(The Biblical Theology of Revelation 13:18)
by Richie Cooley
Richie Cooley (2017)
Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International
Old Testament Scripture is taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE® (NASB), copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
New Testament Scripture is taken from the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament: Third Edition (ALT3). Copyright © 2007 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry. Previously copyrighted © 1999, 2001, 2005 by Gary Zeolla.
Before getting started, let’s review a few notes that will help make sense of this booklet…
*This work mostly uses British spelling, except for the quoted material, which often employs U.S. spelling.
*The Old Testament quotes are from the NASB and the New Testament quotes are from the ALT3.
*“LORD” signifies the personal name of God.
The ALT3 distinguishes between singular and plural second person pronouns by means of an asterisk ().
*Divine pronouns are normally not capitalized, unless they appear that way in Bible versions or other quotes.
*Words that appear in brackets within quotes are not found in the original texts, and were added by the translators or are my personal comments, etc.
I. Winds of Little Change
National Geographic recently published a story about a unique discovery from the genre of paleontology. A dinosaur that has been almost perfectly preserved was discovered a few years ago by Canadian miners. The specimen was so well intact, not only does it look like it hails from a Spielberg film, but you are even able to clearly see what it last ate before it died. The article goes on to say…
Paleobiologist Jakob Vinther, an expert on animal coloration from the U.K.’s University of Bristol, has studied some of the world’s best fossils for signs of the pigment melanin. But after four days of working on this one—delicately scraping off samples smaller than flecks of grated Parmesan—even he is astounded. The dinosaur is so well preserved that it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago,” Vinther says. “I’ve never seen anything like this”…
The remarkable fossil is a newfound species (and genus) of nodosaur, a type of ankylosaur often overshadowed by its cereal box–famous cousins in the subgroup Ankylosauridae. Unlike ankylosaurs, nodosaurs had no shin-splitting tail clubs, but they too wielded thorny armor to deter predators. As it lumbered across the landscape between 110 million and 112 million years ago, almost midway through the Cretaceous period, the 18-foot-long, nearly 3,000-pound behemoth was the rhinoceros of its day, a grumpy herbivore that largely kept to itself. And if something did come calling—perhaps the fearsome Acrocanthosaurus—the nodosaur had just the trick: two 20-inch-long spikes jutting out of its shoulders like a misplaced pair of bull’s horns.1
Maybe it looks like it was walking around not long ago because it was walking around not long ago. The Bible says that a few thousand years into the past a flood swept the earth; this would have been an ideal time for a specimen of this type to have become entombed in an aquatic disaster. Does it really make sense that such features would still be so wonderfully preserved 110 million years later? Does it really seem plausible that a worker using a digging machine could just hit upon an animal across the expanse of thousands and thousands of generations? Does any of this pass the common sense test?
Our modern age of (subjective) empiricism became fully developed in the 19th century. Western culture had come to despise the old adage of Christendom, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed,” and replaced it with an equally hapless attitude of, “Oxford has spoken, the debate is over.”
One of the most important developments was the idea of uniformitarianism in the 1800s, which stated that all present processes have always been going on. Starting particularly with Europeans in the 1700s, geology had become a seedbed for “deep time,” as natural philosophy propounded the notion of very long ages in the past. This paved the wave for men like Darwin in the mid-1800s to make the theory of biological evolution via natural selection popular.
These banal, unbiblical, and even unscientific ideas, quickly bore bad fruit. You see, the fear of humankind during the late 1800s was that the sun would eventually freeze, turning us all into ice cubes. This notion can be found everywhere in the literature of the day, such as in the writings of H.G. Wells. What if our biology was winding down due to altruism, etc.? Darwin himself, who was a very racist man—equating blacks and aborigines to apes in his book, The Descent of Man—helped to float the idea of eugenics (in the same book). He wished that the “weak in body or mind” would willingly restrict their procreation. This idea of biological determinism grew like wildfire (cf. Francis Galton), and one day an Austrian tramp would take these horrific, unscientific, chicken-little fears, and destroy millions and millions of people thereby.
After the demise of the Third Reich people generally recoiled over the horrors of where eugenics could lead, and the subject became somewhat anathema. Also, science would later switch its fear. Instead of everything freezing to death, one day the sun would burn everything up. This background noise has perhaps (I fully admit this is subjective) helped fuel the fears of global warming. The big problem is that in the environmental-demise scenario carbon isn’t the big enemy—humankind is. We’re flourishing too much. There’s too many of us. Man, it’s getting hot in here! The eugenics movement was quietly replaced with the birth control movement. This switch can be seen very simply when considering groups like Planned Parenthood. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, was also a racist, was also a proponent of eugenics, and went on to set up one of the largest abortion mills in history. From the one/two-child policy in China to the desire to force birth control on nations as humanitarian aid, the desire to stop the crowding of the masses has resulted in tens of millions of deaths. (While I was writing this booklet a Gloria Steinem interview was released where she blamed global warming on the lack of abortions. Amazing.)
I wrote this coarse, crass, broadside sketch of modern history to assert that we don’t seem to travel too far for our macro-ideas. Did the notion of a freezing sun help lead to War World II? Did the fear of a charred solar system help lead to Lena Dunham? Probably, in a way. The winds blow, and off we go, not fully realizing we’re being moved at all.
So getting back to the dinosaur for a minute, where did these speculations regarding great periods of time come from? There are numerous ways to date the earth, and they mostly give completely different readings. It is an impossible science, especially if a god created a fully-formed world. So how did we come to believe that the earth is billions of years old? I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong, I could read Wikipedia and pretend that I know, but I suspect that the real answers are much more subtle. For example, I think it’s more than coincidence that the idea of a billionaire is seen as the pinnacle of success today. A millionaire isn’t too impressive anymore (cf. Austin Powers). Isn’t it kind of odd that the idea of the earth being billions of years old didn’t become vogue until the preponderance of billionaires became vogue (obviously I’m only talking about Western currencies)? Did this rise in the numbers in commerce soften us to the outlandish claims of quasi-scientists? Well, a million dollars might not be a fortune anymore, but 110 million years is still a very long time. It is an impossibly long time.
The overarching purpose of the introduction is to suggest the predominant folly of the “scientific war room” motif. We believe civilizations are built on solid, thoughtful, well-proven constructs. Actually, we are all highly susceptible to slight influences, blind ambition, and baseless fads. Our decisions are just as often owing to erroneous whims, even though we feel they actually are derived by a methodical, objective group of geniuses, who employ a pristine empiricism.
Yet if this genesis of thought is true, is there any hope? Are we constantly bound to pretend to be enlightened and progressive, only to be actually swirling in a sea of yellow journalism, hyperbole, misunderstanding, and self-deception (i.e., I know I’m right because, well, I’m me)? How can we escape? Well, the God who created the heavens and the earth, the one who sees, knows, and has power over all things, has given us a written Word. This book is called the Bible. It is a cyclone of truth which falls from heaven upon our creaking, tin shack of error. Rome cannot lift us very high, and neither can the Ivy League; yet God can, and shall, through faith in his truth.
The following short writing is a quick history of the error of man versus the salvation of God. I’ve been highly influenced lately by the teachings of Paul House. I’ve had the opportunity to help transcribe lectures he gave at the Beeson Divinity School for an evangelical website, and I’ve been refreshed and encouraged by his emphasis on Biblical theology. We will start with Genesis and then focus on Revelation, and I’ll try to be very brief.
II. Beginning with Genesis
God, the ever-existing, all-powerful, sole deity (although Triune in nature), created the universe and everything in it. On the last day of his creating and forming he brought forth man and woman. He gave them everything for life and happiness, and also issued one prohibition. Because of this, the woman and man eventually disbelieved that God had given them everything for life and happiness. They thought the stature of their lot would be improved if they transgressed and partook of the prohibited tree. It wasn’t. Instead of being brought to the heights of heaven, their sin plunged them and their descendants into a misery-laden cycle of sweat, thorns, subjection, pain, and death.
After their separation from God, some humans clung to his promise of redemption through faith, and others went about seeking to improve their present state by both hook and crook. Eventually people became more like the rebels, and the faithful became scarce in the earth. At this time God summoned Noah and his family to go aboard the ark, and the deluge of annihilation was sent to wipe the slate of sinfulness. Noah and his family trod upon the dry land as the new first family, yet still bore the image of their original fallen forebears.
The human race began to repopulate (and if this didn’t happen just a few thousand years ago, then why are there so few people?) and the same corruption ensued. However, instead of destroying the inhabitants of earth again, he rather called one out of the newly-founded Babylon. That man was Abram/Abraham, and his deeds and descendants are what make up the majority of the Bible. He was called forth from a place of prosperity and idolatry, and was led to be a stranger in the foreign land of Canaan. Being a foreigner, he was completely dependent upon God for his sustenance. By faith he trusted the Almighty to preserve his life, and believed that the strange land of Canaan would be a familiar home to an innumerable offspring.
Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob and Esau. Because of the deceitfulness he practiced against his brother, Jacob felt forced to flee back to distant relatives. These relatives were much more in keeping with the lifestyle that Abraham left behind years before. In fact, one of Jacob’s newly acquired wives—Rachel—stole household gods from her father when the family decided to return to Canaan.
As the family grew, idolatry became a bigger problem. When Jacob tried to set the family in order before approaching God in gratitude for his sustaining graces, he commanded them to deal with this issue…
Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves …” -- Genesis 35:1-2
Although the family was obedient at that moment, we’ll soon see that this virtuousness obviously wouldn’t last. Idols and various gods were seen as means of wealth and security. They were virtually good luck charms in the eyes of their possessors, but harmful blasphemy in the eyes of the all-knowing God.
Anyway, Jacob’s descendants would prosper, and would become known as the nation of Israel. They were called out of Egypt by God, led through the wilderness, and brought back to the land of Canaan. Henceforth it would no longer be called by that name, but it would rather bear the name of the people, Israel. God had been faithful to the promise made to Abraham, as a multitude of his offspring now resided on the Promised Land.
However, although the people had been blessed via the faithfulness of God, they were still cursed via the primal carnality of Adam. Everywhere they went many from their midst looked to these idols for their welfare and livelihood…
I [God] said to them, “Cast away, each of you, the detestable things of his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me; they did not cast away the detestable things of their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt … -- Ezekiel 20:7-8
This was true in Egypt. This was true during their journey to Canaan. This was also true once they arrived in Canaan…
…They mingled with the nations and learned their practices, and served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood. -- Psalm 106:35-38
The nation was preserved from God’s overflowing wrath because of his promises to Abraham, yet life in Israel would be marked by a constant ebb and flow of idolatrous imports.
Moses, the leader of the exodus from Egypt, died after bringing the people to the cusp of Canaan. Joshua was given the role of leader and led the army of Israel to subdue the land. After Joshua’s death, God would raise up a number of leaders, popularly known as the “judges.” There would be a cycle of idolatrous entropy, God would allow their enemies to prevail, and then the people would call out to their forgotten Lord. In response to their pleas and misery he would send a judge to deliver the people and usher in days of greater peace and piety. This cycle of dilapidation and deliverance would continue for several hundreds of years.
In the midst of this period a certain town named Shechem rebelled against the memory of a divinely appointed judge. Previously, God had strengthened a young man named Gideon to be victorious over oppressors from the land of Midian. After his successful campaigns he begat a great number of children. There were about 71 sons in all. After his death the people of Shechem didn’t wish to be influenced by the legacy of Gideon anymore. They rather rallied around someone who was more closely related to them. They gave him the green light to accomplish a felonious coup…
…They [the people of Shechem] were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our relative.” They gave him seventy [pieces] of silver from the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him. Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. -- Judges 9:3-5
Let’s linger here and consider some of the individual words from this text. First of all, note that the name of Gideon is given as “Jerubbaal.” This was due to the circumstances that surrounded his initial calling to fight with the Midianites. God told Gideon to deface an idolatrous monument to Baal. Because of this he received the nickname Jerubbaal, which signified that the false deity was unable to strive with him. Now, note that when the people of Shechem hired Abimelech (whose name means something like, “my father is king,”) they gave him money that had been stored in a temple consecrated to “Baal-berith.” In Hebrew, berith means “covenant.” In Messianic Judaism, for example, the term that is used for the “New Testament” is B’rit Chadashah. “B’rit” is the same as berith. Finally, the name “Baal,” means “lord” or “master,” etc. So putting this all together, the verses from Numbers 9 above are pregnant with spiritual meaning. The man of Baal’s striving had his sons killed by a kinsman of Shechem, being paid with the wages of the covenant made with Baal.
Anyway, history marched on. Eventually the people became sick and tired of the train of judges, and decided they wanted a king instead. They thought this would give them more consistent security. The king would watch over their affairs and fight their wars. The first king of Israel was Saul. We’ll get back to him later (Solomon is our apex, and then we’re going to work our way back down the list). His reign didn’t please God, and David, a shepherd-boy, was chosen as his replacement. King David would stand alongside Abraham when it comes to importance in Israelite history. As Abraham had been given the promises of the land and numerous progeny, David had been given the regal covenant. His family would be the kingly house before God perpetually.
David’s first successor was Solomon. He is famous for being endowed with tremendous wisdom from God. He was also given splendour and honour, the likes of which are dreamlike in quality. His kingdom was an actual Shangri-La. However, instead of relishing in the unique blessing of God, his heart turned towards the wealth, splendour, and beauty. Through faithless lust the new Paradise of God turned into just another Babylon. Solomon hoarded wealth and wives contrary to the dictates of Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 17). These women turned Solomon to honour some of the vilest false gods imaginable. He even went so far as to erect idols.
In one of those majestic touches of God’s artistry, throughout this downward spiral of Solomon two things were happening. While reading the history of this era of bounty, it would appear like a tremendous success story. Yet God was keeping track in a different way. Solomon kept receiving wealth at this time: a little here, a little there. The total from this period is tabulated: 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14). To any student of Bible prophecy, that number should ring familiar. It is of course the number of the Antichrist, as related in Revelation 13:18.
Right, so we’ve hit the apex. Let’s start sliding back down now. First, let’s revisit Saul, the first king. (On a footnote, to anyone who has had read all my writings, it would appear that I’m in the constant habit of rehashing older material with the sole purpose of keeping it in the public domain as much as possible. Fortunately, no one has ever read all my writings, so I need not fret too much over explaining my redundancy.) Just as the demise of Solomon led us to a mention of “666,” so does the coronation of Saul.
God was not pleased with the people for wanting a king. It was clear that a major part of their motivation was their lack of desire to live by faith. When the government isn’t perfect, your God better be. However, if you can achieve a perfect government, then who needs God? This has been the poison apple that Satan has peddled through many philosophers over the centuries. There is no perfect government. We are fallen and sin exists, as does entropy. The people sought a king because they weren’t seeking God…
Thereafter Samuel [the last of the judge-type] called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah; and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ But you have today rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said [to him], ‘No, but set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.” -- 1 Samuel 10:17-19
God made it clear to Samuel who the king was to be, only they couldn’t find Saul. They asked the Lord of his whereabouts…
Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.” -- 1 Samuel 10:22
Now there’s nothing wrong with the NASB’s rendering of “baggage.” The Hebrew term keli can indeed be interpreted as such, and there are specific times when that would appear to be the meaning. However, the original Hebrew word is much broader in scope. It is used well over two hundred times in the Old Testament. The most common way the NASB renders it is “utensils” (66 times).
Holladay says it means…
1. vessel, receptacle, gear 2. equipment, gear 3. implement 4. other objects (pgs. 158-159)^2^
The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon gives as the primary definition, “article, utensil, vessel.” Then as a sub-definition it gives, “implement of labour, tool.” (pgs. 479-480)^3^
The word thus also means “tool.” It is used this way in 1 Kings 6:7, when Solomon is constructing the Temple of God in Jerusalem…
The house, while it was being built, was built of stone prepared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built. (NASB)
The Hebrew word isn’t rendered “tool” too often by the NASB translators simply because such items don’t appear much in the Bible. There are two or three times the NASB translators render a specified engraving instrument as a “tool,” and once the Hebrew word for “sword” is rendered by the NASB translators as “tool.” That’s it.
