Wisdom-Trek / Creating a Legacy
Welcome to Day 1091 of our Wisdom-Trek, and thank you for joining me.
I am Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom
666 – What Does It Really Mean? – Wisdom Wednesday
Wisdom – the final frontier to true knowledge. Welcome to Wisdom-Trek where our mission is to create a legacy of wisdom, to seek out discernment and insights, and to boldly grow where few have chosen to grow before.
Hello, my friend, I am Guthrie Chamberlain, your captain on our journey to increase wisdom and create a living legacy. Thank you for joining us today as we explore wisdom on our 2nd millennium of podcasts. This is Day 1091 of our trek, and it is Wisdom Wednesday. Creating a Biblical worldview is important to have a proper perspective on today’s current events.
To establish a Biblical worldview, you must also have a proper understanding of God’s Word. Especially in our western cultures, we do not fully understand the Scriptures from the mindset and culture of the authors. In order to help us all have a better understanding of some of the more obscure passages in God’s Word, we are investing Wisdom Wednesday reviewing a series of essays from one of today’s most prominent Hebrew Scholars Dr. Micheal S. Heiser. He has compiled these essays into a book titled “I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible.”
The number 666 in the Bible is recognized by believers and non-believers alike as the “number of the beast.” In today’s essay, we will explore passages that cover…
666 – What Does It Really Mean?
If there’s one part of the Bible virtually everyone has heard of, it’s 666—the “number of the beast.” If there’s one thing no one can agree upon, it’s what that number stands for. We see 666 in Revelation 13:18, “Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.” The wording here is important. John tells readers that the number must be “calculated,” which means there must be a hidden meaning behind it. But how do we calculate it?
· Calculating Symbolism
One option for solving this biblical riddle is gematria, the idea that numbers have symbolic meaning. While some have called gematria a tool for speculation, it actually derives from an ancient convention in languages like Greek and Hebrew where letters of the alphabet are used to represent numbers. But gematria is not limited to just Revelation; the New Testament contains several other symbolic figures. The 153 fish of John 21:11 could be interpreted as ancient symbolism for the Church, the body of Christ, and the Old Testament sons of God as analogous to believers in the Church. The Greek word for “dove,” like the dove that descends on Jesus at His baptism, has a numerical value equivalent to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, thus symbolizing the Alpha and Omega as recorded in Revelations 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. ‘I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.’”
· Calculating 666
When it comes to 666, one gematria explanation is that the number represents Nero Caesar. The Greek Xeron Kaisar adds up to 1,005, but when the name is transliterated into the Hebrew letters nrwn qsr, the sum is 666. Nero Caesar also would explain the variant number of the Beast (616) found in some New Testament manuscripts. Transliterating the Latin Nero Caesar into Hebrew, nrwn qsr, yields 616, suggesting John may have been thinking of the well-known Nero Redivivus myth when writing about the beast (i.e., that Nero would rise from the dead to destroy Christians).
The gematria solution presents three major problems…It could be viewed as cheating with the spellings (the usual Hebrew spelling for Caesar is q’st, not qsr, although the qsr form does exist). It assumes that readers knew Hebrew well enough to do the transliteration from Greek back into Hebrew. And, perhaps most tellingly, the early Christian commentators who knew of the Nero redivivus myth never identified 666 with Nero.
· Ancient Sudoku
There is another possibility. 666 is a magic square. From very ancient times, philosophers and mathematicians were fascinated that the numbers 1-36 could be arranged in squares so that each row and diagonal would add up to the same sum (the same principle as modem Sudoku). One magic square has four rows and two diagonals that each add up to111. The six lines of 111 equal 666. Each magic square in ancient Jewish and Greek tradition was also associated with a celestial body. In the case of the 666 square, that body was the sun, which was associated with Zeus, the highest god in the Greek pantheon.
Zeus was often associated with Baal and the mythological north (tsaphon) of Canaanite religion. Most relevant to the Beast of Revelation is Baal’s (and Zeus’) title, “lord of heaven” (Baal-shamem). It is possible that the “abomination of desolation” in Daniel 9:27 (shiqquts-shamem) is a play on Baal- shamem, since the Old Testament writers sometimes substituted words that meant “shame” or “abomination” into proper names that formerly contained “Baal” (e.g., Mephibosheth, Ish- Bosheth). This would mean 666 is a symbol for the abominable Baal, the dark lord of the Old Testament world, satanic power in New Testament thinking.
As with all studies concerning escatology or what is considered the “end times,” it is best that we do not get too hung up or fixed on a particular position. Just as in the coming of the Messiah the first time was misunderstood by nearly everyone of that day, there is much we do not know and will not know until God’s kingdom is fully established on earth. Until then, let us focus on building His kingdom by sharing the good news to all the world.
That will conclude our essay for this week. Next Wisdom Wednesday we will continue in the New Testament as we look at Dr. Heiser’s next essay titled “Perspective Changes Everything.” I believe you will find this another interesting topic to consider as we build our Biblical worldview.
Tomorrow we will continue with our 3-minute humor nugget that will provide you with a bit of cheer and help you to lighten up and live a rich and satisfying life. So encourage your friends and family to join us and then come along with us tomorrow for another day of our Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.
If you would like to listen to any of our past 1090 treks or read the Wisdom Journal, they are available at Wisdom-Trek.com. I encourage you to subscribe to Wisdom-Trek on your favorite podcast player so that each day’s trek will be downloaded automatically.
Thank you for allowing me to be your guide, mentor, and most of all your friend as I serve you through the Wisdom-Trek podcast and journal.
As we take this trek together, let us always:
- Live Abundantly (Fully)
- Love Unconditionally
- Listen Intentionally
- Learn Continuously
- Lend to others Generously
- Lead with Integrity
- Leave a Living Legacy Each Day
I am Guthrie Chamberlain reminding you to Keep Moving Forward, Enjoy Your Journey, and Create a Great Day Everyday! See you tomorrow!