From the 23th Chapter of the Apocalypse (Revelation)
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
We have a book containing many short sayings of a local saint, Fr. Paisios. He only died in 1993, so he hasn’t yet been made an officially-recognized saint, but everyone here knows he was one. He did miracles routinely, daily, and many of his prophecies have already come true.
In this book is his description of what is going to happen concerning the “mark of the beast.” This section of the book is in his own handwriting because, he said, the time would come when people would say he never predicted these things. So he insisted it be kept in his own hand. He wrote it in 1987.
He says the “mark of the beast” will be administered in stages. The first step is a national identity card, which in the EU is already a reality. (The closest we have in America is a Social Security Card.) There’s a rumor here in Greece that the 666 is already on the current ID cards, but in bar code. Fr. Theodore says he has been told yes, it’s there, and no, it isn’t there, by two different experts, so the thing is uncertain so far.
The next stage, Fr. Paisios says, is that identity cards will be replaced with a broader-purpose card, the excuse for which will be making sure you have paid all your taxes. Hence, you will need this ID card for buying and selling and banking and every sort of transaction.
Then, on the television, we will begin hearing a lot about people’s cards being stolen, and their bank accounts emptied by thieves using the card. So then the third stage will be implemented. The government will stamp your ID onto your hand or forehead with laser. It won’t be visible (except under certain light???) so nobody can steal it. And yes, you will need it for any legal financial transaction. And yes, it will have the number 666 on it. Although I note from the above passage in Revelation that it need not be the number; v. 17 says, "the mark OR the name of the beast, OR the number of his name".
The number 666 isn’t evil itself, by the way; it’s not as though we had to be superstitious about staying in a hotel or hospital room 666, for example. The 666 is simply, or not so simply, the very large amount of gold (by weight in ancient Israelite units) exacted by King Solomon as tribute from the nations around him. For Jews, it’s a wonderful, proud, patriotic number, neatly summarizing and symbolizing the most glorious period of the Davidic Kingdom. Of course, this number symbolized the reciprocal of all that for all the kingdoms around King Solomon, didn’t it? For them, it was international, financial, political oppression. But even so, the number is a good one (in a way) because God in His providence is using it to alert us to the nature of the enigmatic beast, to help us recognize it when it shall appear, to tell us, “It’s going to be something like that all over again.”
Some people, says Fr. Paisios, will suppose that it won’t matter about having the mark, so long as they still believe in Christ. Others, trying to be clever, will say to themselves, “Okay, I’ll have the mark put on me, but I’ll also have a cross put on with it.” He says no, none of those rationales will work with God. The Cross only sanctifies what is sanctifiable; and this beast, because it is Christ-denying, and Christ-persecuting, will not be sanctifiable.
He cites examples from the time of the Roman emperors who claimed to be divine. They used to tell the Christians, “You needn’t actually believe the emperor is divine, just tell the public you do, offer sacrifices to him, and we’ll give you a certificate that will exempt you from punishment for being a Christian.” Some Christians back then, says Fr. Paisios, paid for such certificates without actually bowing to the emperor or making any offerings to him. But all of these people the Church considered apostates.
Fr. Paisios recommends Christians plant gardens to tide them over during this time when we will be unable to buy or sell, which time is to be mercifully short.
So guess what we’re hearing on television in the last couple of days? The Greek government (in what may be a sort of EU pilot program) plans to replace the current ID cards with a “shopping card,” which you will need in the supermarket, pharmacy, bank, dry cleaners, and everywhere else – so they can track your every transaction and be sure you are paying your taxes. (That’ll fix all those wealthy Athenians who pay no property tax on the unreported swimming pools in their back yards!)
Have you heard of any plan similar to this in your country, I wonder? Because this business about the mark of the beast (or name or number) is one prophecy of Scripture I wish would not come true, especially, selfish and cowardly as I am, especially not in our own lifetimes!