REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST
Misinterpretations of Revelation 13 have led to some amazing "prophecies" among the Churches of God. It is not surprising therefore to find stated in I Cor 13:9 that "we know in part, and we prophesy in part". Verse 8 even says that "prophecies will fail". God's prophecies of course will not fail; they either have been fulfilled, or will be fulfilled.
Lamentably, the Churches of God think that Rev 13 depicts a series of events yet in the future. Based on the phrase "mark of the beast", some think they are going to have a bar code stamped on their foreheads, or a computer chip inserted in their neck, or something similarly fanciful.
Rev 20:4, however, says that the conditions described here are ongoing throughout the time of God's work with His people, rather than one-off end time phenomena.
Rev 20:4 states "Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."
Here we see that all those who will rule with Christ, regardless of when they lived, have rejected the "mark of the Beast". This is very figurative language. This is emphasised by the word "beheaded". Throughout history, very few people of God have been literally beheaded for their beliefs, but all of God's people have had to give up their own authority over their lives, and allow God to figuratively and spiritually be their head.
What Revelation 13 does is give us an overview of the Beast powers that conquered Jerusalem over a period of 2520 years. It elaborates on the description of the Beast powers already given in the book of Daniel.
In Daniel 7, four separate beasts are depicted with a total of seven heads, the seventh head having ten horns. The same powers are described in Rev 13, except that there they are portrayed as one beast.
In Dan 7:8 and 25, an additional power is described as a "little horn" that comes up amongst the ten horns. That little horn is elaborated on greatly in Rev 13, and is portrayed from verse 11 onward as another individual beast, i.e. a "lamb" which "spoke like a dragon", making five beasts in total, with the four from Daniel, but all five together comprising one overall Beast.
The meaning of the number 666, the number which is attached to this final fifth beast, identifies it as a historical power, not some future fanciful manifestation as is usually claimed by the Churches of God. This will be explained below.
Let's go through Revelation 13, and we'll see that it all adds up.
(I've added my comments in brackets).
1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast (a combination of Gentile powers) rising up out of the sea (onto the "earth" of Israel), having seven heads (representing seven independent powers that ruled over Jerusalem: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, the Ptolemaic Kingdom, the Seleucid Empire, Rome and Mecca/Medina) and ten horns (representing ten Islamic dynasties that subsequently ruled over Jerusalem - listed on the page "The Two Witnesses"), and on his horns ten crowns (showing that the content of this chapter is mainly about the period when the ten horns were in power, and the eighth head of the Beast, described in verses 5,6 and 11-18 came up among them), and on his heads a blasphemous name (the Beast powers practised false religions, denying the true God).
2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion (showing that this Beast is a combination of the individual beasts described in Dan 7). The dragon (Satan) gave him his power, his throne, and great authority (over Jerusalem and the Jews for 2520 years).
3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded (specifically the fifth head, the Seleucid Empire, making it appear that the Gentile powers had lost control of Jerusalem), and his deadly wound was healed (Rome took over the greatly weakened Seleucid Empire and re-conquered Jerusalem on behalf of the Beast powers in 63BC, making Rome the sixth head of the Beast. Prior to this, while Seleucid power was waning, God had allowed the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty to develop some autonomy or semi-autonomy in the century or so leading up to Christ's birth (Dan 11:33-35). It was obviously crucial for Christ to be born into a faithful Jewish family, living in a Jewish nation well schooled in the Scriptures and God's way of life. This nation would have to be grounded in the prophecies pertaining to the coming Messiah, to ensure that "He came to His own, but His own received Him not" (John 1:11). Otherwise the Jews could not have been held accountable for rejecting Christ. Also, this somewhat autonomous Jewish people was able to produce a pool of God fearing believers capable of being trained as leaders of the Church). And all the world marveled and followed the beast.
4 So they worshiped the dragon (Satan) who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast (they worshipped their empires, leaders, religions), saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
5 And he was given a mouth (the same mouth described in Dan 7:8 and 25) speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months (1260 inclusive years, from 686, when the Papacy gained independence from the Roman Empire's seat of power in Constantinople, until 1945, more fully described on the page "The Two Witnesses").
6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven (false Christianity spouting forth from the Papacy).
7 It was granted to him (the overall Beast) to make war with the saints and to overcome them (i.e. the Jews. This began when Babylon conquered Jerusalem, and lasted until the Jews restored their own sovereign government in Jerusalem after WW2). And power was given him over all (all manner of) kindreds, and tongues, and nations (within his dominion).
8 All (all manner of people; a great many) who dwell on the earth (of Israel, in addition to the Gentile lands he controls) will worship him (the Beast), whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (but those whose name is in the Book of Life resisted. An excellent example of this is seen in the contrast between the attitude of the Jews and the early Church in Christ's time: the Jews sought to please and put first their Roman, Beast power, occupiers, whereas the Church sought to please and put God first).
9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.
10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword (God takes vengeance on those who come against His city and His people). Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
11 Then I saw another (now separately described at the time it conquers Jerusalem in 1099AD) beast (Roman Catholicism/Christianity, the "little horn" or eighth head of the Beast) coming up out of the earth (Christianity originated from the earth of Israel), and he had two horns like a lamb (impersonating the true Lamb, i.e. Jesus Christ) and spoke like a dragon (he speaks deceptively like Satan. Note this beast has a head and two horns. The first Roman Catholic/Christian crusade which captured Jerusalem in 1099AD is represented by the head of this lamb. Its two horns are the two subsequent times this beast succeeded in seizing control of Jerusalem. These occasions are described on the page "The Two Witnesses". These three conquests are the same as those found in Dan 7:8 and 7:24, where the "little horn" is prophesied to uproot three of the ten Islamic dynasties that successively ruled Jerusalem).
12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence (continues the Gentile occupation of Jerusalem), and causes the earth and those who dwell in it (all who dwell in the Holy Land) to worship the first beast (but now in the Catholic manner - all Muslims and Jews were slaughtered by the Crusaders in 1099AD), whose deadly wound was healed.
13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men (the Catholic capture of Jerusalem from the hands of the "infidel" Muslims was taken to be a great and favourable sign from God).
14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth (of Israel, upon conquering it) by those signs (conquests and claimed miracles, in the name of God) which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make (accept in their heart) an image (of worship) to the beast (i.e. the Papacy, in the image of Roman emperors) who was wounded by the sword and lived.
15 (For) He was (had been) granted power (by the Roman Emperors) to give breath to the image of the beast (to create the Papal system), that the image of the beast should both speak (speak "great things and blasphemies" - see verse 5) and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed (the dictatorial office of the Papacy, modelled on the office of the Emperor, over time brought death to many who refused to worship it, utilising the political powers it had forged).
16 He causes all (under his power), both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark (an obvious transgression of God's law, namely Sabbath breaking, even though this head of the Beast calls itself "Christian", and claims to represent God) on their right hand (symbolising their actions) or (and) on their foreheads (symbolising their acceptance of the teachings of this power),
17 and (so) that no one may buy or sell (practise religion in his realm) except one who has the mark (of Sabbath breaking) or (and) the name of the beast (be it Catholic, or "Christian"), or (and) the number (the values) of (associated with) his name (its "Christianity", meaning its unbiblical doctrines and practices, including Sunday keeping).
18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number (the values) of the beast (false Christianity), for it is (they are) the number (the values) of (a) man (of sinful man, specifically here the office of "the man of sin" mentioned in II Thes 2:3): His number (values) is (add up to) 666 (various explanations regarding Papal titles are offered as possible solutions to this riddle. These certainly fit the attitude and mindset of the holders of this office, described in II Thes 2, but they do not explain why the specific number mentioned is 666, and not some other number. That explanation, I believe, is to be found in mathematics, as I will try to explain below).
God's law is made up of ten principles. In three separate Scriptures, Ex 34:28, Dt 4:13 and Dt 10:13, these ten principles are called the "ten words" and are usually referred to as the ten commandments. The third commandment instructs man to not take God's name "in vain". Rather, man is meant to take God's name correctly and purposefully.
Man was physically made in God's image, but the entire process of salvation is about creating man in God's spiritual image. At baptism, a man is begotten of God's spirit and placed in a family relationship with God. As a child born of a physical father takes on his father's name, likewise a converted man takes on his spiritual Father's name. Consequently we refer to ourselves as children of God. Christ is referred to in Scripture as both our Husband and elder brother, and we also take on His name and call ourselves Christians. The passage of Scripture here in Rev 13 is all about differentiating between those who correctly take God's name, thereby keeping the third commandment, and those who take His name in vain. Rev 12:14 says that true Christians keep "the commandments of God" and accept "the testimony of Jesus".
