Dark Innovation: The Role of Technology in Revelation 13

Imagine a world of the future. It is a desperate world where human beings are controlled by a single, tyrannical power. If we look behind the curtain to see what energizes this power, we find something much more sinister than a corrupt political agenda or master plan of greed. We find a plot hatched by the dark prince of the universe whose ambition it is to become God.

The book of Revelation prophesies a future government that Satan will control and use to deceive and manipulate the nations through the False Prophet and Antichrist:

And he [the False Prophet] deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast [the Antichrist] who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666 (Rev. 13:14–18).

Verses 16–18 are undoubtedly the most familiar passages in Revelation, not only to believers, but also to millions of unchurched people who know nothing about future prophecy and may never have opened a Bible.

Those who receive the mark commit the ultimate, tragic, irrevocable choice to reject Christ and embrace the Antichrist as God, thus reaping everlasting judgment (14:9–11).

Revelation 13:14–15 describes the world stage that precedes the mark of the Beast. The False Prophet, the Antichrist’s coconspirator, will perform counterfeit miracles and exercise global power as a religious leader.1 The most spectacular of his feats will be the Antichrist’s faux resurrection after it appears he was assassinated (v. 14).

Although the False Prophet gives lifelike “breath to the image of the beast” (v. 15), it will be left to individuals around the world to build the image (v. 14). And those who refuse to worship the image will be killed.

This joint project for interactive imagery will be coordinated by a central command that connects everyone worldwide to a despotic system of control, raising the specter of innovation run amok.

How might technology play a part in these events? The manufacturing of this image is obviously significant since Revelation mentions the image six more times (14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).

As I worked with my coauthor, Tim LaHaye, on our recent novel, Mark of Evil—the last of our four-book, futuristic fiction series released earlier this year—we wrestled with the relationship between technology and future events. Though it is only fiction, the novel earnestly seeks to examine current innovations to see if and how they might fit into this prophetic landscape.

In the last decade and a half, technology has provided us with a glimpse of how this particular part of the most demonic scheme in human history might be accomplished.

Big-Data Revolution
Until the digital information explosion in the last half of the 20th century, the thought of a global system of imagery projection and instant, worldwide human control (let’s call it digital devilry, or DD) seemed like science fiction. But with the rise of personal computing, Internet communications, and the stunning increase in digital data transmission, such global control is indeed realistic.

The science of “big data”—the ability of computers to accumulate and then analyze titanic amounts of information extremely rapidly—has made DD possible.

The retrieval and analysis of huge amounts of voter data helped tip the U.S. presidential election in favor of incumbent Barack Obama in 2012, according to a Democratic insider:

Big data gave Obama 2012 the names of all 69 million people who voted for the candidate in 2008 and allowed the campaign to rebuild that winning coalition, vote by vote. Big data told the campaign which voters were undecided, and even which voters with otherwise Republican attitudes could be swayed to vote for the president.2

The author admitted big data can be used for good or evil: “Not all the consequences will be good. New technology can manipulate, empower, or do both.”3 Today we can instantly process and control all of the essential data concerning not just the American electorate, but the entire human race. Google advertises that its “cloud platform” for data storage and retrieval can handle some 4 trillion message transactions per month. The Knowledge Society has also tabulated some startling facts about the meteoric rise of big data. In 1986, the growth rate of data storage was 23 percent per year. By 1996, it had increased 800 percent; and by 2004, data storage was up by 4,100 percent.4 The report cites Google’s former Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt, who said in 2010 the total of all documented information between “the dawn of civilization” through 2003 equaled about 5 exabytes of data—roughly the amount of data being created and stored every two days today.

If DD is going to play a part in the fulfillment of Revelation 13:14–15, then it will require a massive information-retrieval-and-storage capacity to track and manipulate the billions of people on planet Earth. We are rapidly approaching that point. In fact, we may have arrived there without knowing it.

Connectivity Revolution
Simply having the ability to marshal and control big data, however, is not enough. DD would also require a heightened ability to connect people, collect data about them (such as their identities, locations, behavioral patterns, and movements) and then tie everything to a central portal. Enter the World Wide Web and the universe of digital connections.

This principle of connectivity is a mainstay of new-media Internet communications—notably Facebook, Twitter, and a variety of smartphones like the iPhone. Their developers pride themselves on having created the capability to digitally link people and groups instantaneously—transcending time zones, travel restrictions, and geographic distances. The result is a different way of viewing the world because of technology.

A string of events in 2011 helps shed light on the social and political force of these new-media connections. All these events were coordinated and fueled by cellphone or smartphone texting, emails, Twitter messaging, or Facebook postings:

  • Anti-government protests in Tunisia and Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt
  • Protests in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, and Syria
  • The cessation of the “jasmine revolution” in China after cell service was shut down
  • Protests in Athens, Greece, over pay and pension cuts
  • Hundreds of teens swarming to a beach party in Boston, Massachusetts, after instantly responding to a Facebook invitation, thus warranting the response of a SWAT team
  • A similar incident in Shaker Heights, Ohio
  • Organized riots due to digital messaging in the United Kingdom cities of Tottenham, Enfield, and Liverpool
  • Hundreds of thousands of people marching or protesting in Israel, as well as in U.S. cities like New York City; Portland, Oregon; Boston; Chicago; and San Francisco5

But social protest is not the only evidence of the power of connectivity. Technology companies are making a concerted effort to link the world’s people together through a wide variety of gadgets, activities, and places, using an increasingly smaller number of wireless networks. One commentator described the phenomenon (now dubbed “Internet of things”) this way, regarding only one area—the automobile:

Consider this: The American Automobile Association [AAA] said in its letter to the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] that vehicles are rapidly becoming two-ton smart phones. The number of cars connected to the Internet will grow from less than 1 million in 2009 to an estimated 42 million by 2017, the letter said. And that’s just vehicles. Millions of people connect through security cameras, home appliances, medical devices, and other products. AAA wants to know who controls all that data.6

Meanwhile, tech giants like Qualcomm and Cisco are trying to create a universal global standard (a “language”) to enable all digital devices to “talk” to each other. Such a project has the potential to link together an ocean of digital objects across the globe, such as automatic garage doors in homes, heating and air conditioning thermostats, lawn sprinklers, baby monitors, video games, personal vehicles and taxicabs, central offices’ building controls, restaurants and retail stores, as well as televisions, radios, cellphones, computers, and—of course—millions of security cameras around the world.7

Facial- and Voice-Recognition Revolution
In the world of the future, Earth’s inhabitants likely will be connected through digital communications and Internet tracking, with the information stored through the big data capacity of ultrafast computer systems.

If that data is ultimately used to manipulate and control them, what about the dissenters? What about those who refuse to engage in technology?

Today in America, by virtue of the human-recognition innovation, technology can come to people whether they like it or not. Federal agencies like Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Central Intelligence Agency, and now local police departments, can use biometric technology to match people on the street with a catalog of photographs and identify them in seconds.8

The U.S. government has even granted Apple Corporation a patent for facial recognition features on  its iPhone. Presumably, iPhones will eventually recognize callers through photo ID images and instantly identify them based merely on their facial characteristics.9

Facebook has already been using facial recognition technology to mine facial imagery data posted on Facebook, although its current uses are still sketchy.10

But facial recognition is not the only way technology can trace you. Voice recognition systems can identify you through your speech patterns.11 In Mark of Evil, Tim LaHaye and I wrote a fairly disturbing scenario of the possible sinister uses of these types of technology.

Kingdom Renewal
However, we need not view technology exclusively as the Devil’s tool. Though Satan’s plan will be impressive, it will not be flawless. Where Satan rules, God can overrule. And we have reason to believe God will provide for the needs of His people who refuse the mark of the Beast, just as He provided for the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt and their wanderings in the wilderness.

