The Number of the Beast (Revelation 13:16-18)
There is probably no more infamous number in the Bible than 666. It is by far the scariest digit in the world today. It has been associated with everything from Satanism to Social Security and applied to everything from a birthmark on Mikhail Gorbachev’s forehead to barcode scanners at grocery stores. In the whirl of it all, the plain sense of Scripture gets lost and sensationalism takes over, leading us all away from scriptural truth to one conspiracy theory after another.
The Bible plainly tells us that 666 “is the number of a man.” The actual Greek text, however, does not contain the indefinite article “a,” but merely states that it “is the number of man.” For instance, in his Expanded Translation of the New Testament, Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest, translates Revelation 13:18: “Here is wisdom. He who has understanding, let him calculate at once the number of the Wild Beast, for the number is that of man [the human race]. And his number is six hundred sixty-six.”
As we learned yesterday, six is the number of man, since man was created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:24-31). We have also learned in these devotions that the number three represents our triune God. Thus, the infamous 666 of the Book of Revelation may simply be understood as representing that which has been the plight of the human race ever since the Fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:4-6). In other words, three sixes are merely symbolic of man (six) pretending to be or usurping the place of God (three).
Do we not usurp the place of God in our lives every time we sin against God; that is, every time we crown ourselves and dethrone God by giving our will preeminence over His? Is sin not the whole problem of the human race? If so, is the number 666 not merely a simple equation that sums up the whole of the human problem? Granted, it may be prophetically predicting the apex of the human problem in a Satan-filled world ruler’s usurpation of the worship of God at the end of time, but it is still a simple and clear explanation of the human problem at all times.