|- J. Preston Eby -
The book of Revelation is without doubt one of the most important and wonderful books ever written. It is difficult for many people to understand because it is written in highly symbolic language, understandable only to the spiritual mind. Long milleniums ago Joseph spoke a wonderful truth when he asked the burning question, "Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Gen. 40:8). Moses said, "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may DO all the words of this law" (Deut. 2929). Many preachers spend far too much time delving into future speculations about world events. Time invariably repudiates their futile predictions. God did not give us a heavenly version of NEWSWEEK magazine, but the Book of Life.
When the book of Revelation was written, John was IN THE SPIRIT. This is a fact of extreme importance. The realm of the Spirit is a realm beyond the reach of the natural. Spiritual things are all about us to such an extent that we live and move and have our being in them, yet the natural man can never see them until the Spirit draws aside the dusky curtains of our carnality and opens our eyes to the things of the spiritual world. Thus it was with John, in exile on barren Patmos, a place of few inhabitants and always swarming with pirates, but the record says of him, "Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw...for the testimony of Jesus IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY" (Rev. 1:2; 19:10). Preachers and teachers ought to heed this wise counsel and concentrate on the TESTIMONY OF JESUS which is the spirit of prophecy rather than futuristic forecasts of earthquakes, plane crashes, riots, nuclear disasters, political coups, invasions, wars, foreign policies, world government, etc. etc. When God gave us the Holy Spirit, it was not to take soundings of uncharted depths into the future of Russia, America, Europe, or the Jews but to develop a SPIRITUAL CHARACTER, to put on the mind of Christ, and follow the Lamb wheresoever HE goes.
The ministers of God were not meant to be soothsayers but truth-sayers. We were not called to predict all the changing events in the kingdoms of this world, nor to herald a future antichrist, but to proclaim the ETERNAL PRESENT CHRIST. The book of Revelation is not primarily intended to teach world events. It is intended to teach THE PURPOSES OF GOD and SPIRITUAL REALITIES. The principal pictures deal with two Churches - the true Church and the false Church - and the spiritual laws and activities represented by these two. The false Church is "Mystery Babylon", the "Scarlet-clad-woman", who brings forth an "image" to the bestial system of this world, to whom is given power over all kindreds, and tongues and nations. The true Church is the "Heavenly Jerusalem", the "Sun-clad-woman", who brings forth a "manchild" who is destined to rule all nations with a rod of iron. These two Churches are in the world together and the world cannot tell the difference, but the destiny of them is very different. Babylon is utterly destroyed, and the true Church becomes a kingdom of priests, reigning with Christ over all things; the nations of them that are saved walk in its light and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
The false Church is represented in Revelation thirteen as a beast that comes up out of the earth, having "two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon." "Horns" in prophecy denote dominion, power, authority, or kingship, and so this unholy power has a two-fold dominion. This beast is called later on "the false prophet", by which we understand that it is made up of false religious teachers, for a false prophet in the Scriptures refers to an erroneous teaching influence in spiritual matters. So this beast with "two horns like a lamb" denotes a two-fold religious power which professes to be the true representative of the Lamb of God in the world. It pretends to be harmless, meek, mild, inoffensive, nonagressive like a lamb and has many professions of cleanliness, purity, holiness, sanctity, and godliness, but notwithstanding all of these, "he spoke as a dragon" - just like the "great dragon", the arch deceiver - Satan the devil!
This "voice" makes its appearance in all manner of places. You will hear it preaching in the pulpits. You will recognize it in the creeds and edicts of great Church Councils. You will discern it among those who with THEIR MOUTHS confess that Jesus is Christ, but with their lives deny it. You will find that dragon voice among the miracle minded and the miracle workers, whose greatest miracle of all is how craftily they can fleece God's precious sheep of their hard earned money to build and support their pompous kingdoms. You will hear its sound among that ministry which Paul describes as "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness (two horns like a lamb, indeed!); whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor. 11:13-15). You will hear it flourishing in the great ecumenical movement and among the boisterous banner-waving street marchers who display more of the spirit of the mob than the Spirit of Christ.
HERE IS WISDOM
"And he causes all ... 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 has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six" (Rev. 13:16-18).
Here is WISDOM: Let him that has understanding COUNT. Solomon said, "WISDOM is the principal thing;" but, in the same verse he added: "With all your getting get UNDERSTANDING." Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ ... may give unto you the SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION ... the eyes of your UNDERSTANDING being enlightened" (Eph. 1:17-18), Wisdom is a state of being. We could say it has a "passive" quality - this wisdom comes only by the inworkings of God, Understanding and revelation are spiritual synonyms. Understanding has an "active" quality. The person who has understanding in this verse does something he COUNTS! The mystery yields only to the understanding, that is spiritual, holy understanding - divine revelation! HERE IS WISDOM: Let him that HAS REVELATION COUNT the number of the beast. It should be evident to all who read these lines that this, too, is wisdom: Let NOT him who has NO REVELATION attempt to count (decipher the meaning of) the number of the beast!
Though such an one might study and search forever, plying endlessly through mountains of musty volumes, trying to figure out the enigma of this number, he would never come to the correct conclusion, for the carnal man sees through carnal eyes, and having eyes, he sees not, neither does he understand. There is therefore only one word of advice that I can give. Do not try to figure out by much study the marvelous mysteries of God's Word, but CONCENTRATE ON CHRIST. HE is the truth and beside Him there is no truth. Our knowledge of God and our understanding of the things of God depend entirely upon where we look. Paul penned these words to the saints in Colosse, "IN HIM are HID all the treasures of WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE" (Col. 2:3). Christ Himself is the great treasure house where all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed and garnered up. IN HIM, and in Him alone are to be FOUND all the, rich blessings which wisdom and knowledge bestow!
The more intimate and vital your relationship with HIM, beloved, the more the truth of the deep things of God will unfold within your heart. But like a choir of bewildered voices, ascending in pitiful petition to God, so those who try to understand the mysteries of God with human reasoning come to cry at last, "Lord, how can we know the truth? Which among this confusion of voices can we believe? Which among this conglomeration of interpretations is right?" There is, thank God, one answer and one only. It is the answer given by Jesus centuries ago. "I AM ... THE TRUTH!" Seek not the truth from the learnings of men. Seek Christ, for He is the truth. As you live in blessed communion with Him, there will come that INWARD SENSE OF KNOWING; the words of life and light that then cross your path from God's anointed prophets and teachers will strike a responsive chord in the deepest part of your spirit, bursting forth with the harmonious melody of UNDERSTANDING! Here is wisdom: Let him that has understanding COUNT. It is clear, the mystery has a SPIRITUAL MEANING. Let us trust the Holy Spirit to make it real to our hearts!
THE NUMBER OF HIS NAME
For many decades and centuries God's people have been speculating about the strange phenomenon the Scripture calls the "mark of the beast". Rev. 13:17, however, lists three alternatives, two in addition to what most Christians have heard of: (1) the mark of the beast (2) the name of the beast (3) the number of his name. It is indeed remarkable that the Holy Spirit speaks of "the number" of the name of the beast; that is, the number representing and standing for the name. Why not be content with the name itself? Throughout the book of Revelation the followers of Christ are never spoken of as stamped with a number, but only a name. "To him that overcomes ... will I give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it" (Rev. 2:17). "Him That overcomes... I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the City of my God... and I will write upon him My new name" (Rev. 3:12). "And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads" (Rev. 14:1).
No one who reads the book of Revelation with a spiritual mind can have failed to notice that the word "name" is far more than an appellative. It expresses the inner nature of the person to whom it is applied. Thus, the "beast" represents something wild and ravenous in nature, the "whore" denotes something unfaithful and impure, and the "Lamb" is one who is meek, pure, and self-sacrificing. The "name" of the Father expresses the character of the Father, the "name" of the Son reveals the nature of the Son, the "name" of the city of God which comes down out of heaven from God bespeaks the implantation of the divine nature and character into the life of the man or woman who is BORN FROM ABOVE.
John the Revelator, therefore, might have been satisfied with the knowledge that the "name" of the beast, whatever it be, must be a name which expresses the inner nature of the beast; and he may have said no more. But the Holy Spirit revealed a further detail - not the name alone, but the NUMBER OF THE NAME - a most profound depth of insight into the nature of the beast! No man could "know" the name written upon the white stone given to him that overcomes "but he that receives it". In other words, no one but an overcomer can have that experience which enables him to truly comprehend the "new name" - the nature of God wrought within. The world can never understand the man who has received the call to Sonship, much less the new nature itself. What strange mysterious element is there in the new nature that keeps a man pressing relentlessly on toward an invisible mark when friend and foe alike tell him that he is a fool to continue pursuing a vision which brings him nothing but misunderstanding, separation, persecution, tribulation, loneliness, and friendlessness? The inner command to completely and forever forsake the corrupted courts of Mystery Babylon to put on the mind of Christ, to be conformed to the image of the Son and know the wonder and glory of Sonship to God, makes him endure the cross, despise the shame, incur the scorn of fellow Christians and the wrath of Church systems, scoff at tribulation, and count every loss to himself a gain for Christ. Ah, such a walk can never be understood by any save "he that receives it"! The glory of Sonship to God is worthy to be written on pages of gold with ink of silver, but none of earth's vaunting philosophers can ever comprehend such truth and character as lies within the Christ nature.
In contrast to this, those who are partakers of the nature of the beast DO NOT "know the name" stamped upon them, are not aware of the character they bear, and have no idea of the depravity and deceitfulness of the nature in which they walk, as it is written, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: WHO CAN KNOW IT?" (Jer. 17:9). So many people today are worrying about what the mark of the beast is going to be. They themselves have taken that mark! The very fact of their not knowing what that mark is proves they have taken it. History reveals how that during the inquisitions and persecutions by the Roman Church in past centuries, many Christians who would recant to escape torture or death were branded on either the hand or forehead, or both, with a cross, even as cattle are branded to denote ownership. But that visible mark, which allowed those who took it to live and carry on ordinary business pursuits, was merely an outward mark to denote that they now subscribed to and upheld the doctrines of Rome and the deceptions of the beast. The whole realm of organized Christianity today subscribes to those same doctrines and deceptions in varying degrees.
Those who walk in carnal minds and dead letter-of-the-word understanding of the things of God can never understand what the mark is! Those embued with the spirit and nature of the bestial system of this world, be it political, economic, or religious, bear the mark of the beast but are completely devoid of understanding of what it is! But HERE IS WISDOM: Let him that has understanding COUNT the number of the beast! Such understanding comes alone by revelation. There are two marks - the mark of the Father's name and the mark of the beast - and it takes a revelation to know either. As it takes revelation from on high to know the "new name" of the Christ, so it takes revelation from God to COUNT the "number of the name of the beast"!
Sufficient attention has not been paid by most Christians to the significance of the number six in the history of Israel in the Old Testament. Six is the broken twelve, and twelve is always the number of divine government and the signature of the Church in the Old Testament and in the New: the twelve Patriarchs, the twelve tribes, the twelve apostles, the multiple of twelve in the numbering of the mystical tribes of the 144,000 Sons of God, and the repetition of twelve and its multiples in the description of the glorified Bride of Christ seen in the measurements of the New Jerusalem with its gates and walls. Six must therefore have a universal spiritual significance in the Scriptures.
One of the earliest occurrences of the symbolic usage of this mysterious number is in the primitive case of the giant who defied the armies of the Lord in the days of David - Goliath of Gath. This man symbolized the bestial system of the world. Goliath was six cubits (and a span) tall (more than nine feet). His spearhead weighed 600 shekels of iron. "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" asked David (I Sam. 17:26). His glorious victory over Goliath beautifully typifies the victory of Christ and His body over the bestial system. The persistence of the number six in the family as well as the equipment of Goliath is one of the keys to the understanding of the "number" of the beast. Goliath had a brother of great stature who significantly had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot (II Sam. 21:20-22).
The full significance of the number 666 however, is disclosed in Daniel in the account of Nebuchadnezzar's great image set up in the plain of Dura, of dimensions 60 by 6 cubits. Goliath grows in dimensions and in importance the nearer we get to New Testament times. The image on the plain of Dura is ten times the dimensions of Goliath, and the number of the beast in Revelation thirteen is ten times that of the image of Nebuchadnezzar. The connection in history and prophecy is settled therefore. "Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold whose height was three-score cubits and the breadth thereof six cubits" (Dan. 3:1).
Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a great image and was told by Daniel that the dream was a forewarning by God of the course of history until the Kingdom of God should come. The head of gold was the king of Babylon - "You are this head of gold" (Dan. 2:38). The dream image traced the rise and fall of the four great monarchies of Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome which dominated the civilized world, in succession, until Christ came and set up a Kingdom which was eternal and heavenly and which therefore could not pass away, but must destroy all worldly power in the course of its redemptive purpose. As the seven-headed beast of Revelation thirteen represents the COMPLETENESS of the world's beastly system, so the four-fold dream image of Nebuchadnezzar represents the WORLD-WIDE or UNIVERSAL power of the beast. At the height of the fourth monarchy a Babe was born in Bethlehem. Without human hands the image of world power disintegrated before this Kingdom of Christ which fought no earthly battles and could not be seen by mortal eyes, having no boundaries on earth, no visible royal center, but by the unseen power of the Spirit and the Word, overcame kingdoms, cast down principalities, humbled proud dominions, obtained promises, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, and out of weakness was made strong.
