His bulletproof motorcar eased its way through the crowded streets of the world's most famous city, to the applause of thousands jostling for a glimpse at the aged but celebrated and Pius patriarch. With compassionate eyes and a warm smile, he waved slowly at his admirers. It was indeed a historic event when Pope John Paul ll visited Egypt in February, then Jerusalem in March. The roar of the hordes of spectators told us that everyone new it.
But outside of the cheers and veneration of the white-robed viceregent of Rome, others viewed the historic visit with grim suspicion. It was more than skepticism and misgivings. They have always seen a different side of the benevolent peacemaker. To them he is not the hope of a better world, but a villain of huge proportions carrying a legacy of malfeasance, stained with the blood of millions of just souls and a millennia plus of sacrilege--the Antichrist of Antichrists. These opponents of Rome follow a long train of Protestants: Martin Luther, John Bunyan, and countless others, who challenged the Pontiffs and condemned them as Paul's prophetic "man of sin," (1) and the future despot of globalism--or George Bush's, "new world order" if you prefer.
Seventh-day Adventists, based on the history of Papal Rome and the prophecy of Revelation chapter thirteen, to one degree or another have shared in these views. We teach, for the most part, the resurgence of Roman supremacy, and that the world, including the United States of America, will pay explicit homage to both the Papacy and its religious institutions, particularly, Sunday observance, establishing the Pontiff as the undisputed head--the man who bears the mystical number 666; all opposers will face the threat of death, not being able to buy or sell.
There are other candidates for this position of "world despot." There are the world economic and political elites, the numerous religious heavies, countless spiritualists and gurus, not to mention the United States and Communism. (Don't let anyone fool us, Communism is not really dead--but that's another study). It all depends from whose vantage point you view the subject. Admittedly, the idea that the Papacy is the 666 appears logical; but is it really Biblical? Could it be that it is more traditional than Scriptural?
There is no contesting the sordid and barbarous history of Ecclesiastical Rome. Who can deny the grotesque crusades, the inquisition, and the St. Bartholomew massacre. And yes, the Bible plainly reveals that there will be a resurgence and replication of the international church-and-state rule of the Middle Ages, along with its train of "intolerance and persecution." (2) But could it be that we have been mistaken about the Papacy's role for the future? Is it possible that we have misunderstood the Biblical record concerning the identity of the 666, the reputed world despot? Could it be that the 666 is not the pope after all?
Hopefully you don't mind your views being challenged. Well, we shouldn't. The Bible counsels: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. . . try the spirits whether they be of God" (3) (4). Inspiration further states: "We have many lessons to learn and many, many to unlearn." (5) Furthermore, says the servant of the Lord: "There is need of a much closer study of the word of God; especially should Daniel and the Revelation have attention as never before in the history of our work. We may have less to say in some lines, in regard to the Roman power and the papacy; but we should call attention to what the prophets and apostles have written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God." (6) Ummm!
So why don't we restudy-although in brief-the Scriptural record in regards to the subject. Why don't we go to Daniel and Revelation and study the subject more closely and let God's Word tell us what power will birth the coming world despot. Now, bear in mind, that this is important, otherwise God would not have taken the time to place it in the Bible. Obviously, then, he wants us to know ahead of time, the identity of the power who will oppress God's people so we can be prepared.
In Daniel Chapter 7, we are told of the four ancient world powers--Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome (Pagan and Papal)-lion, bear, leopard, and non-descript beast, respectively. In Revelation Chapter 13, verses 1 -10, we have the description of a ten-horned, seven-headed crowned beast, who came out of the sea having the mouth of a lion, the feet of a bear, body of a leopard, and the ten horns of the Nondescript beast.
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
The composite make-up of the beast is a faithful witness that he is a descendant and melting pot of the ancient empires. The beast's forty-two month period (verse 5)--260 years-538 A.D. to 1798 AD, falls in the time of ecclesiastical or Papal Rome; whereas its wounded state (Rev. 13:3), symbolizes it during the Protestant period. In other words, the beast represents three periods: The period prior to the wound, the period during the wound, and the period after the wound is healed. Thus this conglomerate beast, covers the history of the Papacy and Protestantism.
Moreover, the ten horns or kings of Daniel's fourth symbolical beast--Rome--were crownless. Why? Because the popes had the authority--they had the rulership. Whereas, the crowns of the Leopard-like, show that he represents the period in which the kings took back their crowns-rulership. Thus, John's beast reveals a world after the fall of the Papacy where the nations regain their civil powers and independence. This again is showing that the Leopard-like Beast prefigures the world primarily after the collapse of the Vatican in 1798; just more proof that the beast is a symbol of the world we live in today.
Now, looking at the heads, we see that one was wounded, but later healed. It is commonly understood that the one wounded head is a clear symbol of the Papacy who received its fatal blow during the Protestant reformation culminating in the arrest of an already weakened Rome. So if one head is a religious body, then the other six unharmed heads must be other religious bodies--churches, if you will. The number seven shows "completeness", comprehensiveness. (7) In short, it means that the heads portray Christendom in its entirety, and the horns being ten, portray the civil governments that were at one time under the rule of Rome, but now are freed. Thus both horns and heads must represent the world today, particularly western society, just as how Daniel's four beasts represented the world in their day. In other words, this first beast of Revelation 13, could not represent the Papacy alone, but is in fact, a universal system led by Western ideals, of which the Papacy is only a part.
In summary, this multi-headed, multi-horned beasts, must represent a world comprised of many Christian churches and nations, born and developed out of the struggles of the Dark Ages and Papal Rome; a world dominated by Catholicism, Protestantism, Democracy, and Capitalism.
If this sounds like Western culture, you're right! Is it not true that our present world is led by the West? Western culture, the culture which broke away from Rome, now indoctrinates the world. Generally speaking, everyone covets western lifestyle. No wonder the Leopard-like Beast boasts: "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" (Verse 4). And no marvel "all the world wondered after the beast. . .and the dragon gives him "power." (Verses 3,4). "In his visions of things to come," says, Mrs. White, "the prophet John beheld this scene. This demon worship was revealed to him, and it seemed to him as if the whole world were standing on the brink of perdition." (8)
Revelation 13, verses 11 -18, describes another beast:
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he excerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. . .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 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." (Verses 11, 12, 15 - 18.)
It is well known, particularly in Adventists circles, that this two-horned non-royalist power, represents our blessed country, the United States of America. (9) No doubt you're also familiar with the reasons. Unlike the first beast, he comes from the earth, the new world-the domain away from the sea, the old world. The two crownless horns show two non-royalist rulers, while their lamb-like appearance forecasts youthful innocency--Christian--established upon the principles of peace and liberty. And his having the power to dictate who should buy and who should not, shows that he represents a nation that leads in controlling the world's wealth and industry.
Having only two horns, not ten, the beast therefore depicts a local, not a universal government. Nevertheless, he will influence all Christendom to "make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live." That is, he will engineer a worldwide government setup, re-enthroning the principles of the church-state rule of Ecclesiastical Rome; a system now characterized by Catholicism, apostate Protestantism, and Capitalism. In other words, the world will copy the Leopard-like beast. (Verse 12) Put still another way, it means that America will urge the world to reestablish a apostate religious-political system after the model of Western society, with principles imagining those of the Dark Ages. (Verse 12). Note that it did not say that the Two-horned beast urged the world to worship the "head"-the Papacy, but the"beast"- the system-Catholicism, apostate Protestantism, and Capitalism, topped off with Spiritualism! This is when, "Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government . . ." (10)
Time or space will not allow us to delve into the identity of the false Prophet--the one who deceived the world through his "miracles." (Compare verses 13, 14 with Revelation 19:19, 20), except to say, that he will be revered as a great religious leader, although in reality he will be Satan's chief agent.
Now that we have looked at the context of Revelation 13, we are now better prepared to identify the 666. "Here is wisdom," says the Scriptures. "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." (Verse 18).
To identify this "man," we must identify the "beast"--the power the "man" represents and leads. Thus we must ask, to which power is Verse 18 referring? The Leopard-like or the Two-horned? Look at it again! Note that it did not say, count the number of the beast with the wound! Or count the number of the beast which had his deadly wound healed! It just states, "count the number of the beast." Whenever the Bible refers to the Leopard-like beast, it always mentions the wound! (See verses 3, 12). In contrast, "the beast" is the Two-horned Beast or the Image Beast" without mention of the wound. So the beast or power in verse 18 is the Two-horned or the United States of America-not the Papacy!
Furthermore, if this is not so, why so many symbols for the Papacy? We have the little horn of Daniel 7. We say that the Leopard-like Beast, the 666, the Woman of Revelation 17, the seven head on which she sits, and the Scarlet-colored Beast are symbols of Rome! Why? What about the rise and fall of Protestantism? What about the rise of Western culture? What about our present world? Why would God leave them out?
Still skeptical? Consider the following inspired references: "This power is the last that treads down the true church of God and as the true church is still trodden down, and cast out by all Christendom, it follows that the last oppressive power has not 'come to his end;' and Michael has not stood up. This last power that treads down the saints is brought to view in Rev. 13:11 -18. His number is 666. . . (11)
"I saw that the number (666) of the Image Beast [the two-horned] was made up; and that it was the beast [Leopard-like] that changed the Sabbath, and the image Beast had followed on after, and kept the Pope's and not God's Sabbath." (12)
These two statements make a very pungent point: that the number 666 is the power found in verses 11 - 18, and that this beast is the two-horned which we all know is the USA; otherwise known as the "Image Beast." So the number 666 is not on the Leopard-like Beast who is found in verses 1 - 10 of Revelation 13 who changed the Sabbath during the Dark Ages, but on the "Image Beast who followed. This is Clear, logical, and Biblical! After all, the context of verses 11 -18, reveals the identity and work of the United States, not the Leopard-like!
So the "man" who stands at the head of the USA would be the 666. Biblically could not be the Pope! Yes, the Bible does state that the USA will pay homage to the Leopard-like Beast, but, we have already seen that the Leopard-like Beast is not the Papacy alone, but in fact, represents the Western world model or system. Again, the Bible did not say that the USA will tell the world to worship the "head" but the "beast"-the system!
The truth is that the Papacy will never again rule like she did in the Middle Ages. That's right! Never! Her time for dominance is over. Yes, she will be influential. Yes she will probably gloat over the homage paid her through a Sunday law, however, she will never again sit atop the world. We know. About now you're probably saying that old ideas die hard. Well, that may be true, but don't keep them alive.
"I saw that the two-horned beast had a dragon's mouth, and that his power was in his head, and that the decree would go out of his mouth. Then I saw the Mother of Harlots; that the mother was not the daughters, but separate and distinct from them. She has had her day, and it is past, and her daughters, the Protestant sects, were the next to come on the stage and act out the same mind that the mother had when she persecuted the saints. I saw that as the mother has been declining in power the daughters had been growing and soon they will exercise the power once exercised by the mother." (13)
Obviously the Enemy wants us to focus in one direction while he attacks from another. While we trace the Papacy's every move, the real danger lurks behind us, waiting to snag our unwary souls into his honed craws.
"All who will not bow to the decree of the national councils and obey the national laws to exalt the Sabbath instituted by the man of sin, to the disregard to god's holy day, will feel, not the oppressive power of popery alone, but of the Protestant world, the Image of the Beast." (14)
Now you're saying, fine, but why does the Latin numerals on the Pope's title, Vicarius Filii Dei, add up to 666? A fair question indeed. But somehow it seems, we have forgotten that this phenomenon is replete throughout the long history of Paganism, Astrology, and Witchcraft. The numbers 6, 36 and 666 are sacred in these circles. So why would it be strange for the Pope's title to equal 666, when the Papacy is itself fraught with Paganism!
Furthermore, there are countless names that numerically compute to 666-it is not restricted to the Pope alone! XIUN, one of the names for the Sun-god in Greek, numerically added to 666. (15) The Mythological bird of the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and many of the Indian tribes of North America, was the Phoenix, worshiped as the bright and morning star. In Egypt it was the representation of the nocturnal symbol of the Sun-god Osiris. In Greek transliteration, the Phoenix was spelled the FENEX, whose numerical value equaled 666. (16) An ancient Greek name for Satan was TEITAN, which equals 666 in its numerical values. Even the original Roman Numerals, IVXLCD, also equaled 666.
Astrologers commonly used 6, 36, and 666 for their divinations. "They invented magic charts. . . Like the roulette wheel, the charts were divided into 36 numbered divisions. There were 6 columns in all directions with the numbers 1 to 36 placed inside the entire chart. Any direction you add the columns, they add to 111. There are six squares in each column and 6 times 11 equaling 666. If you add all the numbers from 1 to 36 they will also add to 666. . . .the number 666 was the summary number of the sun-god, because it was his sacred number as the Ruler of the Zodiac." (17)
The Bible places the number on the Two-horned Beast-the United States, not the Papacy. So the prevailing belief that the number 666 is the numerical identification of some other power is the spawn of the Prince of Darkness, and is calculated to conceal if possible the identification of this two-horned power. God places the number on the United States, and there we must leave it. Thus The Beast's civil authority--the man 666--combined with the False Prophet's supernatural power, points to a union of beast and prophet-an affiliation of state and of church representatives. Together they, leading the United States, will control the world's politics, economics, and religion, and will seek to compel all to bow to the "Image of the Beast."
Maybe we need to look less at the Pope and more at ourselves and apostate Protestantism. No wonder Inspiration intimated that if we studied Daniel and Revelation more closely, we "may have less to say in some lines, in regard to the Roman power and the Papacy."(6)
1. 2 Thessalonians, 2: 3.
2. E.G. White, The Great Controversy, p . 442.
3. 1 Thessanlonians 5:21
4. 1 John 4:1
5. E.G. White, Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 37.
6. E.G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 112.
7. E.G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 585.
8. E.G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p. 15.
9. E.G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 440 -442.
10. E.G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 451.
11. James White, A Word to the Little Flock, pp. 8,9.
12. E.G. White, Ibid. p. 19
13. E.G. White, Spalding-Meagan Collection, "Copy of Three Visitors."
14. E.G. White, Selected Messages, Book Two, p. 380.
15. Higgins, Anacapypsis, Vol. 2, p. 210.
16. Mythology of All Races, Vol. 12, p. 54.
17. W. J. Sutton, The New Age Movement and the Illuminati 666, pp. 66, 67.