In fact, technology may well play a powerful part in God’s redemptive plan for the human race and in accomplishing His great commission of carrying the gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth.

Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has called the new-media world of Facebook, Twitter, Apple, and Google “the new tower of Babel.” But he also sees their positive potential and said they are “not intrinsically evil.” His advice: “Be wise, be careful, but harness it for good. It is here to stay and will only multiply in its capacity.”12

Almost daily in my work with the National Religious Broadcasters, I see ways in which gospel communicators are using the tools of new-media technology to penetrate the globe with the Good News of Jesus Christ. When the inventions of radio and television became available to the masses in the 20th century, preachers rushed to the forefront, seeking ways to use them to communicate truth to the world. This trend is continuing today by followers of Jesus who use Internet-based communications and wireless devices for the glory of God.

Whatever the means of fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation 13, one thing is certain: God will wrap up human history and establish His Kingdom exactly as He has promised. Unlike the short-lived kingdom of the Evil One, God’s Kingdom will be everlasting and the grand setting for our eternal reunion with Him.

Just imagine for a moment what a world like that will look like. The Bible gives us an electrifying glimpse:

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (21: 3–4).

All that God has planned and all that He has accomplished through His intervention in the affairs of the human race have been for one purpose: to bring us to Himself. That is the single most important example of “connectivity” in the history of the universe. And that divine and eternal connection is the one that counts.

  1. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 1,980 n Revelation 13:11.
  2. Joe Trippi, “Technology Has Given Politics Back Its Soul,” MIT Technology Review 116, no. 1 (January/February 2013), 36.
  3. Ibid.
  4. “The Knowledge Society: The impact of surfing its tsunamis in data storage, communication, and processing” <tinyurl.com/tsdataa>.
  5. Bill Wasik, “Crowd control—How today’s protests, revolts and riots are self-organising [sic],” WIRED (January 2012), 79–80.
  6. Sue Reisinger, “Caught in the Middle,” Corporate Counsel, November 1, 2013 <tinyurl.com/caughtInM>.
  7. Bill Wasik, “Welcome to the Programmable World,” WIRED, May 14, 2013 <tinyurl.com/WelcomeIOT>.
  8. Todd Strain and Monica Garske, “Chula Vista Police Use New Facial Recognition Technology,” NBC San Diego, November 13, 2013 <tinyurl.com/ChulaFace>.
  9. Darrell Etherington, “Apple Patents Face Recognition Tech for Enhanced iPhone Privacy and Automated Controls,” TechCrunch, December 3, 2013 <tinyurl.com/ApplePFR>.
  10. Sophie Curtis, “Facebook defends using profile pictures for facial recognition,” The Telegraph, November 15, 2013 <tinyurl.com/FBprofilepix>.
  11. “Automatic Speech Recognition Market, 2D Gesture & Facial Recognition Industries Forecast in New Research Reports Available at ReportsnReports .com,” PRWeb.com, December 12, 2013 <tinyurl.com/autospeechRM>.
  12. Alex Murashko, “Christian Apologist Says Social Media Like the Tower of Babel,” The Christian Post, April 3, 2013 <tinyurl.com/RZbabel>.

13 thoughts on “Dark Innovation: The Role of Technology in Revelation 13

  1. My contribution to this topic is my just published third book (6 chapters, 137 pages) entitled:
    What if Artificial Intelligence Hallucinations Lead to Revelation 13:14-17?:
    Amalgamation of chipping, super artificial intelligence, metaverse, quantum computing & satellite tech for the dawn of Technology as Religion with human and machine deities

    This book uniquely presents a thought provoking discussion centred on Revelation 13:14-17. The book builds the modern day “mark” and the “image” as espoused in Revelation 13:14-17 through the amalgamation of chipping, quantum computing, metaverse, satellite based advanced technologies and super artificial intelligence (AI). Discussions are presented on how the modern day “image” will emulate life and speak. More discussions on the role of deception and AI hallucinations scenarios leading to Revelation 13:14-17 are vividly presented and the six things they will cause. The book reveals that the global population will become a dichotomy classified as chipped or unchipped. The book further proceeds to reveal the role of AI hallucinations in the emergence of reverence of machine and human. In other words, the dawn of technology as a global religion with “forced” worship of “tech gods” and machine deities. Potential ameliorating approaches are also presented where appropriate. Technology is moving towards becoming awry and it will be difficult to reverse.

  2. The mark of the beast is the number of a man’s name; to mean the digital IDs has a QR code where you can scan it with your smartphone to reveal whose Id’s you have scanned. The same QR code will be attached to your voice, fingerprint and face recognition.

  3. Pornography is all over the internet and accessible by mobile phones and it’s all basically free. American Mothers and Fathers, on a large scale(but certainly not all of them) have let their guard down with regards to their children and their children’s mobile devices. And that’s even the parents that have safeguards, as anyone with basic common sense knows children usually have friends who will have their own ill- scrutinized devices that are unprotected. Furthermore, adults are considered God’s children so just think of all the poor adults who have succumbed to the twisted images. Think of the impact pornography has has on the young minds of millions of children over the years and yet WE have done nothing. And here I am, ironically…, hypocritically on this stupid vile thing. But someone mentioned above that there is still yet time and hope so must use this time to warn those to get off these dastardly devices before it’s too late. And I suppose follow instructions- just look and wait and watch. Something like a large earthquake…..The Kingdom is at hand

  4. The beast is BOTH a nonhuman world leader and a empire that will devour the entire unbelieving world. Such as the Prince of Persia mentioned in the Book of Daniel, who was either a demon or a fallen angel. He was a supernatural being that controlled Persia, so the first beast is BOTH a world empire and a person. The Second beast has two horns like a lamb; i.e., the false impression that global peace is part of his agenda, but he spake as a Dragon (i.e., his words are DECEIVING).

    1. We don’t know yet, but it is looking that way. My spiritual encounter showed me that electricity could be manipulated within a “spiritual prison,” of my test. That is enough for me to believe that AI could be manipulated by those same forces. Especially if we think within the context of Revelations and my test was scripture in Revelations 2.

      2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

      That is literally ten earth days. Scary isn’t it, but I’m glad that I had to endure it, because it straightened me back up real quick and gives me a sense of calm amidst the odd times.

  5. I was led to this by God and I’m just glad that me and my husband are not on the wrong path. So much have attacked us since we came together but faith and perseverance, prayer, and belief are the only way we are making it. We have conversations all the time about this, but to go see if anyone else is figuring out this Bible and not just listening really makes me thank the lord for a pre destined life,so many will not be ready. Me and my husband will be. I can’t explain it, but it’s a different light once you ask and seek for true knowledge. Thank you for this article….

  6. The mark of the beast is a digital number attached to your identity which allows digital commerce no transfer of tangible goods without digital identity virus has accomplished the new age of digital transfer of goods identity security is where the mark is made absolute only other way is bartering but can only be done in a small community large scale distribution of goods can only be accomplished digitally because identity security is the problem and only block chain and sattelite can handle the security and data for such large scale commerce security is the issue God told us this before hand he keeps data also in books and angels help with the keeping the data just accept Jesus Christ and get saved and you will find your way to peace and everlasting life

