I was listening to the news recently when a report was aired about the huge loss of "Bitcoin" valuation. My wife asked me what a bitcoin is and I gave her a vague answer that was meant to hide my own ignorance. Although I am very limited in my understanding of this "financial phenomenon", certainly to the point that I would NOT invest any of my hard earned, US-backed, dollars in it, I recognized a POSSIBLE connection of this new currency to Bible Prophecy... not directly, but perhaps as a development that could indirectly lead to the final, worldwide economic system. Let me explain.
In the first half of the last century, the U.S. dollar was backed by actual gold and could be exchanged for the yellow metal through the United States Treasury.
However, that changed in 1971 when the Nixon administration eliminated the Gold Standard. When this happened, the circulation of "paper money" for settling debt continued unabated because its value was backed by the United States government authority (not government gold). But the use of paper currency is about to make a dramatic change. Most of us are so accustom to using paper cash, that we never even think about it becoming obsolete, but we are definitely moving in that direction.
Over the last half century, the way sales transactions have been processed has continued to evolve, from paying with cash or checks (paper), to paying with a credit or debit card. We've witnessed sales transactions go from "paper to digital". Instead of requiring an actual paper document (cash or check), most purchases are made today by a digital transfer of money... just numbers stored in a computer.
For example, when a debit card purchase is made in a store, a scanner reads a UPC (Universal Product Code, or a "bar code") on the product which identifies it and its set price. When the buyer enters his debit card for payment, the purchase price is deducted from the customer's bank account and credited to the store's bank account. All of this happens digitally on computers without any transfer of any kind of paper document or other material substance. We are all very accustomed to making purchases this way... using DIGITAL MONEY.
But even with the speed, convenience and accuracy that we've grown use to in making our sales/purchase transactions with debit and credit cards, there are still shortcomings to the system. Identification fraud and the lack of security in computer technology has continued to increase along with the ever-increasing
use of digital money.
Also, another problem exists in the realm of international exchanges. No longer are the nations isolated and only make sales transactions within their borders. More and more, international commerce is taking over. Most companies today make use of foreign manufacturing and sales... even the smaller companies.
But when it comes to international commerce, which currency should be used in such transactions?
Since WWII, the U.S. dollar has been the international reserve currency. However, some of the other countries feel that this gives an unfair advantage to the United States and they are pushing for an international currency that can be accepted by all nations. Some have suggested the use of a "basket currency" made up of a combination of national currencies while others have pushed for an entirely new international currency. Economists say that if the U.S. dollar loses its status as the international reserve currency, it will cause a terrible economic blow to our nation.
So, it is very possible that some new "regional currency" or "international currency" is on the horizon.
Along with that trend, we're also witnessing the growth of yet another form of currency that knows no national boundaries.
In the last decade, we've seen the rise of "Bitcoin" currency. Basically, the bitcoin is just "digital money". And it is one of over a hundred different "cryptocurrencies" on the market today. However, it was the first to be opened up to public use and its popularity seems to be rising. Its value is based on the rules of supply and demand. The more people want it (demand), the higher is its value. And, just like the intangible "digital money" used in a debit card transaction, there is no gold or other substance of value backing it. In fact, it is not even backed by a government authority because it is traded internationally. So, I think of bitcoins as "fake money"... just digital apparitions designed by high-tech wizards to operate within the computer/internet system to bring great wealth to those who started it.
Am I being too critical of this new medium of exchange? Well, here are some the fallacies that I see with it.
1. Since it is all handled by computers via the internet, the person who controls the computer system and/or the internet controls the money.
2. The stated "value" of this digital money is based on something that can change very quickly... man's unstable desire for it. Even the MEASUREMENT of that public demand is precarious at best and completely controlled by those with their own interest at heart, at worse. The goal of it being an equitable tool for exchange for the average person is undoubtedly at the bottom of the list for those who control it.
3. When some person makes great wealth from the buying and selling of such cryptocurrency, someone (or, some group of individuals) has to LOSE that same wealth.
There are probably some more technical shortcomings of the Bitcoin, but my limited knowledge of it doesn't allow me to point them out. However...
The Bible tells us that along with the coming one-world government that will ultimately be controlled by the Antichrist, there will also be a one-world economic system of exchange that he will also control. It is usually referred to as "the mark of the beast" system and we read about it in Revelation 13:15-16 ...
"And he [the False Prophet]
causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
So, in his attempt to control the whole planet and to have its entire population worship him as god, the Antichrist, through the efforts of his subordinate, the False Prophet, will require all people to take his mark in order to be able to buy or sell anything.
It is very likely that that mark will be utilized in the transaction itself... some kind of identifier of the person(s) it is on in order to make a digital transfer of funds from the buyer to the seller. I suspect that when a sale is made between individuals, they will use their cell phones to scan their marks and transfer the funds.
In any case, it is easy to see how the Antichrist economic system will use "digital money". And, since he will control the computer system that handles those fund transfers, he will be able to control the people utilizing it. Most people will accept this "mark" because it will be very difficult to survive without the ability to buy food, clothing, and shelter.
Is the development of the bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) another step in the direction of the Antichrist economic system? Only God knows. However, it is easy to see how this new technology could be used to develop a digital international currency. The worldwide internet and banking infrastructure to handle all sales transactions is already in place. That is, like a football game, the players are on the field and the rules of the game have been determined. Soon, the referees who will govern the game will also take the field. Then, we will just need a football (digital currency) and the game can begin. It certainly appears that we are very near to the "kick off"!
But here, a word of warning is necessary. The Bible is absolutely clear about what will happen to those who take the "mark of the beast".
"...If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation: and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:" Rev. 14:9b-10
Why does God damn those who take the mark of the beast? Isn't it just a tool that will be used for buying and selling? No. It is much more than that. This "mark" (which will be permanently etched in the body) will also be a mark of loyalty to the Antichrist and his worldwide system. And, to thereby place one's loyalty in the Antichrist is synonymous with rejecting Jesus Christ. And THAT is what sends people to an eternal Hell!
The good news is that the Church (all those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ) will not be here when this "mark of the beast" system is put in place. It will happen AFTER the Antichrist has gained world domination (Rev. 13:7) DURING the Tribulation, the day of God's wrath.
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 5:9
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36
In my years in this world, I've witnessed the use of cash money being slowly replaced by the use of digital money. Only one step remains for the complete system to be in place... the system that Antichrist will take control of and use for his own purposes; to go from the common use of digital money to the required use of digital money on an international scale. And already, cryptocurrencies like the Bitcoin are being used internationally without any tie to a single national authority. The regulations that will eventually be established to control the proper use of these "currencies" will have to be applicable to every nation that utilizes the internet and the world trading systems, i.e., the whole world! And, no doubt, once it is established, it will be only one such "currency" that will dominate the world market. Could it be the Bitcoin? If not, it will probably be something very similar to it.
What does this mean to Christians? It means that when we see some "sign" that points to the nearness of the Tribulation era, we must be even closer to the Rapture of the Church which precedes the Tribulation! Are you ready???