Just in case you were worried about the current crop of candidates.
Every presidential election year in the United States, we get doomsayers claiming this or that candidate is probably the Antichrist. Or wannabe prophets claiming one of the candidates is Jesus’s personal choice; if he held American citizenship (and I’m surprised one of the political parties in Congress hasn’t voted him an honorary one by now) he’d totally pick that guy.
Of course, none of these folks have any insight, supernatural or not. They’re proclaiming their own personal politics. Some of ’em do it every election. In the process, any such “prophets” are unwittingly exposing themselves as false ones, even when their favored candidates win. Because God’s will is for Jesus to reign, not some party, nor some politician. Lucky for them, we no longer stone false prophets to death. Man, would that be satisfying.
However, I will point out it’s totally possible to determine which of these contenders might actually be the Beast of
Ready to find out which of these folks are devil-spawn? Wait, lemme rephrase that: Ready to find out which of these folks are the ultimate devil-spawn? Well then you’re ready for The Christ Almighty Blog’s 2016 Presidential Antichrist Watch.
First I thought I’d say a little something about an all-too-common Christian superstition: The number 666. Because your average Christian doesn’t understand what John meant by it, the number itself is considered evil, and makes ’em flinch. And no, it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the proper biblical context, i.e. worshiping the Beast. Christians want nothing to do with it in any form. We’ll shun it like we owe it money.
If the phone company assigns a Christian a number with a string of three sixes anywhere in it, they’ll demand a new number. If a Christian gets a customer ID number with 666 anywhere in it, they’ll balk at doing business. I had a friend who demanded the
Since 666, in Revelation, in part has to do with commerce,
Out of context, a 666 is absolutely nothing to fear. In context, it’s a warning, an indication of who the Beast might be.
- Here’s some wisdom: Count the Beast’s number,
those of youwho have a brain.
- It’s a person’s number, and his number
Revelation 13.18 KWL
That’s all it means. That’s all it is. It points to a person. It’s their personal number—and I’ll get to how we determine, or “count,” that number. But encountering that number in the course of life, doesn’t put any such evil mojo on us. We Christians are supposed to be above superstitions and irrational fears; we trust God, remember? Or do we really?
The Jewish “science” of figuring out a Hebrew word’s numerical value is called
Roman numerals: You’ve seen them on clocks, after the names of people whose families keep insisting on passing their names down, in Superbowl advertisements, and on Star Wars episodes. Why’d the Romans use them? Because they didn’t have Arabic numerals. (Neither did the Arabs. The Chinese did, though; the idea was working its way west.) Consequently the Romans borrowed a few letters from their alphabet, and made numbers out of ’em.
The Roman system was actually better than the other western systems, ’cause they count into the millions. Whereas other systems, like the Hebrew, stopped at the end of their alphabet. See, here’s the numeric values they gave their letters:
So alef is worth 1, bet worth 2, gimel 3, dalet 4, and so forth till 10; then they go up by tens, then hundreds till you’re out of alphabet.
You’ll notice kaf, mem, nun, pe, and chadë have two letters. The second letter (usually the one with the tail) is a sofít/“final-case” letter. You know how we have uppercase letters which go at the beginning of some words? Final-case is the form which goes at the end of words. Some folks wish Hebrew had 27 letters instead of 22, so they could count up to 900. So they claim those final-case letters have extra values: Kaf-sofít is worth 500, mem-sofít worth 600, nun-sofít 700, pe-sofít 800, and chadë-sofít 900. But nearly every Jew gives the final-case letters the same value as usual.
Since every Hebrew letter has a numerical value, it means every Hebrew word also has a numerical value. Add up the value of its letters, and there y’are. Fr’instance Jesus’s name,
(Yeah, there are folks who claim Jesus’s number is 777, ’cause they really like sevens. Obviously they’ve never double-checked. Few do. And no, we don’t get 777 any other legitimate way: “Messiah Jesus” is 744, “King Jesus” is 411, “Jesus of Nazareth” is 1166, “Jesus son of Mary” gets 618 in Hebrew and 838 in Aramaic. The only way you can squeeze 777 out of “Jesus” is to use the wrong alphabet. Probably a mishmash of wrong alphabets. And gematria isn’t that hard.)
