Coming Soon To A Planet Near You – Part 1

Earth AsiaThis is familiar ground, if you have been following this blog.  However, “to write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” (Philippians 3:1)  Some may think my urgency in addressing these issues is because I am facing my mortality in perhaps 10-15 years (more or less?).  Yet, there is no denying the world is shaping up differently in our age in order of magnitudes greater than every other world-shaping event.

Allow me to give you a brief synopsis of the End-Time-Events.  When these events will occur, no one knows, and the exact order of some are uncertain; they could begin to fall into place today, tomorrow, next year, 10 years from now or in the next century, and due to the format of the Prophets and Revelation, these details are unclear for good reasons. (*See below.)

So why worry about them now?  First of all, do not worry!  The testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of Prophecy (Revelation 19:10), has told us these things so we do not need to be frightened.  In the 21st century, what will make Christians distinct from the rest of the culture is not what they do or don’t do or shouldn’t do. What will make them stand out is that they won’t be afraid.” (Marilyn Elliott)  But to enter the seasons of our world that will wrap out the end of this age, we need to BE READY

In other blogs, I have noted how quickly things changed on the world scene in history.  The Return of Jesus, to begin the last age of the Earth will happen extremely suddenly, like a lightning bolt, like a “thief in the night” (Matthew 24:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).  Jesus instucted us not to “get ready,” but to BE READY. (Luke 12:40)

So here is a synopsis of End Time Events, more reliable than any Hollywood hokum.

  1. At a time which NO ONE, not even Jesus knows (Mark 13:32), He will return to Earth and appear to those who believe in Him and “catch” them away (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). This will be an abrupt global event where every Christ-follower will be “evacuated” instantly and without warning (why we need to “BE READY”).
  2. I suspect, but do not know, that this event will trigger world-wide chaos as huge segments of the nations’ populations will suddenly disappear.  Also, all babies and the world’s youngest children will be gone! (See August 7, 2016 for my confidence of this.)
  3. We know that this will open the door for a world leader (aka Beast) to arise from the people of Earth who will have a logical and rational explanation of this event and recommendations on how to proceed forward. Governments will be in an uproar and global war will begin, but unlike WW1 or WW2, the madness will be nations fighting locally, but everywhere.
  4. We know the economic chaos will be immediate and prices for basic foods will skyrocket. This will bring on a global payment system, developed over 42 months, where money is digitized and one will have to have an account, registered by a “Mark” on the right palm or forehead in order to buy or sell anything.  At the end of the 42 months, this will be mandated.
  5. We know that death will be everywhere as one quarter of the remaining population on Earth will die.
  6. We know that at the arrival of the Beast, two “witnesses” will take a stand against him and they will declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ, miraculously preserved from attacks for 42 months.  Most likely, they will operate from Jerusalem.  At the end of 42 months, the Beast will overpower and kill them.  Their bodies will be on display in Jerusalem for three and one-half days, after which they will be miraculously revived and removed from Earth to Heaven.
  7. We know that the Beast will lead nations in war against Israel, (suspected, but not known to be most likely a Russian-Iranian-Chinese alliance) and subdue Israel.  However, in order to bring international peace, he will establish a Third Temple in Jerusalem, either in place of or along side of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  He will convince the Arab world, descendants of Ishmael, to make peace with Israel, descendants of his half-brother, Jacob.
  8. I suspect, but do not know, that in this conflict the Beast will be injured with a fatal wound, i.e., killed, but will still survive, which will amaze the world’s inhabitants.
  9. We know that after 42 months, he will go into the new Temple and claim to be the Messiah, the Madhi, the Savior of the World and enter the Holiest Place, essentially declaring himself to be god.
  10. We know that there will be a secondary leader, a “false prophet,” who will arrive at the end of the 42 months and he will perform miraculous signs, even calling down fire from the sky.  He will instruct everyone to worship the Beast.  He will cause “an image of the Beast” to be set up, and will make it appear to come alive.  He will order anyone unwilling to worship the Beast or his image to be executed.
  11. I suspect, but do not know, that this will be the moment when the Hebrews will recognize that Jesus was their Messiah and The God Who Is will remove them from the Earth in another “catching away” that will take them to Heaven.
  12. We know that after the 42 months almost everyone on Earth will give allegiance to the Beast, and buying and selling will be restricted to those with an “account,” indicated by having the “Mark of the Beast” (although it will not be called that, just as “the Beast” and the “false prophet” will not be called by those titles. 🙄)
  13. I suspect, but do not know, that the Prostitute of Revelation 17 and 18, who is hated by the Beast, is organized religion of any brand.  The Beast’s claim to be god and entering the Holiest Place in the Temple is consistent with this.  He will ban all religions in favor of worship of himself.
  14. We know after the first 42 months, God’s wrath will be poured out on the rest of the Earth (except on those refusing the Mark of the Beast; these will be hunted down and executed by the false prophet’s minions).  Over the next 42 months, life on Earth will be horrible, but people will not recognize that the judgments of God are intended to lead them to repentance.  Instead, they will become angrier at God and curse Him, blaming Him for all their self-inflicted troubles.
  15. We know that at the end of this second 42 months the Beast will marshal almost every army and weapon on Earth to fight against Jesus, who will appear in the sky.  With simply a Word from His mouth, Jesus will destroy the armies and their weapons.  The Beast and his false prophet will be thrown into an Abyss for 1000 years, the last age of this Earth.
  16. We know that Jesus will be here on Earth for this 1000 years, ruling “with an iron scepter” along with those who take part in the first resurrection. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan, the Beast, is released for a short time to deceive the world again.  He will muster everyone on Earth who has resented Jesus’ rule and will be determined to make war against those who took part in the first resurrection.  This will be the Final Battle, when Jesus will call down fire from the sky on the Beast one last time. 
  17. We know that The Final Judgement occurs at this time, when everyone who ever lived on Earth is resurrected and we will each give account of our lives and be judged for the sins we have committed. BUT, if your name is in The Lamb’s Book of Life. you are released from the judgment for the things you have done.

There is much more I will say about these events, but one word of caution.  Do NOT be afraid!  To have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, all you need to do is receive Jesus.  Pray to Him and invite Him to be your Lord, to claim ownership of your life and your decisions.  Admit your need since you know you have sinned, and accept His forgiveness.  He wants to forgive you, but cannot unless you let Him.  If you want to contact me for help, please email me at capost3k@gmail.com.

The following is a list of previous blogs along these lines of the Last Days.
Lastly, check out this free PDF by Dr. James Christie, The Gold Mine.
And I hope to see you in Heaven someday!  Jesus loves you and we do not want anyone to miss Heaven.

for-what-will-you-be-ready-in-the-end
, be-ready-for
https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/september/is-amazon’s-new-hand-scanner-the-mark-of-the-beast
too-little-too-late-but-better-late-than-never
, in-our-lifetime-digital-money-wars
, nearing-the-end
, will-that-be-check-cash-or-retinal-scan
, what-in-heavens-name-can-you-imagine
, the-end-of-the-world-as-we-have-known-it
, the-end-is-nearer
, what-kind-of-people-ought-you-to-be-2-peter-3
, the-last-days-do-not-be-deceived
, corporate-judgment-will-god-judge-america-and-if-so-how-soon

*If The God Who Is had told us Jesus would return on July 22, 2053, how many people would live selfishly until July 21, and then try to “get right with God” on the last day?  And how sincere could their hearts be, leaving them outside of God’s grace?  And what if deaths occurred before then?  By keeping it a mystery, He calls on us to Be Ready at all times, thus developing our hearts and dedication to Him.  In this way we can grow and learn what He is like, what He requires of us, how to really enjoy Him, and to become fully His children.

Intermezzo: Too little, too late, but better late than never . . . same for each of us!

President Trump delivers a positive and unifying message, a little late, but better now than never.
https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-calls-on-americans-to-promote-peace-amid-reports-of-planned-demonstrations_3655924.html?utm_source=news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-01-13-4

The president is not wise and often has done things that weaponized his opponents easily enough. This time, his January 6 speech gave them the ammunition to again engage in political theater of impeachment with no hope of conviction, and that, with only a few days away from his departure from office. Nancy Pelosi’s full-on hatred for the man who defied her “take it to the bank” predictions in 2016 only inflames her adversaries, which may be part of her “playbook.” (“Stir them up and maybe the deplorables will get rabid enough to attack again.”) There is nothing to be accomplished in pursuing this course of action while more important legislation gets cold on her desk . . . like removing biologically correct, but politically inconvenient language of “dad, mom, son, daughter, etc” from congressional matters. Okay, that one did not get cold; she made sure this “important piece” got voted on.

We have come to a sorry state in the USA in which our nation will soon not be a world leader. America must fade to the background as nations around “The Epicenter” take center stage and actors far removed from American ideals must play parts in an unfolding drama of literally Biblical proportions.

God does not force any person or nation to take a particular course of action, but from His eternal and all-wise vantage point, He knows exactly how this theater will all go. He did not write the script, any more than He chose what you would eat for breakfast this morning. But knowing what will happen, how you and I will choose within the framework of free will with which He endowed us, He has laid out little tidbits of information, “trailers” (if you will allow a movie metaphor to intrude on the theater one) which give us enough information to understand that He does know.

See Matthew 24, Daniel 11 and 12, and Revelation, beginning with chapter 4. However, do not become obsessed with “interpreting” these things with one eye on a newspaper and one of a blog about prophecy. Remember Jesus instruction that applies not only to its momentary application, but to all prophecy: “Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.” (John 14:29)

His emphasis in all His parables about the end of time was simply “Be ready.” Are you?

For What Will You Be Ready In The End?

2020-10-03 Socrates
A University photo of Socrates taken by Plato, his student

Among an older generation there is always a sense that the world is getting worse than it ever was before. Take this quote attributed to Socrates somewhere between 469-399 BC: “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love gossip in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Sounds like what I heard my parents’ friends saying at church when I was in grade school. And what I’ve heard my peers say about Generation Z, the 5-25 year olds born after 1996. And what I suspect Socrates’ grandpa said about his group of young “useless philosophers.” 😉

Many generations have heard prophecies of end time events leading some to expect the Apocalypse in their lifetimes. The warnings of impending doom on civilization become more vociferous with each passing year, especially after that Half-Century mark of 50 years old. The clamor of loud music and the boisterous noise of the younger generation impinges on the ears of the older one, whether they are students in 400 BC or 2020 AD. And amid the noise, the wondering of us oldsters, “How long can this go on? How much worse can the world get? When will The God Who Is There say ‘Enough’!?”

It is an error to say history repeats itself, but as some have said, it does rhyme. This is evident from prophecies about Israel going into Babylonian captivity in Jeremiah 31 and the slaughter of innocents in Bethlehem about two years after Jesus was born. And there are many other examples of “double” or even “triple” fulfillment of prophecies in the Bible.

This is not because the prophets misunderstood what Father was saying to them, nor is this a case of applying a literary picture after the fact. This is simply the evidence that “history does rhyme.”

Taken out of context, one can assume there is no difference between the youth of Socrates’ day and ours. On the microcosmic level of particular events this is true, but at the macrocosmic level of world events there is a huge difference. Socrates’ students did not have twenty-four hundred years of youthful rebellion about which to read. Ours do. Thus, history rhymes but actually never repeats itself. Every event that appears to be a repeat has one more event preceding it than its predecessor.

History is not repeatable and really is progressing to an ultimate destination! That destination pictured in our minds depends heavily on our view of prophecy and of The God Who Is There. If you do not believe in His prophets nor prophecies, you may picture humankind progressing into space and exploring and colonizing new worlds before our sun finally implodes millions of years hence. You may picture an extinction event that will wipe out life on earth, or a dystopian future of self-annihilation from damaging the environment beyond its ability to sustain us.

If you have experienced The God Who Is There as He has revealed Himself through Jesus, called the Christ (i.e. the Anointed One, the Messiah), then you will likely be reading the Bible to get to know Him better. And there you will find explicit guidelines for the “end of the age.”

Matthew 24 is the clearest and most comprehensive description provided by Jesus, and expanded by Paul, Peter and John in their letters. But be careful in reading what Jesus said would be signs of “the end of the age.” Many people point to “wars and rumors of wars” or “famines and earthquakes in various places” as if these were signs of the end times. But they are NOT. Jesus explicitly says, “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.” (Matthew 24:8)

He was intentionally vague about when the signs of the end would be fulfilled so as to prevent people from relaxing like the virgins and servants in Matthew 25! His focus was on Be Ready! like in my blog on September 12, 2020.

Within the next 60 to 70 years, very few of us alive today will still be here on earth; possibly none of us! It is most important that we keep foundational principles of Scripture in front of us while we anticipate our end or the world’s end, whichever may come first.

  1. God will wrap up the end of this world someday; maybe tomorrow, maybe quite a few years from now . . . but it will happen. (2 Peter 3:9-10)
  2. We will not know the day or the hour; possibly the “seasons,” but be very careful .  It may be farther off than we think, or it could be just around the next turn of events. (Matthew 24:26-36; Matthew 16:2-4)
  3. The identity of The Antichrist (according to John there are many smaller ones) is a mystery; i.e. we will not know until he is revealed. (I John 2:18; Revelation 13:1-8) Thus using numerology to decipher the mystery of his number, 666, only leads down rabbit holes with no end and no value.
  4. Do not become obsessed with end time events.  They will happen whatever we believe about them.  Our only responsibility is to be faithful to Him who has called us to live as lights in an ever-darkening world. (Revelation 2:10; Joshua 24:14-15)
  5. Jesus instructions on future prophecy is very clear:  “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (John 14:29)   In other words, He did not tell us what was going to happen so we could make accurate predictions about what was going to occur next week.  However, He did give us prophetic words so that we could recognize the times when they occur.

So how close is the end? Well, closer than it was when the young people around Socrates acted up; closer than when the author of Hebrews said, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Yet we could be decades away, but in view of the macrocosm of history, it is very difficult to imagine another century. So how soon? It really doesn’t matter if one is ready.

Then this came in my email from a friend, just yesterday, Friday, October 2, 2020: https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/september/amazon-rolls-out-new-hand-scanner-and-its-already-being-compared-to-revelations-mark-of-the-beast

It’s NOT “the” mark of the Beast, but it is getting us ready for it.

So, for what are you ready?

8 Reminders in the Face of the Coronavirus

These are indeed strange days in which we are living.

  • Money will soon disappear as nations will digitize currency and make international exchanges and activity clearer and faster . . . and tracking more convenient.
  • Governments are testing new restrictions to protect us . . . and to control populations of enormous proportions.
  • Media is measuring just how much the outlets for information can be manipulated to educate us . . . and tell us what those in places of authority want us to know.
  • Everyone is walking in fear of the next announcement: . . . will there be any toilet paper in the grocers next week?

Really!? Toilet paper is being hoarded?  Because of the coronavirus?

Yes, these ARE strange days in which we are living.  But thankfully we do not have to live only in this world.  We are citizens of two realms: one here and now on earth, and we would do well to heed our Master’s words: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)  Interesting that this instruction was couched in the middle of His discussion on the end of time.

But there is another ‘country’ in which our higher citizenship is recorded (Hebrews 11:16).  And there will be no shortages there.  No pandemics.  No currency manipulation; the streets are made of pure gold!  Full freedom to be all that we were created to be.  Wisdom and knowledge beyond our current brains’ ability to comprehend.  And no fear. (Revelation 21:4)  And since our citizenship is there, we have nothing to fear from this world.

A wise 17 year old once told me: “Nothing happens TO a Christ-follower.  Filtered by His love, it only happens FOR us.” (Lane Martin) So as Dane Ortund says at the end of this week’s guest blog, “Be at peace. All is assured.”
______________________________________________________________
8 Reminders in the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic
March 13, 2020, by Dane C. Ortlund

Corona VirusThe Cure for Latent Anxiety
These are strange days, days of fear, days of hysteria. In other words, days that simply bring all our latent anxieties up to the surface; anxieties that were there all along but are now made visible to others. What do we need to remember in these days of alarm?

1. The World of the Bible
Now we know how the people of God felt throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. The Prophets and many of the Psalms speak to people who are caught up in mass hysteria or subject to pandemics. Maybe the current cultural moment is precisely the hermeneutic we need to read the Old Testament, which can otherwise feel so foreign, deeply for the first time.

2. Our True Trust
Times of public panic force us to align our professed belief with our actual belief. We all say we believe God is sovereign and he is taking care of us. But we reveal our true trust when the world goes into meltdown. What’s really our heart’s deepest loyalty? The answer is forced to the surface in times of public alarm, such as we’re wading into now.

3. Neighborly Love
When the economy is tanking, opportunities to surprise our neighbors with our confidence and joy because of the gospel surge forward. Now is the time to be outside more, to be loving more, to be hospitable more. Love stands out strongest when it is least expected, rarest, but needed most.

4. Family Discipleship
Our kids’ teachers are telling them to wash their hands longer. Why? Their teachers won’t tell them, but it’s because there is a dangerous virus infecting thousands of people around the world right now — both young and old — and some of those people will die. Heaven and hell are staring every fourth-grader in the face. That’s why they’re being told to wash their hands for twenty seconds. We have an opportunity to instill in our kids a deeper awareness of eternity than they have ever known. There is a salutary effect to all of this because either heaven or hell awaits every fourth-grader, either taken out by a virus next month or taken out by old age, decades from now. Ten thousand years from now, the difference between dying at age ten or age eighty will seem trivial. This is an opportunity to disciple our families into the bracing reality of eternity.

5. Eschatological Hope
Maybe this is the end. I doubt it, but maybe. Jesus said no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36). Maybe the sight of Jesus descending from Heaven, robed in glory, surrounded by angels, is right around the corner. If so, hallelujah. If not, hallelujah. We’re being reminded that he will indeed return one day. Either way, let us rejoice our way through the chaos.
From Heaven’s shore we will see how eternally safe we were all along.

6. Invincible Providence
No infected molecule can enter your lungs, or your three-year-old’s lungs, unless sent by the hand of a heavenly Father. The Heidelberg Catechism defines God’s providence as, “The almighty and ever-present power of God by which God upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty — all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.” That truth is like an asthmatic’s inhaler to our soul — it calms us down, allows us to breathe again.

7. Christ’s Heart
In times of turmoil, in seasons of distress, Jesus is more feelingly with his people than ever. Hebrews tells us that Jesus experienced all the horror of this world that we do, minus sin (Hebrews 4:15). So apparently he knows — he himself knows — way down deep, what it feels like for life to close in on you and for your world to go into meltdown. We can go to him. We can sit with him. His arm is around us — stronger than ever — right now. His tears are larger than ours.

8. Heaven
From Heaven’s shore we will see how eternally safe we were all along, even amid the global upheaval and anxieties that loom so large as we walk through them. The dangers out there are real. The cautions are wise. Our bodies are mortal, vulnerable. But our souls, for those united to a resurrected Christ, are beyond the reach of all eternal danger. How un-harm-able we are, we who are in Christ. Be at peace. All is assured.
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Dane C. Ortlund (PhD, Wheaton College) is chief publishing officer and Bible publisher at Crossway. He serves as an editor for the Knowing the Bible series and is the author of Gentle and Lowly.  He is an elder at Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Illinois. 

In Our Lifetime – Digital Money Wars

Money 2If, like me, you believe in an approaching end of history as we have known it, you will find the attached article interesting to say the least.  If you believe the end of history involves a return of Jesus, called the Christ or the Son of God, the coming change in the way money is ‘manufactured,’ distributed and controlled and the issues raised in the article are a portend of the shape of the world at its end.

Even if you do not believe in Jesus as a Messiah nor in his literal return, the article bears careful reading as the change in currency and the way money is regulated will affect us all.  This is not an issue of, “If,” but rather, “How soon?”

Consider that on June 28, 1914, a 19-year-old Serbian nationalist shot and killed the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife at point-blank range. Austria-Hungary was furious and with Germany’s support, declared war on Serbia, initiating The Great War, which we now call WWI.

When British Prime Minister showed a copy of a treaty with Hitler and declared, “Peace in our time,” in September 1938, he was only six months out from Germany’s breach of the treaty that propelled the Europe into its second World War.

The USA, deferring to isolationists in our country, stayed out to the war until a fateful morning raid on on December 7, 1941, by the Japanese air force that blasted Pearl Harbor into the ocean.  By the end of the day, in an era before the internet, US government officials had gathered and on the next day declared war.

Life changed for millions of people overnight on November 9, 1989, with the “fall of the Berlin wall.”  America responded immediately to the invasion of our county by radical terrorists on September 11, 2001, such that “9/11” is as emblazoned in our vocabulary as “Remember the Alamo” was in the minds of the people of 1836.

Instant information is accessible 24/7/365 and the shift from cash to digital currency will probably be as swift or faster than any of these listed previous events in history.  How soon after will a “mark” be required to buy or sell?  What will be the nature of said “mark?”  A biometric identifier?  An implanted chip?

We should not make predictions of end time events before they happen, as we who are Christ-followers are not prone to sensationalism or panic, and too much ink and attention has been given in times past to attempts to identify the “other-Christ” who will lead most of the world in rebellion against The God Who Is There.

However, it is hard to imagine a better presage to the Second Coming of the Christ than what will happen to the nature of currency in our lifetime.

____________________________________

Brace for the Digital-Money Wars

Digitizing the Chinese yuan—and eventually the dollar—would open new fronts in the fight over privacy and trade.

  Illustration: Mikel Jaso
THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE — The National Security Council holds an emergency meeting. North Korea has launched a missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead within range of U.S. forces in Guam. At this rate, North Korea could land a nuke on the U.S. mainland in less than a year.

The shocking advance in capability despite heavy trade sanctions is due to a stream of money that the U.S. and its allies cannot monitor — a cryptocurrency. But it is not one of the risky ones celebrated by overnight millionaires and largely avoided by serious investors, it is a new one, with the stamp of legitimacy: the digital yuan.

The scenario above is fiction, but it is not fantasy. If China digitizes its currency, as it plans to do, and the North Koreans use it to finance their missile program, it is a flow of money that circumvents U.S. sanctions. That would force the U.S. to grapple with its own now-antiquated currency. If the U.S. follows suit, digitizing the dollar in order to maintain its global economic dominance, it would also find itself in possession of a potentially powerful surveillance tool.

While bitcoin, the first successful cryptocurrency, was created to maintain anonymity in transactions, future digital currencies will be the opposite of anonymous.

And just as every transaction involving a digital yuan would be trackable by China, every digital dollar changing hands would be visible to the U.S., its issuing government. Banks might still manage the flow of money, but they will no longer be the record-keepers they once were.

“The fundamental nature of money is really changing,” said Neha Narula, the director of MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative.

Dr. Narula played the president’s “cyber czar” in an enactment of the hypothetical North Korea scenario staged last month at Harvard’s Kennedy School. “Digital Currency Wars” also featured former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as well as Ash Carter and Gary Gensler, all of whom have served in presidential administrations.

We are moving rapidly into a new monetary era. Countries and companies are looking at digital money as the new standard for their monetary systems and a replacement for actual cash.

Some of the benefits include faster, cheaper payments, a greater ability to root out money launderers, and a more open, inclusive financial system. Digital money is also going to provide new abilities to law enforcement and governments that will almost certainly open up another front in the fight over privacy.

“Privacy is one of the defining problems of our times,” said Emin Gün Sirer, chief executive of blockchain-based startup Ava Labs and a professor of computer science at Cornell University, and it will be with money, too. In practice, he said, it is almost impossible to create a form of digital money that doesn’t identify its users.

What we think of as “money” is actually an extraordinarily complex network of thousands of commercial banks and central banks. The system works but is costly and relatively inefficient because everybody is working off their own balance sheets. Digital money would create a system where everybody using a particular currency is working off the same balance sheet.

The idea of bitcoin, unveiled 11 years ago, was to compress the cumbersome functions of the modern financial system to enable money to move anywhere around the world, in minutes, for virtually no cost. If you have ever tried to send even $10 across a border, you can appreciate the allure in this.

But bitcoin was just Act One. Act Two began this summer, when Facebook uncovered its proposed cryptocurrency, libra. This wasn’t some loose confederation of cypher-punks and anti-bankers. Suddenly, one of the world’s biggest, most powerful (and most controversial) companies was saying it was going to make money.

A flurry of action followed. The U.S. Congress convened hearings and wrote bills to stop libra from launching. Regulators leaned on some of its original supporters to back out. The Bank of England’s Mark Carney suggested an international cryptocurrency should replace the dollar as the world’s new reserve currency. The Chinese went further. They took their own efforts into overdrive and are widely expected to launch a digital version of the yuan in the coming months.

“This is more than just Venmo, more than just PayPal,” said Aditi Kumar, executive director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and playwright of “Digital Currency Wars.” “This is an entirely new way for countries to operate in the world,” she added. “It will make one or two actors all-powerful in the monetary system.”

The digital yuan China is planning is in fact a complete inversion of the bitcoin model. All of the data created would be centrally housed and become part of China’s surveillance state.

Money has always been a powerful, blunt instrument. It is an imposition not just of will, but of values. After World War II, the dollar became the foundation of the international monetary system. That gave the U.S. government a special tool. The U.S. has used its control over the dollar-based finance system to impose sanctions such as the ones on North Korea.

As the U.S. share of the global economy shrinks and that of countries like China and India expand, countries are actively seeking alternatives to the dollar.

In the fictional North Korea missile crisis, China would be tacitly allowing the financing of Pyongyang’s nuclear program to go through, because the government would be able to see where each digital yuan goes. That is an extreme, and entirely hypothetical scenario, of course, but it is an example of the leverage China would have over every transaction on its system. The only question is how heavy-handed the Chinese would be in using it.

While the Chinese model might be the far end of the spectrum, cryptocurrency has been moving in that direction. While bitcoin was designed to mimic the anonymity of cash in a digital setting, all its transactions are public, and therefore trackable. And Facebook’s libra would log transaction data, while recording user identities in a separate database. A central concern in Congress is what Facebook would do with that information.

Say the Federal Reserve digitized the U.S. currency. It could track how every dollar in circulation is spent. That might give it a great advantage in trying to figure out how the economy is growing, and where stimulus efforts would best be directed. But say people in government wanted to lock down some group or activity. They could do that, too. The role of banks would likely change considerably as well, though whether they gain or lose with a digital dollar would depend on how the government issued it.

Whether the U.S. will feel pressure to shift to digital still is not clear. There are proponents and opponents of cryptocurrencies in Congress. The Fed has examined the idea of creating a digital dollar, but that is all it has done.

