Revelation 13 and 14 provide detailed information regarding the Antichrist and the False Prophet. As part of these descriptions, which provide a summary regarding their actions during the Tribulation, we also receive information on the well-known "Mark of the Beast" :
"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name." (Rev. 13:16)
A few verses later (Rev. 14:9-12) we receive information regarding the fate of those who receive the "mark":
"If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives the mark on the forehead or on the hand, he too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur...and the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the Saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus."
To summarize these scriptures, several points are apparent:
1. During the Tribulation, one must have the "mark of the beast" in order to buy or sell anything.
2. Taking the mark of the beast also serves as a "declaration" that the individual has formally rejected Jesus and has declared that he/she will worship the Antichrist.
3. God considers this as an irreversable rejection of His salvation, and that person will "drink of the wrath of God's fury...forever."
So the question becomes, how could a central world figure (the Antichrist) control buying and selling via this "mark"?
While much of this is speculation, we have watched the technology ("RFID" radio chip) increase in a stepwise manner for the last 2 decades. Slowly but surely, this technology has creeped into the mainstream thought. The VeriChip Corporation has been the leader in this technology, and has pushed this agenda as their technology has increasingly expanded over the years.
Their own website (here) reveals how far this technology has advanced. The "chip" today, smaller than a grain of rice can be implanted in the hand, and it can contain extensive information on the individual. Additionally, it has the ability to track individuals locationally, via satellite, and can contain extensive medical/financial information on each individual who receives this verichip.
We are now seeing a push to mandate "enhanced" drivers licenses, at least according to the Department of Homeland Security (see here) which would contain the same RFID technology, embedded within the license itself. The basic, intuitive resistence that many people have to something like this (fears of loss of freedom, fears of loss of privacy, fears of government intervention etc.) are being overcome by selling the "positives" of having this chip inserted. These selling points of the VeriChip include - the ability to track children who are lost/abducted, the implememtion of a "cashless" financial system, a solution to "identity theft", enhanced security, and health care information, which could be immediately obtained in the event of a medical emergency, and on and on this list goes.
Paul McGuire, a Christian author who has been following this situation, provides a nice summary of the situation:
Today, anyone who receives the VeriChip is clearly NOT receiving the Mark of the Beast. The Antichrist is not in power yet, and taking this VeriChip now is not linked with worship of the Antichrist. However, many of us believe that the current progress and advancing technology for the VeriChip could be preparing the way for general acceptance of the "Mark", when the Antichrist DOES arrive on the world scene.
The Tribulaton will serve as a last chance for non-believers to accept Christ and His message of salvation. God will reveal Himself in dramatic ways during the Tribulation, and "multitudes" will receive Christ (Revelation 7:9-14, 20:4). People living during the Tribulation will be forced to choose between Christ and the Antichrist, and the "Mark of the Beast" will serve as the outward "symbol" of the individual's choice: there will be no other options available. That is part of the reason (in my humble opinion) for the Tribulation: every individual will have one last chance to receive Christ.
Introducing the technology, via mandatory drivers licenses will serve as one more step in the direction of the Mark of the Beast. It will serve to give people a gradual acceptance of the concept of giving up certian freedoms in the quest for security. It will serve as a gradual acceptance of having a central "registry" , and, according to Homeland Security, your personal chip will trigger a central computer to "pull up your biographic and biometric data for the CBP officer..." RFID technology could be initially accepted via an ID card, or in this case, drivers licenses. Later, it can be argued that having the chip inserted into the hand would be FAR easier and would make a LOT more sense. Then, one doesn't have to worry about losing a card containing the chip, and subsequent identity theft, etc. Additionally, with insertion into the hand, one would not have to worry about children keeping up with an identity card, and finding a lost child would then be virtually guaranteed. There are many many advantages to having this technology inserted into the body, rather than in a card or drivers license.
Fortunately, the Bride of Christ (aka the "Church") will have been taken to Heaven by the time the "Mark of the Beast" becomes a reality. But we are seeing the genesis of the Mark of the Beast today, as we watch the technology expand and the conditions ripen for administration of a VeriChip tool. Acceptance is increasing, as use of this technology seems to offer solutions to many of the most pressing problems today: lost children (we could track everyone with the VeriChip), identity theft (without credit cards, checkbooks, etc, identity theft would be almost impossible), implementation of a"cashless" society with a single currency (helping to solve the world's financial crisis), and homeland security could be enhanced (passports, border security), just to name a few.
One more step towards the last days. We watch the progression of biblical events - which all point to the final pieces of the prophetic puzzle coming together. As Jesus said in His final discourse:
"So be on your guard; I have told you everything in ahead of time" (Mark 13:23).
In His infinite love, Jesus informed us of these things coming to pass. We know the signs, because Jesus gave them to us - to watch and to receive comfort that our time, here on earth, is almost up. We also know what awaits us:
"Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the Kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:31).