I should point out: Both Christians and Jews are really leery of gematria. For good reason. It’s not just used to figure out the numerical values of words for fun. In the Jewish sect of Kabbalah, they teach any word can be swapped for any other word with the same numerical value. Supposedly if they share a numerical value, they also share a spiritual value. So if you wanna have a “new revelation,” it’s as easy as picking any verse from the bible, swapping a few words with their numerical “equivalents,” and presto, a new teaching. Take lo tináf/“Don’t adulter.”
The Revelation passage obviously refers to gematria. So we’re permitted to use it to figure out the Beast’s number: Take a given person’s name. Convert it into Hebrew. (Google Translate will do that job for you easily.) Add the numerical value of the letters. And once that person’s name adds up to 666, he or she might be the Beast. Might not be. But if they start doing anything Beast-like, the number of their name confirms they’re a valid suspect.
I had a student once who was worried she might be the Beast. So I taught her how to calculate the number of her name. Wasn’t even close. Was that a load off her mind.
Okay. So that’s the proper use of 666: It’s a checksum to make sure someone isn’t the Beast. That’s all. That person who is the Beast will be the person to worry about. The number itself isn’t the problem.
The tricky part was trying all the variants of each candidate’s names. ’Cause Revelation doesn’t offer instructions: It’s not necessarily one’s full name, first ’n last ’n middle ’n maiden. It’s one’s name… which, I figure, could mean any reasonable configuration which adds up to 666. So I tried all the possibilities: Full names, nicknames, Hebrew-equivalent names, initials. Whatever jiggery-pokery got us closest to 666. Because if I didn’t, some conspiracy-theorist would, so I figured I’d beat ’em to the punch. Hey, if any reasonable-enough variant hits 666, maybe we do have something. And maybe not. I’m just the messenger.
Below are the closest results: It’s no coincidence they’re in the 500-700 range, ’cause that’s the range I was aiming for. I included candidates, potential candidates, and drop-outs, just in case. Nope, didn’t include third parties; they don’t win.
|Republican||Name in Hebrew alphabet||Number|
|Democrat||Name in Hebrew alphabet||Number|
So there we are: None of the candidates appear to hit the relevant number. Now, whether their behavior or policies are Beast-like is a whole other ball of wax.
Back in 2012…
Some years ago I got into a political discussion (seldom a wise idea) with a fan of Pat Robertson. So for fun—hey, maybe I’d hit the magic number and horrify him!—I calculated Robertson’s name. No dice. Oh well.
Out of curiosity I tried a few of the front-runners’ names. Then I plugged in Mitt Romney’s name… and stuff got serious. Well, semi-serious. ’Cause Romney’s full name (Willard Mitt Romney,
Now, 616 is a textual variant, which means it’s not what the best ancient copies of Revelation have. And since Romney didn’t win the 2012 election, any worries people might’ve had, have (thus far) gone unfounded. Still…
Really, that’s the whole point behind calculating people’s numbers. It’s so Christians can watch out for them. That’s all. It’s not divine determinism: Anyone whose name adds up to 666 is foreordained to be the Beast. Just because your parents didn’t stop by the local Kabbalist to make sure they named you something benign, doesn’t make you the Beast. Being the Beast makes you the Beast.
In other words: Pursuing power instead of surrendering it, lying instead of seeking the truth, being a hypocrite instead of being transparent… basically if you’re in politics at all, you’re a much better match for the Beast than the average citizen who covets none of those things. (Or, better, who follows Jesus.)
I was a little surprised some news outlet didn’t pick up on Romney’s number and have a little fun with it. Then again, maybe they knew all along and squelched it… or maybe that’s just paranoia talking. ’Cause paranoia will come out with all this Beast-talk. Gotta keep our heads, folks.