The image of this world's power and pride was brought down to nothing by the power of the WORD OF GOD. All this in effect was unfolded to Nebuchadnezzar, but he believed not, and remembered only that part of Daniel's interpretation which had to do with his own glory: "You are this head of gold." Deceived by the falseness of his own heart he sought to realize the fulfillment of his dream and establish HIS OWN GLORY, by the construction of an immense image of gold set up in the plain of Dura. Its precise measurements - 60 X 6 cubits - showed the impressive dimensions of his pride, as he modeled the image after the one in his dream, but instead of making the head alone of gold, he made the whole image of gold, usurping all the power and pride of all kingdoms UNTO HIMSELF! He forgot the prophet's warning "You are this head of gold ... the GOD OF HEAVEN has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory..." and wrapped himself in his own pride, usurping the glory of God, taking that which was given by God and using it to his own ends and for the glorification of HIMSELF, requiring that all mankind should worship HIS IMAGE whenever they heard the music of his ungodly orchestra. The worship of the image meant in fact the worship of himself, who designed and built the image. In the contest which followed between the infatuated monarch and the three young Hebrews who refused to bow down to the bestial image, he learned a terrifying lesson. His furnace could not consume the victims of his wrath, who walked in the midst of the fire with One whose form was LIKE UNTO THE SON OF GOD! Can we not see by this that there is blessed deliverance from the bestial system of the world for all who are CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF GOD'S SON!
What John sees in his vision of the seven-headed beast and the two-horned beast and his image is the development of the scene in Daniel, only this of John is of a significance so much more exceeding in its immensity, that the 60 and six of Nebuchadnezzar's image is dwarfed by the six hundred, three score and six of the apocalyptic image. But that which is signified is the same principle as that image on the plain of Dura. It is man, by the deceitfulness of pride of the human heart, usurping the glory of God, taking that which is graciously given by God and using it to his own ends and for the exaltation and glorification of HIMSELF. It is worldly power and pride exalted as an object of worship, elevated into a religion, imposed upon the consciences of men, demanding their homage and obedience. John's vision therefore shows to us how the dragon in man raises a counterfeit to the Kingdom of Christ, proclaims his own kingdom as the Kingdom of Christ, and by usurpation, fraud, false doctrine, religious exhibitionism, and by all and every means diverts all worship to himself.
It is blasphemy against God to exalt the flesh and the world of man, in the place of God, and to take the high and holy things of God and use them for the promotion of SELF. But do not think for one moment, precious friend of mine, that the error of Nebuchadnezzar has not been repeated again and again, and in this our day! Hear now these sobering and anointed words which recently came across my desk: "There is a great and damning fault among Christians that seems to be past explanation. It is a fault that has developed and grown more grotesque as the years have come and gone. Men and women have come to desire and covet spiritual things, not for the glory of God and the honor of His eternal purpose, but that they themselves might become great men in the earth. Many a man has spent long periods in fasting that he might attain a great spiritual gift, yet all the time he is supposedly seeking the gift his talk shows that his mind is full of hope that he will become a great and powerful minister to whom people will look with awe and pride. This is wrong seeking and a very great evil. Many a man has sought after the gift of healing - not because he was burdened for the sick, but because the gift would bring him honor among the people. He expected that it would bring him crowds and fame and money. Oh, let men search their hearts before they ask of God lest they ask amiss to consume it upon their own lusts (James 4:3).
"Man is not satisfied by possessing earthly things. He secretly wants to possess the things of God as well and that for himself apart from God. Why did Nadab and Abihu wickedly offer strange fire before the Lord? Did they not want to possess for themselves what only God possessed? Why did Simon, the sorcerer, offer money for the gift that Peter had? He cared nothing for God, but in the gall of his bitterness and the bond of his rebellion he wanted to possess for himself something that belonged only to God and must not be had apart from Him. Do you not think that this strange desire exists today? Do men desire the gifts of God to bring all glory to God, or do they covet them as a means of self-promotion and self-exaltation? How is it that so many men who seem to have gifts from God soon become the center of a little universe of their own where all roads lead to them and all fingers point in their direction? Let us face it. Men not only want to gather temporal things about themselves, but they also crave to have eternal things for themselves and to possess them in themselves and for the benefit and glory of themselves. The carnal mind is an eternal enemy of God. It refuses to become subject to the law of God, and indeed it is powerless to do so. But it secretly desires the things of God, wisdom, righteousness, and power, so that it may be AS GOD.