  7. I was asking the Lord last night when I got home from work, to show if there is any truth to the belief that we are in the last days.
    Later on that night, I was looking at Revelation 13 and looking up the meaning of certain words.
    The word “count” or “calculate “ the number of the beast, actually means to compute.
    We all have a “device”, ie our mobile phones, that we use to buy and sell now.
    Many people already do all their shopping online.
    The word “device “ comes from the Old French “devis” from Latin “divisus”, past participle of “dividere” (to divide), thus originally, when goods were being divided among people, a mark put on each item to say who was getting what.
    Is this “device” in fact our mobile phone and the Mark is what we choose to follow on them.
    The “number of a man” in verse 18, the word man is “anthropos” which refers to the countenance or man faced.
    It comes from the word “aner” which means a man and from the word “optanomai” which means to gaze at, with wide open eyes, as at something remarkable and thus differing from the word “blepo” which means to look at, behold, be aware, perceive, see, regard, sight, take heed etc. Which denotes simply voluntary observation. And from the word “eido” which expresses merely passive or casual vision.
    We can see just about everyone staring at their phones as if mesmerized and taking in or believing whatever they read.
    They say there is coming a time, and even now is, that students don’t need to learn anything at school, they can just “Google it.”
    This device, which marks us by what we allow into our minds, the mark on our minds, can either be for good or for evil.
    Every person that has a phone, has a number already and we are recognized by that number in many areas of technology.
    Is the very thing we are probably holding in our hand right now, the “device”, the division, the mark of which is either the mark of the beast on our forehead (mind) or the mark of God.
    People worship their phones and social media, fake news etc, instead of the word of truth, the Bible.
    It says in Revelation 19:20 that the beast and the false prophet deceived those that received the “mark” of the beast and those who had worshipped his image, ie. screen time.
    How many Christians have been led astray by false teachings and so called “science “ to believe the lie instead of the truth.

  8. One thing to consider. Are we sure God will help anyone left behind? You say he helped the Israelites during their Exodus. God was present in the world as they went through the Exodus.

    I understand that when the tribulation comes that God will turn his back on the whole world and will not be present. The Church will be raptured and it will be a literal, “Hell on Earth.” This ties in to Revelation speaking there has never been a time like this before.

    We can only hope that God will have something to help in place for those brothers and sisters during the tribulation.

    God bless!

  9. I believe that Christians are missing the big picture of Revelation 13 — they can’t see the forest because there are too many trees in the way. I believe Rev 13 actually makes a lot of sense if we view it as an allegorical description of the rise of Science and Technology. I.e., the first beast symbolizes the ORGANized BODY of knowledge of modern science, the scientific team spirit, and all the scientists in the world acting as a team to advance science. The second beast of Rev 13, the one that works all the great signs, similarly symbolizes modern technology at large. And together, Science and Technology form a powerful partnership. Science changes what people think about the universe they live in, and their part in that universe. And Technology changes the way people live, travel, communicate, go to war, etc.

    Notice that one of the dictionary definitions of “technology” is “applied science.” That fits in with Rev 13, because it is the second beast’s job to demonstrate the power of the first, by using that power to work many great signs. And that’s what modern technology does: it demonstrates the great power of science, by using that power to work many great signs.

    Perhaps the greatest sign of all, so far, was the Tsar Bomba hydrogen bomb test done by the USSR back in 1961. While the USA had made and tested the first H-bomb back in 1952, Tsar Bomba was over three times as powerful as any bomb made by the USA. Its energy release was equal to 50 million tons of TNT, its fireball was 5 miles in diameter, and an unprotected observer standing 60 miles away would have gotten 3rd degree burns.

    Was this a demonstration of the great power of the USSR and communism? Well, that might have been what they intended. But really, it was a demonstration of the great power of modern physics. Those Russian physicists know and understand pretty much the same physics as American physicists. It was another demonstration of Francis Bacon’s famous aphorism, “Scientia potentia est,” which means, “Scientific knowledge is equal to technological power.”

    So if raw, brute technological power is what most turns you on, by all means, worship the wisdom of modern physics, which is the main source of this power. And create an AI (artificial intelligence) in the image of all man’s science, to personify science, and transform Science into a man-made living god! (Just kidding. You shouldn’t really do this.)

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