Revelation Lesson 38 - 666
The number 666 represents a villain more evil than Hitler, more treacherous than Judas Iscariot, and more anti-Christian than Nietzsche. Masquerading as the true messiah, he will infect the whole world with his false gospel.
John the Apostle has been describing for us the faces of evil behind the evil system of the coming one world government, one world economy and one world religion.
In chapter 12 we’re given the truth about the Red Dragon – another title for Satan – whose thirst for blood and killing takes center stage. No more masquerading as an angel of light out of him. He’s exposed as a killer and a hater of the Jews – in fact, as chapter 12 ends, Satan has been rebuffed in his attempt to annihilate the Jewish people and he has gone off in a fury to kill any remaining believer in the God of Abraham he can find.
In Revelation chapter 13, we’ve been introduced to two men who will be enabled and empowered by the Dragon to carry out his ultimate mission, by the way, that transcends the killing of Jews and Christians. He wants the worship of the entire world.
2 men will do his bidding and see it come to pass.
The first man revealed to us in the 13th chapter of Revelation is the Antichrist who rises in power among European nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
The prophecy of Daniel the prophet finally comes to pass as the Revived Roman Empire forms a coalition with the Antichrist as President, Prime Minister and Potentate all rolled up into one world dictator.
Then we were introduced to the second man in this demonically inspired duo – he is the False Prophet. With delegated power, ultimately from God, he mesmerizes the world with his miracle working, signs and wonders. And the message he preaches over and over again is eventually believed by the world – the Antichrist is God in the flesh.
Now, when will this all happen?
It will occur during the period of time known as the Tribulation – the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy – a 7 year period of time which follows the rapture of the church by Jesus Christ.
And when will the rapture happen? You’re gonna have to watch some other preacher on TV who knows, because I don’t.
In fact, we’re not told. But we are told it could happen at any moment and it will come as fast as the blinking of an eye – unexpectedly – imminently. (I Corinthians 15:52)
The Apostles were waiting for it – He could have taken the young church in the 1st Century.
- Paul thought he’d still be alive (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
- Peter thought the creation of the new heavens and earth was just around the corner (2 Peter 3:13)
- The Apostle John thought he was living in the last hour (1 John 2:18)
In every generation of Christians, there has been the anticipation of the rapture of the Church – and those Christians who don’t believe in the rapture – they’re gonna be really happy when they find out it’s true.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, the same body of believers to whom he revealed the details of the rapture; in his letter to them Paul commended them for being committed to Christ, so much so that you have put away their idols to serve the true and living God and to wait for His Son from heaven.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
That was the topic of their conversations. Maybe today! This was the burning hope in their hearts – Jesus is coming for us . . . we’re waiting for Him to come.
Even John ends his Revelation by writing what? “Come Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
It’s so moving to see John get to the end of all that God reveals about the coming wrath and the coming Antichrist and the coming Armageddon and the coming kingdom and the final judgments and then the creation of a new heaven and a new earth and all that awaits the believer as he’s given a tour of our future home and it’s no wonder he ends the Book of his revelation by saying – and I think he’s shouting – “Come, Lord Jesus.”
No wonder! Come . . . C’mon! As we say it in North Carolina – C’mon . . . let’s get goin’ to the next stage.
My friends, I can’t help but believe we are nearing that day.
I will tell you this personal note; while studying the texts of Revelation chapters 12 and 13, I’ve been inundated with illustration after illustration of how the table is being set for the coming Tribulation and all that follows.
The conditions are as ripe as ever for the upward call of Christ and the unveiling of a one-world government and one-world religion in our generation. Listen, the tribulation scene is nearly prepared in my view.
If you are here without a reservation for the coming glories of heaven, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ for all who turn to Him alone for salvation, my message to you is run to the cross of Christ. Run! Don’t delay. The time seems perfectly arranged His appearance must be near.
Remember Mikhail Gorbachev, the president of the former Soviet Union? At a news conference in Madrid, Spain, he said, “The victims of the September 11 attack on the United States will not have died in vain if world leaders use the crisis to create a new world order. If we act as we did after September 11 uniting efforts of fighting against terrorism, if we maintain the coalition, we will not only prevent a new cold war, but we could get a new world order that is so desirable for all of us.” / Adrian Rogers, Unveiling the End Times in Our Time (Broadman, 2004), p. 164
The world is clamoring for a world leader – a peace giver – a united coalition . . . a new world order . . . a global world system like never before.
Because of that, with this series of studies, I have been led to not only warn the unbeliever to come to faith in Christ alone, but also to sound a warning to the church.
John the Apostle wrote that the spirit of antichrist is ever present. First and Second John are filled with warnings about antichrists – those who denied the deity of Christ; those who denigrate the gospel of God.
These are deceivers and liars, he wrote in 1 John 2:22/2 John 1:7.
Think about it – in order for the Hindu to abandon his 300,000 gods; in order for the Buddhist to stop praying for the arrival of the 5th Buddha; in order for the Muslim to set aside Mohammed – in order for the world to effectively abandon their gods and their traditions and their religions and their prophets, things have to be so convoluted and so confusing and so desperate spiritually that anybody with any real demonstration of spiritual power would be followed without reservation.
Man, are we there now or what? Is the world ready for a one-world religious answer or what?!
And if we are indeed the last generation in the church, prior to the rapture, living in these last days prior to the coming deceiver, wouldn’t you assume that the enemy of the church would unleash a fresh onslaught diversions and distractions upon the church?
In order for people to be set up for deception, they must be ignorant of the Bible, right? They must not believe in the authority of scripture, right? They must be led to doubt the uniqueness of Jesus Christ alone to save.
That is a description of our generation – inside the church and outside as well.
If there was ever a time when the church needed to get the gospel right, it’s now. As far as I can tell – the church in our generation is now beginning to unravel the basic beliefs of the gospel that have been accepted for the most part for the last 500 years, since the Reformation.
As far as I can tell, the enemy is attacking the foundations of doctrine like never before.
And not from without – but as Paul warned the Ephesian elders – but by false teachers within the church.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Satan most often does not attack a church – he joins it. And he quietly distorts the truth. He twists the gospel ever so slightly so that unless you’re thinking critically, you accept it.
And the gospel is diluted and in many cases the testimony of the local church is destroyed through eventual denial of the gospel.
Is that ever happening today!
One pseudo church leader who has effectively distorted the gospel and has quite a following wrote, and I quote, “I can't find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners. Now this doesn't mean we don't sin; that's obvious. The greatest truth of the story of Adam and Eve isn't that it happened, but that it happens.” / Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis (Zondervan, 2006), p. 139
Oh? The greatest truth of the story of Adam and Eve is that they sinned and that we do too? I don’t think so.
The greatest truth about the sin of Adam and Eve is that God atoned for their sin and forgave them.
This clever teaching is merely a distortion of the Gospel.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the greatest truth about the fall of man is that God moved to redeem man.
I evaluated Rob Bells statement in the light of Paul’s own testimony. Let me read you again what the author, Bell wrote, “I can’t find one place in the teaching . . . of the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners.”
Listen to Paul who writes, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving of full acceptance – in other words we all ought to feel and talk the same way – how? That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. (I Timothy 1:15)
It sounds to me like Paul was identifying himself first and foremost as a sinner.
In fact Paul wrote it this way, “This is the demonstration of the love of God – even while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The greatest truth about sin is not that it happened or that it happens to me – the greatest truth about sin is that Jesus Christ bore all our sin in His own body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24)
A colleague of Bell, Brian McLaren, distorted the gospel even further when he wrote, and I quote, “In the Bible, [the word] save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon . . . save means ‘get out of trouble’. The trouble could be sickness, war, poverty, imprisonment or any kind of danger…” end quote / Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Zondervan, 2006), p. 93
Listen, this is not the gospel.
In fact, if to be saved means you get out of sickness or poverty, how come even Christians get the flu and run out of money?
In fact, if getting saved means we never get imprisoned, then the Apostle Paul is in double trouble because he spent most of his Christian life impoverished and the last years of his life imprisoned.
How tragic is this twisting of the truth?
Listen this is just the beginning of the apostasy evident in our church today.
I could go on and on.
In fact, I’m gonna go on for a little longer.
Listen, for the False priest to come along in Revelation 13 and basically convince the world to worship the Antichrist less than 4 years after the church is raptured could mean that the church has as a mainline institution abandoned the truth of the gospel.
And an illiterate world, biblically, is a sitting duck for the Deceiver.
Where was the church?
As Tozer said, “Limping from one gimmick to another like so many drunks in a fog.”
The average evangelical church has been courting the seeker for the last 30 years. He hasn’t caught him, by the way. In an effort to make the church more comfortable for the unbeliever, the church has effectively stopped believing anything uncomfortable, much less communicating it.
Is it any wonder that our own culture is now more entrenched in eastern religions and cults than ever before?
At the same time, the number of churches in America that are now closing their doors is anywhere from 3-5 churches every single day.
In America now, a mosque is completed every 30 days. There are now more Muslims in America than Episcopalians. Not that the Episcopalians or any other denomination have the answer.
My contention is that institutionally, the organized church may very well have abandoned the gospel and the world will be ripe for the coming, final Deceiver.
How could that happen? This timeline in Revelation has really intrigued me.
I mean, how do you go from the church on earth, then raptured, and then in less than 4 years, we now have the world in Revelation 13 bowing before an image of the Antichrist, claiming he is God incarnate. How does the world fall for a talking image and a signs and wonders false prophet?
The Apostle Paul told us how . . . listen, “For the time will come when they [his culture] will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears massaged, they will accumulate for themselves teachers who condone their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:2-3)
In other words, there will be great confusion in the latter days and people will turn away from the truth of sound doctrine and fall head over heels in love with the latest myth . . .the latest fad . . . the latest god.
So, preceding the deception of the False Prophet, you have a confused world and a confused, wandering religious system.
Even religious leaders will be morally neutral and spiritually confused.
One of my staff pastors sent me this email this week. As you know, the African branch of the Anglican church is more solid biblically than its American counterpart. The litmus test, as we’ve watched it unfold in the news, is the ordination of practicing homosexuals. One interesting exchange occurred at a conference between John Shelby Spong – an Episcopalian Bishop and some African Bishops within the denomination. Now, in this particular conference, Bishop Spong was trying to convince the African leaders to give up their views and accept homosexual leaders in the church. They, on the other hand, were holding fast and refusing to budge, based on scripture. Finally in a moment of frustration Spong lashed out with, “:The reason the African bishops believe the Bible so literally is because they have been so recently converted from paganism.” To which the Bishop from Uganda responded, “The reason Bishop Spong does not believe the Bible is because he has so recently been converted to paganism.” / Ministry Watchman.com July 5, 2007, “Doug Phillips – New Paganism?” by: Don Veinot, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc
Moral confusion abounds, not just in the world, but in the church.
So if it has paralyzed the church, what is the world then to do for a moral anchor? If the church is no longer salt and light where will the world turn for moral and doctrinal truth?
I read in one journal this past month one more illustration of moral confusion and a lack of being able to respond with moral character. eHarmony responded to a discrimination lawsuit filed a couple of years ago now – this has just become news – the article read, Online dating service E-Harmony has responded to a discrimination lawsuit by agreeing to launch a new site for same-sex singles to be called Compatible Partners. It is scheduled to launch in March. According to chairman and founder, former evangelical psychologist Neil Warren and Antone Johnson, the company’s vice president of legal affairs, eHarmony will now, and I quote, “welcome all single individuals who are genuinely seeking long-term relationships.” / Leadership Journal, Winter 2009, p. 59
If there was ever a day when the world is primed for someone to deceive it into believing a lie . . . if there was ever a generation that was ready to embrace global control and global unity and a global religion, and a new world order and a new world religion it is our generation today.
With that in mind, let’s discover the final act of enslavement where the world is finally captured and conquered by the Antichrist.
Thus far in our study, The False Preacher has performed signs and wonders, miracles of calling fire from heaven – chapter 13 and verse 12-13.
The next few verses reveal him setting up a statue of the Antichrist, more than likely inside the Holy of Holies of the Tribulation Temple, thus desecrating it from any further Jewish practices. And the Jews scatter for their lives.
But the world at large now flocks to Jerusalem to worship at the feet of this breathing, talking image – the greater than life statue of their great savior, the Antichrist.
And now, the world is primed and ready for the next step of global deception.
Let me break it down into three aspects.
Aspect #1 is the global, physical surrender to the Antichrist.
Look at verse 16. The false prophet or priest now does the following. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead.
You’ve heard of the mark of the beast? This is the origin of that terminology.
Notice the global sweep of this decree.
The small and the great – that’s every social category; from the untouchables in India to the royal family in England.
John adds, and the rich and the poor – this is every economic category on the planet.
This is the poorest person to the billionaire on Wall Street. I should say, the guy who used to be a billionaire on Wall Street.
The Antichrist doesn’t care if your rich or poor, well bred or disowned . . . he wants your worship.
John adds, and the free men and the slaves. This is every cultural category. Basically John uses these three phrases as an expression of universality. / Robert L. Thomas, Revelation: Volume 2 (Moody Press, 1995), p. 180
This is everybody!
Every human being on the planet will receive a mark on their body – you noticed that it was either the right hand or the forehead.
In the Bible, which the Antichrist is mimicking, the right hand is the symbol of strength and the forehead is the most conspicuous part of the body. / Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation: God’s Last Word (Zondervan, 1971), p. 247
In Revelation 7 we read about God marking His special evangelists – the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel – with a mark on their forehead.
So here the copy cat is at it again. Just as God’s servants are marked, so the Antichrist will mark his servants.
The word translated mark is charagma (caragma) and John’s audience would have immediately picked up on its significance.
- In the Roman empire slaves were sometimes branded by their owners to show that the slave was the property of that particular estate.
- Soldiers would often brand themselves with the name of their General, revealing their undying loyalty to his cause.
- On every commercial contract or document, the documents were stamped with the name and date of the emperor which declared that the commercial activity upheld the name and authority of the emperor. / Adapted from William Barclay, Revelation: Volume 2 (Westminster, 1976), p. 99
John’s readers got it immediately. The Antichrist is placing his mark on his servants – they belong to his estate. They are also loyally devoted to his cause and they do nothing without a desire to honor the name of their emperor.
Lest some think that this future mark of the Beast is a chip placed under the skin, you notice the Bible uses terminology that informs us that this mark will be on or upon the right hand or forehead.
This is clearly intended to be a visible mark that would be obvious to everyone.
Now, lest you think that everybody on the planet is forced to do this – the Greek language presents a different picture; the words in verse 16, “and he causes all . . . to be given a mark” sound like these people have a gun at their head, take the mark or else.
The actual picture behind these words is that of masses of people putting the mark on themselves, or eagerly pressing forward to receive it at the place of worship. / Barnhouse, p. 247
This will be an exciting day for the world. They’re thrilled. They will bear the mark of their emperor like a soldier wears his medals or an athlete wears his team jersey or a patriot carries his country’s flag.
They’re gonna want the rest of the world to know of their allegiance – their total physical surrender to their savior.
What they don’t realize is that they’ve been deceived. The Dragon through the Antichrist and his ministry of propaganda has done nothing less than turn the world into a global concentration camp and all the inmates are now numbered. / Rogers, p. 168
And in less than 36 months most of them will be dead.
Now obviously, this is Satan’s ploy to flush out the remaining genuine believers who will never take this mark of allegiance.
That leads me to the second aspect of this mark of the beast.
It not only involves global, physical surrender to the Antichrist,
It also, secondly;
[Aspect #2] reveals the global, economic stranglehold by the Antichrist
It’s either surrender or starve.
Look at verse 17. And he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
We’ll talk about the number of his name in a moment, but for now, notice how the Antichrist will shut down any financial activity by those who are not proud citizens of the New World Order.
I mean, if you’re not a loyal patriot of the new world order, you have no right to benefit from our brave new world.
You don’t belong.
Whether someone tries to buy food or buy a house; purchase medicine or fill up your car with gasoline – you’re stuck. And you’ve got nowhere to hide.
Now just how can he pull this off?
I agree with on author who wrote, “In times past, the idea of a mark that would individually identify everyone in the world for governmental control seemed a far-fetched fantasy possible only in science fiction. No one today, however, questions the possibility of such an identification process. / David Jeremiah, What in the World is Going On? (Thomas Nelson, 2008), p. 158
It’s possible that everyone who receives the mark will be given the latest technology that might have already been in the market for some time.
Several authors I researched pointed out the latest in personal identification systems.
One caught my eye. One journal was talking about the first human tests of a small microchip, the size of a grain of rice, implanted underneath the skin. Business Week Online referred to the developments of Digital Angel technology with represents the first-ever combination of advanced sensors and Web-enabled wireless telecommunications linked to Global Positioning Systems – you still with me? By utilizing advanced sensor capabilities, Digital Angel is able to monitor ambient temperature and physical movement. For those who have the chip, Digital Angel now has the ability for real-time monitoring of patients. It will integrate biosensors and envirosensors, wireless communications and GPS technology to read your heart rate, temperature, blood pressure – and mine’s rising just at the thought of it – pulse, and blood chemistry. Because this technology is networked by the Internet and GSP, your information can be sent instantly to your doctor from wherever you are on the planet. / Rogers, p. 169
Now listen, these chips are not the mark of the beast. They might be technology used by him one day to track the human race, but we get to use it for all the best reasons.
I’m loving my GPS . . . I don’t want it implanted in me, but I’m enjoying the technology advancment.
The mark of the beast is not your social security number, your drivers license number, your National ID number or any other number you might get in the future.
The mark of the beast is his number – it’s a number that represents his name.
You can’t be fooled into accepting some chip or some number and without knowing it you signed on with the Antichrist.
Remember, we’ll be watching this from the banister of heaven, if we’re watching it at all.
One more comment about this tracking system that the Antichrist just might use one day in the not too distant future.
One article pointed out one particular company that is producing Radio Frequency Identification tags that are now going on or in almost everything made.
They’re developing this for grocery carts that automatically read the item you place into your cart, and keep a running total of your groceries. When you get to the front you scan your credit card – and perhaps one day you scan your card across your cart and just walk out to your car –the amount of money is wirelessly withdrawn from your bank account.
Imagine how easy that will make shopping. You put your gallon of milk into the cart – it totals it; you put that bag of little chocolate covered doughnuts into your cart and it blows a horn at you until you take ‘em out. That’s my nightmare.
Listen to this, The RFID system, Radio Frequency Identification system is pressing to be standardized all over the world so that one tag can be read by every scanner on earth. RFID is also moving toward a standardized bar code and believe they have found it in the European Article Numbering Code. One author said, “How interesting to students of Bible prophecy that these groups have selected the code used by the group of European nations that will one day produce the Antichrist. / Daymond R. Duck/Larry Richards, The Book of Revelation (Thomas Nelson, 2006), p. 199
What will all this technology do one day? In the New World Order t will enable one man to virtually control commerce. Only those loyal to him, John writes in verse 17, will be able to buy or sell.
Now remember, the latest gizmo isn’t the mark of the beast. Even an identification chip in your arm or hand. The truth is, the Christian can benefit from every technological advancement without any fear of the Antichrist, because he will not even be revealed to the world until the church has been taken away.
But even for those believers living through the Tribulation who came to faith in Christ after the rapture – they need not fear being tricked by some implanted chip. It will be very clear decision that they will either accept the number or name of the Antichrist and worship him with their total being, or they will refuse.