Also, in modern Hebrew this word means, “instrument, tool, vessel.” 4
Now why am I going on about this? Well, if you were reading 1 Samuel 10 in Hebrew you would have come across the word keli, as we have pointed out. Then a couple of chapters later, we have Saul being completely rejected as king by God. He made a sacrifice to the Lord himself, contrary to every law and ordinance…
But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” -- 1 Samuel 13:11-14
Recall that in the midst of Solomon’s demise, the number 666 was given. A few verses after Saul’s demise, we have this seemingly random list of tools…
Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. The charge was two-thirds of a shekel [Literally “a pim”] for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. -- 1 Samuel 13:19-21
As I’m sure you noticed, the NASB includes a footnote in this passage. The Hebrew term behind the phrase, “two-thirds of a shekel,” is pim. This is how the majority of modern translations read. They often render the word as “two-thirds of a shekel,” and then include the Hebrew original “pim” as a footnote. This is the practice of the English Standard Version, the Lexham English Bible, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible, etc. The New King James Version just uses “pim” in the text itself.
So modern scholarship believes that a “pim” was a stone/weight/coin worth two-thirds of a shekel. God told the people that the king of their apostasy was hidden among the “tools/implements.” Then shortly thereafter we’re given this list with “pim” in the middle. Just as Solomon’s demise was highlighted with 666, so was Saul’s highlighted with the idea of two-thirds, which can be seen as another way of expressing 666, being an endless string of sixes percentage-wise.
Remember what was going on with Solomon. He was no longer looking to the Lord but trusting in his wealth and wives for love and blessedness. The by-product of this resulted in the ominous number. Saul likewise ceased to trust in the Lord. The army was deserting him, and he relied on his own wit and present need. He did something grotesque and blasphemous in order to remedy the situation. Again, this portentous number pops up. Both Solomon and Saul had things to glory in. Saul could revel in being the first king chosen of God, and Solomon could point to his wealth and splendour. Yet they both were dying inwardly, ceasing to rely on the Lord through faith.
III. Revelation’s Elucidation
As we slide back down our list of accounts I’d like to include concurrent information from the book of Revelation. The main thrust of (somewhat) chronological, biblical theology, is the realization that the Bible is its own best commentary. As time went on and more of the biblical books were written, what later writers penned was rarely in isolation. The authors of the latter books were constantly making references to things that had been written before. So does the last book in the Bible—the book of Revelation—have anything to say about apostate kings and about Jotham, Jacob, the exodus, and Eden?
We’ve previously mentioned the fact that Solomon and Saul’s 666 is the same number given in Revelation for the Antichrist…
… No one is able to buy or to sell, except the one having the mark: the name of the beast or the number of its name…And its number is six hundred sixty-six. -- 13:17-18
Revelation chapters 13 and 17 give us the most detailed descriptions of his person and works. Chapter 13 recounts that he will suffer a head injury and revive. He will be heralded as great and unstoppable. He will conquer the world, blaspheme the heavens, and force everyone to worship him. At the height of his wickedness an idol will be made of him that everyone will be forced to reverence. Moreover, people will have to get a mark of his name in order to take part in commerce.
Chapter 17 focuses more on how false religion will help catapult the beast to success. Before looking at this chapter a bit, let’s revisit the account from Judges 9. You’ll recall that Abimelech had all the sons of Gideon/Jerubbaal killed while seeking the ascendency for himself. The men of Shechem gave him money from the Temple of Baal-berith in order to accomplish his task. Well there was one son of Gideon who escaped, and he had something to say about the evil bond between Shechem and Abimelech. During the coronation of Abimelech the lone son of Gideon who escaped shouted at the crowd from a mountain. He told a parable about the evil bond, and then concluded with these words…
Now therefore, if you have dealt in truth and integrity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have dealt with him as he deserved—for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian; but you have risen against my father’s house today and have killed his sons, seventy men, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your relative—if then you have dealt in truth and integrity with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume the men of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and from Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech. -- Judges 9:16-20
Those of us who consider Bible prophecy often focus our attention exclusively on the pact that will be made between Israel and the Antichrist; yet there is another lamentable agreement. It’s clear from Revelation 17 that false religion, stemming from Rome, will be one of the chief agents of his meteoric rise…
And he carried me away in spirit [or, by [the] Spirit] into a wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast being full of names of blasphemy [or, covered with blasphemous names], having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman had been clothed with purple and scarlet, having been adorned with gold and a precious stone and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand being full of abominations and the uncleanness of her sexual sin. And on her forehead a name had been written: SECRET [OR, MYSTERY], BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF THE PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH….And the woman which you saw is the great city, the one having kingship over the kings of the earth. -- verses 3-5, 18
The last verse above is our most important, specific clue. Obviously Rome was the great city reigning over the earth at the time the book of Revelation was written. I don’t want this to sound like a bad episode of Give My Head Peace. There’s nothing intrinsically evil about any church; yet when a religious organization gives itself over to seek political power and to carnally bolster wicked leaders, it is putting on the vestments of Babylon. The idea that a Christian organization is in view here fits in with many other statements from the New Testament as well which warn of an onslaught by false teachers in the end times. Just as Israel denied the Lord when they sought to enthrone Saul, so will many Christian leaders deny the Lord Jesus Christ when they seek to glorify the Man of Sin.
On an aside, I try really hard to stay out of politics these days. I don’t want my message to become bogged down with all the swarf of the day. Yet I think it would be helpful to point out a few things that may go unnoticed, especially to younger readers who might not have the vantage point of a longer breadth of contemporary history. I’ll try to make this quick.
I first stumbled upon the “pim” theory because of the death of Pim Fortuyn of Holland. That was back in 2002. He was very unique in his hour. To my knowledge there weren’t any politicians like him. Now there are many. He was the original alt-right proponent. He was considered to be a right-wing conservative, yet he had little concern for traditional morality. His conservative outlook mainly focused on nationalism, especially stemming from a growing exasperation with Muslim immigration. Again, in his day he was a maverick, yet now his brand of politics has become vogue.
I’ve watched for 15 years as many people have followed in his footsteps. The alt-right movement is huge nowadays. Nationalism is huge, only it has been rebranded as “populism.” Pim’s comrade, Wilders, was a serious contender in the Dutch elections this year, as was the similar Marine Le Pen in France. Moreover, it was tapping into these sentiments that helped Donald Trump become president. The yellow journalism of modern North American conservatism and the wishes of Vladimir Putin also helped Trump (I wrote about the strong push right that Putin was making back in December of 2014). Yet to this day many Christians see this alt-right movement as something holy and positive. Liberty University still heralds Trump as the 13th apostle. Sad.
So Jotham laid a curse upon this wicked coronation. If this new arrangement didn’t please God then the parties involved would destroy each other. This detail can also be found in Revelation 17. World leaders don’t really care about religion, it’s just used as a public relations tool. This is as King James said centuries ago, “No bishop, no king.” Well, God will curse this arrangement in the future, as bishop and king will stop the charade…
And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the prostitute and will make her having been laid waste and will make her naked, and they will eat her flesh and will burn her in fire . For God gave into their hearts to do His mind [fig., purpose] and to make [fig., to be of] one mind and to give their kingdom to the beast until the words of God are completed [or, fulfilled]. -- verses 16-17
Just as Abimelech fulfilled the will of Jotham when he warred against the people of Shechem three years later (Judges 9:22ff), so will the beast be fulfilling God’s mind when he decimates this mother of harlots in the midst of the 70th week (cf. Daniel 9:24-27).
Moving on, not only will the beast seek to destroy false Christianity, but he will seek to wage war against the nation of Israel as well. He will initially be as Solomon and seek the rebuilding of a grand temple in Jerusalem. Yet God will not be pleased with his offering, and two witnesses will testify against it, as can be read in Revelation 11. This “pim” (on a footnote, the Hebrew “pim” looks very similar to the Aramaic “pum,” meaning “mouth” and “entrance” into a lion’s den; this word is found several times in Daniel) will seek to quiet these critics. When they are killed, there is this interesting verse…
And their dead body [will lie] on the open street of the great city (which spiritually [or, figuratively] is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified). -- Revelation 11:8
Jerusalem was meant to be the centre of God’s blessing. It was the city of David, the chief spot in the land promised to Abraham. In the end times, God calls it Egypt. Judeo-Christian religion will be the means of darkness and oppression. God will use the Antichrist to wipe the slate of false profession.
There is good news in the midst of all this mayhem. Although God will bring judgment to Jerusalem, he will remember his promise to Abraham. Recall earlier that I described how Jacob commanded his family to rid themselves of idols on their way to meet God…
So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem. -- Genesis 35:4
On a footnote, Abimelech was made king at an oak in Shechem (Judges 9:6).
After they cleansed themselves of these defilements God met with Jacob at Bethel and his name was affirmed as Israel (signifying having power with God). Soon after, they set out on another journey, and it is here that the town of Bethlehem is mentioned for the first time in the Bible. The next time this town features prominently is when God seeks to replace Saul…
[God said to Samuel…] “…You shall anoint for Me the one whom I designate to you.” So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem … -- 1 Samuel 16:3-4
The next important reference comes when Micah issued forth an amazing prophecy about the promised redeemer, the coming Messiah…
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, [too] little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. -- Micah 5:2
Finally, many centuries later, it features again in the New Testament…
Now Jesus having been born in Bethlehem of Judea in [the] days of Herod the king [i.e., Herod the Great, ca. 4 B.C.], look!, learned astrologers [or, Magi, and in verses 7, 16; cp. Acts 13:6] from [the] east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the One having been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star at the rising [of the sun] [fig., in the east], and we came to prostrate ourselves in reverence [or, worship] before Him.” -- Matthew 2:1-2
Herod then sends to destroy all the young children in Bethlehem, leading to the citing of a prophecy concerning Rachel’s sorrow (Matthew 2:18, quoting Jeremiah 31:15).
Let’s consider the Magi as well. In the days of antiquity when the patriarchs resided in the East this signified the proliferation of idolatry and a departure from the creator of heaven and earth. However, at the birth of Jesus, the son of David, the son of Abraham, and the eternal Son of God, the light of heaven went forth to call all people of all ethnicities to repentance and sanctification. Whoever calls upon God, repenting of their sins and confessing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to be their only righteousness, shall recover what Adam and Eve lost when they originally broke faith at the dawn of time. They will live forever in the Paradise of God.
IV. Seeking God’s Shelter
Okay, so my feeble attempt at presenting 666 in the context of Biblical theology probably wouldn’t impress Paul House. Yet there is something Dr. House and I would agree on. As he said in one of the lectures I recently listened to…
[Quoting Isaiah 44:8] “Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me, or is there any rock? I know of none.” …Part of the proof that he is God is the ability to know the future.5
God’s knowledge of the ancient past and the distant future are the best reasons to take his Word seriously. The Bible isn’t just another whiff of wind, coming from little and leading to even less. Rather, it is the solemn testimony of the creator and upholder of all.
It might seem like I’m swimming a bit upstream now with all this prophecy emphasis, but that will change. My fear for the future is not that people will ignore the prophetic portions of the Bible. There will come a point in time that it will no longer be possible to deny the fact that Holy Writ contains detailed information about coming events. The question will then be, is the Writ really Holy? How do we really know where it comes from?
One of the most terrifying documentaries I’ve seen of late is called, Mirage Men. It is very well done and very thought-provoking. The premise is to expose the fact that government agencies used ufology to sow disinformation in the past. What made me frightened was that this was the first time I ever heard punctuated equilibrium used in connection with UFOs. Now one of the biggest problems evolutionists have is the fossil record. It just doesn’t add up. There are far too many gaps, there is far too much stasis, and there are far too many times that similar features had to develop independently. Why do so many creatures, supposedly separated by vast expanses and lineages, end up with similar features? This isn’t just true of similar horns being found on dinosaurs and mammals, but even extremely complicated things such as eyes had to develop from scratch many times over. What are the odds of that? Punctuated equilibrium was the idea that evolution happened in bursts. Evidently, some ufologists are now speculating that aliens were responsible for these bursts.
This is where we’re heading. In the future God will be an alien and people like me will be his changelings. Society escaped the superstitious nonsense of fairies and hobgoblins to end up fearing greys and insectoids. Escape from these silly gusts. Flee to the Rock. Put your faith in him, in his Holy Spirit, and in his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
2Holladay, William. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: [Eerdmans]/Brill, 1988.
^3^The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003.
4Ringvald, Vardit. Brandeis Modern Hebrew. Lebanon, NH: University Press, 2005. (pg. 550)