By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
Are we moving towards a cashless society? If we are, does a cashless society mean we are moving into the end times? With all the headlines about cryptocurrency—many Christians are questioning whether or not it’s a sign that we are moving deeper into the book of Revelation when Christ will make His return. It is often assumed that in order for the Antichrist or the beast to control all sales, a cashless society is a sign that the tribulation is near. It is assumed that so long as we are still using cash, we are not living in the end of days; but if we move towards a cashless society where all transactions become electric, then every transaction can be controlled and monitored by the beast (Revelation 3:17).
Cash, cryptocurrency, or no cash, we are living in the end of days. Jesus’ resurrection and ascension marked the beginning of the ‘end of days' over 2,000 years ago. Many interpret the book of Revelation as a way to know when “the end is near” when the Antichrist or the beast control all buying and selling during the tribulation. However, a cashless society is not necessary to fulfill the meaning of Revelation 13:17.
What Is a Cashless Society?
A cashless society might sound like something out of a science fiction movie but it’s already on its way thanks to some governments and financial service companies vying for the new era. However, no society on this planet has gone completely cash-free—despite the rise of cryptocurrency.
A cashless society is an economic concept where all goods, services, and sales are executed in an electronic format rather than cash. Items like electronic cards or devices will be used for all transactions. It can be in the form of what we use today: credit cards, debit cards, or mobile wallets. Other examples are widely used today such as Venmo, PayPal, Apple Wallet, and Amazon Go.
What Are the End Times or End of Days?
How we understand Eschatology (the study of what the Bible says about what will happen during the end of days) has an impact on our lives here and now and what we are to expect to occur. The End of Days is prophesied by many events that will occur. These events can be categorized as political signs, spiritual signs, natural signs, and sociological signs. The Bible tells if that if many of the signs are present, we can know for sure we are living in the end times.
Jesus’ ascension after His crucifixion and resurrection marked the beginning of the End of Days. Luke 21:11 also lists some of the natural signs as a sign of the times that will occur before Jesus’ second coming: “There will be great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” Jesus called these things “birth pangs” in Matthew 24:8 but that does not mean we are to interpret every natural disaster as a sign of the end times. Matthew 24:6-7 predicted that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” “Wars and rumors of wars” are definitely characteristic of this present age and what we witness in the news.
Along with the signs God will use in the natural and spiritual realms, society will continue to decline in immorality. 2 Timothy 3:13 tells us evildoers and imposters will go from bad to worse. We will be lovers of ourselves and doing right in our eyes (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
This moral decline and a cashless society will supposedly usher in the Antichrist who will control all buying and selling by forcing people to “take the mark of the beast.” Some believe it could be a microchip while others currently believe it means the use of credit cards.
Some believe the church will be raptured as Christ comes in the clouds to snatch away all those who trust in Him (1 Corinthians 15:52). The “dead in Christ” will be resurrected and taken to heaven too. Then the Antichrist will rise as he gains worldwide control with promises of peace and he will be aided by a false prophet (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 13:1; Revelation 13:1; 19:20; Daniel 9:27).
Those who are left behind after the Rapture will be faced with an unbearable choice—accept the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell goods to survive, or face starvation and horrific persecution by the Antichrist and his followers.
Does the Bible Say Anything about a Cashless Society?
There are two references about a cashless society, but the Bible does not specifically contain the phrase, ‘cashless society.’
Revelation 13:16-18 says, “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.”
Isaiah 55:1-13 says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.”
Does a Cashless Society Point to End Times?
We are currently living in the end times, cash or no cash. However, the conditions described in Revelation 13:17 existed without a cashless society. If a tradesman wanted to sell his goods, he needed to be a member of the trade association or guild. Each association had a patron deity and in order to trade, each craftsman had to be willing to worship the deities. If a follower of Christ refused to worship a deity, they were not allowed to buy or sell goods.
In modern communist countries, Christians have been barred and banned altogether from buying or selling goods. Some authorities make it clear no one is to buy or sell to Christ-followers in countries like China or Iran today.
Should Christians Embrace a Cashless Society if It Comes to That?
According to the latest research, 86% of Americans are paperless when it comes to financial transactions. 29% of Americans never purchase with cash and 52% state they only “occasionally” purchase goods and services with cash. These days, there are virtually dozens of ways to pay for goods and services without using cash. From Venmo to debit cards to credit cards and even cryptocurrency, we are slowly moving towards a cashless society.
Many view a cashless society as an imminent threat because they believe it will usher in the Antichrist and make it easier for the government to track us and therefore control us—eventually giving the Antichrist the ability to implement the mark of the beast. However, when the Antichrist does come, he will have the power to declare cash as worthless. He will have the power to require a new form of cash and require individuals to take the mark of the beast and pledge their allegiance in order to acquire this new way of buying and selling goods. But even in a cashless society, there are ways around the system. Bartering will always exist.
A cashless society will not usher in the Antichrist, nor is it ungodly or antibiblical. Should a cashless society happen, Christians should not fear it. Instead, Christians should have faith in God. Faith and trust that He will provide for all of their needs. Ultimately, we need to remember God is the one who provides our jobs and He is the one who supplies all of our needs. The rapture could occur at any moment.
The good news is that it’s not too late to choose eternal life. It’s not too late to study God’s Word and get to know Him better. It’s not too late to trust He will take care of all your needs. All that is required is faith in God’s free gift of grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. One thing is certain, you will be trading the world’s riches for eternity.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jonas Leupe
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.