I was driving past a church yesterday that had a sign stating FREE BIBLE PROPHECY SEMINAR… and I didn’t want you to feel left out. So today I’m going to talk about “666”!
Pastors are often asked to tell who is the person the number “666” the Book of Revelation refers to. So today I want to tell you the very first person the author of the Book of Revelation has in mind when it uses the number 666. And the answer ISN’T in any newspaper you’ll read on the newsstands or on the Internet today!
The answer ISN’T found in the books on prophecy I’ve ever seen in the Christian bookstore.
The answer IS found in the Bible however so that’s where we’ll start. And it’s found when you realize that the Book of Revelation is FILLED with quotations of Holy Scripture from the Old Testament.
The number 666 is no different. Yes, the Book of Revelation WAS a code to those outside the church. But to people inside the church it was to be an Open Book… and it is if we will read our Bibles and look for answers there instead of in the newspapers.
So the number “666” is an allusion to the Old Testament that can be found in 2 Chronicles 9:13. Can someone look that up and tell me who it refers to? The answer is Solomon.
666 is the number of talents of gold he collected annually as tribute. A talent weighs 75 pounds! At $400 per ounce, that’s over $300 MILLION dollars per year.
What does this tell us about Solomon? Why is he the person Revelation hearkens back to when it portrays a diabolical figure opposed to the kingdom of God?
To understand that it’s crucial to understand the responsibilities placed upon the Hebrew King as revealed in Holy Scripture.
Deuteronomy 17: 16 – 18 says of the Kings of Israel:
He must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. “
And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
In plain English, the King of Israel was forbidden to stockpile weapons for exporting war. He was not to emulate the pagans in creating a harem, nor exploit the people through taxation, and he was to humbly preserve and obey the word of God.
Solomon at the height of his reign failed at all of these things. He came to represent a figure addicted to Money, Women and Power.
He ascended the throne, and while he built a fabulous Temple, I cannot find where it is recorded that he wrote for himself any book of the word of God.
His heart was lifted up and carried away. And the wisdom with which he wrote Holy Scripture was absent as he became intoxicated with earthly glory and power.
And so Solomon comes to epitomize the diabolical leader who is so drunk with power that despite his pretense of faithfulness to God he has LOST sight of the Word of God.
And so Solomon – though he is the Son of David – is not the Messiah for whom the people long. Solomon starts strong but at some point he becomes carried away with the pomp, splendor and power that surround him and he violates all the laws God put in place to protect the heart of the King and to protect the people from a leader gone mad with arrogance and self-deception.
So when Solomon comes to Jerusalem as King, he becomes the person whom the Book of Revelation uses as a pattern for diabolical evil – a politician with the words of God on his lips and the works of the flesh dominating his life.
That is not how JESUS came to Jerusalem as a King. Unlike Solomon, Jesus’ coming as a king was not about how much tribute and tax he could extract from an unwilling populace.
When Jesus came to Jerusalem it was about what He could offer… Himself upon a rough hewn altar called the Cross as a propitiation for the sins of the world.
He came in humility on a donkey…not on the shoulders of slaves in a gold crusted throne or on a chariot. He came as the slave of God…
Jesus is the king – unlike Solomon – who has the word of God with him, who reads it and lives it all the days of his life… and whose heart is not lifted up with pride and arrogance.
Jesus comes as the Servant King who is not mad with power and trusting in his weapons, women, and wealth to keep him happy.
And so instead on the night he is to be betrayed, Jesus teaches His disciples something He’s tried to get through their thick skulls for 3 years.
The disciples are the kind of people who think that because they’re with Jesus they’re “OK” and every one else is going to Hell. Even though they’re spiritually thick headed they think they’re spiritually brilliant. They think Jesus is just preaching to everyone else when He talks about servanthood and repentance. All the while they’re planning who’s going to be running heaven and how all the people who looked down on them are going to have to eat their dust when the apostles are sitting down to eat at the kingdom of heaven.
Having been in a seminary for 3 years, I can tell you that some folks studying to be ministers think they’ve hit the big time when they get to be a preacher. They think they’ll get to tell everybody else what to do – and they can’t wait till they can lord it over people and tell everyone else what to do.
Someone said to me the other day… “boy you sure got me with that sermon the other day”. I said… well I wasn’t aiming it at you. I was aiming it at me… you must have been collateral damage!
But like the Bishops of old in the Roman Empire who thought their ordination destined them to rule as princes and destined the people to obey as slaves, too many preachers and Christian leaders see their opportunity to preach or teach as a time to tell everyone else what to do and not to worry about doing it themselves.
But it doesn’t work that way in Jesus’ kingdom. The servant is no better than his or her master and our Master Jesus lives with a servitude and humility that comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.
Being a servant in Jesus kingdom means eating some dust. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what his servants are to do. Through our baptism we have put on Christ. Will we walk as Jesus walked? Will we wash the filthy? Or will we leave the dirty work to someone else?
When we leave the dirty work to someone else… that person or ideology will have their soul.
- When we leave broken hearted kids to be raised by MTV… the devil will have another soul.
- When we say to divorced and broken hearted people … you’re sort of embarrassing to us because you’re single again and we let the Good Times Bar soothe their pain…the devil will have another soul.
- When the person offering single mothers economic opportunity is the guy who runs the strip club instead of Christian entrepreneurs finding God’s blessing to create honest work… the devil will have another soul.
- And when we’re married and the person we live with doesn’t sense our affirmation and instead they find it someplace else… the devil will have another soul.
But when Christians do the dirty work of giving people acceptance and hope, God will make sure He receives the glory and that people are drawn to Him.
Then look at the people and ask… How can you wash someone’s feet this week in Jesus’ Name?
Pastor Chuck Huckaby serves the First Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceburg, TN USA.
A “tentmaking” pastor who works to support his preaching habit, he one day hopes to do that by working full time as an internet publisher.