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666 and the ‘Covid Passport?’

10/12/2020

The Mark of the Beast

Text: Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

Before you read this – or listen to the Podcast, you should perhaps read this short introduction to Eschatology: https://saltyscrivener.uk/2020/01/08/eschatology-a-simple-introduction/

In this study we are going to look at some alternative understandings and see if we can make sense of the mysterious 666 number. We are going to look at the popular, modern option, the one you will have heard from many of your evangelical friends, then at what we might call an ‘historicist’ viewpoint, or at least one such opinion, and then, we shall return to the text in Revelation 13, and see if there’s a simple textual meaning.

Is the possible ‘Covid Passport’ the Mark of the Beast?

1 The Modern Evangelical (Dispensationalist) View.

This is topical among some evangelicals.  Is the coronavirus vaccine, and its threatened ‘Covid Passport’ the Mark of the Beast?  They may believe that before the Lord returns (or possibly during the ‘Great Tribulation’ which follows the ‘partial rapture’ depending on which variety of dispensationalism you are reading or listening to) there will be a worldwide government, ruled over by an all powerful dictator, and a counterfeit religious system, – the kingdom of the Antichrist. To survive under such political conditions everyone must conform, and be marked with a symbol of conformity and obedience.  That symbol whether it be a micro-chip or an app, or a literal brand upon the skin, will be needed in order to work or to buy and sell. To be fair, it’s tempting to agree with them sometimes, as we see the march of globalism. But there are other opinions too.

To listen to this lesson as a PODCAST click this LINK

2 An Historicist View.

Revelation is an Apocalyptic form of literature, comprised of hidden signs and symbols directed to encourage and inform the persecuted church of the first century.  That they should know who the enemy was!  But what if openly naming the enemy was too dangerous?  Could some kind of a code be used?  A code that perhaps only a few would understand, and those few would be Christian leaders?  That’s one theory about 666.  It was a secret CODE.  Now, we need to be really careful here.  I’m wary of ‘secret codes’ – the Bible is meant to be read at face value, not to be subjected to some form of numerological hocus-pocus.  But in this single case, these historicists (‘preterists’) may actually have a point.  The person who was tormenting the church at the middle of the first century was a man called NERO. Nero was a monster, a vicious persecutor of the church, and believers needed to know that he was not safe, he was an antichrist.  In ancient languages, there were no numerals, such as we have in modern English.   Hebrew and Greek had systems, where numbers were represented by letters.  666, by a complex method of numerological equations, spells ‘NERO Caesar.’ In Hebrew.  People call this method of numerical interpretation, ‘gematria.’  (See Kevin DeYoung’s blog Revelation, Coronavirus, and the Mark of the Beast: How Should Christians Read the Bible’s Most Fascinating Book? (Part 3) https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/revelation-coronavirus-and-the-mark-of-the-beast-how-should-christians-read-the-bibles-most-fascinating-book-part-3/. DeYoung is not necessarily agreeing with this interpretation, and neither am I – simply noting it as an option, as we have done with the more modern evangelical one.   So, now it’s time to see what the Bible says…  

3 The Number of a Man.

First, let’s get a quick overview of the chapter.

  1. The two beasts.   Remember that these are not literal beasts.   There are two beasts, one from the sea, and one from the earth.
    1. The first beast.  13:1-10.  A corrupt state.  Rev. 12:9   V5 a mouth speaking great things  You must do as you are told,   but Christians will not comply for they will have first allegiance to the King of Heaven and Earth.  Verse 7-8 are important.
    2. The second beast.  13:11 A corrupt religious system. Whatever religious system this beast is selling, even if it is a perversion of Christianity, it LOOKS like a lamb, but when it speaks its words are directly from Satan.  V11. Let’s see some of the characteristics of this false religion:
  • It has the blessing of the corrupt secular state and owes its first allegiance to the state, not to the Lord. 13:12.  
  • It performs signs and wonders, which are open and visible and can be seen by people. 13:13.  
  • It uses these outward signs to fool people into giving allegiance to the political system which spawned it.  13:14  
  • He promotes this idolatry.  Note the language – 13:15  We want THINGS.   
  • He carries the authority to punish those who will not comply.  13:15  
  1. The symbol of antichrist.  Now we get to the core of the issue.  13:16-17   It is simply a warning that if, as a Christian you take your stand for Christ, and do not compromise with the world you must be prepared to suffer.   The mark of the beast is not a literal mark, it is a declaration of what we are, are we of Christ or of the world?  Are we worshipping the Lord in our lives, in our hearts, in our minds, in our actions (hands and foreheads) or are we worshipping Caesar,?   cf Mark 13:12-13  
  2. We need a shield for the fight.  18  
    1. The call to calculate.    John specifically instructs his readers in this verse to CALCULATE THE NUMBER.  Imagine the scene, – a little group of believers in Jesus, who have seen fellow believers arrested.  Hopefully someone in their group will understand what Paul is saying, and will translate the numbers back into letters and he will see who the persecutor is NERO – CAESAR.  It will be a means of defence for the Christian, to know the enemy, and the nature of the forces ranged against us.
    2. The clarification disclosed.  It is the number of a man, a number that signifies man’s sinfulness and imperfection, a falling short of the holiness and perfection of the Trinity, for 7 is said to be the number of perfection, and God is Holy, Holy, Holy, 777, Man is far short of that – is 666.

So, what do YOU think?  The interpretation of the Mark of the Beast should not in any way be a source of division among Christians.  It should help us to know who our enemy is, so that we will be aware of the hostility in the world against the church, and we will be better equipped to face it when persecution comes along.

© BobMcEvoy December 2020

From → Eschatology

2 Comments
  1. Andy permalink

    Thanks Bob, another enlightening reading

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