Zechariah 2:1-3:10, Revelation 13:1-18, Psalms 141:1-10, Proverbs 30:18-20
Today is the 22nd day of December welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I am Brian and it is great to be here with you today as we move through Christmas week. It’s exciting and it’s exciting that we can be together no matter where we are the world, that we can be together during Christmas week enjoying it as a community as we continue to take steps forward through the Scriptures. And we began the book of Zechariah yesterday and mentioned that we’re…we’re kind of…we’re not completely done with new books but there’s only one book we haven’t gotten to and that is the final book in the Old Testament, Malachi, but we have come to the book of Zechariah and Zechariah will take us all the way to within a couple of days of the end of the year. So, we’ll be camping out in Zechariah in the Old Testament Revelation in the New Testament all the way through the holiday season. We’re reading from the Common English Bible this week. And today, Zechariah, chapters 2 and 3.
Okay, so we were talking just a few minutes ago at the very very beginning that we are in the middle of Christmas week heading toward Christmas with just a few days remaining. And, so, it’s getting exciting around here in the rolling hills of Tennessee and everything is festive and even we as a family getting ready and Ezekiel’s excited and we’re all excited to be together and it’s Christmas week. And some of us are preparing our packing, getting our packing together and getting ready to get on a plane and fly to another city to be with family and maybe were doing extra special cleaning of the house because family is about to board planes and come to our city and be with us, or maybe we’re doing the exact same thing only in a car but we’re traveling somewhere or people are traveling toward us. And that is actually one of the joys of Christmas time, is that we get to be all together again, those that we don’t get to see maybe but once a year or maybe just every once in a while. Maybe our brothers coming into town with his family or a sisters coming with her husband and her family. Maybe all the extended family. The aunts and the uncles are all going to be together, and we haven’t been together since before Covid because I know that’s happening this Christmas in ways that haven’t happened in the last couple of years for some. But an interesting thing can happen in that environment. We can be over flowing with joy and with great amounts of gratitude to be in the presence of one another when we’ve been separated because we don’t live near each other, or any number of things have kept us apart and we’re all together again and that’s a great. But we can so easily, even though we may be grown, married with a family of our own, an education, a vocation, and we have a life and we’ve made a life and a family together, but we can get around extended family and so quickly we’re like a kid again. It’s like we’ve been…we’ve all assumed the roles we played while we were growing up and all of the little things that go along with that. So, maybe when we were a kid just coming-of-age we teased our…our younger siblings and we finally just fall right back into that with these little biting things that get said, these little teasing things that get said to kinda force them back into the role that they played or maybe that’s being done to us. And all of a sudden, we just don’t feel like a grown adult that has actually reached maturity and has planted a family of their own. We feel like a kid again, and then we react like a kid again and these crazy things that…that can happen in those kinds of situations because the tender places in our hearts are getting touched in old ways and bringing out old things. Or maybe we got different generations together. We got the grandparents, maybe even the great-grandparents, and our parents, and us, and our children. So, there’s like multiple generations going on and people are coming in from all over. And, so, not everybody’s necessarily tracking on the same page with things like politics or things like spirituality or even things like life choices. And, so, the whole thing is beautiful, joyous and full of gratitude and rejoicing, but the whole situation is like a ticking time bomb just waiting for the match to be lit, just waiting for the one thing that gets said, the little thing that gets lobbed into the middle of the table. And there may even be people and our family, or maybe even us, that that’s what happens. We’re the ones that are the fire starters or we have those in our family. There’s going to be something lobbed into the middle of the table around Christmas dinner or around presents or whatever and boom! Old offenses begin to rise. Reactions begin to materialize. All of the sudden we find ourselves pulled to react in ways that we wouldn’t and shouldn’t. The book of Psalms today gives us some words, just short memorable things that we can remember not like the long stanzas and passages, just a suggestion that since we’re out in front of it and Christmas is a view days from now and we’re like moving right into the thick of it, the most busiest time right now, if we can remember this, if this can be the mantra, I guess for the next few days it would be a rescue sent by God from the Scriptures in advance into our lives to rescue a situation that never has to happen. The psalmist says, “set a guard over my mouth Lord. Keep close watch over the door that is my lips. Don’t let my heart turn aside to evil things so that I don’t do wicked things with evildoers, so I don’t taste of their delicacies. Instead, let the righteous discipline me. Let the faithful correct me, that my head never reject that kind of fine oil. If we could remember that. If we could open our eyes in the morning after sleeping and remember this, “set a guard over my mouth Lord.” If we can just remember that and say it as many times as we need to say it, it could be a rescue. It…I mean it could potentially save Christmas. But it could save any day. “Set a guard over my mouth Lord. Keep close watch over the door that is my lips.” Let’s hold onto that one because it has been gifted to us in advance before any of the things that we were just talking about are permitted to happen, allowing us to have grateful hearts and celebrate the overwhelming love of God for us as we celebrate His arrival to rescue us.