"The whole Church system itself is not one whit different. At the present time the existing Church system appears to be making significant gains all over the world. Probably more people go to Church than ever before in history, but, while numbers increase and costly buildings are erected in ever increasing and lavish profusion, while world-wide efforts costing billions are the thing of the day, the people for the most part have lost their sense of the majesty of God. Gaudily clad worldlings talk glibly about being born again; they speak with tongues, honor the pope, and even join their voices with those who hail Mary as the mother of God. Full well do they fulfill the words of Jesus spoken to the Church of Laodicea, 'You say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked' (Rev. 3:17). God's counsel to all who are joy-riding with the system is: 'Buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see' (Rev. 3:18). The gains of the Church system have practically all been external gains and the fearful loss has been internal. The beauty of the life in the Spirit has been exchanged for the luxury of fine temples with comfortable pews. The songs which once swelled from hearts filled with God's Spirit and holiness are now on the hit parade, being popularized by unsanctified professionals from Hollywood or Las Vegas. It is an enormous, degenerating calamity! It is an abomination that makes desolate!" -end quote.
To Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Daniel said, "You are this head of gold." But Nebuchadnezzar took the glory conferred by God and used it to deify himself. He built his own image and commanded men to worship it. His image was all of gold. All its wealth was the wealth of the world. All its glory was the glory of the world. And was this not what the devil offered Jesus when he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, saying, "All these things will I give You, if You wilt fall down and worship me" (Mat. 4:8-9). Ah - the same voice heard centuries before on the plain of Dura! And it is reckoned with today BY ALL WHO WOULD FOLLOW ON TO KNOW THE LORD. The ultimate test for every Son of God is this: What will he do with what he receives from the Lord? Will he use it to his own ends, for his own or will he, like faithful Abraham of old, offer it as a sacrifice on the altar of full obedience to God? Every would-be Son will sooner or later will face this test, and how he deals with it will determine whether he becomes one of the manifested SONS OF GOD or one of the many ANTICHRISTS.
The self-exalting spirit is not the Spirit of God - it is the spirit of the golden-gilded monstrosity of Babylon. By it millions are deceived to flock to the standards of coveteous men. If you will listen to these modern-day Nebuchadnezzars, these self-appointed kings of Babylon, you will seldom see the humility of God's Christ or the worship of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, but the showmanship and arrogancy of one who purports to be "God's man of the hour", or "God's man of faith and power", or some specially chosen vessel, commissioned to bring the gospel to the whole world in these last days. If their human effort, their public relations companies, their monthly fund-raising letters, their begging for money, and their abominable gimmicks were taken away, their programs would disappear in a month!
Millions more follow after the beauty and pageantry of that which appears religious - with all it paganism and Romish doctrines, its worshipping of idols and altars, its ritual and ceremony, its elevation and worship of men, its trading inhuman souls, its love for money and power and all things for which the carnal nature lusts.
On that distant day upon the plain of Dura Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. We notice that the Church system is never satisfied with GOD ALONE, but is always building images - images of organization, system, ceremony, ritual, program, etc., as Nebuchadnezzar did, so that all their subjects should worship that image. In Revelation thirteen a mysterious number is attached to the beast and his image, called the "number of his name", and special attention is called to it by the Holy Spirit. In the book of Revelation especially, the number seven is, as elsewhere throughout the Scriptures, prominent as the sacred number of completeness and perfection. The contents of the book opened by the Lamb is contained under seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials - a TRINITY OF SEVENS. It is in this book that the "number" of the beast is also represented as a TRINITY OF SIXES, and the contrast, as well as the intrinsic meaning of the number, intimates, that whatever else it may be, it is a perfect number of imperfection, or rather a number denoting PERFECT IMPERFECTION. In the Bible the number six refers to man - it is a human number. Man was created on the sixth day, man's appointed days of labor and toil are six, the Hebrew slave was to serve for six years, and for six years the land was to be sown. Six is the number of man's unredeemed nature, Old Adam - THE FLESH.