At Harvard, Mr. Summers and his fellow stage actors spent some time debating this point. Some felt the U.S. should get in the game, others believed all they needed to do was make improvements to the existing system.

People need to start thinking about this now, Harvard’s Ms. Kumar said. China’s digital yuan will be a real-world proof of concept. The West will need to respond in some way. “Are we prepared for that?” she said. “Not just technically, but legally? Can we protect privacy in this new world?”

Write to Paul Vigna at paul.vigna@wsj.com

Will That Be Check, Cash or Retinal Scan?

An important idea to keep in mind when considering conundrums of future events is this:  God does not give prophecy so you and I can adjust our bank accounts or buy or sell stock for better returns, nor does He provide it so we can get a cabin in the mountains and hide away with stashes of disinfected water and canned goods while the rest of the world collapses in on itself.

Jesus laid out why He tells us things before they occur in John 14:29: I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.”  Though He says this in specific reference to His death and resurrection, the principle is applicable to all prophecy of future events.  He knew the disciples to whom he was speaking would not understand until the events he was foretelling unfolded.

In the same way, we are not given warnings about the end times so we can buffer our investments, live easy lives, and avoid trouble while the rest of the world rots.  Rather He tells us so that we will realize He is still in control when the rest of the world is shivering in fear.  In the 21st century, what will make Christians distinct from the rest of the culture is not what they do or don’t do or shouldn’t do. What will make them distinct, make them stand out, is that they won’t be afraid.” (Marilyn Elliott)

Thief in the Night.jpgDoes anyone else remember the old movies of the 1970s about the Second Coming of Jesus?  The Thief in the Night comes to mind, minted in 1972 when many special effects were still in their infancy.  The “UNITE” trucks rounded up people to take a mark on their hands or foreheads to be able to buy or sell anything, and anyone who refused to take said mark would be executed as an anti-government anarchist.  In one scene an old codger was asked where he wanted his mark and he responded something like, “Put it right there on my forehead so everyone can see I believe in the government.”

When I was a child, the idea of a world government seemed laughable and a union of European countries under one flag was actually laughed at by my Social Studies teacher in junior high school.  The melodramatic pictures presented in those early films seemed silly and so unlikely that I doubt very many were convinced of the possibilities portrayed unless one was already a believer in a literal view of the end times in the Bible.

THE Antichrist will not be some demonic figure with an evil glare of fiery eyes and flames coming from his fingers, ala Star Wars.  There have been many ‘antichrists’ in the world all through history and many are here now (1 John 2;18-19).  However, one is coming who will be a world figure that will lead much of the world into the Great Tribulation.  He will not advocate a dramatic change in the way things are done, but rather seem to provide the best answers to the world’s problems of immigration and emigration, to financial markets and debt, to crime and punishment, to international relationships.  He will be THE answer man who seems to have everything under good control, and his modus operandi will be to bring cooperation to what have been insurmountable peace obstacles, particularly in the Middle East.

One of the ways he will effect change is in the way we do business, which will seem like the logical way to do things.  The “mark of the beast” will be required to be able to buy or sell (Revelation 13:16-17), and anyone without it will be in great difficulty.  Again, in modern history, the idea of a “mark” was something absurd to most Westerners as though the vast majority would resist any kind of tattoo.  Now it is difficult to find a sales clerk without one . . . and one begins to wonder.

But we will not need to get a visible tattoo if the Wall Street Journal is anything but financially savvy.  Monday’s paper on September 24, 2018, presented a piece on “Changing Credit-Card Tech” that is chilling for anyone who takes seriously Bible prophecy.  The subtitle is “As companies update how they verify identities, Europe offers a glimpse of the future.”  The full article is at the end of this blog.

Mark of the Beast 2.jpgBiometrics are coming to a retailer near you soon!  In all likelihood, some of us already use biometric identification for purchases or at least, to open our phones.  So it makes me wonder what exactly is the Mark of the Beast?  “This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.” (Revelation 13:18)

It probably is not a birthmark at the crown of someone’s head as in the Damien horror films.  It probably has little to do with markings on kilos of cocaine coming out of South America or with the barcodes that appear on all our products.  The issue of the Mark of the Beast is not the product, regardless of the conspiracies one can read about on the internet.  The Mark of the Beast is to identify the buyer or seller as cooperating with the system established by the “king who exalts himself.” (Daniel 11:36-39)

What better way to identify anyone but with a biometric that is unreproducible in another body?  No password nor PIN to forget; no card or key or passcode to lose.  Your id is YOU.

I wonder what this bodes for children and grandkids just entering the world stage.  How will they be paying?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mR_bvm_JYg
I Wish We’d All Been Ready by Larry Norman

By Mischa Frankl-Duval
Sept. 23, 2018 10:06 p.m. ET
Mark of the BeastCredit-card companies, banks and vendors are changing how they verify consumers’ identities. Passwords and PINs could become less important. Biometric analysis could become the norm.

The proving ground for the latest in payment technology is Europe, where a new law could encourage greater use of biometrics in a bid to reduce burgeoning payment fraud.

Starting September 2019 in the European Union, a large portion of online payments greater than €30 (currently about $35) will require multifactor authentication. Consumers will need to use two of three things to verify transactions: something they know, like a password; something they have, like a digital device, perhaps a USB token, that identifies them; or something they are: biometric data. (bold italics added)

Proofs based on physical characteristics, like fingerprints and faces, are slowly becoming more common. This legislation will likely cause them to surge.

Most consumers using biometrics will likely do so on their phones, many of which already have technology that payment-service providers will use to verify payments—such as Apple Inc.’s Touch ID fingerprint sensors or Face ID facial-recognition software on its iPhones.

Making the payment process frictionless could determine which providers prosper—and which languish.

“We’re helping the industry move toward biometrics as a preferred method,” says Mark Nelsen, senior vice president at Visa Inc. “Customers are getting more comfortable with those solutions, and they’re our preferred method, too.”

Another company hoping to profit from the change is Veridium, a New York-based biometrics firm.

“We’ve built our company around trying not to change the way you interact with technology too radically,” says Chief Executive James Stickland. “You could plug in Touch ID or Face ID, and that’s great because people are used to it.”

Veridium also provides an authentication technology it calls 4F that turns smartphones, even older models, into fingerprint scanners.

Ease of use will be paramount to companies in the payment-services and biometrics sector. Vendors and payment-services providers “have to meet requirements on the fraud side and provide a good user experience,” says Frances Zelazny, chief marketing officer at BioCatch, a firm based in Boston. “If they can’t manage their fraud, they’ll go away,” Ms. Zelazny says. “And if they can’t manage their user experience, they’ll go away” because consumers won’t use them.

Behind the scenes, BioCatch and other biometrics companies are working on technology called behavioral biometrics. That technology allows vendors and payment providers to analyze users’ actions and habits to determine whether a transaction should be considered valid. Criteria include whether the transaction is in line with a user’s usual spending pattern, made from a familiar location, or aimed at someone who often receives payments from that user.

“With touch-screen devices, we have a lot of sensors, so we’re able to infer how you swipe, the pressure you put on the screen, how much of your finger you’d leave on the button as you pause before the next one,” says Dr. Neil Costigan, CEO of BehavioSec, a behavioral biometrics firm. “Not so much what you’re doing as how you’re doing it.”

Though behavioral biometrics can’t be used as one of the three proofs mandated by the EU regulation, the EU guidelines say that payments of €30 to €500 will be exempt from multifactor authentication if they are judged to be sufficiently safe—a determination that behavioral biometrics can help to make. Smoother, more secure verification processes minimize false alarms when cards are declined, thus reducing abandoned purchases.

Still, biometric solutions face barriers to adoption. Veridium’s Mr. Stickland says: “People’s education is probably the most immature element of utilization. The end user has to be more aware.”

“What concerns us is consumer awareness,” says Visa’s Mr. Nelsen. “We know the consumer has no idea really what this regulation means.” And, he adds, “with hundreds of millions of customers making online payments, and millions of merchants receiving them, older technologies won’t disappear overnight.”

Meanwhile, even if customers do take to biometrics, a full rollout of the technology may take some time.

“Part of the challenge has been lethargy. We’ve seen that with chip and PIN in the U.S.,” says Mr. Stickland, referring to the card industry’s ponderous transition away from requiring signature-based payments.

As a result, he says, the move away from plastic cards—and toward mobile-based authentication—is “probably a 10-year journey, not a two-year journey. But I think plastic will be gone altogether in 10 years.”

Passwords, too, will be around for quite some time. Mr. Nelsen says that biometrics systems already in place still use passwords as backups for authentication.

“The only way to get rid of passwords is to have a number of biometrics, so if one fails, you can use another one,” he says. “We’ll start to see more biometrics used to verify identity…. You’ll walk up to the counter, use face recognition to initiate the payment, and that’s it.”

Mr. Frankl-Duval is a Wall Street Journal reporter in London. This appeared in the September 24, 2018, print edition as ‘Changing Credit-Card Tech.’