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MARK OF THE BEAST

     The number 666 has been a fascination for people down through time, and it is a number associated with the devil.  God has forewarned us of a time when the man of sin, a superhuman dictator (II Thessalonians 2:4), known at the Beast, will be given power over all kindreds and tongues and nations.  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (except the saints), and he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive his mark, number or name, in order to work, buy or sell (Revelation 13:7,8,16,17).

     In Revelation 13:18 special attention is given to the number of the beast, 666. The number is introduced by the phrase "Here is wisdom", and the appeal is made to those of understanding to count the number of the beast which is the number of a man.  There has been endless speculation concerning the meaning of this number.  We will answer that, but first let's take a look at the rapture, tribulation, and the beast.

     The rapture is the next event in God's program, which will occur prior to a seven-year tribulation period that will encompass the whole earth.  According to I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Jesus will catch out all believers from the earth to meet the Lord in the air to escape the tribulation.  The tribulation will be a period of seven years, following the rapture, of phenomenal chaos and troublous times.

     Who is the Antichrist?  He is known as the Beast.  He is a man that will be empowered by Satan that will rule over the Western Nations.  The Antichrist will probably come out of the United States of America.  The little horn of Daniel chapter 7 is the Antichrist.  The little horn also represents the nation that the Antichrist comes from.  This eleventh nation is the United States of America.

     In Daniel 11:36,37, we are told that the Antichrist will, "...exalt himself and magnify himself above every god," and in II Thessalonians 2:4 it is revealed, "...so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

     Keep in mind that the Antichrist will not be revealed until after the rapture.  If we are living close to the rapture then the Antichrist would be living now and waiting to be revealed just after the rapture.  The Bible does give some key characteristics that will expose his identity as the Antichrist.

1)     He will be popular and worshipped  (Revelation 13:3,4)
2)     He will be fearless  (Revelation 13:4)
3)     He will persecute the tribulation believers       (Revelation 13:7)
4)     He will be a world dictator  (Revelation 13:7)
5)     He will be a maker of peace treaties  (Daniel 9:27)
6)     He will negotiate a seven year treaty with Israel that he will break after three and one half years  (Daniel 9:27)
7)     He will be a skilled negotiator  (Daniel 8:23)
8)     He will be Jewish, but not respect the God of his fathers  (Daniel 11:37)
9)     He will respect only the god of force  (Daniel 11:37)
10)     He will be a great orator (Daniel 11:21)
11)     He will have a brilliant mind (Daniel 8:23)
12)     He will control all buying and selling (Revelation 13:17)
13)     He will use force to conquer nations (Revelation 6:2)

     Concerning the number 666, probably the simplest explanation is the best.  The triple six is the number of a man, since each digit falls short of the perfect number seven.  Six in the Scripture is man's number.  Man was created on the sixth day.  He was to work six days and rest the seventh.

     The Antichrist will claim to be God, yet he is just a man.  Whereas Jesus Christ was God, but was rejected as merely a man.

     But there is probably much more to the meaning of 666.  Revelation 13:16-18 states that "…he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six."

     In the middle of the tribulation period the Antichrist will mark people with a number without which they will not be able to buy or sell.

     We are living in a time when the technology is here for doing all buying and selling by a number.  Most people today have a credit card and are familiar with buying with a number.  Today the bankcard allows for debit buying as contrasted with credit buying.  Many grocery and other stores are currently allowing the customer to use the bankcard, which immediately debits the bank account at the point of sale.

     All that the Antichrist needs to do is to take and place the number on the person instead of on a piece of plastic.  The technology is already here.  A scanner would pass over the customer's hand instead of his credit card.

     Buying and selling would then be controlled at the point of sale, all based upon the number placed upon the right hand or forehead of the customer.

     What about the number 666?  It has been said that everyone could be marked with an eighteen-digit number.  Our social security number is a nine-digit number and in computer language it is an eighteen-digit number.

     In order to memorize numbers, we group numbers into blocks of numbers.  For example, your phone number is a seven-digit number.  You would have a lot of difficulty memorizing many phone numbers that way.  So, we break phone numbers into two blocks, a three-digit block and a four-digit block.  That way we can memorize a number of phone numbers easier.

     If everyone were assigned an eighteen-digit number broken into three blocks, there would be six digits, six digits, and six digits on every person's hand--666!  Do you see it?  This might be the answer.  Those living during the tribulation would be able to identify the system as that of the Antichrist easily.  Everyone would have six digits, six digits, and six digits, or 666!  At the same time, one person's eighteen-digit number would be different from everyone else's, just as your phone number is different from everyone else's.

     The electronic system of buying by a number is being used right now by your favorite store.  Aren't we only waiting for the Antichrist?

     If you are a believer, you need not worry.  "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 5:9)."  The believer can look for Jesus to catch him out.  The unbeliever can wait to receive the mark of the Beast!

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