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The Midnight Cry:
A Prophetic Witness to the Church Today

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09
Will You Step Back?

Most students of the Bible will be aware of the mystic number in Revelation 13:18 the number of the Beast 666. Many will even think they know what it refers to. However, there is a point in this regard which most fail to consider even most Christians.

The Greek text of that passage is literally translated: "Here is wisdom. Let him who has a mind calculate the number of the wild beast, for it is the number of mankind, and its number is six hundred sixty-six" (Concordant Literal N T). The words in bold type are those directly attributable to the Greek text. Those in normal type have been added by the translators to make the text more readable in English.

What God is trying to convey to us is that the number 666 identifies man. Not just specifically a man, although that could well be the case in due course as God's plan unfolds. Rather, man as opposed to God. Man's system in contrast with God's.

When reading the prophecies in Revelation one cannot help but notice the marked contrast between those who resist God, and Christians who don't. Man's self-willed rule and rebellious independence from God will only lead to misery and disaster. The book is a futuristic chronicle of the miserable end of man's defiant struggle to be his own master and of its apocalyptic consequences. Of course, that is not all Revelation contains. There is much more. That is one important aspect of its purpose.

No one can fight God, and succeed. In the end, Christ will rule, not man. Revelation shows the ultimate victory that will be God's and which we can all share in if we submit our ways to His, desiring to do whatever He says, whatever the temporary personal cost to ourselves.

The final evil end-time movement which persists in going its human-dominated way, inspired by the devil, is encapsulated in the number 666, both in the digit used and in its three-fold use. Six symbolises evil, and in particular, in relation to man. (13 illustrates evil's association with Satan, whereas 7 identifies God.) Three emphasises finality, totality or completeness.

In the number 666, God conveys numerically the totality of evil that will be embodied in the vile enslaving end-time human system of the Beast which will dominate the earth prior to Christ's second coming. That event is almost upon us. We are about to enter the nefarious days which Revelation describes are to occur immediately prior to our Lord's return.

Before Jesus comes visibly in the sky (Matt 24:30), evil will escalate in an attempt to counter the end-time work of the 'Elijah'. The end-time movement characterised by the 'Beast' is described in more detail in Revelation 13. These movements will be highly influential. No one will escape knowing about them. The preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will encompass the globe (Matt 24:14), but so too will the counterfeit movement which will be political as well as religious.

Being separate from the system of the Beast will not be that easy. Without discernment from God, its boundaries are not that easily identifiable. They are spiritually delineated, not always physically apparent. For this reason, many who think they stand, will fall. The human appeal of the system of the Beast will claim many victims. The majority will be sucked into its vortex, as the currents of evil gain momentum.

We must not forget that 666 identifies a counterfeit Christian system, not merely one of the religions of the east. Christians too, are subject to its bondage. Christians are Satan's main target. Many will not put up resistance against the swirling currents, but will be content to drift downstream with the majority. It is never easy swimming against the main flow!

Disciples of Jesus had the same problem in AD 30 when, after two years, Jesus' teaching was beginning to get too much for them to take. He began to turn up the 'heat', spiritually speaking. He started saying things which some simply could not stomach!

This was deliberate on His part. He had to prepare His chosen. That meant that those for whom His words were not intended would be sifted and discarded; blown away like chaff.

The winds of change will come! None of us will be able to coast into the Kingdom sheltered from the storms or shaded from the heat all the time. We all have to be tested. Every one of us has to go through the purifying fires of life (1 Pet 4:12). Each man's "work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work" (1 Cor 3:13).

When Jesus turned up the heat over 1960 years ago, many of His disciples decided it was time to go! (Jn 6:66). They had thought being a follower of Christ was the 'in thing', but now they were beginning to change their minds. They had wanted to be a part of a popular, rapidly growing movement; they had wanted to be in on the action; they had wanted a prime piece of the cake. But they were not following Him for genuine reasons; they were in it for what they could get out of it, and that is why they left. That is why they failed!

There are Christians today, who likewise are only nominal Christians. Turn up the heat and they will run for cover! They will look for shade. They are Christians because it pays them to be. They have 'given' their lives to Christ for selfish reasons. They are blessed by His teachings. They find physical, emotional or social comfort in following some of the Word of God. But when it comes to following all of it, where will they be then?

I have mused on the curious reference in which this text occurs. Why would God engineer its placing in John 6 verse 66? Was it deliberate? I believe so, for God is a most ingenious God! I have wondered whether the words of warning it contains have relevance to the soon-coming universal mark of the beast in the western world which will claim so many even Christians in the days ahead! Does 666 mark those who will step back from following Christ fully, as He desires? Does it mark those who will seek some other way, than face the unpleasant? Does it mark those who seek a human solution to their problems, even while they bear the name of Christ? Does it mark those who shut the door on Him (Rev 3:20), who prefer to look to man, rather than to God?

It is significant that both the words "wealth" and "tradition" in the Greek bear the numerics of 666! If you want to rely on wealth and look to human tradition even in the Church you can forget about entering the Kingdom of God. God only accepts those who are totally committed to Him.

Put yourself in Christ's position. Would you marry a bride that is rebellious; that refuses to do all you ask? Would you marry a bride who is resentful of your words, who is self-willed, who will not submit, who only wants to go her own way, the way that she is used to going?

The Church is entering an era of holiness, when God is expecting more from His people. A new move of God requires a new commitment. He is making more truth available, and as He does so, He wants each person to respond to Him, not ignore Him. The more you are given, the more you are held accountable by Him. You will not be able to ignore the truth He is going to make available to the Christian world! What will you do with it? Will you respect it, or reject it?

He is about to turn up the heat! Get ready to turn your life around.

When Jesus says, "I want you to do something you never thought I would ask of you" (like He asked of Abraham), what will you say? Will you step back? Or will you say, as our Saviour did who went before us, "Not my will, but Thine be done"?

Malcolm B. Heap, February 1994
(This article was first published in Awake! Awake! Vol. 2 No 6, March 1994.)


1
CLNT: Concordant Literal New Testament. An accurate concordant translation of the Greek, conveying its literal meaning. Available from The Concordant Bible Society, 189 Northumberland Avenue, Hornchurch, Essex, RM11 2HW; and in the USA from: Concordant Publishing Concern, 15570 West Knochaven Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91350, USA.

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