Father, we invite You into that. Set a guard over our mouths Lord. Keep close watch over the door that is our lips. May we understand that what we say creates things and destroys things. May we speak words of life as the overwhelming joy that is within our hearts at this time of year comes spilling out of us. May this be a joyful and peaceful next few days, we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
dailyaudiobible.com is home base, that is the website, that’s where you can find out what’s going on around here unless you have the Daily Audio Bible app, which puts that in the palm of your hand.
And of course, it’s Christmas. It’s Christmas time and we are moving toward that day as we celebrate the arrival, the Advent of Jesus in the world. And I have mentioned a number of times there are some resources that are available that you can put into your Christmas playlists for the season. We have a number of…we have a bit of Christmas music. Let’s put it that way. Couple Christmas records. There is Christmas Time by Maxwell Hardin. You can look that up, put that in your playlist. There is family Christmas, which you can look up by my name Brian Hardin and insert that into a playlist or you can look up my wife, Jill Parr and she has a number of Christmas songs that you can insert into your playlist as well. So, from our home to your home, from the Global Campfire to your playlist, enjoy the festivities of Christmas.
If you want to partner with the Daily Audio Bible in these remaining days of the year, thank you humbly, thank you profoundly. There is a link on the homepage at dailyaudiobible.com. If you’re using the app, you can press the Give button in the upper right-hand corner, or the mailing address is PO Box 1996 Spring Hill Tennessee 37174.
And, of course, if you have a prayer request or encouragement, you can hit Hotline button in the app. That’s the little red button up at the top or you can dial 877-942-4253.
And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer and Praise:
Hi DAB family, this is Brian from Huber Heights Merry Christmas to everyone. I just wanted to pass along some praise for my son Mitchell who is mentally ill, homeless, a drug addict, and is presently in jail. The praise is that they are not letting him out where he would possibly freeze and that he’s getting sent to a mental facility instead of prison for his…for his charges. Hopefully he’ll get the help that he needs. Hopefully he’ll come out of there with housing set up for him. But he still needs prayer because he’s in some danger at jail. Right now, he’s in a private cell. I’m hoping they will keep him here there. He thinks he’s gonna get let out of there next week. I pray he stays in there. Also, I’m turning my…my divorce over to God. I’ve pursued my ex; Kathy and it’s not worked. If it’s God will, Jesus’ will that we be reconciled I’m laying it at the foot of the cross and leaving it there. Thank you for all your prayers. God bless everyone. Thank you, Brian Hardin for this wonderful ministry, it’s definitely been life changing for me. God bless everyone. Thank you.
Good morning prayer warriors in the DAB. I’m reaching out with a request for your prayers. This is Morning Lift, and my marriage is in trouble. I pray…I ask for your prayers to help reconcile my marriage, to help me deal with my issues of anger and control, to help me be gentle and meek and loving towards my wife. Help us to resolve our issues God and help us to grow together and to reconcile our marriage. Lord my wife is talking about a physical separation of domiciles, and I just pray Lord that whatever has to happen for our marriage to be reconciled that…that it happens and…and happens in the best way that it can. Even though I don’t want to be separated at all from my wife and kids Lord, I recognize that some separation might be necessary for healing though I’m in prayer that we would be able to heal under the same roof. And I just ask you, family and the DAB to lift up me and my wife. This is Morning Lift and we have three kids and I know this is really tough on them and I just pray for a civil attitude in the home, that we would talk to one another and another in a loving way, and that we would encourage our kids and set good examples for them. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. I ask you to pray for me as well DAB family. Thank you so much.
He DABbers this is Linda Abbas Child from Southwest Florida sitting in the sun trying to make my bad back feel better. Just wanna say Merry Christmas. I think I did this already, but I’ve been listening to you guys and it just inspires me so much to chip in because let’s see, this is my first full year of listening to DAB. I started in April of 2021. And, so, I’m so excited to say that I have gone through the whole Bible with Brian. Brian and the rest of your family, you’re all amazing. Thank you so much for being vessels and the conduits that you are. It was so fun today to hear from Valliant Val and yesterday from Blind Tony and all of you regulars that call in all the time you know who you are. I do love this family and I don’t contribute enough I don’t think and I’m shy about asking for prayer. But this is not for prayer. This is for Merry Christmas everybody. I love you all. I’m so grateful for this community and let it continue to grow exponentially the way it has. Keep sharing it y'all.
Hi this is Victoria Soldier just calling to pray for some of the DABbers. I wanna pray for the 26-year-old child who is verbal autistic and is care of life and also wanna pray for the brother in Orlando who lost his job and…and is on unemployment. I wanna pray that God open doors and bless him in a mighty and special way, that he look up and look to Him, that God is faithful, and God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think. I wanna pray for Melissa who is pregnant and is on dialysis, pray for the strength of that precious baby that’ll be the beautiful bouncing baby that she’s looking for. I want to pray for Candice from Oregon that she be renewed to full strength and I wanna pray for Jonathan from Denver. I wanna pray for him and the challenges that he’s going through, that God will open doors that no man can close. I wanna pray for the first responder and those who don’t call in. Father we wanna ask You that You answer their prayers. You said You would supply their every need. We want You to have Your way in all their lives. Give them favor O Lord and supply their needs according to Your riches and glory in Christ Jesus as they look up to you, the author and the finisher of their faith and that we’ll give You the glory, we’ll give You the honor and the praise in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hi, my name is Timothy. I’ve been listening to the daily audio Bible since 2019 and I’m just calling in for a little bit of a praise report and also asking for some prayer. I started listening in 2019 struggling with alcohol begging God to take it out of my life. I have listened consistently, never called in. I’ve been sober for a little over a year and a half now. All glory to God. I truly enjoy hearing all of your prayers and it just…it brings me joy every day that I get to listen. I’m calling because I’ve been feeling a little bit of a spiritual attack the past couple of days and if you could just keep me in your prayers that would really appreciate it. I’m going to be getting married in just about two months and I feel like the enemy is just attacking me. Yeah, it’s really a struggle for me to ever ask for a prayer. I don’t like to burden people, but I would really appreciate it. Thank you all so much. I truly love getting to spend these times with you guys and just hear you and it really does feel like an awesome community. I will definitely try to call in more often. And I also thank you Hardin family for this amazing platform that you guys have created. All glory to God. I thank you guys so much in advance. Thank you. Bye.
Deep dive into the book of Revelation:
Okay. So, we’re getting into the thick of it in the book of Revelation and we’re heading into some highly debated and contentious territory, which invariably means that it’s more well-known and that you are likely to have heard many things about it. And our job here isn’t to, you know, interpret it correctly and set the record straight for everyone who’s been studying this for thousands of years. That would be fairly arrogant. What we’re trying to do is just walk into the territory, avoid the hysteria, and look at what the text says and look at some of the main ways that this is been interpreted. So, we got a beast coming up out of the sea that had 10 horns, seven heads, and 10 crowns on its horns, and insulting…like a lot of symbolism. The beast that John saw was like a leopard, its feet were like bear’s feet, its mouth was like a lion’s mouth, and all the symbols. And bear’s feet, lion’s mouth, these have been associated with all kinds of things. So, this idea of coming up out of the sea could be literally just that, somehow this beast rose up out of the ocean, but it’s been noted that this…this appearance is most likely the kind of appearance that would happen from a ship. Not that the beast is a ship but the imagery itself. Like if you’re standing on the on the beach and you’re looking out at the ocean and something large, a big ship or something comes onto the horizon it looks like its coming up out of the sea. So, it it’s something that’s coming in the corresponding imagery here comes from the book of Daniel in the seventh chapter in particular. So, there’ve been interpretations in antiquity of sea monsters, that this is a sea monster coming up out of the sea because any allusions to see monsters and that kind of thing in any of the Old Testament writings always represent evil or an evil kingdom or evil that is against, that is set against God’s people and his covenant. Others say that the sea represents the abyss so that evil is coming up out of the abyss. And the crowns that this beast wears are…are false claims of sovereign authority. And this beast has been associated with ancient Rome for a very long time very consistently. And that’s in part because that would’ve been the world that John understood when this was written, and because of all the things that were happening in the Empire at the time. But it's…it…it’s deeper than that. In the Jewish writings, interpreting Daniel where so many of the parallels for this portion, or for that matter for all of where Revelation comes from, those Jewish writers associated Daniel 7 with Rome. And perhaps this this beast’s characteristics can be associated with allied empires or nations or just assimilated nations that are now a part of the Roman Empire and they all together make up this one beast. But there's…there’s wide interpretations. If you’re looking at this from a presentist perspective like, then you’d be looking at what’s happening now to make these identifications. If you’re a futurist, then this is something that’s gonna happen and you make speculation and then you work your way back in history all the way to John’s time then you find other associations. But the bottom line here is, no matter how these associations are made, or if they are correct what’s happening here is not…it’s evil…evil is coming up and the serpent who’s been associated with the devil gives his power to this beast. So, all of the sudden we have interesting parallels that look like this very very unholy Trinity that…that’s materializing. So, whereas the Father gave His authority to…to Jesus now we have the serpent giving his authority to this beast. And although this beast had seven heads one of them had a fatal wound but its fatal wound was healed. So, some almost like unholy resurrection imagery is…is here. And a lot of commentators over the years have associated this beast with the Emperor Nero who committed suicide, and but then there were all kinds of like Elvis style rumors that he wasn’t really dead and maybe that he had been spotted and there were people impersonating him and that maybe he was gonna come back. But in the end Emperor Nero’s death wasn’t fatal to the Empire and instead it showed the resolve and their power. So, a potential…a potential deathblow turns into…into a recovery. So, there’s just a good number of…of interpretations. And what happens from a straight reading of the text is that the world is dazzled by all of this and they worshiped the serpent, right, because it had given authority to the beast. So, you can see…can see these parallels. They worshiped the beast and they…and they praise by saying, “who is like the beast? Who can fight a war with it”, which is not unlike Old Testament declarations and prophecies, “who is like our God? Who is like you, Lord? Who could possibly fight with you? Who could…”, you know, this kind of stuff. And this beast was allowed to wage war against God’s people, and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation, and everyone living on earth worshiped it. Everyone that is, whose name is not written in the book of life. So, this is the kind of place where you have to decide how you’re reading this. If…if you’re reading it from a literal perspective then there is a sea monster unlike any creature we’ve ever seen before that is going to come up out of the sea and receive the dark powers of evil and claim sovereignty and the world is generally going to believe in and worship this beast who will subsequently consolidate power and go to war with God’s people. And this would personify evil into one being or at least this activity into one being. And of course, the beast is associated with imagery of the Antichrist who has been depicted, you know, as some kind of emerging world leader, a person in popular culture. So, we run into this problem of trying to decide, you know, time. When will this happen? And are we to look allegorically and figuratively or are we to look literally at these kinds of things? And we have to acknowledge that for the most part the figure…figurative interpretation is where we land. But so hopefully just flip the literal because we’ve become kind of program to do that. So, when we get to the Antichrist, we have to determine whether we’re talking about one person or if we’re talking about anything that is anti-Christ. So, for example in first John, which we…we read recently that we were told, “that you have heard that the antichrist is coming. Even now many antichrists have come. And who is the liar except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. This is the antichrist.” So, we have to decide if this is embodied in one person at some point in history or if we’re talking about the world consolidating itself in a way that is anti-Christ and oppressive to God’s people. More than oppressive, antagonistic, and at war with God’s people. But nevertheless, according to the Scripture this beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it’s hard to make that allegorical because if we’re talking about spiritually then we would say that this war against God’s holy people conquers them spiritually. That will be hard to reconcile because God has put His seal on their foreheads as we read earlier. And, so, much of the book of Revelation, and so much of the New Testament itself is about enduring these things or these kinds of things. Staying true. Keeping the light…the light burning. And we have to acknowledge, at least at this point in the book of Revelation, we haven’t seen any indications that God’s holy people are gonna be zapped away from all this. It seems to be an encouragement to endure and keep the light burning like the rest of the New Testament does, and to keep us…keep us focused on the fact that that our bodily death isn’t the end of anything. And if we zoom out to the 30,000-foot view we would have to say that this is what it looks like for the transition of the kingdom to come. And, so, there’s this conquering that takes place, which doesn’t necessarily mean killing. It means conquering. And this happens because the world follows this beast. Everyone worships this beast, everyone who’s not written in the book of life. “That book”, I’m reading this from revelation, “that book belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the creation of the world.” And this gets really contentious and really prickly because now we’re talking about predestination. And generally, that’s the idea, that everything was already preordained before it ever started. The way that this all thing was going to go down was already preordained, including every name of every person that would be written in the book of life, which brings up all sorts of things to think about. Like, is my…is my name in the book of life, right? Well, that would be the primary question. And what name is it exactly that is in the book of life if my name is in that book? For example, my name is Brian. Is Brian written in the book of life, or did God give me a new name in the book of life or do I actually have a different name that was ordained from the foundation of the world and that’s how God knows me but my earthly parents gave me the name Brian? Is this an actual book or is this figurative language simply describing everyone who belongs to God? And this idea of preordination or predestination or not has been a point of debate throughout pretty much the majority of church history. And I don’t think I’m qualified to do every shade and nuance of that. And I know for certain we don’t have time. So, basically on the one hand we have the idea that everything was preordained. Everything that was gonna happen was already written and now it’s just playing out, including the lives of those who will ultimately be in the book of life and belong to God. This was preordained. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. Some were chosen to be God’s people, and they will. There’s nothing they can do about it, and it has nothing to do with what they do. The ones who are not written in the book of life, well, I mean they simply weren't…weren’t written in the book of life. And, so, they are preordained to oppose God and God’s people. And all of this was predetermined before history began. On the other hand, you have a more collaborative view and that would be that people get to make choices and those choices get to matter. It’s what think Blaise Pascal called the dignity of causality. And ultimately that basically means that God loves us, and we get to choose whether or not we love Him back. And this plays out in a thing called a relationship. And this idea basically starts in the book of Genesis with Adam and Eve. They were able to make a choice to eat from the tree that was forbidden. And then throughout the rest of the Bible we encounter this overarching narrative that tells us that God is passionate for people and wants to collaborate and interact in life. The problem that gets prickly there Theologically, when viewed through the lens of predestination, is that everyone must be in the book, which can lead a person in all kinds of directions. So, on one side it doesn’t matter what you do. You’re either in the book or you’re not in the book and that was determined before history began. And, so, that can lead a person into all kinds of interesting directions, whereas the idea that everyone is written in the Lamb’s book of life can also lead a person in all kinds of interesting directions. The idea here would be that humanity was destined for God. He wanted everyone to be with Him, everyone that was ever born or like according to second Peter chapter 3, “the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Or from Romans chapter 6, “the death He died…so Jesus…“the death. Jesus died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God.” And, so, in terms of predestination, everyone is…is predestined for God. We get to collaborate in that choice, and we can choose otherwise thereby eliminating ourselves from this book of life. So, how you understand this definitely affects…affects how you read the Bible, but it certainly affects the way you would understand the book of Revelation. I think the book of Revelation is speaking correctly when it says, “in this situation, God’s holy people need endurance and confidence.” And then the next thing that happens from our reading today is that there’s another beast. And this one comes up from the earth and has two horns like a lamb, but it talks like a serpent. And, so, now we have this great serpent whos’ given authority to this beast. And now there’s a second beast. We see this kind of father, son, Holy Spirit kind of parallels in a dark way here. And this second beast is able to perform all kinds of signs and wonders that are very deceptive for those living on earth. And it just reiterates and consolidates the…the false authority and power of the serpent. And the second beast has a statue made of the first beast who was wounded by the sword and…and still lived, and then the second beast is allowed to put breath into that statue and then that statue puts to death whoever will not worship it. And scholars have drawn parallels here for a long long time and in significant numbers that the imagery here would hearken back to Daniel’s time when King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue that everyone had to fall down and worship when the trumpet blasted. And that’s what got Shadrach. Meshach, and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace. A literal…a literal reading of this section of Revelation would be…would be a literal reading. There’s a statue of the first beast who has been given the authority of the serpent. A second beast comes along. The statue comes to life and anyone who won’t worship the statue then is killed. An allegorical reading would be that all of this symbolizes an empire or an authority, a national authority that it influences the entire world and its consolidated its religious and its economic and political powers to stamp out anyone who will not go along with it and God’s people are caught in the crosshairs. But one of the ways this happens is also another very very popular image that’s highly contentious. The way that it does this is that it causes everyone to either be branded on their right hand or on their forehead, right? So, the mark of the beast. And man has that been debated and has that been imagined. And if you take a more presentist or futurist view of this, then it’s everything from, you know, computer chips of some sort being deposited under the skin and all of this can stuff, what the mark of the beast is. So, if we move back a couple of millennia and we get ourselves back in to John’s time when this is actually being written down, it will, you know, computer chip being put under the skin, isn’t…isn’t even something they can conceive of. But a mark is. A tattoo of some sort is. A branding of some sort is. And, so, for the…for the widely diverse interpretations about what exactly the mark of the beast is, we can probably safely say it’s some sort of branding that speaks to the fact that the beast, that the beast sees its worshipers as his property. Whether you see the beast as a consolidated embodiment of a person that is evil or if you see it as the work of darkness in the world. So, the idea here is, if you’re not on board with that then…then you’re going to be economically impacted tremendously and you will be driven underground because you can’t participate in the culture. So, we hear these things, and then we literalize these things, and then we try to imagine these things, but in the process, we might be missing the parallels because there are stark parallels between good and evil and between Jesus and the evil one. Before we ever got here to the mark of the beast we first saw the mark of God, put on his holy ones on their foreheads. And we had no problem looking at that allegorically. Like, we would…we would all say, yeah, you know, the mark of God is on my forehead. I am sealed in Christ. And we don’t in any way think about that as a computer chip or a tattoo. But then we get to the counter mark of the beast, and we start literalizing, whereas a little bit more allegorical view would be that God has sealed those who are true and who have kept the lamps…have kept their witness burning while the forces of evil come into counter that with a dark mark after the same fashion, denoting who a person belongs to. And it is of no and quite interesting this mark of the beast that can be on your hand or on your forehead, because in the book of Exodus God tells the children of Israel that the law, the Torah was to be a sign on their hand and a reminder on their forehead. That was a constant reminder of who they belong to, who they were in covenant with, where their commitments were, where their loyalties were to lie. And Orthodox Jews continue indeed to…to practice that until today. All of this brings us down to the final verse that we read in today’s reading, the number of the beast 666. And even saying it evokes hysteria in…in some hearts. And, so, we have to decide. Is this is a literal thing? I mean can we add up the numbers and find out who this person is? Is this essentially a math question? And people who have been trying to look at it from that perspective have found lots of names over the centuries that would potentially fit the bill. Numbering a person’s name actually has a name, Gematria and it basically goes like…like this. In ancient times in certain ancient languages there were no numbers per se. The letters of the alphabet also represented numbers. So, for example, in the Greek alphabet the first nine letters of the alphabet represented numbers one through nine. So, using this method, for example, the name Jesus would be the number 888. And this beast’s number is 666. So, going way back to…to kind of the time of the writing of this people have identified 666 with the Emperor, Nero. But it took a little finagling. Nero wouldn’t just add up to that. So, they had to do Caesar Nero and…and to make it work. Others have noted that there is…there are discrepancies in the manuscripts. And, so, in some manuscripts the numbers 616. So, there’s been a lot of names that have showed up on the list of potential antichrist figures over the…over the generations. And this is obviously where you go if you’re trying to do a more literal reading but it’s fair to ask the question, you know. Did John put a mathematical problem in the book of Revelation that was to disclose what was gonna happen? Like it is this an intellectual mathematical exercise and only…only someone with magical skills can actually figure this out or was John calling for insight, wisdom and vigilance in this matter? And many scholars have…have noted that it doesn’t make a ton of sense for John to be so cryptic here when he’s being so outspoken. And…and if he’s trying to hide the number, like he’s trying to make this a riddle so that it’s kind of passed around as code why he would be doing that. He’s already in exile and his whole message is to tell the church to be vigilant and keep their lamp burning and keep their witness strong and to stay pure and to stay true no matter what happens, even if they have to die. So, you know, so doing this in code has its own set of problems. But if we continue to look at this allegorically there are some things that could be said. First would be the use of the number seven in this book. And not just in this book, throughout the Bible, but in particular in the book of Revelation. So, like, there’s seven lampstands, there’s seven seals, there’s seven trumpets. And many scholars over many centuries would say seven is a number that seems to indicate completion in the Scriptures, right? So, God made the world in six days and then on the seventh it was complete, He rested as one example. And as we travel through the book of Revelation, six things happen and then there’s kind of a pause and then the seventh one. And the six things seem to have to do with the judgment, whereas the seventh thing that happens, like the seventh trumpet has to do with the consummation of the new, the new kingdom, this thing that God is doing. So, the number six then is a picture of something that is incomplete. And to say this three times, 666, is like the ultimate of incompleteness. So, whereas God is moving to complete things, to make all things new again, the dark forces of evil in the world are perpetually and will only ever be incomplete. So, on the one hand you have a personified antichrist who embodies evil and sort of a picture of a dark Trinity that will take over and ultimately try to stamp out God’s people. And one of the ways of consolidation of power will be the mark of the beast that will maybe be a computer chip that’s put under your skin somewhere or something like that or you have an allegorical view that shows us that the dark powers that are evil, evil that is in the world is moving the world toward utter and complete incompletion and that will invariably lead to difficult times. But God’s people have to take the long view and remember that we are not rooted only in our physicality. The end of our physicality isn’t the end of anything. And that is where we end up in today’s reading.
Father, we thank You for Your words and we thank You for the way that it stretches us and challenges us and forces us to consider beyond what we think we know and we’re grateful for that. We’re grateful that You are committed to our maturity and we’re grateful that You are making all things new. And that is our hope and that is where our faith lies. In the end all things are restored and made new. So, come Holy Spirit and plant what we’ve heard today into our lives and may yield the fruit of the spirit in us and in the world. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.