The number six itself awakened a feeling of dread in the breast of any Israelite who knew the significance of numbers. It fell below the sacred number seven, just as much as eight went beyond it. The number eight denoted something apart from just attaining perfection. Every Israelite male was circumcised on the eighth day, the "great day" of the greatest of all feasts was on the eighth day, Jesus Christ was revealed in the glory of resurrection life on the first day of the week (eighth day), etc. The number eight always expressed a NEW BEGINNING in active power. By a similar reckoning the number six was held to signify inability to reach the standard of DIVINE PERFECTION, and hopelessly falling short of it. To the Israelite there was thus a doom upon the number six when it stood alone. Triple it; let there be a multiple of it by ten and then a second time by ten until you obtain three mysterious sixes following one another; and we have represented a power of evil of which there can be none greater. The raising of the six to tens and hundreds (higher powers) indicates that the beast rises into a manifestation of FLESHLINESS and BEASTLINESS of which there can be none worse!
As we meditate upon these thoughts we are able to go a step further and see that man acts on three planes: THOUGHTS (in the unconscious realm), then WORDS (in the conscious realm), and finally, a culmination of both manifested as DEEDS performed by the physical body, If we have understanding to count it, as John said, we are able to see here the number of the beast. MAN'S number is SIX - and SIX in the realm of thought, then SIX raised to a higher power in the realm of words, and finally SIX raised to yet a higher power in the realm of deeds is 666 which = flesh, FLESH, F-L-E-S-H! Ah, who is the beast? And what is his number? It is MAN - MAN exalting HIMSELF as God, usurping God's glory, taking the precious things of the Spirit and misusing them for his own purposes and aggrandizement.
While we once looked anxiously about for a social security number, a credit card number, or a laser-tattooed identification number to be the "mark of the beast" was it not truly there for us to see all along, for John plainly told us: "HERE IS WISDOM. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the NUMBER OF MAN and HIS NUMBER is SIX HUNDRED, THREESCORE AND SIX." The indefinite article "a" which appears in the King James translation is supplied by the translators and is not necessarily included in the Greek, since that language has no indefinite article. In symbolism, furthermore, NUMBER is used to denote the characteristics or the nature of a thing. Thus, the NUMBER OF THE BEAST is the NATURE of the beast, and the number 666 is shown to be the NATURE OF MAN! Even if we include the indefinite article so that reads, "For it is the number of a man," this does not in any case mean that the beast is "a man" for the "number of a man" means the measure of a man, that is, his inward state of being manifested by his outward actions, and how these are perceived by those about him.
The NUMBER then is important, not the name. We listen to the words, "His number is six hundred sixty six," and we have enough to make us tremble. There is in them a depth of perverseness, pride, presumption, deceit, and shame which no one can "know" except him to whom it is revealed by the blazing light and deep searching of the Holy Spirit of God. David, understanding something of the awful depth of the wickedness of the human heart cried out, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24). Ah, how different would be the story of human history had Adam, in holy humility and brokenness before God, earnestly prayed that prayer! Adam, walking in the Spirit, reflecting the glory of God, expressing the image of the Father, filling the earth with light and glory and righteous dominion, fell from that place in the heavenlies because of the lurking sin of SELF. We see this evidenced in the "I WILL" of Isa. 14:13-14: "I WILL ascend into heaven, I WILL exalt my throne above the stars of God ... I WILL ascend above the height of the clouds; I WILL BE LIKE THE MOST HIGH." This was Adam's response, in the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, to the serpent's temptation: "YOU shall be as GOD!" You see, Adam was not content to allow the wisdom and glory and authority of God to operate THROUGH him. He wanted to take the dominion himself. The temptation that the serpent offered was merely the articulation of the deep-seated secret desire of Adam's SELF NATURE: "I will be like the MOST HIGH."
Perhaps now the enlightened mind can understand how it is that from the very beginning, when Adam was banished from the blessed Garden of God, SIX has been the number of MAN'S LABOR apart from GOD'S REST. And oh! how man labors. The carnal mind is always busy contriving new ways to WORK "FOR" GOD. In this hour we are continually being admonished to "get involved", get involved in politics, get involved in the Church, get involved in community activities, or in a hundred different things. The Church system is crying for people to become involved in her activities, and her programs are legion, but in all this cry for involvement I hear very little being said about GETTING INVOLVED WITH GOD. The Lord's command to the apostles was, "Tarry in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high" (Lk. 24:49). In simple language this means DO NOTHING until you are so yielded to God that HE CAN WORK through you!
Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking. Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better. "Now, therefore, I pray to You, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You"; and from there he rose to make the daring request, "I beseech You, show me Your glory!" God was frankly pleased by this display of ardor, and the next day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession made all His glory pass before him. In meekness Moses sought nothing for himself, all for the glory of God. Through faithful communion with God Moses became acquainted with God's intentions. He was able to see far into the future and understand what the Lord purposed to do in distant ages. His wise heart knew what would evolve from the confusion and disorder of the day, He knew that from among the stiff-necked people he led the Lord would raise up a prophet like himself and that prophet would be Jesus Christ who would as a Son do all the will of the Father and only those things that pleased the Father. He saw, furthermore, that by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit the Lord would raise up other Sons of God who would be manifested in the end of the age in the fullness of HIS LIFE.
David's life was a torrent of spiritual desire, and his psalms ring with the cry of the seeker and the glad shout of the finder. Paul confessed the mainspring of his life to be his burning desire after Christ. "That I may know Him!" was the goal of his heart, and to this he sacrificed everything. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as refuse, that I may win Christ" (Phil. 3:8).
But the beast will have none of this! He is busily engaged in his own human effort and program and has no time to seek God. What Church board consults the Lord to decide matters under discussion? Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a Church board in the organized Church systems try to recall the times or time when any board member read from the Scriptures to make a point, or when any chairman suggested that the brethren should fast and pray and wait in holy brokenness before God to see what instructions the Holy Ghost had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or "a season of prayer"; after which the Head of the Church is respectfully silent while the REAL RULERS TAKE OVER. Let anyone who denies this bring forth evidence to refute it. I for one will rejoice to hear it!
What Sunday School committee goes to the Holy Spirit for directions? Do not the members invariably assume that they already know what they are supposed to do and that their only problem is to find effective means to get it done? Plans, rules, literature, visitation, puppet shows, and all kinds of new methodological techniques absorb all their time and attention. The prayer before the meeting if for divine help to carry out THEIR PLANS. Apparently the idea that the Lord might have some instructions for them never so much as enters their heads. After all - who ever heard of "waiting on the Lord" or expecting a "move of the Spirit" at a Sunday School committee meeting!
What foreign mission board actually seeks to follow the guidance of the Lord? They all THINK they do, certainly, but what they do in fact is to assume the Scripturalness of their ends and then ask the Lord for help to find ways to achieve them. They may pray all night for God to give success to THEIR ENTERPRISES, but Christ is desired as their helper, not as their Lord. Human means are devised to achieve ends assumed to be divine. These crystallize into "policy", and thereafter the Lord doesn't even have a vote.
In the conduct of our meetings where is the Lordship of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him, clap to Him, and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we will worship our way, and go through our time-honored forms, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other Churches in our group. And those in the so-called "end-time" move of the Spirit are generally not any further advanced. Doesn't everyone know that a meeting must begin with a few choruses, followed by a season of worship with singing in the Spirit, and then is the time for a prophecy or two? A few more choruses, a little more worship, perhaps another prophecy, prayer, announcements, offering, and the sermon. Don't be deceived, brethren, we have created our very own little PATTERN, our unique little FORM, our "Spirit-led" SYSTEM! Surely, beloved, you cannot miss the obvious "number of his name" in all this - 666 - flesh, FLESH, F-L-E-S-H!
This is why Jeremiah the prophet declared with such strength of purpose: "The heart is DECEITFUL above ALL THINGS and DESPERATELY WICKED" and he went on to ask the searching question, "WHO CAN KNOW IT?" To the enlightened mind of this prophet, the depth of deceitfulness and iniquity of which the human heart is capable is so great that it is beyond the ability of any man to comprehend. And this iniquity is not to be found in the overt sins of the flesh: adultery, murder, thievery, etc., but in the high places of God as the flesh grasps after the things of the Spirit for the promotion of SELF. The carnal mind is always desirous of spiritual gifts. It likes to appear honored of God and accepted. That is why there are so many false prophets, false teachers, false healers, and false miracle workers in the world. Men who love people to think they are the great power of God will, in spite of all their apparent wonders, hear God tell them on that day, "I never knew you."
BUYING AND SELLING
"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" (Rev. 13:17). Our good friends of the "futurist" interpretation of Bible prophecy, with their fascinating and thrilling best-selling books, persist in their horror stories of days now supposed to be impending when for a very brief period of time (say three and a half years at most) the saints will be prohibited from engaging in commercial transactions! Sensationalism is always preferred to true spiritual understanding. The fact that many good men are already in prison, or are prohibited from preaching the gospel in many parts of the world, mean's nothing at all to writers who cannot or will not be persuaded that the book of Revelation is a symbolical and SPIRITUAL BOOK, intended to be SPIRITUALLY UNDERSTOOD, and that buying and selling, in the prophetical sense, has a much more significant meaning that that of supermarket shopping.
Buying and selling in the spiritual sense has nought to do with the principles of commercial trade. The prophet Isaiah faithfully exhorted God's people, "Ho, every one that thirsts, come to the waters, and he that has no money; come , BUY, and eat; yea, come, BUY wine and milk without money and without price" (Isa. 55:1). The prophet made it plain that he was not talking about worldly commerce, but about PAYING THE PRICE for the "milk" of God's Word and the "wine" of His unspeakable joy and abounding life. The wise man counseled: "BUY THE TRUTH, and SELL it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding" (Prov. 23:23). To "buy" the truth means to PAY THE PRICE to embrace and walk in the truth, and I have learned through many years of experience that the "price" of truth is oft times to simply be willing to "give up" or "sell" an error! To the Church at Laodicea, which prided herself that she was rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing, but knew not that she was wretched, poor, blind, and naked the Lord admonished, "I counsel you to BUY OF ME gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich..." (Rev. 3:18).
There is a pattern in the book of Revelation that shows that the first use of a word establishes the use and meaning of that word throughout the book. In this case, the first use of the word "buy" is with a SPIRITUAL APPLICATION. To "buy or sell" means, naturally, to engage in the ordinary pursuits of life, and to exchange one item of value for another. If the purpose of the whole vision in Revelation thirteen is spiritual, then applying this as a symbol on the spiritual plane reveals that those without the distinctive mark of the bestial system have no more recognized standing in the carnal Church systems than men who are not allowed to buy or sell have in a community. "Selling" as a symbol, specially indicates the DEALING OUT of truth, the MINISTERING of the things of the Spirit, while "buying" typifies the ACCEPTANCE of truth, the RECEIVING of the things of God.
And is it not true that a man of God walking in the Spirit and in the blazing light of heaven's revelation, independent of all the man-made organizations, creeds, methods, and programs of Babylon, WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO LABOR AMONG THE CHURCH SYSTEMS, after the truth for which he stands becomes known, or until he should take their mark upon him by joining himself to them? And if he holds meetings in the community, the members of the Churches are often warned by their leaders against "buying" - receiving - from this ministry because of his not having the mark or name of the beast. Their ministers are specially marked, for they come out of their colleges and theological seminaries with the stamp of their respective doctrine and traditions upon them and a license from the sect to engage in its ministry; and those not thus marked or designated HAVE NO PLACE AMONG THEM! Whether a man is a man of God with a heaven sent message matters nothing - he MUST bear the mark! This also reveals the manner in which the beast causes those who will not worship the image to be killed - an analogous killing; namely, an ecclesiastical cutting-off, an excommunication - the absolute refusal to either "buy or sell" the things of God with you unless you take upon you THEIR MARK!
How many of my readers would be permitted to "take communion" in most of the Churches in your city on Sunday morning? How many could teach a Sunday School class in one of those Churches? Ah, matters not whether you are a saint of God, and whether you bear the Word of God - you CANNOT "buy or sell" with them unless you take the mark and worship the image! You see, dear ones, there is not the slightest danger that I will be invited to say mass at St. Benedict's Catholic Church next Sunday. There is absolutely no chance that I will be called to be the Pastor at the First Methodist Church, the First Baptist Church, or the Assemblies of God! I do not have to stay awake nights wondering what I will share next week at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. You see, I don't bear their mark, neither will I worship their image! And no man can "buy or sell" the things of God within those institutions save he that has the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
The facts just stated are well illustrated by the following circumstances. A number of years ago a precious brother in the ministry went into a certain town to find a place to conduct a series of meetings. He was directed by a Presbyterian lady to their pastor, who, she said, sometimes rented their Church facilities for various functions. When he called on the minister and made known his errand, the first question asked him was this, "Are you a member of the Presbyterian Church?" The brother answered in the negative. He did not have the name of the beast. The next question that greeted him was this, "Do you believe the Westminister Confession of Faith to be orthodox?" He answered, "No, sir." He did not have the mark of the beast. The last question asked was, "Do you belong to any of the various orthodox Protestant denominations?" The brother said, "No." He did not have the number of his name. The answer was, "You can not use our building." "Selah. (Pause and think about that!).
And organized religion, both Catholic and Protestant, is big business. The Charismatic movement is big business, too. Religion, in fact, is the biggest business in the world today! You and I, if we refuse to subscribe to its mockery, are excluded from carrying on the Father's business with it. All who refuse to subscribe to the traditions, dogmas, and defilements of the religious systems are ostracized and accused of being heretics and anathematized in as true a sense as were the martyrs of past ages who refused to bow down to the bestial system of this world.
Writings in This Series: