Saturday, 06 October 2018 17:45

97. The name and number of the beast: the dimensions of 666 * Revelation 13:16-18 - PART 3 of 3

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16 And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17 And that no man might buy or sell, except he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18 Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.

 

PART 3

 

*** The name of the beast or the number of his name ***: Revelation 13:18 starts with a powerful statement that is the basis on which the name and the number of the beast should be understood. The direct translation from the Greek ‘Hōde hē sophia estin’ reads “Here the wisdom is”. In fact, the entire book should be understood under this principle: wisdom. But not any wisdom - the wisdom. This text starts by pointing to a specific form of knowledge and experience which are necessary to understand the message in that verse. According to the Bible, the wisdom of man is different from the wisdom of God: “But we speak wisdom among them that are mature: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nothing”. “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”(1 Corinthians 2:6, 13). The wisdom of God is found in His Scripture. And so, in order to figure out the name and number of the beast, we must turn to the Bible itself for the answer. We can’t expect to understand God’s symbology by using human calculation methods.

*** Background ***: Before we dive into this dense topic, we must remember the things we’ve studied so far. Everything in Satan’s plan of attack is a deception. He is a counterfeiter. What he presents to the people is a message that is very close to the Christian teachings. Even though his arguments sound good, they contain deadly alterations compared to the original. With that in mind, let’s look once again at how there is a name connected to God’s seal and one associated with the mark of the beast.

The seal of God is represented in Revelation 14:1 by God’s name written on the foreheads of the saved people. In Revelation 13:17, the mark of the beast is represented by the beast’s name, visible either in the written form or in a numerical version. As we’ve studied before, the earth beast is a political power with apparent Christian values that will help Satan implement his plans to deceive the entire world (See studies #93 and #94). The earth beast calls everyone to create an image of the first beast and worship it. Those who refuse to worship it are to be killed. This scenario brings to mind another story in the Bible, about a situation very much like this one. We find this story in Daniel 2 and 3, about an image created to be worshiped.

*** A king and an image ***: In Daniel 2, we read about how God sent the king of ancient Babylon a dream. The king was called Nebuchadnezzar. His dream was about how the story of the kingdoms of the earth would unfold until the day they would be destroyed by God’s eternal kingdom. The image was a timeline highlighting how finite human kingdoms are. One human kingdom would overthrow and follow the previous. One after another. Each kingdom in the image was made of a different material. Babylon was the head, and it was made of gold. We can imagine that in the king’s mind, the knowledge that his kingdom was only represented by the head of gold meant that his empire would not last as long as he would like. And so, in Daniel 3, we read about an image the king had built, completely made out of gold. This was a bold statement. In light of the timeline of kingdoms given by God in the dream, Nebuchadnezzar was deliberately saying he had rejected God’s timeline and he, by his own power, would have his kingdom last forever. The image would no longer have just the head made of gold, but the entire body would be gold. The king wished the entire length of the human timeline to be under Babylonian domain. Like the earth beast in Revelation 13:15, Nebuchadnezzar ordered all “people, nations and languages” to worship the image at his command (Daniel 3:4-5). Those who refused to worship the image would be sent to the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:6). Like the beast of the image in Revelation, the image in ancient Babylon also had numbers associated with it. In Hebrew custom, when measurements for an object did not include the depth, it’s because it was the same as the width (Ezra 6:3). We read in the Bible the measurements for that image in Daniel 3:1. We can understand the measurements to be 60 cubits high, 6 cubits wide, and consequently 6 cubits deep (9’L x 9’W x 90’H).

The image shown by God in the king's dream was different from the one created by men under Nebuchadnezzar‘s leadership. The point of the original image was to show that a kingdom of infinite duration would destroy it and would be established by God. The point of the counterfeit image was to show that a kingdom established by a man would have impressive longevity, as displayed by the image measurements.

*** The number of the beast ***: Revelation 13:18 calls us to interpret the verse using God’s wisdom, and so, the understanding of this number must be accomplished through Scripture itself. An important information included in the verse about the number is that it is “the number of a man”. The Greek word for “man” used here is anthrōpos. This is the same word used in Revelation 13:13, when the beast made fire come down in front of every men. The Greek language has two words for ‘man’: anēr, which refers to a male human individual. The other word is anthrōpos, which refers to the human race in a generic way, giving the idea of mankind. In the New Testament, the term anthrōpos is used often, and we see it when Jesus is called the Son of Man. With this in mind, we must understand the number of the beast not as the number of one single individual, but as the number of humanity. Just as the image created by man in Nebuchadnezzar’s story had measurements around the number six, the beast of the image in Revelation 13 has a number around the number six. And six is a number said to relate to the human beings.

The beast’s number was actually written with words, as six hundred sixty six, instead of the digits 666. The three numbers are given separately and not in a numerical form. They are written in a cardinal representation: hexakosioi hexēkonta hex. If this was to be written as one Greek number, it would have been χξϝ (chi xi digamma.). Like the image measurements in Nebuchadnezzar’s story, the number six hundred sixty six from the beast in Revelation 13:18 seems to give dimension to the beast and his image. Just as the image in ancient Babylon served to represent the history of mankind, the number of the beast is also a number of mankind. The number is a representation of mankind - a type of measurement of the human history. As such, it should not be seen as a mystic number, or the number of one particular man, as many have proposed. The significance of the number 666 seems to be linked to the lifespan of the human governments as they support the dragon’s agenda. These governments are represented by the beast’s 10 horns.

The beast’s horns are much like the sections of the image in the dream, indicating the passage of time in terms of Kingdoms that would rule on the earth. As we said, these governments are represented by the horns on the beast. The explanation about the beast with 10 horns is found in the book of Daniel, and also in Revelation 17. In Revelation 17, we see the strong connection between the sea beast (10 earth governments) and the woman named Babylon (a religious-political power). They are like a unit, working together to deceive the entire world with their modified Christian doctrines that the Bible said made people “drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:2; Revelation 14:8). In other words, they caused the people of the earth to commit spiritual adultery. They preached a form of worship that was different than what was established by God. In Daniel, the description of the little horn on top of the beast’s head match the description of the woman on top of the beast in Revelation 17. They are both described as a kingdom that rise above 10 others (Revelation 17:18; Daniel 7:20), are involved in blasphemy against God (Revelation 17:3; Daniel 7:25), and are guilty of killing God’s people (Revelation 17:6; Daniel 7:21, 22, 25).

*** God and His image ***: There is another story in the Bible that parallels that of the beast and his image. It is the story of Creation and fall of men. The Bible says that God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). He formed them out of the dust of the earth and gave them life (Genesis 2:7). We saw how the earth beast is said to have power to give life to the image of the sea beast (Revelation 13:15). The sea beast represented 10 earths’s kingdoms ruling on earth. Adam and Eve were to rule over the whole earth (Genesis 1:26-28). Now, note how closely the beast behavior mimics God’s actions. God gave a command: Adam and Eve were not to eat of a certain tree, called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they decided not to obey God, they would certainly die. The beast command also came with a death consequence to those who did not follow his orders. The difference here is that God wishes His children to be safe and free of sin, while the beast wants to push people further into sin. Mankind, in the persons of Adam and Eve, were created on day 6 of the creation week. And so the number 6 has been associated with humankind from the beginning.

*** God’s Judgment ***: We will study this topic more in detail when we go over the next chapters of Revelation but we must bring up the points in God’s judgment that correspond to the counterfeit behaviors of the sea beast and his image. As people are faced with the earth beast’s power to give life to the image of the beast and to order people to worship it, the message from God in Revelation 14:7 comes as a reminder or warning regarding His command about true worship and God’s dominion: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” While the beast sets out to kill anyone who does not worship the image of the beast, God sends His second warning, announcing to the people that Babylon has fallen, “because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). The third warning comes in connection to the behavior described in the second warning. The way the beast forced the people to worship the image seem to be linked to the way Babylon made the nations drink the wine of her dirnication. The third warning says: “If any man worships the beast and his image, and receives 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 undiluted 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” (Revelation 14:9-10). The end time religious-political power symbolized as Babylon made people drink from the cup of her false teachings and caused them to sin against God (this is symbolized by the wine of her fornication). In turn, the people who remain in that fornication will end up drinking from another cup: the wine of the wrath of God (death). The beast says that those who disobey his worship commands will die, but God is saying that those who follow the beast commands will actually be the ones who will suffer eternal death. God’s warning in Revelation 14 actually serve to clarify what is actually happening in Revelation 13. It clears up the deceits spread by the beast and His image.

