Gary answers a listener question about the “number of the beast,” Nero, and Titus.

The number 666 has long fascinated theologians and mathematicians. Maybe the interest in the number has something to do with the attainment of wisdom and understanding since to “calculate the number of the beast” will reward the diligent (Rev. 13:18).

Wallace John Steinhope is the physicist in Paul Nathan’s fictional “Newton’s Gift.” In this story Steinhope has an intense desire to travel back in time to help Isaac Newton with the tedium of calculations by putting a modern calculator in his hands. Steinhope invents a knapsack-sized time machine and travels to England in 1666 to bestow on Newton a pocket calculator.

Newton, however, is afraid of the calculator, particularly its glowing red digital display: “As the Lord is my savior, is it a creation of Lucifer? The eyes of it shine with the color of his domain.” “You cannot deny your own eyes,” Steinhope responds. “Let me show you it works. I’ll divide two numbers for you with just the punch of a few buttons.” Steinhope entered, at random, 81,918 divided by 123. When the answer lit up, Newton fell to his knees and started to pray. Then he got up, grabbed a hot poker from the fireplace, and swung it at Steinhope, who barely escaped back to the space-time coordinates of today.

Why the violent reaction? Steinhope had made an unfortunate choice of numbers: 81,918 divided by 123 is 666, the number of the Beast. This fictional story of superstition unfortunately seems to describe many people today. For example, Mary Stewart Relfe teaches that we are presently using the 666 system in monetary transactions. The 666 prefix, according to Relfe, is attached to credit cards like VISA and MasterCard. However fallacious her reasoning, she maintains that the mark of the Beast is just around the corner.

One of the more recent claims is that Monster Energy drinks have the number of the Beast of Revelation 13 as its symbol since it looks like the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It’s right there on the can: “Certain blogs and websites have noticed that the logo is very similar to the Hebrew letter ‘Vav.’ In the Hebrew Alphabet, every letter is also a corresponding is the Biblical number of the Beast.” However, the number isn’t 6-6-6 (three sixes) but 600-60-6.

But what meaning would any of these theories have had for Christians reading the book of Revelation in the first century? The first readers were to have “understanding” to “calculate the number of the Beast” (Rev. 13:18). The Beast must have been a contemporary of the first-century readers. We can have the same “understanding” by studying the history of the period.

Last Days Madness

Last Days Madness

In this authoritative book, Gary DeMar clears the haze of "end-times" fever, shedding light on the most difficult and studied prophetic passages in the Bible, including Daniel 7:13-14; 9:24-27; Matt. 16:27-28; 24-25; Thess. 2; 2 Peter 3:3-13, and clearly explaining a host of other controversial topics.

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Still in his basement, Gary answers a listener question about the “number of the beast,” Nero, and Titus. The listener asks about Pastor Phillip Kayser’s view that while Nero could be a candidate, he believes the Roman General (and later Emperor) Titus works better for 666. Gary discusses this and much more about this most notorious number from Revelation 13 (and 1 Kings 10).

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