Revelation is full of mysterious descriptions about what’s happening on earth and in heaven. One of the strangest things mentioned is the number of the beast’s name. You know, the same beast that wants to kill anyone that does not worship his image and the one that is selling lies. This beast is not someone or something I want to worship.
There are many ideas about what this number of the beast is. Some think you can add up the numbers of someone’s name and then find out who the beast is. But John did not do that or suggest that.
We know Jesus mentioned this number for a reason. Let’s see if we can investigate this mystery and find some answers.
First off, what’s the big number? Do you know what it is?
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath 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.” -Revelation 13:18
This verse says is takes wisdom and understanding to figure out this number 666. So the first question is, how do we get wisdom and understanding? The Bible gives us the answer!
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments; his praise endureth forever.” -Psalm 111:10
“For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” -Proverbs 2:6
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” -Proverbs 3:13
The Bible says a lot more about wisdom and understanding but here’s what we’ve learned so far.
- The Lord gives wisdom. We can find understanding in the Bible.
- When we obey God’s commandments, we have good understanding.
- Finding wisdom and understanding is better than all the money in the world and will bring true happiness.
The next clue is that the Bible says to “count” the number of the beast. Some sort of adding or computation may be involved. Hmmm?
Let’s look for another clue in the Old Testament where the number 6 is used.
Nebuchadnezzr, King of Babylon, built a gold statue or image that was 60 cubits high and 6 cubits wide (Dan. 3:1). This was not by accident. Six was a significant number in the ancient Babylonian religion. The number 666 was specifically important. I wonder if they counted anything that added up to 666? Let’s explore some Babylonian history. We maybe on to something since Revelation talks about Babylon a lot (Ch 14, 16, 17, 18).
The ancient people of Babylon worshipped many gods. They had 36 supreme gods with the sun god being the most important. They worshipped the moon god, gods named after planets, and many other false gods. They feared the gods and didn’t want the gods to hurt them. They believed that numbers had special power over the gods they worshipped.
God warned the Israelites not to worship the sun and moon or any other false gods (Deut. 4:19, 17:3).
What does all this have to do with the beast’s number? Glad you asked. Keep listening.
Each of the 36 gods was given a number. The sun god got number 1 and number 36. He was extra special. Then they added up all the numbers of the gods from 1 to 36. Can you guess what the sum of the numbers was? Yes, they added up to 666, which they associated with the sun god, their most supreme god.
Here is a picture of a “magic square of the sun” amulet which pagan priests would wear to keep away evil, or so they thought. Each row adds up to 111 and 111 x 6 is 666.
Remember when Ezekiel saw the abominations or bad things that were happening in God’s temple in Jerusalem in his vision? The leaders of Israel were standing with their backs towards the temple and worshipping the sun (Ezek. 8:16).
This ancient Babylonian sun worship spread around the world. Many cultures and people began to worship the sun. Even in Rome, so much sun worship was going on that it was known as the “New Babylon” during the time John lived. When the emperor Constantine sort-of converted to christianity, many practices of pagan sun worship came right into the christian church. This made it easy for pagans to join the church. Many of these traditions are still practiced today by christians who don’t have any idea where they came from. We learned earlier that the mark of the beast is related to sun worship and now the number of the beast is connected to sun worship. I think there’s a pattern developing here.
Now I don’t have all the answers to what 666 means. I’m sure I have much more to learn. But here’s what I do know. God wants us to worship him and him alone. The first commandment says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3). The number 666 represents an attack on God’s first commandment. It symbolizes the worship of false gods and putting man above god. God’s perfect number is seven. Seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven days of creation. Let’s not get stuck on man’s number 666 and fall short of all God wants us to become when we rest in his great perfect love for us.
God wants us to keep all his commandments, not just the ones that are convenient or the ones that are popular. He also said not to add to or take away from his word (Duet. 4:2). Remember this as you continue to learn about Jesus’ love found in the book of Revelation. He gives us these warnings because he loves us so much and wants to take us to heaven with him. He doesn’t want us to be tricked by the sneaky beast.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see and ears to hear what Jesus is telling us in the book of Revelation. He has promised to send us his spirit when we ask and promises a blessing when we hear and do what we learn (Luke 11:13, Rev. 1:3).God wants us to worship him and him alone. Click To Tweet Happy is the man that finds wisdom, and the man that gets understanding. Prov. 3:13 Click To Tweet