He forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666. (Revelation 13:16-18)
Talk about the end of the world has increased gradually over the years, especially as Year 2000 draws ever near. It's a topic I've taken great interest in, and have spent a number of hours reading the various books available on the subject; the book I've studied the most on it has been the bible. From the Old Testament to Revelation, there are a number of references to the end times. I've stopped trying to attach a date, since "No one knows the day or the hour", but I'll never stop looking for signs.
The increasing natural disasters are one clue. The gradual rebirth of Israel and the creation of the European Economic Community are others. But what most greatly concerns me is that the technology now allows for one man to govern the world as predicted in the bible. Over the years, microchips have been developed (currently used in animals) for tracking purposes. Signs are now pointing toward a cashless society whereby humans would have this chip and use it in lieu of credit cards or cash for identification and purchasing. Sounds great - no more running to the ATM for cash and no more worries about having your wallet stolen. But the amount of control this would allow an evil leader is frightening.
When I first read the above passage from Revelation, I laughed at the notion that people would ever allow a number of 666 be branded onto their hands or foreheads. Years later, I've stopped laughing as I now realize how subtle and how cunning Satan is.