Since the letters www have the numerical value of six-six-six in Hebrew and can thus be identified with the number of the Beast (see the earlier post Hebrew 666), how can we explain the aspect of this prophecy which states that the False Prophet would cause all the inhabitants of the earth to recieve the mark of the Beast on their hand or forehead?
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 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. (Rev 13:11-18)
But how can www (or rather the "world wide web") be said to be worn in the hand? In order to answer this question, we must look back to this passage's primary inspiration. When we do so, it seems that the real mark of the Beast would take a form that is rather more unexpected than the commonly held notion of a literal "branding" of some sort - which many Christians believe will take the form of RFID microchip implant being placed under the skin.
It is generally recognized by New Testament scholars that the "mark" of the Beast described in Rev 13:17 is an antithetical parallelism of the ancient Jewish practice of wearing tefillin (also known as phylacteries). Tefillin are small leather boxes containing pieces of Scripture which are temporarily worn on the arm and forehead during prayer services in accordance with the Shema of Deut 6:4-8:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes."
This Jewish custom is of great antiquity, and was widely practiced in the 1st century AD. Phylactery cases were among the Dead Sea scroll discoveries unearthed at Qumran in the 1940's. As observant Jews, Jesus and the apostles would undoubtedly have kept this tradition themselves. See the below video for an example of how phylacteries were worn at the time of the New Testament.
So the mark of the Beast described in Rev 13:17 is actually a parody of temporarily wearing a small square-shaped box in the hand or forehead, rather than a brand or tattoo. If we transpose this situation to the modern day, this imagery evokes the now ubiquitous use of mobile phones. And if we are to answer the above question as to how www (which is really just an abbreviation for the world wide web or Internet) is worn in the hand, this would provide the perfect answer.
According to market analysts, mobile phones are set to replace the use of credit cards as a means of commerce through the integration of near field communications (NFC) technology. It is currently possible to pay for small transactions using NFC technology at various locations throughout the world, and there are already plans for this payment method to replace small cash transactions by as earlier as the year 2017 (see here). The many different possible applications of this technology will certainly prove appealing for many, and it is expected that mobile phone payments will be at the helm of the future cashless society. The video below shows how this technology is being used at the moment.
Mobile phones can be found everywhere on the planet - from the richest countries in the West, to the poorest Third World countries. World mobile phone penetration is currently estimated at over five billion (see here) - so it is a truly global phenomenon that encompasses both rich and poor. And it is in the Third World that mobile phone payments will prove to be the most attractive. Millions of people throughout the Third World do not have access to bank accounts, making them unable to safely save money and therefore vulnerable to thieves. A program sponsored by Bill Gates (see here) is bringing banking services to millions of the "unbanked" throughout the Third World by allowing them to save and transfer their money through the use of mobile phones.
If internet-enabled mobile phones really are the ultimate fulfillment of the "mark" of the Beast, then a later passage in the Book of Revelation may predict a future cancer epidemic related to mobile phone use and electromagnetic radiation:
"So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image." (Rev 16:2)
We can perhaps find some further prophetic confirmation of internet-enabled mobile phones as the fulfillment of the mark of the Beast in a prophecy made by the recently deceased founder of the Marian Movement of Priests - Fr Stefano Gobbi. We can establish an exact dating for the fulfillment of mark of the Beast as the year 1999 - the release of the first internet-enabled phone, and the first point in time when anyone could geniunely said to have the "number" of the Beast (www or the world wide web) worn in their hands as a square-shaped "anti-phylactery" type box. Fr Gobbi gave an exact date as to when the prophecy of the mark of the Beast would be fulfilled:
666 indicated thrice, that is to say, for the third time, expresses the year 1998, nineteen hundred and ninety-eight. In this period of history, Freemasonry, assisted by its ecclesiastical form, will succeed in its great design: that of setting up an idol to put in the place of Christ and of his Church. A false christ and a false church. Consequently, the statue built in honor of the first beast, to be adored by all the inhabitants of the earth and which will seal with its mark all those who want to buy or sell, is that of the Antichrist. You have thus arrived at the peak of the purification, of the great tribulation and of the apostasy. The apostasy will be, as of then, generalized because almost all will follow the false christ and the false church. Then the door will be open for the appearance of the man or of the very person of the Antichrist!
Gobbi, S. To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons (Milan: Marian Movement of Priests, 1998) p499
See also the related articles:
The Mark of the Beast?
NFC Technology and the Mark of the Beast
Fr Gobbi on the Mark of the Beast
Gematria and the Number of the Beast
The Prophecy of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton