666 (creepy music here)

I wrote this post almost 2 years ago – Feb,2017


My wife just received an updated version of her credit card. Its a corker, sleek little black thing with subdued logos on the front and some bit of silicon inside. She noticed it didn’t have that peel away sticker with the “call this number to activate” on it. Hmmm…

This reminded me of an article in the January 30th,2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal titled, “Some businesses ditch cash, find sales steady”. Apparently there are a many people in the US who just don’t need cash “in their daily lives”.

Of far more consequence is the current exercise in cultural reformation happening in India. In case anyone missed it, India has been reforming its economy by driving cash out of the system.

While the human toll is considerable I am shocked by the relative ease with which such a step could be taken. And by “ease” I do not mean it was painless but that there was no revolution, the government did not topple. A group of people decided this would happen and made it so.

The rationale is that removing cash is the best way to eliminate the drain of graft, corruption and tax evasion. There are a lot of arguments to support this view as a simple Google search reveals. The WSJ article pointed out that electronic transactions will  lead to “the end of cash for legitimate businesses. And the remaining, mostly shady, uses of cash are why we shouldn’t lament its passing.”

Which brings me back to “666”, a number many are familiar with. It comes from the Book of Revelation, chapter 13 verse 18, but must be considered in the context of the preceding verses…

The Mark of the Beast

16 And the second beast required all people small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark—the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18 Here is a call for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and that number is six hundred sixty-six.

When I first read these verses some forty years ago they scared me because I could not imagine trying to live in society without the ability to buy and sell. Then I thought about the logistics of actually making something like this happen and I calmed down.

That is why the relative speed and simplicity of forcing the change from cash (hard to control) to electronic transaction (easy to control) in a country like India is so shocking to me. I could not imagine forcing a whole society to make such a change so quickly.

I was frightened by these verses forty years ago because of the next reference to “666” that happens in chapter 14 starting at verse 9…

And a third angel followed them, calling in loud a voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives its mark on his forehead or hand, 10 he too will drink the wine of God’s anger, poured undiluted into the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented in fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. Day and night there will be no rest for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”

What was hard to imagine forty years ago is now pretty easy to imagine, and in fact we seem to be moving in that direction at an accelerated rate (as your Google search will explain).

The good new is that in the last forty years I have also learned that whatever I think I have, I have from from Him, and whatever I lack He can and will provide. The eventual fulfillment of this prophesy just makes the reality of my dependence obvious.


Note: The transition in India is a remarkable testament of adaptation. Friends who have since returned there and come back spoke of outdoor bazaars where cell phones were set up to process payments from buyers to sellers. It’s the new normal and happened in under a year in a country that had a very limited electronic transaction infrastructure (credit cards) previously.

The point here is not that cash is good, or that you should use cash. The point is how quickly things we take for granted can change, and how our lives are truly in His hands.



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