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For as long as I can remember, we have been adding the names of people, empires, and things to try and find who is this man whose number is 666. Is this what Scripture is saying to do? What clues are we given to this number and what symbolism’s surround it. In understanding this number, we must understand the purpose of prophecy. I would encourage you to read the introduction for the purpose of Revelation.

In talking about the second empire that would arise. This is an empire that arises from the vastness of the land, being founded on murder and lies, yet looks like a Christian empire; and will be a harlot to God in that it will teach false teachings and covet worldly possessions over God. This is explained in greater detail in the study of
the two beasts. It’s this beast that...

"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, 17 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. 18 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." Revelation 13:16-18

Let’s first look at verse 18; then we will back up and look at an important clue about the implementation of this mark, name, and number and the symbols surrounding it.

Looking at verse 18 we see the statement, “here is wisdom”.

"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." Revelation 13:18

The beginning of Revelation starts with...

"Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:3

and the last chapter of Revelation says...

“'And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.'" Revelation 22:7

This book is surrounded by a need of wisdom, but God is not talking about worldly wisdom.

You can see the video on Why Christ Spoke in Parables for greater detail of what I’m showing here, but the wisdom that is needed is not of worldly as much as it is the wisdom of God that comes by a relationship with Him through a diligent seeking on our part. The wisdom needed here will come mainly from Scripture. I don’t believe that God has forgotten to give us anything that we need to understand; we just need to have a passion for a relationship with Him.

"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." Revelation 13:18

Notice the connector “for” (all caps). This connector is not connecting the beast with the man but rather the number of the beast with the number of the man. Revelation 13 is not about a warning of a man, but a warning of a beast that has the same number as a specific man - that number is 666.

Notice also, there is nowhere that we are being told to calculate the number of a NAME. We are being told that this number has an association with this beast, and with this man, but it does not say it’s associated with its name. Before this specific passage, we are told we can receive the mark of the beast OR the name of the beast OR the number of the beast. The conjunctions are OR and not AND. The mark, name, and number are not the same things.

"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." Revelation 13:17

So, what of this number 666? 1 Kings 10 has this number also:

"Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold,…" 1 Kings 10:14

We also see this number in reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue:

"King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon." Daniel 3:1

In the context of the Biblical writers, whenever a measurement was given with a portion left out, it’s assumed that the left out portion is equal to the portion immediately before. Thus, the statue was sixty cubits high, six cubits wide, and six cubits deep - 666. 

When trying to determine what is important to an author, we need to look at the space they use to convey a thought. In the case of prophecy, that author is God - though it was written by several hands.

In prophecy, we are told of this number, 666, only once; and warned about the mark just a few more times. In all of Scripture, we are given the number of 666 only three times. God saw very little importance of this mark that He would have only warned us of it a hand full of times, mentioning the number only three times - once in relation to prophecy. Yet, look how often we were warned of loving our neighbor, seeking after Him, not loving money, etc.

Open up to Revelation 13 and see where this number sits. It’s surrounded by seven-headed beasts and beast that looks like a lamb. The number, the mark, and other things associated with a symbol are symbols themselves. This number and the mark is a symbol of prophecy. The mentioning of 666 in 1 Kings and the statue of Nebuchadnezzar give some insight to what this number represents.

Let’s connect some dots, then we are going to back up a couple verses from this one about the number.

We have Solomon who strayed from God because of idolatry. The money, in 1 Kings, has an association of 666. We are warned that the love of money is also idolatry. We have Nebuchadnezzar who built a physical idol. Then, we have this number of a man.

Look at what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:

"Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way." 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7

Let’s break this down real quick. We have Paul, writing a letter to a church which he had previously visited and he discussing the return of Christ. In talking of the “son of perdition”, Paul uses present tense verbs: opposes and exalts himself. If Paul was talking in the future, he would have said, “...WILL appose and exalt himself”; but Paul is speaking present. He then continues to remind them of how he explained these things to them, when he was there, and that this power is presently working (in the day of Paul) being withheld; but will be revealed in due time.

This seems confusing as we are led to believe that the end days have not started yet. To understand this more, review the article on when did the
end days start?

Who is the man? We have this picture, through symbols related to this number, of Solomon choosing worldly things over God, money which is idolatry, and idols; and we have Adam - created on day 6 - who said, “Not your will (God) but mine be done so that I can be like God”.

Stay with me a moment, we’re bringing this together. Look back at verse 16:

"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," Revelation 13:16

Notice the verb used: caused. When we look at this writing, we see that John was very careful in the manner which he used his words. In verse 14, John tells us that the second beast deceives the people, causing them to build an
image. In verse 13, John says the beast MAKES fire come from the sky. Makes is a forcing of but causing is based on deception.

Understanding the prophecy is a warning of that which we already know but are not currently practicing, we understand that Revelation is doing the same. We are warned of how the church will fall away from God and become very self-centered and materialistic with the things of this world. Revelation is not unique in this but rather summing up all that we understand from Scripture. In Revelation, we have the comparison between the good church, in Rev 12 and the whore church in Rev 17. The whore church has harlots; these are whores and harlots to God; which parallel with the harlotry of Israel to God. The second beast is called a false prophet. We have the seven churches, six of which have an error but the last church age which is the worst of all, absorbed in their wealth and things. Scripture gives us warnings that if we don’t care for the poor, the sick, the elderly, the orphans, we are not of God. We can’t love the things of this world, sell everything, don’t waste time on worldly things when there’s a grand mission of God; let the sinners bury the dead. Seek God first, our love for Him should make our love for our family look like hate. Seek after Him as if He were a pearl of great price or a treasure found in a field, getting rid of all worldly pleasures to obtain Him. All through Scripture we are warned of these things and Revelation is summing it up; comparing the two forms of worship in the church - defining the difference between the narrow and difficult road to life and the wide road that many will take to destruction.

Looking at the symbols being used, an empire will arise that will look like a Christian nation and will build an image of prosperity based on worldly possessions. It will give a false gospel based on our own desires, leaving out the desires of God. The church will become very self-centered and materialistic. Money and things will be the idol of the church, the mark of who they are versus being the light of the world. This pattern will grow into a society which all worship this wealth and prosperity; and the society will grow to the point that if you are going to be able to afford the things in this world, you will sacrifice the things of God. This beast will CAUSE people to accept this way of life, thinking its a reasonable ground of doing. These are those who will feel it’s ok, and even Christians who feel it’s right with God. Their pride will interfere with their service of God, and they will work to obtain these worldly pleasures and things. Then there will be those who just can’t afford to survive unless they follow suit, forsaking God’s desires so they could eat and live. If they follow, they will live in squander, compared to what is considered to be socially correct. The laws of God will be obsolete. There will be no problem in lying to meet with social needs and desires, they will steal and they will forsake the hungry, widow, orphan, and elderly. The rest day of God will be seen as either not necessary or not needed at all, to the point that they will either constantly work for the money - for things, or they will be unable to work because there are few jobs who will not require their employers to work on the Lord’s Sabbath. Like Adam and Solomon, they will say, “Not what God desires of us but what I want”. A church has fallen from the light of the World into the material idolatry of money and possessions.

When one see’s Revelation for what it is, a warning to the church that will fall into apostasy; then we look at the modern church that warms the pews, caring very little about the lost, the poor, the elderly and those in prison; when we look at the contemporary church of prosperity and forsaking the things of God to gain these worldly pleasures, when we understand that the
end days started around the penning of the book of Revelation by John, we then understand that the whore and first beast, her harlots and second beast (which is a false prophet), this mark, and number has been around for many years.