Daily Reformation, Revelation 13:11-14:1
From the Reformer
…our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him.
—John Calvin, Institutes
Pulling It Together
In an effort to calculate the number, one just might miss the real point of Revelation. There are so many calculations of “666” by so many intelligent people but where is the wisdom in the midst of the ciphering? Even if one actually figured out the “man” represented by the number, would he understood what he had calculated? Would he understand the wisdom of what is being considered?
Some have said the number is that of a particular person or kingdom that is represented by a person. Others have simply said it represents anything less than God (who might be represented by the number 777). Still others claim the number of the beast represents the economic control of antichrist. Irenaeus said it is the number of all apostate power.
In the effort to decide what the last verse of chapter 13 means, how many miss the first verse of chapter 14? Wisdom is seeing the difference between the beast and the Lamb. Wisdom is being marked or identified with the Lamb, despite the persecution of the beast. Wisdom is not found in simply calculating a number as may at first be thought because of a fifteenth century imposition of chapter and verse numbers. Wisdom is received by looking beyond the beast and his number—and seeing the Lamb of God.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers