By: Jim O'Brien
A lot of biblical commentators try to explain "what" is 666 but the bigger question may be, "Why 666?" It’s in the Book of Revelation—a book whose very title is intended to "reveal" the truth. The question naturally arises, why did the Apostle John use this mysterious metaphor in a book that exists to divulge spiritual truths? Why not use the name of the person or thing being represented? The answer has become clearer as our culture has changed to punish truth tellers.
Christian churches in the United States are on the verge of losing the freedom to openly teach the values of the Bible. Many legislators are declaring the Bible "hate speech." It is precisely the circumstance that 1st Century Christians faced when Rome ruled the world. Nero and Caligula are reigning again. The First Amendment to the Constitution is under threat of being eliminated. Christian Churches may have to return to cloaked metaphors.
The parallel doesn’t end there—just as John had to warn the 1st Century Christians not to go to sleep, 21st Century Christians face the same challenge. We need the honesty of children. Jesus did teach that "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter in." (Mark 10:15).
An experience in the 4th grade, when kids question the existence of Santa Claus, serves as an illustration. A dispute arose among my friends because Steve Martin adamantly maintained that Santa is real. The rest of our friends had developed an honest skepticism about a fat man descending down a chimney or circling the world in a sleigh filled with gifts.
This experience was revisited recently when my 4-year-old granddaughter had a conflict with a classmate over the existence of this mythical person. The unfortunate teacher, called to make a judgment in this grand dispute, was left between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Should she tell the honest student something that isn’t true or face the consequence of offending a culturally accepted delusion? She quickly made the decision to say, "You’re both right!" It is the only acceptable answer in the environment in which she is living.
The world is facing the same dilemma on a larger scale. We are told by experts to accept the lie that abortion is not murder. They want us to believe it is the woman’s body—never mind that there is a separate heartbeat in her body. Never mind that conjoined twins are two different people. Never mind that a drunk driver can be convicted of manslaughter if he causes a wreck that kills a fetus.
The term frequently used to describe our world is dystopian. It’s a word used to describe a world that is upside down—that expects citizens to "pretend" to believe things they know aren’t true. It’s an imaginary world where man is dehumanized.
We are expected to accept that physical men can be physical women and that physical women can be physical men. The current man occupying the oval office, when asked "how many sexes are there?" responded, "At least three." Honest citizens must pretend that this idea is true. But the Emperor really is naked.
We accept that a 78-year-old man who did not leave his basement during the presidential campaign and is frequently incoherent and nonsensical is the legitimately elected president. We can’t question the process. Just as Russian citizens had to accept Pravda in the 1960s, we are not allowed to question the current mainstream media.
We must pretend that there is a morality outside of God—that He did not make us male and female—that concern over global warming is superior to the morality of the ten commandments.
Have we reached a time when Christians must return to code words like 666 because we are not allowed to speak the truth?
The "pretend world" is not new. Confronting the lie is a necessary part of conversion. To be a Son of God a man must ultimately face this fundamental reality—only God is truthful. It is what Jesus told Pilate when he approached his physical death.
If we never encountered the lie, we could not appreciate the God of Truth.
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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