership. Neither is there a world leader who has been horribly injured in the head and has miraculously recovered. There is not this world leader who has the whole earth following him and worshipping him. Nor is there a second beast that has come to be a spokesman for the first one - performing great signs and wonders - even having fire fall from heaven. This second beast has yet to call the world to make an image of the first beast who had the wound in the head from which he recovered. And finally, this second spokesman, whom Bible scholars call the false prophet, has not made a worldwide cashless system of finance - a system that doesn’t allow anyone who does not have the “mark of the beast” to buy and sell anything. All these things are in plain sight for anyone who desires to read Revelation 13. So, since these things have not happened - and since this mark is voluntary - this is not it.
There is a comment made in this USA Today article from a Wheaton College professor of New Testament, Chris Vlaschos, that is very instructive for us. “I think this is more of a fulfillment of end times novels and movies than the Book of Revelation itself.” That is instructive for us in that is reminds us to be fixed on the Scriptures rather than a really cool movie or novel. One of the things that saddens me is how the whole area of Bible Prophecy has been coopted by the novel and movie writers. Their focus is too often given to the fantastic and the attention getting minutia that surrounds what is actually written in Scripture - rather than the Scriptures themselves. Take for instance the recent hysteria over “blood moons” - and now currently the same kind of religious “freaking out” about the way the stars of the heavens will be configured on September 23rd of this year. For years I’ve read and watched one claim after another made that “this is the date” because of something that has rarely ever happened. Such things make for great book and video sales - but honestly - have had little if anything to do with what is actually given to us in the Word of God.
As we can see from a basic reading of Revelation 13 - these events in Wisconsin are not the beginning of the rule and reign of the beast - or of the mark of the beast which will come in that time. If we are to get anything from this story it is that there are now technologies that can insert something as small as a grain of rice under our skin which can then be used to interact with computers and other devices. This device is called an RFID - which stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This is the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. Even Vlaschos says that though this may not be the opening volley of the apocalypse, it may be a slippery slope. Such technology had great opposition when it first came out - but now - as seen from the 40 who receive it voluntarily - it is becoming more and more accepted by our culture.
Another comment made in the article caught my attention. Three Square Market, the company involved in the story, sees these RFID chips as a way for greater convenience - and then added - “ . . . would like to see payments go cashless.” Of all the statements in the article, this was the one that grabbed me. There will be a cashless society in those last days - one in which a device maybe very similar to this will be used to restrict all buying and selling.
So what do we learn from all this? First of all - I would hope that we would learn the biblical exhortation to, “ . . . not go beyond what is written.” If I want to know whether something is a sign of the coming apocalypse, I’ll check it against what is written in the Bible. To blindly accept things simply because some “end-times guru” has written another book or made another movie - is to fall into the trap of which we are warned in 2 Thessalonians.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 NASB (emphasis mine)
This is a vital lesson! We are warned again and again in the Scriptures that these last days will feature many who come with statements that are not based in the truth. The ONLY WAY we will know the difference is to “receive the love of the truth.” The other admonition given to us is that we should test the spirits to make sure that they are from God. It might also be a good reminder that the book is called, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” When people talk about it - their focus should be on Him being revealed. When the topic is some cockamamie theory that requires page after page of exegetical gymnastics (and honestly they usually have little to no exegetical content at all), we should simply turn our gaze onto the Word of God - and - the One we should be awaiting - our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.