Summary: The mark of the Beast, 666, has caused many to be afraid. But we shouldn’t be. It is the mark of Satan’s end. Thus it is he that should fear, not us.
It was testimony night in the church.
A lady got up and said, "We are living in a wicked land where sin is on every hand. I have had a terrible fight with the old devil all week."
Where upon her husband, who was sitting glumly by her side said, "It’s not all my fault either; she’s tough to get along with."
I. The devil is up for a terrible fight.
We know I John 5:18 tells us that the “evil one cannot touch us”… but that doesn’t stop Satan from trying.
Rev. 12:10-12 tells us
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."
The story told here in Revelation, is that when Jesus established His kingdom (the church) Satan was thrown down. Now we overcome the devil by power of the blood & the word of our testimony. And Satan is filled with fury because he knows his time is short.
AND SO Revelation tells us Satan has a plan and Chapter 13 tells us what that plan is:
Satan will work thru two forces (symbolized here as two beasts).
The 1st beast comes up out of the sea: all the power of secular government.
The 2nd beast comes up out of earth and mimics Christianity (lamb) but speaks with the voice of the dragon.
Chapter 13 ends with the ominous threat that this 2nd beast will have the power to “brand” everyone with his mark the name of the beast and the number of his name.
WHO IS THIS BEAST and what does this number symbolize? That’s the $666 dollar question. Ever since Revelation was written there has been speculation about who this beast is and what this number means.
ILLUS: It is one of the peculiarities of Jewish and Greek writing, that names could be given certain numbers based on the numerical value of the letters found in those names. That’s because in the Greek and Hebrew languages, letters in their alphabets were assigned a number value.
For example: the numerical value of the name of Jesus in the Greek is "888."
Using that kind of reasoning, people have come up with a number of possibilities:
Early Christians, because they lived in the Roman empire, used lateinos or Latin (language of that day in Rome) and branded the Roman Emporers Nero, Caligula, and Trajan as the Beast because their names could be turned into the number 666.
Likewise, the Reformers of the Middle Ages experimented with numerology and often taught that the Catholic church & the various popes showed the value of 666.
The Catholic church fought back with numerical values of 666 for Martin Luther and John Calvin.
In more recent history, some have suggested the names of various world dictators: such as Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin.
Others have suggested the mark of the beast is the symbol of the Masonic Lodge, the face on the American dime and so on.
The most amusing suggestion I’ve heard lately is that 666 = Jack Van Impe.
QUOTE: I once had a Bible College Professor who taught us: “The less that scripture has to say on any given topic the more theories you’ll find on the subject.” And that appears to be what has happened with the number game behind 666.
Given the vast array of possibilities that scholars have given down thru the ages as to who or what 666 stood for, WHO AM I, that I should be able to tell you which one is right. What’s more – who are these “so called experts” who tell you they know to tell us "they know" what 666 stands for specifically. It’s all guess work.
II. Today’s sermon is not intended to tell you who the beast is.
That’s NOT my objective. My objective is to contend against the theology of fear that has been built around this passage by the followers of many popular Rapture teachrs. They have often declared various things to be the mark of the beast:
1. Social Security #’s
2. Bar Codes on products, places & people
3. VISA cards
4. Jack Van Impe once declared that the beast will be using a vast computer network because "computer" (in English)figures to be "666."