666 – The sign of evil

Extract from Advent:

Father Jacque paused to regain his composure. He hoped the Holy Father would say something now even if it was just to rebuff him on the shoddiness of the paper thin arguments he was presenting. But Pope Peter II just continued examining the note the priest had presented and said nothing.
       “As you can see,” continued Father Jacque, “the note has an eighteen digit serial number divided into three sets of six numbers -- 6 -- 6 -- 6 -- the mark of the Beast perhaps? The Church and its people have speculated for centuries what this mark of Satan could possibly be. It was written in Revelation 13 that:

‘And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,
to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark,
or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding
count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man;
and his number is six hundred threescore and six.’

“To buy and sell -- it implies money. The mark on their right hands or foreheads -- it is not a physical mark, a tattoo as some people had believed or that Hollywood films speculated about. The right hand could simply mean that which we do, the forehead for that which we think. I believe it simply means that the Beast will control everything we do and how we think. And everyone will unknowingly carry this unholy mark of the Beast in their pockets and in their wallets.

* * * * * * 

The allegedly Satanic number 666 was first popularised in the 1976 horror movie The Omen starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. Their adopted child said to be the son of the devil was born with a 666 birthmark on his scalp.

Interestingly one of the most famous and memorable lines from the movie, said to be a biblical verse, was:

When the Jews return to Zion 
And a comet rips the sky 
And the Holy Roman Empire rises, 
Then you and I must die. 

From the eternal sea he rises, 
Creating armies on either shore, 
Turning man against his brother 
'Til man exists no more.

This verse, which still remains a popular and powerful imagery for the modern day emergence of the Antichrist, was pure Hollywood fiction created exclusively for the movie. It is worth noting that the first verse mentions a comet and is similar to the prediction attributed to Saul of Cyrene who talks about a second star as recorded in the novel Advent:

'A second star, angry and red, from the east will rise.
Trembling in fear, the tribes witness a temple reborn.
Men will fall, seduced by the false denarius
As the advent of the riders of steed draw near.’

While the number of the Beast is stated as 666 in most English bibles today, there is still some dispute over what the actual number should be. One of the oldest writings of Revelation is the Papyrus 115 located within Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum and dated to around 300AD. In this papyrus text as well as in Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, another respected biblical record, the number of the Beast is said to be 616.

While Hollywood interpreted this sign to be a birthmark, over the decades many people have speculated what form this satanic symbol would actually take. These ranged from 18-digit credit card numbers, to bar codes to RFID microchips.

Others looked for the sign in names. For example when Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States some speculated that he may be the Antichrist simply because his full name Ronald Wilson Reagan contained six letters in each word. Later when he was shot at close range but survived the assassination attempt, it was again suggested that this was yet another biblical sign as Revelation 13 states that the Beast will survive a fatal wound.

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