There’s an item in the news that caught my attention and made me wonder if Bible prophesy is possibly being fulfilled in our time.
Having written a book almost twenty years ago that compares the major views Christians hold on the return of Christ, I think we must be wary of “newspaper exegesis.” Don’t read into every current event some aspect of the return of Christ.
Nonetheless, the book of Revelation says this about “the beast of the earth”—a major helper to the beast, who is the Antichrist to come: “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” (13:16-17).
Then I read this morning that for the first time in American history, a company out of Wisconsin is voluntarily letting their employees have a microchip (the size of a grain of rice) implanted in their hands (in the skin between their thumb and forefinger), which will act as a credit card.
So now, instead of paying for their break room snacks from a vending machine with a credit card or with their smart phone, the 50 or so employees who have agreed to have this microchip implanted can pay by just putting their hand up to the scanner. This report comes from KSTP.com (ABC 5, Minneapolis-St. Paul, 7/22/17).
The company involved, Three Square Market, is run by Todd Westby who said, “It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it.”
When John wrote the book of Revelation 2000 years ago, he would have had no idea of the kinds of developments through the centuries, including this one, that many think points to a means by which his prophecies could be fulfilled.
On the other hand, we need to be cautious about apocalyptic alarmism. We were told Jesus would come back in 1988 and then 1994 and then 2012, and so on, and all such predictions have been proved wrong. World leaders from Mikhail Gorbachev to Ronald Reagan have been falsely accused of being the antichrist. And microchip fears have stoked prophetic speculations for years—but many biblical scholars note that Revelation is not pointing to some inadvertently-adopted technology, but is speaking symbolically of those who cast their lot with the opponents of Christ for societal approval.
Jesus Himself said that no man knows the hour of His return, but that we should be ready always.
I am absolutely convinced that Jesus Christ is coming back one day, as historic Christianity has believed for millennia. And I am not alone. A Pew poll from July 2010 focused on whether Jesus would come back within four decades: “By the year 2050, 41% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ definitely (23%) or probably (18%) will have returned to earth.”
Is the book of Revelation being fulfilled in our time? Revelation is one of the most misunderstood books of the Scriptures. John Calvin wrote commentaries on every book of the Bible, but he intentionally declined to write one on Revelation. He reportedly declared, “The study of Revelation either finds a man mad or leaves him that way.”
G.K. Chesterton once noted, “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.”
But Revelation, written to encourage persecuted Christians, shows us that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Without the book of Revelation, we would have no Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” The words for that masterpiece of masterpieces come right out of the book of Revelation: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (11:15).
Regardless of whether this story on buying a bag of chips in a breakroom in Wisconsin by means of a microchip planted in the hand has anything to do with the return of Christ, I take great comfort in knowing that one day Jesus will come back.
Radio preacher Chuck Swindoll gives us great insight for living, on keeping the return of Christ in perspective: “There’s something about Christ’s soon return that stirs up our urgency and keeps us involved….What we need is balance. We need to be informed and aware, thinking it could occur at any moment, but carrying out our lives as responsibly as if His return would not be for another two or three generations.” Or possibly longer.