*** The human wisdom ***: The number 666 has been interpreted in different ways using human forms of calculations. One popular way is through the use of gematria. Gematria is a system of alphanumeric code first used by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Greeks. The system was later also adopted into the Jewish culture. This method is used to find different meaning in various words, as letters of the alphabet are assigned a numeric value. With this, words can be calculated and made into a number. The names and titles of many individuals have been calculated and said to be 666. We can’t deny that those names and titles may come to the number 666. But arriving at an individual as being the 666 by means of this sort of calculation bears no spiritual meaning as presented in the Bible. This form of calculation was (and stil is) used in pagan rituals of mysticism and divination. The Bible tells us to stay away from such practices (Deuteronomy 18:10-14)! Even if certain names and titles can add up to 666, let’s not use that as the explantation for what is written in the Bible. For one, we will be missing a lot more information God wishes for us to know. Secondly, God calls us to His own form of of wisdom, and not human wisdom, “for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

*** Overview ***: When we compare all those passages from Daniel 2 and 3, Revelation 14 and 17, to the beast behaviors described in Revelation 13, we can see more clearly that the name and number associated with the beast and His image have a spiritual connotation regarding the history of the human race and how it has been manipulated by satanic forces. While the dragon and his agents work to confuse people throughout history, God works to share His truth. In all these Bible texts that we have compared, the name associated with the beast or image is the name of a human religious-political kingdom who has pledged allegiance to the dragon and opposes God’s kingdom: this kingdom is called Babylon. The name and number of the beast system are not not one of an individual. The Antichrist power is formed by the false teachings which have been around since Paul’s time (2 Thessalonians 2:7). A person alive in Paul’s days would not be alive at the time of the end. A person could not be alive, but a belief system could. If the beasts were identified as an individual each, they would be predestined to be lost. That is not a biblical teaching. Christ died for every person in the world. Everyone has the opportunity to choose and accept God in their hearts. The participation of an individual in the beast system does not determine that he or she will be lost. They still have a chance to be saved before the end. The greatest example of that is king Nebuchadnezzar himself. The king of ancient Babylon repented at the end and recognized that God’s “dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34). God Himself will call His people out of the end time Babylon before it is destroyed: “Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4). Furthermore, the destruction of the sea beast and the earth beast (referred to as the false prophet) happen before anyone else is sent to the lake of fire. They are the first ones sent there, at the time of the Second Coming (Revelation 19:20). The Bible says that the eternal destruction of people and fallen angels happen after the 1000 years of Christ’s reign in Heaven (Revelation 20:1-15). The Bible says that only at that time, the lost beings will be judged “according to their works” and “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12, 15). If the beast’s were individuals, they would have to go through this final judgment and could not have been sentenced before the judgment happened. As a belief system promoting false religious doctrines, their burning in the lake of fire before the judgment is logical because the beasts will completely lose their credibility at the Second Coming. When Jesus comes back fulfilling every promise regarding His return, it will be clear to the universe that the beasts’ claims were false. “And then shall that Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

