A lot has been written about this verse:
Revelation 13:18 Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man [or humanity]. His number is 666.
That 666 has created millions of words of interpretation.
Some think it’s the Roman Catholic church, some think it’s the Roman Catholic church undermining Protestant America (Americans seem to need to find their nation mentioned in the Bible, most of the rest of us wonder why it matters—you won’t find Thailand, Australia, Fiji or Sri Lanka in there either, and we’re all fine with that). Some think it’s Islam (see this for an example, or this), but that creates some difficulty with a beast that forces people to worship a statue (Islam forbids the worship of idols, hence some of the wanton destruction in Daesh’s current crusade). Some think it’s Russia.
Many think it will be one person: THE Antichrist. Movies like Left Behind are based on this (but you can make anyone’s name into 666 if you work hard enough—just do it in the right way and even change languages if you have to). Some think it represents the world system, rather than an individual.
Whatever the interpretation, it has to fit this description:
- he’s the second beast (the first beast was described as: looking like a leopard, with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion.
- he came out of the earth (the first beast came out of the seas [the nations], possibly at the behest of the dragon, Satan)
- he had the authority to deceive everyone so they could be made to worship the first beast (which blasphemed God, ruled the world, and ‘waged war’ against God’s people), even to the point of worshipping its statue
- people so admire the beast they want to worship him
- he could do miracles
- he made everyone get a mark on their hand or forehead to be able to buy or sell
- his number was 666.
What we do know for sure is that 6 in the Bible represents the number of humanity. Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day. It’s one short of seven, the number of perfection.
While many assume the mark is a physical one, like a tattoo, or something more modern like a microchip, the Bible also refers to a mark that God puts on his own people. That has two precedents in the Old Testament:
- when the Israelites celebrated passover, it would be like a mark on their hands or foreheads
- Ezekiel was shown a vision of angels walking through Jerusalem and putting a mark on the foreheads of people who were grieved over Jerusalem’s sin. These people would later be spared from death.
So waiting for a man, or a nation, or a one world government to impose an economic system that relies on a physical mark to work might be futile. Watching world politics closely and following the latest conspiracy theory won’t help much either. The command for us is to serve God, and when that beast comes along, refuse to worship him (or it), and accept whatever happens as a result.