Mathematics is God's law in numbers. Numbers are also called values, and God's values are displayed in numbers. God attaches a value from 1 to 10 to each of His ten commandments, and gives us the decimal system of numeration in the process.
So what happens when we start to mess with God's law or values, i.e. take His name in vain? Let's try to replicate that numerically, in light of what false Christianity has done to God's law in merging, twisting and bending God's ten commandments. We can see what happens by jumbling any three numbers between 1 and 10, i.e. the numbers of God's laws.
Let's look at the numbers 1, 2 and 3.
If we combine 1, 2 and 3 into three digit numbers, and then jumble them into as many combinations as possible, it gives us six possible numbers: 123, 132, 213, 231, 312 and 321. If we add these numbers together we get 1332. If we proceed to divide 1332 by the average of the three digits we have used (which is 2) we get 1332÷2=666.
If we take for instance the numbers 4, 5 and 6, we see the same thing. 456+465+546+564+645+654=3330. The average of 4, 5 and 6 is 5. And 3330÷5=666.
Non-consecutive numbers yield the same result: Take for instance 1, 8 and 9. 189+198+819+891+918+981=3996. The average of 1, 8 and 9 is 6. 3996÷6=666.
Using numbers where the average produces a fraction works just the same. Let's take 1, 2 and 4. 124+142+214+241+412+421=1554. The average of 1, 2 and 4 is 2.333333333333, or, to be precise, 2 and a third. 1554 ÷ 2.333333333333 (2 and a third) = 666.
Care must be taken when using the number 10 doing these calculations. If for instance using 2, 6 and 10, the number 2 stands for 2 x 100, the 6 stands for 6 x 10, and the 10 stands for 10. Writing that as a three digit number equals 270. Therefore the numbers
2 6 10
2 10 6
6 2 10
6 10 2
10 2 6
10 6 2
should for the purpose of addition be written as
Add those six numbers together, then divide that number by the average of the three digits used, which is 6, and the calculation will result in 3996÷6=666.
I believe that this mathematical explanation shows why the number of the false Christian beast is given as 666.
Roman Catholicism has messed with God's ten commandments in major ways. They have merged commandments 1 and 2, split commandment 10 into two separate parts, and changed the day associated with the 4th commandment. Also, by merging commandments 1 and 2, all the subsequent commandments are shifted out of their assigned places. Dan 7:8 and 25 foretell that this power, described as a "little horn", would "think to change times and laws". This they certainly did for those under their influence.
Dan 7:25 and Rev 13:5 also imply that this power would be given authority for 1260 years, and history clearly bears this out. Therefore the beast of Rev 13:11-18 is not a prophecy still in the future, but rather one that has been fulfilled through the long, bloody and deceptive history of false Christianity led by the Papacy.
The number 666 in Rev 13:18 is the mathematical representation of the little horn taking God's name in vain and changing God's times and laws.
It is true, of course, that all humans have taken God's name in vain and transgressed His laws, and so we have all earned the 666 label. Indeed, what man could claim to not be a man of sin? However, through accepting Christ's sacrifice and turning from our transgression of God's commandments, we rid ourselves of that description.
The big difference between false Christianity and true Christians is that false Christianity has institutionalised and justified transgressions of God's commandments, has been totally unrepentant of doing so, has forced others into these transgressions, and has claimed to have done all this in the name of God!
To give credit where credit is due, I developed the idea for the explanation of the Biblical number 666 after consulting the website www.archimedes-lab.org. I did this as part of researching the mathematical properties of the number 666, as I had begun to suspect that there was a mathematical link between the concept of lawlessness and the number 666. The above website, amid a plethora of mathematical information about many numbers, makes the following statement (though not connecting it to the law of God in any way):
"Take ANY number having 3 consecutive digits and sum all 6 possible combinations, here 789: 789 + 798 + 879 + 897 + 978 + 987 = 5,328. Now, if you divide the result by 8 you'll obtain 666".
As it turns out, the person who made the statement above was in reality dealing with three individual numbers: 7, 8 and 9. In addition, as shown in my calculations above, and contrary to their statement, the numbers don't need to be consecutive, and they don't need to involve single digits. Also, to be precise, the total sum of the six numbers needs to be divided by the average of the three individual numbers used, which in this example is 8.
It becomes clear by doing further calculations that this law doesn't only apply to the ten basic numbers 1 to 10. Rather, any three numbers of any size will yield the same result.
If we take for instance the numbers 22, 34 and 49, we'll see that this law works just the same:
22 34 49 (2200+340+49) = 2589
22 49 34 (2200+490+34) = 2724
34 22 49 (3400+220+49) = 3669
34 49 22 (3400+490+22) = 3912
49 22 34 (4900+220+34) = 5154
49 34 22 (4900+340+22) = 5262
The average of 22, 34 and 49 is arrived at thus: 105÷3=35
Endless similar calculations could be made.
As God's law is limitless in its applications, likewise this mathematical law is limitless in its applications.
The larger numbers are symbolic of the infinite reach of God's law.
Almost 2000 years ago God revealed this number 666 to John the apostle. In Prov 25:2 God states that it is His glory to conceal a matter, but the glory of men to search these things out. This gem has been hidden in the Scriptures all this time for this very purpose.
The number 666 has of course had many interpretations. It is certainly symbolic of Satan, the originator of lawlessness and the one who empowers false Christianity.
The number 666 can at times be seen in relation to man's chronology, as shown in a few places on the chart on the "HOME" page. I believe, for example, that the year 2025AD corresponds to the 5994th year since Creation, which equals 666 x 9, the significance of which can also be seen on the chart.
So we find that Revelation 13 is giving us an overview of the Beast powers in their entirety: all the powers that have trodden down Jerusalem and the Jews, and to some extent true Christians as well. This period, known as "the times of the Gentiles", lasted from 575BC until 1945: 2520 inclusive years, as fully described on the page "THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES", as well as other pages on this website pertaining to the book of Revelation.
I would like to conclude by commenting on the concept of "the image of the Beast", as found in Revelation 13, verses 14 and 15. This will follow on nicely from what we have just seen in regard to the number 666:
The Creation story tells us that God made man in His image. The Bible narrative informs us that the creation of man in a physical sense is just the beginning of His plan. Through the conversion process, God is creating human beings in His spiritual image, or in other words, His character. God's adversary, Satan, likewise has his image or character. It is the total opposite of God's character. On the very first day of Creation God pictured these opposites when He created day and night. God has placed His ways and Satan's ways before us and tells us to choose: good over evil, light over darkness, lawfulness over lawlessness, life over death. In other words, we are to choose His image or character, over the image or character of Satan.
God called His people, Israel, and revealed His nature to them, so that they in turn could reflect His character as a light unto the world. Over time, they disobeyed Him and were sent into captivity, and rulership of their country was given to those who did not know God. These conquerors reflected the ways of the "god of this world", Satan the devil. They are collectively described here in Rev 13 as a "Beast". It says that the dragon, Satan, gives them their power (v2). Satan also gives them their character.
The spirit of the second commandment is about God wanting us to know His true character, and not to have a false image of Him. After coming to know Him, He wants us to love His chosen way as much as He does.
The people who worship God love His true characteristics or image: love, faithfulness, goodness, mercy, honesty, integrity, benevolence, high standards, high quality etc. The people of Satan love and worship his characteristics or image: dishonesty, hatred, discord, violence, perversion, destruction, selfishness, laziness, low standards etc. This is why in Rev 20:4 we are told that all those who ultimately are resurrected as firstfruits and rule with Jesus Christ, "had not worshipped (loved, adored) the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands".
This even includes all those firstfruits who lived long before the Beast came into being!
They, through a lifetime of trial and overcoming, had chosen the ways of God over the ways of Satan. Not only had they chosen the ways of God, but implementing commandment number three, they had taken on the name of God, in the manner He intended, by developing His character through the habit of keeping His laws; the forgiveness of their transgressions being made possible through the blood of Christ.
In Deut 6:8 God instructs Israel to tie His laws to their foreheads and hands. He wanted His way of conduct to become their norm, and the spirit of His way to become their habitual way of thinking. Likewise, Satan wants his evil way to become our habit, and his way of thinking to be our normal way of thinking. So we can see that these references to "foreheads" and "hands" are symbolic and figurative.
As stated at the outset, the Churches of God have taken the descriptions in Rev 13 way too literally. They also believe that only future events are depicted here, which fails to take into account that the symbolic phrase "had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands" applies to all of God's people throughout time, as Rev 20:4 makes abundantly clear.
To listen to my YouTube presentation on the historical evidence of the Two Witnesses, and where they fit in with the Beast powers, please click here.