Microchips and the Mark of the Beast

Three Square Market, a software design company in Wisconsin, gained national notoriety this week when it became the first company to offer to microchip all its employees. According to this article, the purpose of the chip is to allow “workers to open doors that require identification, login to their computers, and even pay for snacks out of the company’s vending machine.”

Christians and non-Christians alike have gone crazy all over the web denouncing this as the arrival of the end times. I have seen several polls asking, “Would you do this?” with some pretty heated responses. Many are calling this the “mark of the beast” and claiming that anyone who accepts it is selling his or her soul to the devil.

So, here are two questions:
1) Is this the mark of the beast?
2) Is this preparing the world for the end times?

Answers: No and Yes

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Zechariah 9

Chapter nine begins the second major section of this book. Whereas the first section has time pointers (Zechariah 1:1, 7; 7:1), chapters 9-14 are not dated at all. Additionally, whereas the first section was primarily focused on Israel in Zechariah’s time with mentions of Messiah’s kingdom, these final chapters almost exclusively point to the kingdom with mentions of Zechariah’s day.

This chapter begins as if it were an oracle or prophecy against the regions and cities named: Hadrach, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, Sidon, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod (Zechariah 9:1-7). Instead, it is primarily a prophecy for Israel, which will affect those places, and the rest of the chapter explains the prophecy’s promise, method, and result.

The promise is that God himself would surround his Temple and protect it from any further attacks from the nations (Zechariah 9:8). The method he will use will be the coming of Israel’s promised King (Zechariah 9:9-10). Riding a donkey instead of a war horse symbolized peace, and God promised that Messiah himself will finally bring peace to Israel. Jesus fulfilled the first part of this when he entered into his Temple after riding a donkey into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-13). He will fulfill the second part when he rides his horse out of heaven and defeats all of Israel’s enemies (Revelation 19:11-21), establishing “his dominion…from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.” The result will be that prisoners would be released, and the people would rise up again (Zechariah 9:11-17). They will enjoy God’s blessings of food and drink, joy and revelry, and new generations of God’s people.

Zechariah 3

Introduction

The book of Zechariah bears the prophet’s name, which means “Jehovah will remember” or “Jehovah remembers.” The book is difficult to date as a whole, because only three of the prophecies are dated. These exceptions are in Zechariah 1:1 (“the eighth month of Darius’ second year,” 520 B.C.), Zechariah 1:7 (“the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month Shebat, in Darius’ second year”), and Zechariah 7:1 (“In King Darius’ fourth year, on the fourth day of Kislev, the ninth month,” 518 B.C.).

However, the book can be easily divided into two major sections, chapters 1-8 and 9-14, based on the content of the prophecies. The first section deals primarily with God’s messages to Judah as they worked to rebuild the Temple (similar to Haggai’s prophecies of the same time). The second section deals more with eschatological events, particularly the future Messianic kingdom. The reference to “that day” is found 17 times in chapters 9-14 but only once in the first section (Zechariah 3:10).

Because of this distinction, and due to the fact that Greece is mentioned by name as a considerable force (which it was not in the early sixth century), some scholars contend that the second section was written much later and appended to Zechariah. However, Archer points out that by 480 B.C. (only 40 years later), Greece was already pushing back against Persian expansion, which would have given the entire region pause. 1 A span of 40-50 years would not have been too long for Zechariah to minister in Judah, especially since he was considered to be a “young man” at the beginning (Zechariah 2:4), so it is a strong possibility that the sections were written at different times, albeit by the same man and for different purposes.

Much like the Revelation, Zechariah is full of odd visions and illustrations – horsemen, olive trees, a flying scroll – so it is notoriously difficult to interpret without a basic understanding of Israel’s past, present, and future from Zechariah’s standpoint. However, since most of the symbols are explained to some extent, a grasp of the historical context does resolve some of the confusion.

Chapter three records Zechariah’s fourth vision in one night. He “saw Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (Zechariah 3:1). There is significance to the fact that “the angel of the LORD” in Zechariah 3:1 is called “the LORD” in Zechariah 3:2, who yet refers to “the LORD” as a distinct person. This is an obvious reference to the deity of the pre-incarnate Christ (the Eternal Son of God), who is wholly God yet a distinct person from the Father.

Like Michael in Jude 9, the angel of the LORD did not rebuke Satan at this time, but left that in the hands of Jehovah (Zechariah 3:2), who considered Joshua as one saved from fire. In Zechariah’s vision Joshua was wearing dirty clothes, a symbol of the uncleanness of Israel and her priesthood (Zechariah 3:3-5; compare to Haggai 2:10-14). The clean clothes represent God’s forgiveness of sin, including the high priest’s turban, which Joshua received at Zechariah’s prompting (cf. Exodus 28:36-39).

Finally, the angel of the LORD commissioned Joshua, promising that he would stand and serve in the Temple, if he would continue to be faithful in his life and service to God (Zechariah 3:6-7). Joshua and his fellow priests would serve as pictures of the coming Servant-Branch (both references to the Messiah; Isaiah 11:1; 42:1). Zechariah 3:10 includes the first use of the eschatological phrase “in [or on] that day” in Zechariah, a common phrase to reference Messiah’s coming and kingdom. When that day comes, “the iniquity of this land” will be removed, peaceful fellowship will be restored, and Jehovah will act with omniscience over the world (symbolized by the “seven eyes,” explained in Zechariah 4:10). Even the stone itself probably refers to Messiah, “the cornerstone and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over” (1 Peter 2:7-8).

Notes:

  1. “As far as the situation in Zechariah’s own time was concerned, the defeats recently administered by the Greeks to Xerxes…in 480-479 would furnish ample cause to bring them to the attention of all the inhabitants of the Persian empire.” (Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Revised and Expanded [Chicago: Moody Press, 1994], 475.)