The April 1st, 2004, Watchtower Magazine carried an article on the meaning of Revelation’s mysterious 666 – the name and mark of the wild beast. Under the subheading on page four, the Watchtower asks the rhetorical question: “Do you enjoy solving a mystery?”
Notably, that statement implies that the Watchtower Society has already solved the mystery. But have they really?
In keeping with the apostolic exhortation: “Do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God,” we do well to take a closer look at this important topic.
The Watchtower rightly dispels the Fundamentalist’s simplistic notion that the mark of the beast is some sort of implanted microchip. But the article leaves the reader with the impression that everyone who now supports the present political system in any way has already been invisibly stamped with the symbolic 666. For example, on page six the Watchtower states: “How important, therefore, that we avoid having the deadly mark of the beast.”
For a certainty, this is not “new light” for Jehovah’s Witnesses. As far back as 1953 the Watchtower Society has taught this. Here is a quote from the February 1st edition:
“Also that today is a day of judgment and that everyone is receiving a mark, either the mark of the beast or the mark that Jehovah’s servants place on those who sigh and cry for the abominations they see committed in the land. You individually cannot escape being marked. You cannot avoid having to make a decision.”
If, in 1953, people could not avoid getting the mark of doom, what do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe as regards when people actually first began receiving the 666 mark of the beast?
The Watchtower teaches that the image of the beast was originally manifested with the creation of the League of Nations in 1919, and presumably everyone since then who has not become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (International Bible Students before 1931) has already received the mark. Supposedly, too, the creation of the United Nations in the aftermath of WWII and the subsequent disbanding of the League of Nations was the fulfillment of the emergence of the scarlet-colored beast from the abyss, as portrayed in the 17th chapter of Revelation. But the establishment of the UN is largely an irrelevant development since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the marking has been ongoing since 1919!
Bluntly, the teaching of the Watchtower Society on this issue is patently absurd. Let the reader be reminded that those who receive the mark of the beast are doomed to everlasting death. That is what it means not to have their names written in the book of life, as Revelation states regarding those who worship the revived beast from the abyss: “And all those who dwell on the earth will worship it; the name of not one of them stands written in the scroll of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered, from the founding of the world.” (Revelation 13:8 & Revelation 17:8)
(The Watchtower erroneously attributes two separate identities to the seven-headed wild beast in the 13th chapter of Revelation and the scarlet beast in the 17th chapter. Even though the beast in the 11th chapter of Revelation is said to also emerge from the abyss – just as does the scarlet-colored beast – the Watchtower attaches no significance to it. Reasonably, though, the death-stroke upon the head of the beast is also depicted in the symbolism of the Apocalypse as the entire beast going into a deathlike state, symbolized by its going into the abyss. Likewise, the emergence of the beast from the abyss parallels the miraculous recovery of the beast’s slaughtered head. The two-horned, lamblike beast that arises from the earth also depicts the beast coming from the abyss, as if rising up from Sheol – from the depths of the earth. The scarlet color of the beast from the abyss characterizes the beast after its recovery from death and reflects the intense anger of the satanic, fiery-colored, seven-headed dragon that is cast down to earth, resulting in the death of the head of the earthly beast.)
The absurdity of the Watchtower’s teaching ought to be apparent in view of the fact that many of Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves – at least before their having become Jehovah’s Witnesses – were active supporters of the political system, even fighting the bloody wars of the militaristic nations. But there is no indication in the Scriptures that those who receive the “deadly mark” can thereafter repent so that the mark is removed from them. Otherwise, what is the point of the symbolic marking if it does not permanently fix a person’s destiny? And if persons have already been marked, and hence, doomed to eternal death, what would be the point of preaching the good news of salvation to the damned? But how reasonable is it that the billions of people who have lived and died since 1919 have already been judged unworthy of a resurrection due to their presumed admiration of a largely irrelevant and long-since defunct organization like the League of Nations? It is not reasonable at all. In fact, it even contradicts other Watchtower teachings. What teachings specifically?
In 1995 the Society revised their understanding of when it is that the illustration of the separating of the sheep and the goats takes place, so that Jehovah’s Witnesses now expect the sheep and the goat-like individuals to be separated during the tribulation. But if that is the case, if the goats are yet to be judged worthy of everlasting cutting off based upon their failure to support Christ’s brothers during their trials, then it ought to be obvious – at least to thinking persons – that the world has not already been doomed in relation to wild beast.
WHEN IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST?
As one might at this point discern, the more relevant question for Jehovah’s Witnesses to consider is not ‘what is the mark of the beast?’ – It is ‘When is the mark of the beast?’
The 13th chapter of Revelation pinpoints a specific development that gives rise to the 666 mark of the beast? What is it? According to God’s prophetic word one of the heads of the seven-headed wild beast suffers a calamitous death-stroke and then revives. It is after that near-death experience that the two-horned Anglo-American beast conjures up an image of the seven-headed beast and breathes life into it so that the image fully comes to life and begins to speak – demanding the worship of every person on earth upon pain of death.
Apparently, the image will become manifest in the form of a world government, one capable of controlling earth’s affairs to the extent that no one will be able to buy or sell without placating the political image in some way that would compromise a Christian’s stand. Ostensibly, at this point the United Nations Organization is the only institution capable of exerting control to that extent. However, at the present moment the UN has no such life-and-death powers and there is no basis for believing that the image merely inflicts a figurative death upon those who refuse its mark, as the Watchtower has led Jehovah’s Witnesses to believe.
Of course, according to Watchtower interpretations, the seven-headed beast suffered a death-stroke as a result of the First World War. Realistically, though, as horrendous as that Great War was and the indisputable fact that it forever altered the course of history notwithstanding, there is simply no historical basis in reality for the notion that the Anglo-American duo experienced anything even remotely analogous to the prophesied sword-stroke. (The Bethel writing staff ought to be reminded of the fact that the United States and Great Britain were victorious in both world wars.)
Going into the First World War the United States was the world’s single greatest industrial power. And it emerged from that war as the greatest political and military power on earth as well. There was no political instability in the United States as a result of Europe’s Great War. The government did not totter on the brink. If so, where are the historical facts to document such a thing? The British Empire also emerged from the Great War intact. Granted, the populations and institutions of Europe were staggered, momentarily. Britain lost nearly a half-million men – about the same number killed in the American Civil War of 1860-64. But even the nations impacted most directly by the war did not experience political collapse – not even the vanquished, Germany. True, Czarist Russia was overthrown by Bolshevism and the Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian empires were dissolved, but so what? The head of the beast is just that, the leading nations of the political system. According to history and the Society’s own writings, in 1914 the British Empire and the United States remained the most powerful nations on the planet.
It is not a matter of disbelief in the so-called “faithful slave.” The “inspired expressions” of prophetic interpretation proffered by the Watchtower Society just simply do not pass the test of authenticity. The ramifications of their error should not be minimized.
In view of the fact that the Anglo-American dual world power and all nations still exercise a large measure of sovereignty and independence, thinking persons are forced to conclude that the death-stroke upon the head of the wild beast is yet to occur.
By the forward-shining light of Jehovah’s word, we are enabled to peer beyond the now-looming collapse of the present Anglo-American dominated system of things, to envision the revival of the beast in the form of a totalitarian, absolutist form of world government, which will do away with all vestiges of democracy and freedom. After all, the Babylonian king, who typifies the eighth king, was called “the tyrant of the nations.”
Such an earth-shaking development will run concurrent with the actual establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom, making the revived beast a competing government with Christ. That is why the supporters of the beast will be marked as worthy of eternal death because they will out-rightly reject Christ as their ruler in favor of a human government.
(Admittedly, although the Watchtower’s teaching regarding the timing of the administration of the mark of the beast is ludicrous, their error is because of their ardent attachment to the 1914 doctrine of the belief in the invisible presence of Christ. In that respect, they resemble the man/men depicted in the prophecy of Isaiah (28:20) who is trying to find his repose upon a couch that is too short with a bed sheet that is too narrow to cover himself with completely. So, no matter how authoritatively the Governing Body may assert that Christ has been invisibly present since 1914 and how God’s judgments have supposedly already been accomplished, they simply cannot tie all the loose ends together into a cohesive explanation of prophecy and are thus stuck with numerous discomforting absurdities, such as presented here.)
HOW MIGHT THE PROPHESIED DEATH STROKE COME ABOUT?
Presently, the global financial system is poised to disintegrate in the near term. As an indication of the trouble bubbling beneath the surface of the much-ballyhooed “recovery,” recently the wealthy clients of the Royal Bank of Scotland were warned via newsletter to prepare for a monster money printing operation by the Federal Reserve in response to the next phase of the financial crisis. Clients were urged to “think the unthinkable.” Indeed, the financial crisis that erupted two years ago, which, at its height reportedly came within less than 48 hours of toppling the entire London/Wall Street global system, has only temporarily been papered over by the most extraordinary means – not excluding outright fraud and the massive plundering of the taxpayer. But the total unraveling of the gargantuan debt and quadrillions derivatives pyramid is inevitable.
Concurrently, the Anglo-American-Zionist powers, while calling for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, are preparing to launch nuclear war, not just against Iran, but apparently with the intent of a initiating a pre-emptive strike against Chinese and Russian nuclear capabilities as well.
The United States now maintains over 800 military bases, camps and stations around the world, many in nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union – forming an arc of encirclement around Russia and to a lesser extent China. The goal is an Anglo/European-controlled world government.
Considering both its vast nuclear and conventional arsenals and sophisticated weapons delivery systems the American military is, for the most part – invincible. It is capable of delivering withering devastation upon multiple nations simultaneously in any corner of the globe within a couple of hours of receiving the command to do so. However, politically and economically the U.S. is very fragile and subject to collapse. In fact, the physical economy of the world’s greatest nation is now locked in a death spiral of accelerating collapse; as states cut their budgets, reducing their tax base, thereby requiring further budget cuts, further shrinking the tax base, their credit worthiness is reduced, borrowing costs are raised, provoking another round of budget reductions, further collapsing the state’s tax base, and on and on until total collapse is accomplished. But the destruction of the social structure and the Republic will not necessarily decapitate the military beast.
As already stated, the death-stroke upon the head of Satan’s beastly political system will bring about the end of the democratic, nation-state arrangement and wipe out the capitalist system. But from the ashes of catastrophe will arise a form of global communism, presumably administered by the UN; policed predominately by the incontestable military power of the former U.S.; dominated by the same clique of private financial interests, which will by then own the means of life – having left the once-wealthy moneyed and working class suckers holding worthless paper, destroyed through the sudden ignition of a hyperinflationary firestorm created by a handful of bankers – so that no one will be able to buy or sell outside of their system or contest the supremacy of the satanically controlled super-state.
Indicative of the incontestable power the eighth king will ultimately wield, the 18th chapter of Revelation says regarding the kings who will eventually concede their power to the last king: “And the kings of the earth who committed fornication with her and lived in shameless luxury will weep and beat themselves in grief over her, when they look at the smoke from the burning of her, while they stand at a distance because of their fear of her torment and say, ‘Too bad, too bad, you great city, Babylon you strong city, because in one hour your judgment has arrived!’”
Reasoning on the verse above, if all the kings of the earth will tremble in fear at the power of the eighth king, does that not indicate that the eighth king will have been empowered as the sole military power on earth? That being the case, Jehovah’s Witnesses ought not any longer imagine that the League of Nations and the present-day United Nations were/are the last kingdom of prophecy or that the administering of the mark of the beast is already underway.
The collapse of the mighty Anglo-American kingdom along with the global financial system appears to be imminent! The coming crash will do what seemingly no earthly power can do – it will shatter the 1914 parousia delusion that presently grips Jehovah’s Witnesses.
SOLVING A MYSTERY
According to the Watchtower, the 666 simply means human imperfection as expressed through government. However, let it be noted that much of Revelation draws from the prophecy of Daniel. Consider the fact that the composite beast of the 13th chapter of Revelation is composed of aspects of the individual beasts presented in the eighth chapter of Daniel. Also, the chronology connected with the beast of Revelation and the 42 months allotted it to wage war against the sons of the kingdom finds a parallel in Daniel as well. Likewise, the mandatory worship of the image of the beast ought to call to mind the historical account in the 3rd chapter of Daniel, where Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image on the Plains of Dura and ordered representatives from his entire empire to attend the inaugural ceremony of the image. Anyone who refused to bow before the image was to be put to death.
Not coincidentally, the towering image measured 60 cubits by six cubits. The 666, being “a man’s number,” seems intended to call attention to the man, Nebuchadnezzar. So, the 666 of Revelation symbolizes the decisive situation, when, during the last hour, the beast will attempt to coerce all mankind – especially Jehovah’s anointed witnesses – to deny their faith in God. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, those who are sealed with the name of Jehovah and Christ on their foreheads will join their Lord in the fiery furnace of martyrdom for their staunch refusal to worship the image of the beast during the last hour.