The End of Days and the Mark of the Beast - what is it, and why?

At the End of Days, there will be a situation where people are required by some power other than God to be marked on the right hand and forehead in order to buy or sell. See the verse below:

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Revelation 13: 16-17

We don't yet know what form this mark will take (a tattoo? an implanted radio-frequency ID tag?). But to understand a little better the events leading up to this, let's read a little of the preceding context of the chapter:

Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of all; and by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived; and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Revelation 13: 11-15

One thing is abundantly clear: Christians must not allow themselves to fall into the temptation to receive this mark:

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. 

Revelation 14: 9-12

What is the nature of the beast? The second beast mentioned in Revelation 13: 11-15 might be an earthly power (e.g. a specific leader, nation, or corporation) or it might be a demonic power. I personally feel that it will be an earthly power influenced by demonic forces. Whatever the case, this entity obviously has gotten control of some technology that causes effects like ability to create a meteor shower, for example. Its display of technological mastery is designed to deceive those living on Earth at the time - indeed, it appears that many might actually worship this entity. 

For the first time I posed the question to myself: "What might lead up to the requirement of the mark of the beast on the hand or forehead?" I have previously written about this Bible passage here, but my main focus previously was on the events themselves and how (as opposed to why) this is happening. Today I'd like to think about the why.

For a start, the odd thing to me seemed to be that everyone on Earth will be expected to have this mark (although Christians should certainly refuse to have it). The verse didn't say "The people of a major country of earth" or "Most of the people" or anything like that. It said everyone would need the mark to buy or sell. Given that a level of technological mastery is indicated already (by performing signs and wonders), I think it is safe to assume that the mark will be something that is machine-readable as opposed to something purely for the human eye: for example, a bar code, an implanted RFID, or some other technology that does not yet exist. 

This would indicate that the payment system in those times will be something that is (or can be) purely electronic, with no cash alternative at that time. Does this mean that actual cold hard cash will simply be outdated by then? Or will the currency of those times be purely electronic and not tied to an actual hard cash value (e.g. something similar to cryptocurrency?) In any case, it seems that payments will be tied to an individual and that mark. I'm also wondering whether it could be due to products that require delivery to a specific person (e.g. a person orders an item, and the delivery process finds that individual personally, not just their address. The delivery robot checks the mark to make sure it has the right person).  Whatever the case is, it's made very clear in the chapter of Revelation that Christians must not give in to the temptation to get this mark. (See Revelation 14: 9-12 above). This means Christians will have a very, very hard time at the End of Days. 

Given that the level of technological mastery is one which deceives humans, I'm also wondering if humanity first passes through a period where much technology is destroyed (whether accidentally or on purpose, or as a side-effect of war). Any new technology that has been developed will seem rather wondrous to such inhabitants of the earth. Alternatively, if there is no period where technology is destroyed, then it may be that the inhabitants are simply awed by whatever new technologies are developed and feel powerless to oppose the entity known as the second beast (again: it could be a leader, nation or corporation). It's alternatively possible that this entity is actually of alien origin. This could explain the ability to deceive the inhabitants with its technological mastery.

Backing up to the first beast, the one that preceded the second beast, it seems the second beast has control over the earth only because of the first beast. See:

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast. They worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

Let anyone who has an ear listen:

If you are to be taken captive,
into captivity you go;
if you kill with the sword,
with the sword you must be killed.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Revelation 13: 1-10

This part about the first beast indicates that it is something new which arises. It may be a new earthly power (whether a nation or a dictator), or it could be a new visual manifestation of a malicious spiritual entity, or it could be of alien origin. Whatever it is, it is certainly against God and is supported by Satan. Some have speculated that it is a group of nations. In any case, it is of paramount importance that we not worship it, no matter how great the material compulsion to do so. We must be watchful of this. The fact that so many people are deceived by the beasts means that we must take extra care to watch for these signs; that we watch even for the precursors of these signs.

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