I was driving past a church that had a sign stating "Free Bible Prophecy Seminar"… and I didn't want you to feel left out. So in this sermon I'm going to talk about "666"!
Pastors are often asked to tell who the person the number "666" in the Book of Revelation refers to. 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 realise 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 and 666 is the number of talents of gold he collected annually as tribute. A talent weighs 75 pounds (34.09 kilos)! At US$400 per ounce, that's over US$300 million dollars a 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 epitomise the diabolical leader who is so drunk with power that despite his pretence 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, splendour 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.
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