Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Number of the Beast

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 threescore and six.
(Revelation 13:18)

A lot has been written about the number of the mark of the beast and what it could mean.  There are scores of articles on the internet (and elsewhere, I’m sure) that use symbology to try to figure out who or what 666 refers to, to attach it to different things and people.  I think a much simpler purpose is behind this verse and that it is actually meant to reassure the Saints instead of alarm them.   (As always, this is my well-considered opinion that isn’t binding on anyone, and which is subject to change.)

In a previous post, I wrote about the different aspects in Revelation 13 that led me to believe that one of the beasts in the chapter, the one that came out of the earth, represented secular science. (I recommend a reread of it because it serves as a foundation for my reasoning that follows about the above verse.)  Secular science is becoming more of a social force and that the Lord as omniscient ruler of the universe would surely know this and inasmuch as it threatened spiritual well-being, the Lord would warn us about it, not just through modern prophets, but ancient ones as well, to show us He really knows all things.

So we come to the above verse it promises wisdom from God to speak to the understanding of those most in tune with spiritual things in order to share a secret of detection that will help us detect and resist the beast.  (We readers are put in a high state of anticipation..) And then we are given this number that is associated with the beast.  A label, if you will.  (This is why everyone looks for 666 everywhere.)  It strikes us as odd.  What is so important about this label?

Today I happened to notice the verb “is” used in the statement “his number is Six hundred threescore and six” makes that statement a definition.  Why is this so important?  I asked myself, “Why try to define or label this beast of secular science with a number?”  And I realized, “It’s because science is defined by numbers.  Numbers are everywhere in science.” 

So where does this insight “science is defined by numbers” take us in terms of understanding the whole verse?

“Here is wisdom” – Of course, this was meant to alert us to the fact that God had something extra wise to say about this beast of secular science.  And we are to remember that God’s wisdom is greater than the wisdom of the world, even that of science.

“Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast” – It is very interesting that the spiritual attuned are told to count the number of the beast.  It suggests counting is an act that will help us.  Today, numbers give us a sense of power because we can measure things in all kinds of ways.  I believe the Lord is inviting those who really understand spiritual things to take a count of the beast of secular science, which represents making a measurement or analysis of its characteristics, its strengths and its limitations.  Counting the thing that is obsessed with measurement suggests that we are to be scientific about our analysis yet use what we know from revelation as well.

“for it is the number of a man” – This, I believe, is the true message of this verse—that secular science is as imperfect as man because it only knows what it can count and measure and observe, although there are many important things that you can’t measure which science can know nothing about.   That is what we should keep in mind.  Remembering that science is imperfect will save us from the temptation to worship it and will keep us from believing mistakenly that science can save us.

Several limitations of science are:

  • It can’t answer questions of value.  It can’t answer the question “Which flower is prettier?” or “What picture looks worse?” It can’t answer because culture assigns value, and from the eternal perspective, God assigns value.
  • It can’t answer questions of morality, right, or wrong.  Answering questions of morality is also something God and culture does.
  • It can’t answer questions of the supernatural because they are limited to the natural laws of the universe that they can measure and test. 
  • There are limits to what science can observe, due to human limits to observe or to make tools capable of observing natural phenomena.
  • Science can’t tell us the purpose of our lives, where we came from, or where we are going after death. 

 So far this seems to be the most helpful interpretation I've found for that verse.  


Ramona Gordy said...

I have been waiting for you to write again on this and I sure hope as you continue to gain further insight you will share it with us.
So have you heard of the author John Pointus? He has written books and commentary's on Zion. He started a blog called Unblogmysoul. He was the "ghost writer of a book called "Visions of Glory: one man's astonishing account of the Last Days. That man's name is Spencer.

In 2011 John asked Spencer a question about the "Mark of the Beast", the post is here http:/,
He shared some very intriguing insights. Please check it out, let me know your thoughts.

PS I have been reading the book of Daniel, and I feel that Daniel's story helps to define the beast and also the word "mark" can be further defined as something totally different than a physical mark. The answer is before us and it is simple but therein lies the wisdom, we will have to be patient and work out the answer by study and revelation.

Michaela Stephens said...

Your link was to a picture, but the post I think you meant was this:

I think Spencer's interpretation is helpful and enlightening.

However, I think he addresses separate issues and perhaps conflates them.

He says:
"It has already occurred that it is almost impossible to make a living or buy and sell anything without using the number of your name. You can’t hold a job, get insurance, rent or buy a home, borrow money, or travel without that number."

This is because it is becoming very important for people to be able to prove that they are who they say they are so that trust can be quickly developed between strangers sufficient to enter into a business transaction with as low a level of risk as possible. An untracked identity is a financial risk; you don't know if they will repay you or keep their promises.

The mark of the beast itself seems to me to actually be about exclusionary economic privilege.
Those who have it are permitted to buy and sell, while those who don't have it are excluded from the marketplace and marginalized. People don't like the idea of being excluded from markets, especially today when markets are so linked and people are so interdependent. The odds are that if people are unable to access the marketplace, they must be self-sufficient to survive, and if they aren't, they will not be able to meet their needs.

Ramona Gordy said...

I agree with you on this statement:

"The mark of the beast itself seems to me to actually be about exclusionary economic privilege.
Those who have it are permitted to buy and sell, while those who don't have it are excluded from the marketplace and marginalized"

Right now in my state, legislation is being considered as to whether or not to allow undocumented persons "the privilege" of obtaining a drivers liscence. I know that undocumented persons can apply for social security numbers, but if a drivers liscense is added to that, it can only help them toward job opportunities , possible motivation toward citizenship,etc. So there is much opposition in this. As a result they are marginalized and progress is slowed or stopped.

Sheila Grimes said...

Enjoyed reading your writings. I'd like to nominate you for the Liebster Award. I hope you accept. Here's a link explaining the award: