And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. Revelation 13:16-18 (NASB)
And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:9-12 (NASB)
One of the most ominous concepts that comes to mind when considering the book of Revelation is the mark of the beast. Throughout history, people have attempted to creatively identify what this means. The number 666 conjures hideous images of evil creatures and ill-fortune in the thoughts of so many.
What does this mean? I shall in no way try to calculate these numbers to mean a specific person or historical figure. I will not attempt to treat the Bible here as some kind of secret code to be deciphered only by those who have discovered its formula for decoding.
A real key in understanding the overall meaning of the mark is identified in what John states about it as “the number of a man.” What is man? He is a fallen, ruined creature; once in the very image of God, now a sin-tainted version of the original creation marked by imperfection.
Ask most people what would be considered the “perfect” number and they would respond with the number 7. This of course is a Biblical notion, even though those you ask may be unaware of that fact. The Bible often symbolizes perfection with the number 7. It would make sense then, that 6, which is slightly less than 7, would represent imperfection; 666 being the epitome of imperfection, as humanity is ruined to its core because of sin.
Following this line of reasoning, one of the most telling attributes of fallen human beings is the unwillingness to trust God, the Ultimate Provider, for our sustenance and to selfishly lean on the world system and ourselves to meet our “perceived” needs. Satan capitalizes on this reality as most human beings become “marked” by the temptation to trust anything other than God alone to supply their true needs. For this reason, the mark is connected to “buying and selling.” The Apostle Paul says, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.” (1 Timothy 6:10, NASB, underline mine)
This spirit of anti-Christ, which ultimately culminates into the beast of Revelation, leads to eternal destruction; which, needing no further explanation, is reflected in verses 9-11 of Revelation chapter 14. John states in verse 12 that only those with faith in Jesus will persevere and escape such a horrifying demise!
Hence, the question before us all on this day: In what do we trust?