Friday, 16 November 2012

Thoughts on the Infamous 666


Nu.mer.ol.o.gy n. a system of foretelling the future, based upon the supposedly mystic influence of numbers” (Gage Canadian Dictionary).

I’ve never put much weight in numerology before, and I still don’t. But in reading the Scriptures early this morning, I came across a few verses that made me think about the subject again and of some of the many ways that some individuals have twisted unrelated verses to mean something that I doubt was ever really intended by their authors.

Having said that, and at the risk of venturing into a place that may at first glance border on numerology in the eyes of some, I saw something in the pages of my Bible; something that made me sit up and say, “Hmm.” How I ran into these four verses in the same sitting, I still don’t know, yet here they are.
“Now the weight of the gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold” (2 Chronicles 9:13; ESV). 
“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (John 6:66; ESV). 
“The sound of an uproar from the city! A sound from the temple! The sound of the Lord, rendering recompense to his enemies” (Isaiah 66:6; ESV). 
“This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of man, and his number is 666” (Revelation 13:18; ESV).
What do those four verses have in common? They all have, (are you ready for this?), they all have 666 in them. LOL. Yes, at first I actually was “laughing out loud” as I thought about this connection. I said to myself as I laughed, “Look at that, Will, now you’re talking numerology.” Still, it is a serious subject that probably shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Amazing what goes on in your head when you wake up suddenly at 3:00 am and pick up a Bible and start reading.

Now please hear what I’m saying and not what I’m not saying.

What I am NOT doing is suggesting any sort of correlation or numerology between these chapter and verse numbers, that is, the 666’s. All that I am saying is, “Hmm, what an interesting coincidence.”

Why do I view this as a coincidence? Well, besides the obvious chapter and verse numbers, what else do these verses have in common? What they have in common is that they deal with being contrary to God and His ultimate dealings with those who are contrary to Him.

They deal with, 1) money, and lots of it; 2) disciples of Jesus who suddenly no longer seem to want to be his disciples, and so they call it quits and leave; 3) the sounds of the Lord repaying his enemies, both among Israel and the surrounding nations; 4) and finally the mark of the beast, commonly associated with the devil or Satan, which some people will (knowingly or unknowingly) have placed or marked upon themselves.

Having said all that, this does beg an interesting few questions for me. Exactly what is the “mark of the beast?” I’m sure there is no end to the theories on that infamous 666, and in truth, I too have more questions than I have answers. So if it is answers you’re looking for, you probably won’t find them here among my humble musings.

With all do respect to my capitalistic friends, is the mark of the beast somehow tied to money? Does the beast have to do with the financial system? If “money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), and if we “cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24), then it at least appears that we might be able to make that connection. Could money be the essence of the antichrist and the mark of the beast? Hmm, I wonder. Ultimately, as great as Solomon started out, he “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done” (1 Kings 11:6; ESV). Yes, it was the women who ultimately led him astray, but I cannot help but wonder how many of those women would even have been around had it not been for his great wealth. Money seems to have been “the root of all kinds of evil” in Solomon’s life too.

Likewise, and again with all do respect to my agnostic and atheistic friends, and especially those of you who once claimed to be Christians, does the mark of the beast have something to do with turning our backs on Jesus? There is a troubling verse that says, “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Hebrews 6:4-6; ESV). What do we do with that? If we read that literally, it doesn’t sound too promising for those who walk away from Jesus, does it? Paul said, “Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:22; ESV). Is it just me, or is there an apparent conditionality to what Paul is saying here? What are we to make of backsliders? Can they be restored?

Judgment is not just an Old Testament concept; the New Testament also deals with it, as evidenced by what Paul says to the Thessalonians:  “… God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1: 6-8; ESV). To me this sounds a lot like our Isaiah 66:6 text that we started with. God’s judgment is coming, but it is reserved until the end of this age of grace that we currently find ourselves enjoying. One thing about the “age of grace,” and that is that anyone can still respond to the offer of salvation in Jesus. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2; ESV). In other words, today, here and right now, while we are still in the age of grace, is YOUR chance of salvation. Ignore it, or delay that decision too long, and I believe that you will have all eternity to regret that decision.

I feel that I need to add a word yet about God’s love versus His judgment. I know there are a lot of people today who buy into a form of universalism and who “poo-poo” all talk of the judgment of God, believing somehow that it is not consistent with His love. Personally I don’t buy into that kind of thinking. Judgment is coming, and in my way of thinking, that is perfectly in keeping with the love of God. For God not to judge would actually be very unloving of Him toward those who are His, for could you imagine a heaven in which all manner of evil continues to exist side by side with the righteous? I cannot. The notion of everyone ultimately being saved would be unloving by God; the judging of the unbelieving world, on the other hand, would not be.

Finally, there is (or will be) a mark, “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 his 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” (Revelation 13:16-18; ESV). Did you notice that? Again, that mark, whatever it is, involves money, as evidenced by the buying and selling.

No, I am not into numerology, but I find it an interesting coincidence to see all those 666’s in both old and new testaments. Is there a correlation between money, turning our backs on Jesus, the judgment of God, and Revelation’s “666” mark of the beast? I will leave that up to you to decide.

Peace and Blessings.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

2 comments:

  1. You do remember, Will, what 664 is, don't you?


    ANSWER:
    (•ʇsɐǝq ǝɥʇ ɟo ɹoqɥƃıǝu ǝɥʇ ɟo ɹǝqɯnu ǝɥʇ s,ʇı)

    Bless you!
    Emu

    ReplyDelete