“Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that 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 13:11-18)
Recently, a news story was released, which indicated that India was going to implement a Biometric ID in a move to help defeat poverty and corruption; this has, understandably, created a minor commotion and fear about the “mark of the beast” written of in what is now the thirteenth chapter of Revelation or the Apocalypse of St. John, depending on what denomination one is associated with. As a consequence of the great influence of Dispensationalism, many Protestants have watchfully targeted everything from Social Security Numbers to the threat of Biometric IDs as the “mark” and the US government to the Roman Catholic Church as the “beast” itself. All of this is not to say that one should be chastised for being so mindful to watch for anything that stands against Christ and we are warned not to let the Master catch up sleeping (Mk 13:32-37). In light of the confusion and conflict pertaining to right interpretations, though, what does a Christian have to look for with respect to the “mark of the beast?”
It is impossible to establish a setting without opening the door to some conflict. What is obvious is the distinction between both beasts: the first representing a kingdom and the kings within and the second describing the representative or, better yet, the herald of the first beast. It [the second beast] possessed the full authority of the first beast and exercises said authority on its behalf and the second forced the people to set up images in honor and demanded the worship of the first. See, the mark is being forced in the context of the forced worship of the first beast and this is not secretive or subtle. All of the world would know that it was happening and why.
There is little cause for alarm, for, if this is still an even that has yet to pass, every Christian will know whether or not it is related to the event in chapter thirteen of Revelation. Yet, this matter offers all, who are counted among the brethren, a great exhortation: live and act accordingly in light of Biblical context. Christ’s fold will not be deceived.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo.