REVELATION 13Revelation of Jesus | Revelation of John
666, THE NUMBER OF DISOBEDIENCE
The only other appearance of the number 666 in the Bible confirms it as the number of rebellious disobedience. King Solomon was considered one of the greatest kings of Israel, but actually his disobedience to God’s commandments laid the foundation for Israel’s ruin. In Deuteronomy 17 God predicted that the people would say, “I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me” (v. 14). This was not God’s will, but recognizing that this would happen, he gave just three commandments for the king, all of which Solomon broke. “He shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses…neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself” (vs. 16, 17). Ignoring these commandments, “Solomon gathered one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen…horses imported from Egypt” (1 Kings10:26,28). “King Solomon loved many foreign women…from the nations of whom the Lord had said, ‘You shall not intermarry with them…He had seven hundred wives…For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:1-4).
But perhaps even more than his infatuation with horses and women was his love of gold. King Solomon made an alliance with Hiram, the idolatrous king of Tyre. Solomon built a fleet of ships, and Hiram supplied the seamen to help in Solomon’s project of accumulating wealth. “The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty six talents of gold” (1 Kings 10:14). No doubt there was some yearly variation, but the Bible writer used the specific number 666 as a measure of Solomon’s vast accumulation of gold. However, unlike the gold which his father David had gathered to prepare for the building of the temple of the Lord, Solomon used his gold to build up his own defense and glory—to make shields, a fabulous throne, to make drinking vessels, to buy horses and chariots. “So, King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon” (1 Kings 10:23,24). The 666 talents of gold Solomon accumulated every year symbolizes and epitomizes his pride and self-exaltation, and most of all his disobedience to the explicit commandments God had specifically given for the kings of Israel to follow.
Thus “The number of the beast,” 666, is a symbol of willful disobedience, a declaration that “I’m going to do things my way, regardless of what God says.” It is “the number of man,” man’s “declaration of independence,” which is manifested by his rejection of the seventh-day Sabbath. It represents man’s attempt to establish his own honor and glory, to do what he wants, even if it means breaking the clear commandments of God. This symbol of rebellious independence is the epitome of Satan’s plans, purposes and kingdom, and goes hand in hand with the mark of the beast. “The mark of the beast” is the acceptance and honoring of Sunday, the false Sabbath. “The Number of the Beast,” 666, is the rejection of the seventh day, the true Sabbath. One is the flip side of the other, and both symbolize submission to the beast rather than to God. With economic sanctions and finally with the threat of death, the worship of the image of the beast will be enforced. This will be the climax of Satan’s efforts to impose his worship, and is the climax of the first half of the book of Revelation.
The climax of the second half is found in chapter 14, which presents “the Lamb… and with Him one hundred and forty four thousand” who, refusing to bow to the threats and pressure of the beast, “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:1,12).