September 22, 2009

Refuse the Mark: 666

So many say it, so few do it…

Perhaps you have seen the bumper stickers that urge you to “Refuse the Mark.” If you don’t know what this means, I’ll explain it. If you think you know, please read on, and see if you really do.


Eschatology is the study of things related to the “end times.” Christians and scientists agree that the world will not last forever. Science tells us our Sun, like all stars, will not provide light indefinitely, but will either cool down slowly or explode. Science is less certain about the long-term fate of the Universe: will it continue to expand or will it eventually collapse? Christians are certain that everything in the material world will be destroyed at some time, and then restored in a way we don’t fully understand. We refer to this as “the end of the world.” The period of time preceding this end is what we call the “end times.” Christians differ greatly on when the end times began. Churches that focus on the end times tend to consider the onset fairly recent, or in the immediate future. Some churches appear to have forgotten about it completely, and preach as if no end was to come. The Catholic Church doesn’t say much about the end times, but has reminded us about the end of the world. Generally, it is probably safe to say that our Church considers the end times to have started around the time of Jesus. I would probably say it began with the “harrowing of Hell,” when Jesus descended into the underworld after His death, to redeem those who had died before His sacrifice on the Cross. Since death had no hold on Jesus, its power was broken, and that was the beginning of the end for the world as we have known it.

But I digress… In the last book of the Bible, Revelation (or Apocalypse), the end of the world is described in terrifying detail. Many people get very worried about what they read, and their confusion in magnified by their lack of understanding of the imagery in the book. There are several views taken of the Book of Revelation:

  • It’s just another Bible story, harder to understand than most: ignore it.
  • This is a book of prophecies for our time, you can predict the future with it.
  • It is “persecution literature,” like parts of the book of Daniel. It was written during intense persecution to give people hope, and remind them that God was still going to save the Church.

For those who take the first view, nothing is to be done, because they have denied the importance of Scripture. For the second, they will be doomed to follow whatever false prophet they happen upon. If we take the third view, what do we get from it today?

In the Book of Revelation, there are mentions of “The Beast,” the number 666, and the issuance of a “Mark” that will identify those people that belong to the Beast. The number of the Beast, according to at least one scholarly source, refers to the Roman Emperor Nero, but others think of it as a literal number, to be found in computers or credit cards everywhere. Many people that aren’t even Christian get nervous when a purchase equals $6.66 or if some other number happens to equal that amount. Christians with a lot of interest in the end times are prepared to reject this number, expecting the government or big business to require that it be tattooed on their foreheads or hands.

Now, if it should happen that someone tries to get me to have “666” printed on my body or even if some government agency tries to get me to carry a card with this number clearly printed on it, I’ll refuse. But does anyone really expect this? And if the number of the Beast occurs in some magnetic image only readable by computer on some document, can I really be held accountable?

Here is the irony, and maybe a lesson… So many Christians interpret this literally, but the simple symbolism should be obvious to a child. Over and over again in the Scriptures we are warned against worldliness: against competition, self-assured profit-taking, neglect of the poor, lending at interest and materialism. We are told that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, and yet some Christians believe they have a right to become rich! Why do we ask God to “lead us not into temptation,” and then ask for riches? Isn’t the Mark of the Beast to pursue the world’s ways, and neglect the Way shown us? In that sense, the Mark of the Beast is to become more like the Beast.

By all means, if someone wants us to wear the “666,” we must refuse. But far more importantly, we need to refuse the marks of pride, envy, hatred, lust and disobedience to God. In the end, we are judged according to how we loved Christ in all the ways we encountered Him, not according to a number on our credit card.

This just in: don’t believe everything you hear about bar codes: How Bar Codes Work

We have included a response to one of the “mark of the beast” sites after the buttons below. Simple logic and a can of soup (that has a 6 in the UPC) can prove to any thinking person that claims of “evil bar codes” are wrong. If they lied about seeing “666,” what else did they lie about?

Response to a site claiming “666” is hidden in UPC codes:

I was referred to your site by someone concerned about the bar codes. Your information is incorrect. I would like to know where it came from. In the first place, you claim that there are three 6s, but if there are numbers in between it could hardly be considered “666.” If you are going to claim that any number with three sixes in it is evil, there are lots of street addresses and phone numbers to worry about. On top of that, your computer has “666” all through it. Have someone check your disk. All UNIX computers have code “666” on many of their files: it means full read and write access for everybody. Of course, that is in octal (base 8) so it really isn’t “666” at all.

Secondly, those “hidden” marks you have been told are 6s are start and end marks, and although they have a numeric equivalent (they are 5s), they are not used as numbers, but as start and end markers. All asynchronous data streams use some sort of start and end signals.

Last, look at something with 6s in it. You will see that they don’t match the start and end marks (or the middle). The number 6 is not even represented in the same way on both sides of the UPC!

Jesus is Lord, and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Incorrect information leads people off the path of Life and into superstition. Using lies to scare people into belief is wrong.

You cannot use Satan’s tools for God’s work. Whoever has told you this bad information is at the least ignorant, and may even be evil. Please seek out good Christian leadership. And please pray that all the people you have led astray will find the truth.
 More on bar codes and the response to this letter.

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