As of this writing the world is on lock down in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means a lot of people are online speculating about end times. Among those things being talked about is the 666 economic system, and people wondering if now is the time such a system will be implemented.
Much of what is being said is fear based, unbalanced teaching, lifting verses out of context, adding a good dose of speculation, and calling it God. This series will go into detail of scripture, the first century culture of the Roman Empire, and history to answer the question: What will believers do when 666 comes?
Let me work backwards a little bit. There will be disciples of Jesus in the Tribulation. But according to Judaism they will be people who came to Messiah AFTER the Feast of Trumpets blowing of the Last Trumpet. That blowing of the last trump caused the resurrection of those who had previously died, and according to Paul, those who were alive at the time to see that event. So the 666 is not for believers now. I will share more on that next week.
What is the 666?
"He also caused everyone small and great, rich and poor, free and slave to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he had the mark of the beast—that is, his name or his number. This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666." Revelation 13: 16-18
The first rule of Bible interpretation is that a passage must make sense to the original readers of the message. So we must note that when Rome took a slave, they took away the person's name and instead tattooed a number on that person's forehead or hand (wrist). Thereafter they were called whatever number had been assigned.
We see this in Romans 16: 22-23 which says: "I Tertius, who wrote this letter (received dictation from Paul) greet you, also Gaius my host, Erastus who is the city's (Corinth) Treasurer, and Quartus, a brother." The names 'Tertius' and 'Quartus' are the Roman numerals 3 and 4. So it literally says, "I, Three, who wrote this letter...Gaius...Erastus...and Four, a brother."
The apostle John sees a whole population of slaves to an economic and religious system, and without such allegiance they will not be able to buy anything. Readers of John's vision immediately understood therefore he was talking about an economic system and a system requiring allegiance to a government or regime.
The number 6 is the number of man because man was created on the 6th day. The number 7 is the number of God and completion, for on the 7th day God quit creating. The three 6's of man represent the 3 elements of rule over nations: Political power (includes military), economic power, and religious power. That is the 666, the effort of 1 ruler to combine in his kingdom those 3 elements. Rulers have tried to combine these 3 for centuries.
Rome tried it and succeeded with 2 of the 3: Political and economic, but could not contain Christianity. Hitler tried and succeeded with political and economic unity, but could not contain the Jewish and Christian population. (Little mentioned fact is the the Holocaust killed about 6 million Jews, but also another 5+ million Christians and political enemies). Look at the efforts of every ruler from Nebuchadnezzar to the USSR - all tried to bring under their power politics, economics, and religion (Either by a State religion, or stamping out religion and making the State the religion). Anti-Christ will attempt the same.
We could therefore say Jesus will succeed with a 777. Zechariah 14 tells us He will be King over all the earth and righteousness will be the rule of law (political & economics), and all nations will come annually to Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles to worship Him. (religion)
Back to 666 - No economic and political system comes into being overnight. Systems and policies often come into place as a result of a crisis. Believers who refuse to be made slaves of that system will have to grow their own food, meat, and/or be in relationships with those who do. It means whatever you need in life will have to be supplied by those who have either stockpiled supplies before the 666 economic system goes into place, or have the means and connections to get supplies outside the system. People won't be meeting in auditoriums called church, for it will be impossible. They will meet in homes, sharing lives, sharing provisions, praying for one another.
While the book of Revelation does not say anti-Christ will rule the whole world, just the general area of what was then the Roman Empire, the policies and effects of his rule will affect the planet, as will the natural disasters that occur.
History repeats itself...
...because human nature has never changed, and neither has the devil. In Nazi Germany Jewish businesses were officially boycotted as early as April of 1933. They could not participate in the economic system of non-Jewish citizens.
Because most people ignored the boycott and still shopped at Jewish businesses, that boycott was eventually superseded when Jewish people were rounded up and put into ghettos, like in Warsaw, but Jewish ghettos were implimented all over Europe. These closed neighborhoods meant Jewish people only had food and goods among themselves. They could not go out to a store to shop with the general population. They could not go to a grocery or market to get food. They could use and consume only what they shared among themselves.
Similar situation in Thyatira
In the apostle John's time, believers in Thyatira were experiencing a similar thing. In Revelation 2: 18-29 we find a woman nicknamed 'Jezebel', who thought herself a prophetess, teaching believers it was okay to commit sexual sin and in that sin, eat food offered to idols. (I have a series on this true 'Jezebel spirit' - which is far different than the popular teaching.)
Thyatira was home to most of the Roman Empire's guilds, forerunners of labor unions. If a woman owned let us say, a dress shop in town, if she wanted to buy material for her shop, she would have to enter into an agreement with the guild for that material and then go to a temple, make a sacrifice to that guild's idol, and then to confirm the business agreement, have sex with a temple prostitute.
The same would be for a man who say, owned a metal works business. If he wanted to buy raw material he would have to make a deal with a supplier, go to a temple and sacrifice to that idol, and then confirm the contract by having sex with a temple prostitute. It's interesting to note and well known historically, that these prostitutes danced around poles in the shape of an erect...ahem, let's be polite - phallic symbol. The modern version is the 'pole dance' of strip clubs and exercise classes that are so popular. Those were first seen in temples in the Roman Empire.
Without entering into an agreement with a guild, a person could not be in business for very long. Or they had to move outside of the city and/or find a secret supplier who wasn't part of a guild. My personal opinion is that Lydia of Philippi*, the original hostess of the house church there, who was also a seller of purple originally from Thyatira, moved to Philippi to maintain her integrity - my opinion as I said. *Acts 16:14
Jezebel in Thyatira called herself a prophetess, which meant what she taught had a 'thus says the Lord' attached. She taught that it was okay to have sex with the prostitute and offer the required sacrifices to the idol, because God knows you have to eat, have to stay in business - right?
Jesus said no. Emphatically. Fortunately not all in Thyatira followed this woman, and those who did not no doubt had sources of food and supplies from outside the city, or of their own gardens and livestock, and other suppliers.
Next week - why we won't be here to experience it, and more about the 666 system. Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org