2,000 years ago we were warned about the moment when 3 things come together: technology, participation in the system of commerce, and a test of loyalty to the State. This vision, written when commerce was still barter, and technology was the donkey, is the single most profound stroke of genius in literature.
St. John’s percipience has been drowned beneath stupid speculations about what this symbol or that one “stands for”. Christians have spent millenia labeling each other “the whore of Babylon” and fretting that each new technology is the “the mark of the beast”, to the point that they exhausted themselves and prompted deserved ridicule from the world. And everybody forgot the simple, breathtaking assertion buried under the symbols: when technology, commerce, and politics develop to the point when they can connect with each other, then the world WILL (not might, but will) begin to demand loyalty to a single leader in order to buy and sell, will have the technology to enforce it, and will kill everyone who demures. By the way, the document seems to insist that this end of the race is embedded in the genetic code of the race and is not avoidable. John view is not that believers should do something to stop the course of the spirit of antichrist. He simply predicts that the forces inherent in humans will follow a certain course. He is a prophet, not a giver of advice.
I maintain there has been nothing but empirical verification of the Apocalypse ever since it was written, and it matters not whether you believe, like Thomas Jefferson did, that the book of Revelation is the “ravings of a lunatic” – what other ancient writing has seen so far in advance and so accurately?
There are good, even unavoidable reasons that technology will be used to collect all data on all people. The reasons to do it will overwhelm the reasons not to do it, and the resisters will be overcome by moral arguments about how the race must save itself from the evils within us, (I’m not giving advice, just prophecy.) And because the technology, once invented, cannot be not used, the next step will be to require that no commerce can take place off the grid.
Then, the technology which allows commerce will not be available without an act of loyalty to the State. I don’t know what it will be (no man can interpret the symbols actually; they aren’t meant to be interpreted), but I know that it will be somehow offensive to those who believe that Jesus is the king of the universe. These people will not be able to perform the act (interestingly, other religionists of all stripes will be able). And then comes the end.
Think this is crazy talk? I’m not asking you to believe in plagues of frogs or angels with swords. Just track the trends of history and project the lines of technology, economics, and politics, and notice who, of all writers in the world, first trended the same lines and described their intersection. I defy you to deny that these three forces are coming together in unprecedented ways, and that this was described in ominous tones by a writer in about A.D. 90.