The number 666 has fascinated many and they naturally associate it with the end times. What is the connection between 666 and the end times described in the Bible?
The Number 666
Some associate this number with the anti-Christ, some with the Pope, and yet others even with the President but let’s examine Scripture to see what the context of this number is mentioned in. There should be no real mystery here because the number 666 says that it’s the number of the beast and the number of man or the number of a man so it is associated with someone that is human. There have been countless speculations about who this is and so far every one of them has turned out to be false. Some believed it was one of the pope’s, others said it was Hitler or Mussolini but let’s depend on the Bible for this revelation and not human speculation. Revelation 13:18 says “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Man was created on the sixth day of creation and so maybe this’s the reason that it’s the number of man or why Revelation 13:18 says “Here is wisdom” and wisdom in found in the Scriptures and Genesis 1:27 says that on the sixth day “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” So since we can count the number of the beast and it is the number of a man, does this mean that the end time’s beast is a man? Many Bible scholars believe so but when we read the Book of Revelation, we should understand that this book is not written in chronological order and so the events are not entirely sequential.
Satan Gives Power to the Beast
In Revelation 18:1-3 is reads “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” The beast doesn’t have power within himself but the dragon gives it to him. Who or what is the dragon? We don’t have to guess at this because Revelation 12:9 indicates who the dragon is; “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” So the dragon is Satan and Satan gives the beast its power but what kind of beast has ten crowns and ten horns along with seven heads? The beast also has the feet of a bear, the mouth of a lion, and was likened unto a leopard but this was not any ordinary man was it? We know one thing for certain. It was empowered, not by human strength, but by satanic powers (Rev 13:2).
The End Times
The prophet Daniel described the end times in Daniel 12:4 “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Is this the day and age when many are running to and fro? Is this the end time or the “the time of end” that we so often hear about? Only time will tell us whether this is so or not but I believe that our focus should remain on Christ and Him crucified for sinners. We can get so wrapped up on end time events that we focus on this and not on Jesus Christ Himself who commanded us to go into all the world to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18-20). The time after Christ’s ascension has all been the “end times” because Christ could come back at any moment and nothing needs to happen prior to His second coming so we must always be ready for His appearing.
Jesus on the End Times
In the Olivet Discourse Jesus says in Matthew 24:5-6 that “many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” This has already happened but Jesus adds that “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” but “these are [only] the beginning of sorrows” (Matt 24:7-8). The beginning is not the end. You don’t have to look very far to see that “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” because there is no shortage of false prophets today (Matt 24:11). Jesus gives us the time when the end shall come when He said “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt 24:14). Has this happened to the fulfillment of what Christ meant? Has the gospel indeed been preached “for a witness unto all nations?” That depends on who you ask. It won’t be a gradual appearing but “as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt 24:27). One thing about lightning, we see it before we hear it but that doesn’t mean that it’s not instantaneous.
The Time of His Appearing
I cannot say when that time will come when Jesus comes to judge the earth. All I know for certain is that we should “Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come” (Matt 24:42). All we are commanded to do is to always be ready for His return, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24:44) so He tells us that He will come when no one is expecting it. Peter wrote “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet 3:10). No one knows when a thief is coming to break into a house and so likewise, Jesus will come when no one is expecting Him. Peter was not concerned with when He was coming but that He was coming and “the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:7). Peter knew that there would be many doubters and skeptics which is why he wrote “that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:3-4). Jesus knew this too saying “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:38-39). Just as it was in Noah’s day, people were doing what they always do; marrying, giving in marriage, eating, and drinking as if nothing would change but suddenly the flood came and swept them all away. The waters are symbolic of God’s judgment on a sinful mankind and Jesus will appear just as suddenly to judge those who have never been saved.
We shouldn’t focus so much on the end times, the beast or the mark of the beast but make Christ the focal point of our lives. When we start taking our eyes off of Christ and onto prophecy and world events, we shift our minds to the end and not to the One Who is coming to judge the world with righteousness (Rev 20:11-15). I believe we should emphasize the gospel of Christ. That He came to die for sinners like you and me and that those who have not yet repented should do so immediately, before He returns. Those who are not yet saved should put their trust in Christ and then He will come as their King and not as their Judge.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
A good book to check out: 7 Biblical Signs Of The End Times
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon