On Tuesday, the Democrats’ favorite Republican, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) condemned the idea of a COVID-19 passport, a document attesting to the fact that a person received a COVID-19 vaccine. Some countries have required citizens have such a passport in order to travel, attend events, work, or generally participate in society. Green said, “I asked the question earlier today, is this something like Biden’s Mark of the Beast? Because that is really disturbing and not good.”
The idea of requiring a COVID-19 vaccine passport to travel or make purchases may be disturbing, but comparisons to the Mark of the Beast are overblown. Furthermore, Andy Slavitt, acting director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said during a White House briefing on Monday that the U.S. government “is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of — of citizens. We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do.”
If the COVID-19 passport is a Mark of the Beast, it’s not Biden’s version.
The Mark of the Beast appears in Revelation 13. The Apostle John sees a second beast rising out of the earth, with two horns like a lamb and the voice of a dragon. It makes the earth worship the first beast and it performs great signs. “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 unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”
The Book of Revelation is notoriously difficult to interpret. While Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins laid out one possible reading in the Left Behind book series, the specifics about the events St. John prophesied remain unclear and inexact. The book’s clearest sections come at the beginning — the seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor — and the end — the prophecy of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and the New Heavens and the New Earth. The timing of other events in the text and especially the interpretation of the Anti-Christ are divisive matters of opinion.
Yet Christians would agree that the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine passport does not fit the bill of the Mark of the Beast. For starters, there is no connection between the number “666” and the vaccine. The vaccine also has nothing to do with worshiping anyone, much less one person or idea in particular. There is no religious significance to the vaccine, whatsoever.
While the true meaning of the Mark of the Beast remains unclear, John does explain that it has something to do with worshiping the Anti-Christ and bearing his name and/or his number — 666 — on a person’s right hand or forehead.
The only aspect of the Mark of the Beast that loosely applies to the COVID-19 vaccine passport is the creepy idea of having a document in order to buy and sell goods. This idea is creepy, and the COVID-19 vaccine passport may perhaps normalize the idea. It is possible — though unclear and I’d argue rather unlikely — that Satan is trying to use the COVID-19 vaccine passport to lay the groundwork for the Mark of the Beast. Even if this is the case, we wouldn’t necessarily be able to determine that.
As a student of history, I am leery and extremely skeptical about claims regarding the fulfillment of biblical prophecy in modern times, especially regarding the Book of Revelation. Christians have an extremely poor track record in predicting the apocalypse, and I take Jesus at His word when He says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32, Acts 1:7). If even Jesus doesn’t know when the End Times will happen, what makes us think we can figure it out?
Christians have often predicted the end of the world, and each prediction has proven false (just like predictions of climate disaster from man-made climate change). It is best not to speculate about these things.
That said, Christians do indeed believe that Jesus will come again, that He will raise the dead for the day of judgment, and that all human hopes will culminate in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, where redeemed human beings with find their ultimate joy with God in Jesus Christ. It is immaterial exactly when that happens, but the Bible is clear it will happen in God’s timing.
Christians should pay close attention to the signs of the times — and the distrust and demonization of biblical Christians is a telling and terrifying development. Yet we cannot know whether this presages the End Times, and we should not speculate about it. We certainly should not resort to baseless fears of the Anti-Christ related to COVID-19 vaccines.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.