The triple number gives dimension to the beast and his image as the false trinity works behind the propagation of false teachings throughout history. The number of mankind comes in direct opposition with the divine. This thought also lead us to believe that the number six is a reflection not only of humanity, but also of Self. The elevation of Self as the center of one’s spiritual life has taken over the place that should be occupied by God. We saw in study #11 how the number 7 is a symbol in the Bible for completion and perfection. A number determined by God. Since this issue of the image of the beast is a matter of worship, as we saw in study #95, we must point out the contrast between the number 6 and the number 7 present in the 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) and how it recalls the creation week we read in Genesis 1 and 2. In the Commandment, we see that six days are reserved for mankind, but the seventh is reserved for God (Exodus 20:9-10). During the first six days, He made the world, and on the seventh he made a holy day (Exodus 20:11, see also Genesis 2:2-3). The reference to the number 6 in the number of the beast, as a number of humanity, emphasizes how it falls short of the perfection of the number 7. Humans are not gods. And with this, we are back to the first deception of humanity, laid out by the serpent of old. Satan deceived Eve with the argument that if they disobeyed God, their eyes would be opened and they would be “as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Eve desired that kind of wisdom, and so she followed the serpent’s words and went against God’s commands. (Genesis 3:6). At that moment, the glory Eve should have reserved only to God, she gave it to the serpent instead. To avoid being deceived by the enemy, the first angel message in Revelation 14:7 is what needs to be engraved in our hearts: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

In the table below, we can clearly see how the opposing forces to God’s dominion have worked worked to counterfeit God’s activities.

 

  Divine Acts  Counterfeit to Divine Acts 
  God and His Image - Genesis 1-3 God and His judgment - Revelation 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 Nebuchadnezzar and the worship to the golden image - Daniel 3 The earth beast and the worship to the image - Revelation 13:14-18
Image God created man and woman in His own image. (Genesis 1:26-27) God created Heaven and earth. (Revelation 14:7) The king of Babylon ordered that an image be built. (Daniel 3:1) The earth beast orders that an image be built. (Revelation 13:14)
 Power God gave life to the man He created from the dust of the earth. (Genesis 2:7) God's hour of judgment has come. (Revelation 14:7) The king organized the dedication of the image. (Daniel 3:2) The earth beast gives life to the image. (Revelation 13:15
 Domain God gave man and woman dominion over all the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28) God warned people about the end time Babylon, who deceived all nations of the world with its false doctrines (made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication). (Revelation 14:8) The image was made of gold (Daniel 3:1), which was an alteration to the image God showed in a vision to represent all the kingdoms that would dominate the earth throughout History. (Daniel 2:31-45)

The image is a recreation of the sea beast, which was the beast with seven heads and ten horns. (revelation 13:1)

The ten horns are ten kingdoms that would have dominion on earth throughout History. (Revelation 13:17:12)

 Obedience God issued a command: obey God and do not sin by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:17) God reminds people of His command: worship God and give Him glory. (Revelation 14:7) The king issued a command: obey the king and worship the golden image. (Daniel 3:4-5) The earth beast issued a command: obey the beast and worship the image. (Revelation 13:15)
 Mark Man and woman listened to the serpent and with this sin brough over a curse pronounced by God. The consequences of sin marked humanity and the earth. (Genesis 3:16-19) Those who worship God and follow Jesus will receive the seal of God. (Revelation 14:1, 4; Revelation 7:2-3) Those who would not worship the golden image would be identified. (Daniel 3:6) Those who do not worship the image will be identified. (Revelation 13:15)
 Consequence Choosing sin would bring death. (Genesis 2:17) Those who worship the beast and receive the mark of the beast will be sent to the fire. (Revelation 14:9-10)  Those who did not worship the golden image were to be sent to the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:6).  Those who do not worship the image will die. (Revelation 13:15)
 Number Man and woman were created on day 6. (Genesis 1:27, 31)  God destroys the power that established the mark of the beast through 7 angels that had 7 bowls with the final 7 plagues. (Revelation 15:1; Revelation 16:1; Revelation 18:2)  The golden image had a measurement: 60 cubits high, 6 cubits width and depth. (Daniel 3:1)  The image has a number: sixhundred, sixty, and six. (Revelation 13:18)
 Name God allowed man to name the woman, and he named her Eve "because she was the mother of all living". (Genesis 3:20) God warned people about the woman that sat on the beast. She has a name: Babylon, "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth". (Revelation 17:5) The kingdom where the image sat has a name: Babylon. (Daniel 3:1)  The beast whose image was created has a name. (Revelation 13:17).

 

  

   
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