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In some Christian circles, much speculation and superstition exist about the Mark of the Beast meaning and the number 666. The way some Christians live in fear of technology and/or having the number 666 associated in any way with them is a revelation of an underlying belief that Satan's power is stronger than God's. [I am not saying that we shouldn’t be cautious about potential privacy-invading technology, but that it shouldn’t be based on fear generated by a false view of ‘End Times.’]. Dr. David Jeremiah avoids pitfalls other dispensationalists have fallen into by refusing to identify the Mark of the Beast or who 666 is. While he does have some good things to say in this chapter of The Book Of Signs, much is still focused on the supposed Tribulation after the Rapture.
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. Rev. 13:16-18, NKJV
Note: Many things in this chapter have been previously discussed and will not be repeated here. Be sure to read these articles in chronological order for maximum benefit.
The False Prophet, working on behalf of the Antichrist, will use the mark to subjugate the world during the Tribulation period. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 325). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
As we have already seen, the False Prophet represents the Jewish leaders - who had already confessed that they had no king but Caesar/beast, John 19:15 - up until the time of the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. It is well-known that Jewish life centred around the Temple nationally and locally around the synagogue. This was not simply their ‘religious’ life, unlike so many Western Christians who divide life into categories. This was their social and economic life as well. To be cast out of the synagogue was to become worthless and non-existent as far as the Jewish community was concerned.
We see this strong pull in John 9:22-23, where the healed blind man’s parents refused to defend him because they feared being cast out of the synagogue.
His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” NKJV
The main persecutors of Jewish Christians before AD 70 were the non-Christian Jews. This forced the Christians out of the only society they had ever known and cut them off from social and economic relationships. This can further be applied when Rome, in AD 64, began persecuting Gentile Christians and refused to allow anyone to engage in economic activity without sacrificing to the Emperor.
In many countries now, Christians face persecution and even death when they stand for Christ, just as those without the mark will during the Tribulation. During that time, these questions will be put before the entire world’s population, without exception. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 327). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
To my way of thinking, it is belittling to the millions of Christians suffering for Christ right now [and throughout history] to move the focus from current suffering to suffering in a hypothetical future Tribulation. Our brothers and sisters need our support right now, not in some sensational fear-mongering future. Three worthy organizations helping persecuted Christians are Voice Of The Martyrs, World Compassion and Open Doors. I am sure there are others.
Theories about the meaning of the number 666 run rampant, ranging from the ridiculous to the absurd. No coincidence or fact from the Bible or from history is safe from becoming fodder for speculation…Numbers in names and calendars have been manipulated to designate the Pope, Hitler, and many US presidents as the Antichrist. But these interpretations are nothing more than contrivances. Bottom line: no one yet knows the real meaning of 666. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 328). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
In this, Dr. Jeremiah has shown wisdom and avoided much of the foolishness others have fallen into [although he does speculate on the Mark later in the chapter]. Because The Book of Signs refuses to accept the urgency with which the Book Of Revelation was written and ignores the rule of Bible interpretation, which states that a Bible passage must be relevant to those who first heard it, it ignores the obvious candidate for 666: Nero.
It is significant that "all the earliest Christian writers on the Apocalypse, from Irenaeus down to Victorinus of Pettau and Commodian in the fourth, and Andreas in the fifth, and St. Beatus in the eighth century, connect Nero, or some Roman em- peror, with the Apocalyptic Beast.” F. W. Farrar, The Early Days of Christianity (Chicago and New York: Belford, Clarke & Co., 1882), p. 541 Quoted in Days Of Vengeance, David Chilton, p. 351
For the Hebrews, 666 was a fearful sign of apostasy, the mark of both a king and a kingdom in the Dragon's image. Chilton, David, Days Of Vengeance, p. 350
"...talks of 'the Beast whose number is 666', he is probably speaking of Nero, because the Hebrew numerals comprising that figure are the same as the letters of Nero's name." [Nero: Emperor In Revolt, 251]
"Nero is the Beast and Antichrist of the book [of Revelation]..." [Christ and Caesar, 593]
The number 666 is also found in 1 Kings 10:14 and 2 Chr. 9:3 where Solomon received 666 talents of gold. "That number marks the high point of his reign and the beginning of his downfall...for the Hebrews, 666 was a fearful sign of apostasy, the mark of both a king and a State in the Dragon's image." [Paradise Restored, 180]
Seven is often called a perfect number, while six is an incomplete number. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 329). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Dr. Jeremiah’s comments on the numbers six and seven are well-stated. Six is the number of man, and, trying as hard as he can, he will always be a six or a series of 6s. He can never attain the perfection of a seven. This theme can be traced throughout Scripture, starting in the Garden of Eden, with man being created on the sixth day and God resting on the seventh. His comments that we should use the number 666 to remind us that we are incomplete without Christ and that we are longing and looking for Him are right on.
But I think we in the twenty-first century have some idea of what can make it possible for the False Prophet to effectively weaponize the mark of the Beast: technology. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 330). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Once again, we violate our Biblical interpretation rule of Scripture having meaning to its first readers. The Book Of Signs’ interpretation would have had no meaning to the first-century readers/hearers. They would have been lost and confused. Go back and read Scripture above. John expected his first-century readers to be able to identify both the Mark and the number. There is no indication that the understanding had to be put off for two thousand years until expert Bible prophecy interpreters could explain it [i.e. twist it to their own imaginations]!
But in essence, almost all moral decisions are starkly simple: either we stand for God or we fall for Satan. Jeremiah, David . The Book of Signs (p. 335). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Dr. Jeremiah’s challenge at the end of the chapter to live for Christ now, regardless of the consequences, is right on. He believes that Christians now alive will not have to face this Tribulation test, and he tries to avoid the apparent relief of not facing this by warning that we can still have persecution now [just not as bad, you understand].
In my opinion, this chapter is a mixture of good and bad teaching. It gives me hope that Dr. Jeremiah may have a lot of good things to say when he is not on his ‘end times’ track. How often that is, I do not know. What I do know is that there is nothing in this chapter to convince me that it is an undeniable prophecy of the apocalypse.
Return to The Book Of Signs.
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