And if they refuse, they will face the prospects of starvation – or martyrdom.
So we have global physical surrender to the Antichrist.
We have a global economic stranglehold by the Antichrist.
Aspect #3: Global, spiritual supremacy of the Antichrist
John writes in verse 18, Here is wisdom, Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty six.
666. Just the sound of that makes you think of the Devil.
666 . . . it even hisses like a serpent, doesn’t it.
In the Bible, numbers can be both figurative and literal at the same time.
The number 3 represent the triune God. The Number 7 represents perfection; the number 1 represents unity and the number 6 represents man.
The triple designation of 6 figuratively indicates the Antichrist’s attempt at mimicking the triune God. / Thomas, p. 183
He is the triune man. He claims to be God . . . but he’s just a goat. He would like to be 777 – triple perfection – but he’s only 666. / Ray Stedman, Revelation: God’s Final Word (Discovery House, 1991), p. 258
He’s simply a man, failing three times over.
But the number 666 is also a literal designation. John refers to calculating the number. The total sum of his name is six-hundred and sixty-six. / Thomas, p. 182
This is the only clear use of what is called gematria in the Bible. The Greek word geometria (gewmetria) gives us our transliterated word geometry.
The practice of gematria tracks all the way back to John and centuries before where Hebrew and Greek letters were given numerical values.
And by using certain letters, you can also represent a numerical figure.
By the way, people thought Hitler was the Antichrist, besides all the obvious reasons, because the letters of his name in English totaled six hundred and sixty six. H had a numerical value I had a value, and so on.
The trouble is, we’re not told what language we’re to calculate the Antichrist’s name with. Is it Hebrew, Latin, Greek, German, English, Italian?
Even still, you can have all sorts of combinations of letters to get to the total of six hundred and sixty six.
Let me explain it this way. If A =1 and B = 2 and C = ? 3 and D = 4 and E = 5. I could use several combinations to get to the sum of 6.
I could use 2 As and 1 D.
I could use 1 C, 1 B and 1 A = 6.
I could even use two C’s . . . reminds me of my report cards growing up.
All kinds of combinations just to get to a single 6. Imagine how many combinations you could have to come up to 666.
On the walls of Pompeii, archeologists found where a man had written, “I love her whose number is 545.” That wasn’t her phone number. He was both identifying her to those who knew her and concealing her identity to anyone else.
Now here’s the challenge, since many different letters can equal 666, it is impossible to figure the name out in advance. It’s a puzzle.
The bottom line is simple. The Lord didn’t want to give this man’s name away until he made his claim to deity. At that time, the insightful believer will be able, with wisdom, to confidently determine that the letters of his name do in fact equal 666.
So don’t try to guess now.
I’ve come across all sorts of guesses. Henry Kissinger’s name equaled 666 . . . so did JFK’s and Lyndon Johnsons and Ronald Reagans.
On author pointed out that Bill Gates III equals 666 and so does the phrase, Windows 95. / Mark Hitchcock, Is The Antichrist Alive Today?(Multnomah, 2002), p.
You’re thinking, that explains it . . . I knew my computer was the antichrist!
No . . . don’t waste your imagination on the puzzle . . . it will be solved in the Tribulation. That’s one puzzle you don’t want to solve.
What does the church do in the meantime – while we, like the Thessalonians, wait for Jesus Christ take us up?
In light of our deceived world . . . in light of so many false teachers distorting the gospel . . . in light of moral values and absolutes being washed down the sewer, the good news is, the mission of the church is not a puzzle . . . it’s never changed.
One search and rescue team in Colorado puts it this way; “Millions of people visit the mountains of Larimer County, Colorado each year. A few will become lost, stranded, or injured . . . some will die. Our objective is to find and rescue these lost or injured people before it is too late. We are dedicated to saving lives.”
It’s as simple as that.
From the 1st Century to the 21st Century our commission remains the same. Go – make disciples, baptizing and teaching them all I’ve commanded you – and listen, I am with you always, Jesus said, even to the end of this age. Until I call the church home.
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