666: the Mark of the Beast

What number is more intriguing than 666; 13? Perhaps, but for those who like miniJimmental puzzles 666 is one of the best and almost universally known. Standing in line at the check-out one time, the cashier handed me a receipt that totaled $6.66. She handed it to me and said, “Good luck today.” Yet, this is not a game. Neither is it a vain pursuit. The book of Revelation instructs us: “Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast” (13:18).

Sadly, when it comes to wild ideas, it may be difficult to surpass the absurdities finagled into the public domain as are solutions to the enigma of 666. Popular ultra-modern views include concepts of a cashless society, the universal use of bar codes, the implantation of computer chips and biochips in each individual for identification and control, and the most recent “face imaging” via those hidden cameras throughout society. It is easy to see how the anti-Christ might control commerce, even private lives through technology. We have television sets that are voice activated and don’t ever totally shut off. They are capable of recognizing voices in the room or house.computerchip

At the other extreme, many commentaries on Revelation assert that it is useless, foolish, or even dangerous to attempt to discover a specific name with a fulfillment of 666. They treat 666 and most items in Revelation as if they were parables devoid of specific predictions with only historical significance. Many even write articles that are well worded and convincing to those who are not founded in bible study; that Revelation has already played out and we are now in some type of ozone territory.

It was no one less than the Holy Spirit, the real author of Revelation, who directed John to write: “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. 13:18). We are instructed to “calculate” or “count,” as some translations translate it. We are dealing here with a mathematical computation. The Greek word means “count,” as illustrated in the only other text where it appears in the New Testament: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it”(Luke 14:28). This parable also has a spiritual application. It is talking about a man counting his money. This brings to mind the number of people who don’t count or budget what s/he has and then will have in disposable time, energy, or money before making a commitment or taking on a project. Seldom if ever do people when personal energies or ambition exceed what it will take to complete the race.kidcounting

Seldom does Revelation directly tell us to apply understanding to grasp the meaning of a particular symbol. It does not tell us to try to figure out who the lamb-like beast is. It does not tell us that if we have wisdom we can figure out the meaning of the third trumpet or many other symbolic representations. It only hints at the identities of the beasts from the sea and earth. However, when it mentions 666, it specifically tells us to calculate or count.
There is a view that Rev. 13:18 should not be translated “the number of a man,” but rather “the number of man” (without the indefinite article “a”). The reason given is that the indefinite article “a” is missing in the original. Of course, it is missing; Greek has no indefinite article. For this reason, one must examine the context to determine if the translation into English should include the indefinite article or not; “a” versus “he, she or it.” Better yet, use a proper name when identifying a person, place or thing. Revelation 13:18 says to calculate this name, but not everyone will be able to.

Some theologians and I use this term liberally, Give distant historical dates when this all happened. This leaves us in a bible void time today. If one thinks this all happened in the distant past, then where are we biblically referenced in the here and now?

The following tables are included so the reader of this blog can venture down this trail of “calculating the name” of this man. It has already been done dozens if not hundreds of times and to little absolute avail. In Bible times primary languages included Greek, Latin (in Rome) and Hebrew as concerns commerce and common communication. On the table to the right, find the equivalent numeric number for Greek letters and their number value. On the right find an example of doing this. Caution: English was NOT a primary language at this time when John wrote Revelation. English does not have a numeric equivalence.

 

greeknumber

latios

The above is but one example of the meaning and identity of 666; i.e. the Roman Catholic Church and its leadership. For those who are old enough to recall, the Catholic Church said mass in Latin for hundreds of years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to include all possibilities, we would need to include the Hebrew letter-to-number equivalence and include the use of Roman (Latin) numerals. We can only deduce that John means to use the Greek since Revelation and most of the New Testament was written in Greek. However, Revelation 13:18 is after the Rapture of the church so perhaps it is intended to be “calculated” in Hebrew… those chosen as God’s special people. Remember or know for the first time that a sign was posted over the cross of Jesus that said “He was the King of the Jews.” It was written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

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Revelation 9

(Plus a quick review)

The last book of the Bible - Revelations

In our study of Revelation, chapter nine is about the 5th and 6th angel and what happens when their trumpets sound. We recently completed our discussion of the 4 Apocalyptic Horsemen via the first 4 seals of the scroll being opened. As dangerous and attention getting as they are, things are about to get more difficult for mankind, earth and any of its inhabitation. The pre-event of chapter 9 is what John heard as he recorded in the last verse of chapter 8:

(8:13b) “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded (in chapter 9 & 10) by the other three angels!” (NIV; emphasis mine)

Paul Benware wrote in Understanding End Time…, the first four of the seven seals are known as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first seal introduces the Antichrist (Revelation 6:1-2). The second seal causes great warfare (Revelation 6:3-4). The third of the seven seals causes famine (Revelation 6:5-6). The fourth seal brings about plague, further famine, and further warfare (Revelation 6:7-8) and the dividing of ¼ of the earth to death, famine, reduction, enslavement, . The fifth seal tells us of those who will be martyred for their faith in Christ during the end times (Revelation 6:9-11). When the sixth of the seven seals is broken, a devastating earthquake occurs, causing massive upheaval and terrible devastation—along with unusual astronomical phenomena (Revelation 6:12-14) [emphasis mine]

A series of 7 trumpets begin to call out their judgments at the opening of the 7th seal. Then, “ALL OF HEAVEN FALLS SILENT FOR THE SPACE OF A HALF AN HOUR” (8:1). This silence in heaven sends awesome chills as heaven has never been totally silent per anything mentioned in scripture. It is much like walking into a room or into the woods and everything is suddenly too quiet. We KNOW (YADDA) something is amiss or about to happen; it is not usually a good feeling of confidence on earth but all beings in heaven see God’s judgment will no longer be delayed. Satan’s time has run out and he knows it.

  1. Trumpet #1: (8:7) …hail, fire mingled with blood with a third part of the trees burned and all green grass burned.
  2. Trumpet #2: (8:8) …great volcano and mountain cast into the sea with a third part of the sea turning to blood. This is death to the sea creatures and ships in that part of the seas.
  3. Trumpet #3: (8:10) …’death star’ (possibly a huge meteorite) is cast to earth from the heavens. Now a third part of the rivers and spring water sources become wormwood (apsinthos: in a metaphorical sense, to be made bitter). Many (polos/polus) die due to the bitter or deadly water likely infected or made bitter by the shattering of this meteor into dust.
  4. Trumpet #4: (8:12) … Now the third part of our know universe that is stricken is the sun, moon and stars. This darkness makes night even darker and daylight less illuminant.
  5. Trumpets 5, 6, & 7 are God’s judgments on man.

This takes us to chapter 9 in Revelation; the 5th angel and trumpet. All the damage to this point by the blowing of the first four trumpets is upon physical surroundings. One-third of everything we know of and see is struck. The woe, woe, woe, in 8:13b is a change in venue. It is now mankind that is directly punished for rejecting warnings and pleadings to accept and follow Jesus Christ (New Testament) and God (Elohim) of Israel (Old Testament).

We read in Revelation 9:1, as found in a previous article in this website, about a falling star. The verse reads “…to him was given the key to the bottomless pit.” Since this star (as-stare’ in the Greek) is identified as “him,” we likely have either a fallen or falling angel; suggestion: Satan himself is finally removed from approaching the Throne of God in Heaven. [Revelation 12:10: This verse points to the already given fact that Satan “…has been hurled down” from heaven]. He uses the key he is given to open the bottomless pit. From it belches smoke; locusts emerge from the smoke to cause severe pain to man; to all who “do not have the Seal of God in their foreheads.” They are not *given the power to inflict death even though later in chapter nine we read that mankind call for death and can’t get it.

*given the power: Note that these locusts do not possess the power in or of on their own, but are given it with **limitations. This is God’s hand at work as the final hours of the earth as we know it closes.

**Limited to causing pain on man for 5 months, but not the remaining greenery of earth as is the usual target of locust.

Verse 6 is very clear. “…man shall seek death and shall not find it.” Verses 7-10 describe these creatures of torment. Interestingly, in verse 10 of chapter 9… “they have a king over them.” When Satan rebelled against God and took 1/3 of the angels with him, for he was a mighty angel (angel of the morning light and beautiful), he became the lord and king over the fallen angels. They obey him for he is powerful, persuasive, and dangerous to oppose. One might speculate that the locust might be the hoard of fallen angel-locusts who emerge from the smoke. Satan knows by now that his time of roaming to and fro on and over earth (his kingdom) is over. 1 Peter 5:8; Job 1:7) tell us that Satan has been at work since the creation of earth; seeking who he may… bring joy??? Not a chance. He is seeking who he may devour: inflict pain, sickness, disease, casualty, conflict, stress, confusion, disjointedness, mistrust, the road to destruction! (James 1:17; Acts 10:38; John 9:2-3))

The locust is the first of the three woes that John heard from an angel in heaven (8:13). I must hasten to point out Greek grammar. In 9:1 it is too often concluded that the “bottomless pit” in this particular scenario is hell itself. This does not fit well considering the final judgment, Lake of Fire and the locations of Hades or Sheol. The word used here is Phrear. It is an old word for cistern or well; something with a small mouth; narrow. The path to hell is a wide road. This misunderstanding simply does not fit. It is not Hell that this “fallen angel” opens the gate with a key. It is more closely related to Hades or Sheol; a holding tank of sorts for the dead yet to be judged. Hell and the Lake of Fire come into play after the Great White Throne Judgment. This is found at the end of the Millennial Reign of Christ on earth.

The second woe, beginning at verse 13, comes when the sixth angel blows his trumpet. This releases the four angels assigned and created solely for this purpose (v15); the second woe. One third of mankind is slain; those without the Seal of God in their forehead. It is a massive army of (evil forces) 200,000,000 strong. Fire, smoke (as in choking gases; chemical warfare?), and brimstone are the weapons of death in these few verses. This is not the massive army of mankind who assemble at Har Mageddo (Valley of Jezreel; Armageddon) to battle Jesus in Jerusalem after the 7th Trumpet is sounded.

In the closing two verses of chapter 9, we discover that even after all of this, men do not repent of their selfish and self-seeking gains (idols). In short, their continued rejection of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit is finally judged. This continual rejection of God/Christ is amazing. The people who continue to reject Christ see that those with the Seal of God are not touched by these plagues. Such being so seems to anger mankind all the more to fully realize their pain is not shared with followers of the Almighty.

Next article begins with…”And I saw another mighty angel…” (Chapter 10 and in my opinion should not have a chapter break for number 11. Of course, these are man-made markers in the Bible as the author of Revelation, John, did not mark out chapter and verse.)

jStark3

The Millennial Reign

What happens during the Millennial Reign of God and Jesus?

I have often wondered what it is going to be like during the Millennial (1,000) Reign following the Tribulation. Let me begin by telling you there are many hints of how we will live during these years, what will happen to us, how long life expectancy will be, if work is still required, will there be families, children, animals? Let’s begin by understanding something that Isaiah 55:8 tells us:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”

The meaning is too obvious. We need to take God and the Word of God at its word without trying to make God into something that fits our ideals. We need to understand that he makes us into something he wants. After all, if we created god then it/he is useless for eternal or even current needs or events. But God created us. That being so, he is the potter and I (we) are the clay. The clay pot does not tell the potter what we wish to look like; what shelf we want to be on; do we get a window view; or if am I going to be a tall, short, round, skinny or a corpulent pot. We are what we are so let’s get past that. What we need to know is our purpose. That is to worship the Lord God almighty, make Christianity a way of life not a religion, and realize our destiny is determined by our acceptance or neutral or flat out rejection of HIM.

Let’s avoid for now the discussion of the Tribulation (pre-post-or mid), plan of salvation, or any preaching. Let’s simply review the facts as the Bible tells us per what life will be like during the Millennial Reign of King Jesus.

Understand that this will not be a totally inclusive blog per life in the Millennial, but it will be inclusive of enough references to give us a great idea of what it will be like during the Millennial Reign.

Wikipedia defines the Millennial *Reign as:

*Often identified as Kingdom.

Millennialism (from millennium, Latin for “thousand years”), or chiliasm in Greek, is a belief held by some Christian denominations that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which “Christ will reign” for 1000 years prior to the final judgment and future eternal state (the “World to Come” of the New Heavens and New Earth).

Theopedia describes the Millennial Kingdom as: (http://www.theopedia.com/millennial-kingdom)

…the thousand-year reign of Christ specifically mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6. This is usually seen as the same Messianic Kingdom anticipated by the Old Testament prophets.

Let’s first realize the 1,000 years will not be spent on the beach, in churches, standing around the Throne of God in Jerusalem or flying about the universe with a pair of angel wings. All but the last are possible but not the norm for life during the Millennial Kingdom. Recall, or learn for the first time, this reign of Christ in Jerusalem will come out of and at the end of the Great Tribulation. The pre-Tribulation time will be as “the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37). It will be wise for the reader to read through to verse 39. This is the world situation leading up to the beginning of the 7-year tribulation and the Apocalypse, Day of Reckoning, Armageddon or Day of Destruction as so many movies, books and discussions have and continue to be based upon. But this is not a written monologue of pre-tribulation events.

Mankind, along with some strong assistance from Satan, will have all but been eliminated by wars, disease, starvation, murder when Christ returns to the Mount of Olives and proclaims himself King of Kings and ruler of the world. Yes, there is a little thing called Armageddon at this point in history and yet to be played out, but this article is about life for those who survive and enter the Millennial Kingdom.

Skipping past the resurrection of some of the dead, the return of those who were (will be) in the Rapture prior to the Tribulation period, and those Christians and Jews killed during the Tribulation we get to our goal; life during the Millennial Kingdom and reign of Jesus Christ ON EARTH. It is not my intention to explain why some of these prophecies have what is known as plural or dual points in history and that which has yet to happen. We are going to simply look at life during the Millennial Kingdom; ”thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth (millennial kingdom) as it is (already) done in heaven.”

Here is the setting: Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to the east of Jerusalem; an area now known as the West Bank. He declares himself King of the world then must defeat the combined forces of the King of the North (Antichrist: Europe or the resurrected Holy Roman Empire), the king of the South (Islam?: Middle East and Africa) and the forces from the north and east:*China and Russia? These forces will gather together to invade and eliminate Jerusalem/Israel (Joel 3:2; Zechariah 14:2; Matthew 24:29; Revelation 20:8) but only after having fought amongst themselves (Matthew 24:7). Continue reading

The Birthing of Spiritual Fads

Paul Hoffmaster

Paul Hoffmaster

There is always something to write about, especially when it comes to spiritual matters.  When you think the Bible (KJV) has 1,189 chapters and 31,173 verses, which includes 773,746 words, there should be enough content to occupy our interest until we meet Him face to face.  When we compare the extra curricular “self help” tutorials that strive to explain the Scripture, we have entered into the world of interpretive theology.  Christianity has become big business in promoting editorials on what God means from His Word.  Today, Christian publications have surpassed the Bible in revenue growth. Whenever someone writes anything, from a pamphlet to a book, inquiring minds rush to purchase the newest “must have.”  Electronics bridge the gap between the “seeker” and his desire to hear or see the manna from Heaven.

Does God really need help in making the Bible more relevant to its hearers?  There seems to be a “cliff note” mentality in so many Believers.  Instead of searching out the Scriptures themselves, they want someone to present a condensed version, which highlights the important aspects of selective Truth.  This trend is also evidenced in our Saturday/Sunday worship experiences.  Let the Pastor spoon feed his congregants and burp them so they can best understand the Word without feeling uncomfortable!  The Pastor/Shepherd is to lead his people to the truth of God’s Word and encourage them to search for themselves.

Do we really need people to explain what God has so clearly said in His Word? Throughout the years there have been periods of “discovered truths” that have been presented to the body of Christ.  These “uncovered” truths are like a shot of spiritual adrenalin to the Christian.  Whenever the Bible is neglected, modern interpretations are birthed to satisfy the stagnant Believer.  These fads are short lived and are eventually replaced by “updated relevancy.”  So much of the Christian literature today is centered on receiving, instead of giving.  Our faith is more vertical than horizontal.  The evidence of our spiritual growth is displayed by the outward instead of through the inner man.  Reality has become the new faith.

Instead of supplementary books and recordings, why don’t we just open the Word and let the Holy Spirit illuminate the Word in our spirits?  Let us not be so quick to reach a goal of reading the entire Bible in a year.  Instead, let us read one word at a time, giving the Holy Spirit time to seed that Word into our spirits.  Once that Word germinates into a living entity, our minds will grasp its power and we will begin to exhibit its Truth.  Many Christians are bypassing the Bible for explanatory books that convey an editorial understanding of the Scripture.  There is no substitute for God’s Word!  If we do not understand certain verses, move on to the next verse.  When the Holy Spirit believes we are ready for its meaning and application, He will open our understanding.

There is nothing wrong with extra Biblical publications, as long as they do not become the text book for our spiritual journey.  When religious books transcend the Bible, we will be vulnerable to extra Biblical truths which will lead to confusion.  Whatever we read, we must make sure it does not conflict with or contradict the Scriptures.  We must never dilute the Word to fit it into our comfort zone.  Let us be patient in our quest for Biblical understanding.  There are no short cuts to Scriptural comprehension.  We need to study the Word and let the Holy Spirit illuminate it.

Do You Know What You Are Holding?

The Word of God is unparalleled when it comes to the written word. There havePaul Hoffmaster been many gifted writers throughout the ages, but there has never been a writer who can compare with the inspired Biblical scribes.  The Bible is not a collection of editorials but a recording of facts from the One who created all things.  Writing under divine inspiration, men recorded the Words of life that would be read from generation to generation.  The value of these collections of Divine writings is impossible to determine.  First Edition secular writings can bring astronomical numbers from collectors who desire their ownership.  The more popular the personality, the greater the price tags.  The Word of God…. priceless!

I wonder if we really understand what we are holding when we pick up the Holy Book.  To have the Word of God in our hands should bring us to our knees in humble adoration.  To let our fingers thumb through the pages should release all our emotions in praise and worship.  To read the words of the living God should bring rivers of water flowing from our eyes.  To experience the Bible as the personal Word of God should cause us to fall prone before Him in eternal gratitude.  To have the Word revealed to us through the Holy Spirit should lift us to heights unimaginable.

I am convinced that we know about the Bible, but many of us don’t know the Bible.  We seem to treat the Word of God as any other book.  Many Believers have several Bibles around the house, but very few open them on a daily basis.  Bibles become dust catchers, or have been shelved along with other books.  When the Bible is opened, it usually is a pew Bible during our Saturday/Sunday weekly obligation.  If we truly understood what the Bible is, we would have a hard time closing it.  As blood is important to our bodies, so is the Word of God to our spirits and minds.  Many of the problems we face in life are a result of “Biblical Anemia.”  Jesus came that we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  It would have been so exciting to have been alive during Jesus’ earthly ministry, but we have the next best thing – His autobiography!  After reading about His ministry, we are captivated by seeing how the Church had its beginning.  We open the letters from the Apostles which show us how to apply Jesus’ teachings.  Twenty-seven “little books” captivate our interests.  If we can tear ourselves away from the New Testament, there are thirty- nine more volumes that pertain to the history of God’s chosen people.  The Old Testament takes us on journeys that can only be expressed with wonderment.

We cannot run our car without fuel.  We cannot have lights without electricity.  We cannot be the people God wants us to be without His Word.  It is great to hear sermons and teachings by God’s messengers.  It is wonderful to read books that attempt to explain the Bible.  It is exciting to see spiritual filling stations scattered throughout the world.  It is thrilling to have the Internet carry all aspects of the Christian message. But nothing can compare with opening the Word of God ourselves and letting the Holy Spirit lead us through the pages of God’s revealed Truth.

After the two men encountered the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they would say, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)  As we hold our Bibles in our hands, can we also say that our hearts are burning within us?