Who is 666? Last Sunday we had 665 people in Sunday School, but this sermon is not about finding out who missed Sunday School.
Today we come to Revelation 13, the mysterious chapter about the beast whose number is 666. This number has so captured our imaginations that Christians are often superstitious about hospital rooms, social security numbers, phone numbers, etc. with 666. When the Baptist Hymnal was published in 1991, for some reason it had 666 hymns, but LifeWay advertised it by saying, "It has more than 665 hymns."
Revelation 13 describes the beast from the sea, and a beast from the land, and in verse 18 it says, "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."
Who is 666? Since the second century, Christians have taken this as an invitation to play a game of gematria, where you assign a number to each letter of the alphabet. In Hebrew, if you assign a number to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Nero Caesar equals 666. The abbreviation on Roman coins for Emperor Domitian, who was emperor at the time Revelation was written, also added up to 666. During the Crusades, Pope Innocent III claimed that the Greek form of the name Muhammad equaled 666, and so it referred to the founder of Islam! Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, noted that the Greek for Benedict or Benedictine, added up to 666, and Luther said it referred to the Catholic pope! In English, if A= 100, B= 101, C= 102, etc., then Hitler equals 666. In the 1980's, some people noticed that President Ronald Wilson Reagan had six letters in his first, middle and last names, thus 666. I won't even get into what speculations people might have about today's political leaders!
Who is 666? The answer is not in number games, but in the Scripture. In this chapter, Revelation 13, we not only learn about the beast, whose number is 666, but we learn about two beasts, what they will do, and how we must respond to them.
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