That Bad Number


Some of the Kohathite clans were given as their territory towns from the tribe of Ephraim.

  • 1 Chronicles 6:66

He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him.

  • Psalm 66:6

Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord repaying his enemies all they deserve.

  • Isaiah 66:6

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

  • John 6:66

This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.  That number is 666.

  • Revelation 13:18

I was reading my copy of My Utmost for His Highest the other day.  Each Devotion starts with the title.  Beneath the title is the Scripture.  Then the thoughts of Oswald Chambers will follow.  The Scripture verse was John 6:66, but due to a line break, the last line of the Scripture read “666”.  Or so I thought before I looked closer to see the colon.

That got me to thinking.  Were there any other ‘666’ references in the Bible?  The other three verses are listed above and John 6:66 is the only one in the New Testament.  After finding two verses with 6:66 and two verses with 66:6, I remembered that a pastor, decades ago, talked about these verses.  The only thing from the sermon that I remember was that there were four such verses.

Before you try to ascribe some theological significance to the ‘666’ verses, understand that the books of the Bible were not divided into chapters, on a consistent basis, until the 13th century.  Five books, Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude, are short enough to not be divided into chapters.  Dividing the chapters into verses did not happen until a few centuries later, with the work of Robert Estienne using the verse divisions that we see today roughly in his Greek New Testament in 1551.

While the text had not changed, the number was not assigned until centuries later, but God is sovereign.  This may not be as accidental as you might think.

The 1 Chronicles verse, 6:66, talks of division of territory towns for the Kohathites and Psalm 66:6 talks of the Red Sea drying up for everyone to walk across.  One cannot make much of those two verses, but the other two, Isaiah 66:6 and John 6:66, have a similar theme.

Isaiah 66:6 is talking of Judgment Day when God will give His enemies what they deserve.

John 6:66 talks about how many of the disciples of Jesus left because Jesus’ teaching seemed to be too hard for them to grasp.

We know that Jesus had more than 12 disciples.  Luke 10 talks of 72 who were sent out with authority to perform miracles.  But in this chapter of John 6, Jesus feeds the 5,000 and then, after walking on the water, talks to His disciples about being the Bread of Life.  Some left, saying that this was hard teaching and this verse says that they never came back.

If they never returned to follow Jesus, could they be subject to judgment?  Are both of these verses tied to those with the mark of the beast?

I would not go that far, but it is a point of discussion.  Jesus will return.  His enemies will be dealt with, harshly.  As someone said recently, there will be Hell to pay, literally.  And only by trusting in Jesus can we be saved.  Jesus mentions this to Nicodemus in John 3:16, but also to His disciples in John 6:29.  Again, in John 6:28, the disciples are asking what they need to ‘do’, and Jesus says to believe.  Max Lucado in 3:16, Numbers of Hope, in his chapter that focuses on the word ‘believe’, talks of John 3:16 as the disciples did in John 6:28-29.  Our basic human nature is to reduce anything down to a set of steps, something to do.  But we cannot bridge the chasm between our sinful selves and the holy God on anything that we ‘do.’  Thus, many disciples left that day, never to return, never to claim the reward that was freely given in Jesus.

Whether the numbering was a happy accident or God giving a nugget for those who dug deeper, we need to focus on the simple truth that Jesus came to earth to save us from the punishment of sin.  He died on the cross for us.  He showed victory over death by rising from the dead.  He sits on God’s right hand.  It is folly to think that you must ‘do’ in order to be saved.  First, Jesus paid the penalty in full, and second, we are sinners and our best effort is tainted with that sin.  We must only believe.  What do we believe?  Not the fact that Jesus died for our sins, but we need to believe that Jesus is within us, a part of Jesus, and able to work within us.  We are a new creation when we totally trust in Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

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  1. Thank you for giving food for thought! Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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