Tuesday, June 06, 2006 Listening to Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast from the album Number of the Beast, of course!
It amazes me how under-educated some people are, it really does. Today is the sixth day of the sixth month of the two thousand sixth year current era, or as aptly noted over and over again by the media as six-six-six. To that end, every band, every movie, every artist and anyone who wants to associate themselves with anything even remotely evil, including the quaint town of Hell, Michigan, have latched securely onto this number, and this date in time. Some in pure tongue-in-cheak fun and some in serious apocalyptic fear.
Funny thing is, ask any of those caught up in the hype was six six six is and the responses are varried and hardly factual as “fact” might have it. I am certainly not advocating being a bible thumper on this topic by any stretch of the imagination, but when you are going to reference something, you should at least know the source story, Revelation. Then again, ask anyone where their freedom of speach comes from and most can hardly answer the second part of the First Ammendment of the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution as it pertains specifically to Congress making a law that might abridge the concept of free speach.
But, this is about the bible. The Christian scriptures mind you. Those read by yes, Roman Catholics, but also used by the Protetestants, the Eastern Orthodox and the many spin off sub-religions flying the banner of Christ, not just those whole hail from the words of the Church of Rome. Remember, when you get to the whole bible thing, you have 101 opinions about about three people of them who actually cracked the binding of the book to ever read more than about three passages and of those three none of them can even agree on the interpretation. (don’t even get me started on the republician advocates using the religious right, they aren’t among those three who cracked the binding, trust me)
So, six-six-six, as Iron Maiden sung, the number of the beast. But what does it mean really? Is it the mark of the devil? Is it the enslavement of evil? Is today the end of the world?
Well the book of Revelation, one of the apoclyptic books of the judeo-christian collection of writings compiled and sold by churches or given freely by Geodions as “the bible.” Traditionally, in much of Christian belief, Revelation is the final book of the Christian Scriptures, or as they’re sometimes refered to, thew New Testament. Revelation is the story of the end of the world, meant to scare those into belief when the feel good stories with miricles and morales weren’t quite getting the message across.
When you understand that Revelations is a vision the writer has of what is to come, you have to take his dreams in context to both the timeframe of ‘his’ own life and the ultimate message it seeks to get across in the context of the rest of the stories preceeding it. As with much of the bible, literal translation is but one interpretation, however, more likely than not the imagery presented is more metaphorical than it is wholely actual. But, irregard to fact or metaphor, the morale of Revelation is the same, repent or be spent.
Well, let’s start out with the “mark”. There were two marks laid out in Revelations. One, by the Lamb, who inscribed the names of the 144,000 into the book of life (Rev. 4) and marked those saved (Rev. 7) against the evils of the opening of the seven seals (Rev. 5). The second mark is that given to those by the second beast (Rev. 13) to mark those who worshiped the first beast. Those wearing the mark of the second beast were allowed to trade and do business with one another, ostrosizing those did not carry the mark of the beast. The mark of the Lamb adorned the forehead of the wearer whereas the one of the Beast was on the wrist or the forehead. The mark of the beast was its name, or the number of its name. The number is stated as 666, however the name for which the numbers coencide is never given.
Neither, notice there are two beasts at this point, beast however is the devil itself (Rev 13). The first beast appeared after the levithian was vanquished from the Elysian Fields and cast down to earth (Rev 12) by the Lamb. The first beast rose from the river the water serpent landed. It is well described bearing the 10 heads and varrious body forms, one mortally wounded and brought back to life. Its reign is 42 months. Later, a second beast appeared from the earth. It is not described in detail except it had two horns of a lamb and spoke like a dragon, controlling the actions of the first beast and marked those who worshiped the first beast, thus sealing their later fate. the beasts themselves though were not the destroyers of earth. They were more of a test, a reckoning between the destructive peroids, to determine who would repend and who would continue to sin. Authority over the earth was given to the first beast by the serpent. The second beast’s authority remains a mystery, as it was not explicitly by either the dragon or the lamb.
The destruction leading to the end of the world happens in stages both before and after the appearance of the beasts. After the reign of the beasts and the redemption of the 144,000 at Zion (Rev. 14), God unleashes the seven angels with the seven plagues (Rev. 15) held in the seven bowls representing the wrath of god (Rev. 15). The first bowl’s wrath (Rev. 16) is directed specificlaly at those adorn with the number of the beast afflicting them with sores and ailments, while the rest destroyed the Earth around them.
However, the punishment of the non-believer began before the appearance of the beasts. The original inscription of the 144,000 (Rev. 7) which was 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Judea, was made during the opening of the 7 seals and the release of the four riders and the curses of the sevent trumpets (Rev 6, 8 and 9). The last trumpets represented the first of three woes, pains beyond pain meant to incite pennance. The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood despite the wrath of God then faced the test of the beasts.
The mark of the beast is not pure evil in the way it is portrayed in the lineage of rapists, murderers and theives (aspects our secular selves most fear), but those who accept the beast as a false idol betraying the first commandment and survived the first wave of God’s anger. And the beasts themselves are not wholey destructive to the world, but rather only to the future of those who follow them.
The first, and arguable most influential in judeo-christian dogma is that of the one true deity and breaking of the First Commandment, although largely ignored in secular life, holds a high penalty and therefore the dramatics Revelation. The beasts represent one final test for the followers of God before the final demise of mankind.
So, then why the obsession with the apocalypse as associated with the Beast? The several chapters dedicated to the different beast’s impact (12,13 and again in 17) make it one of the focal points of the story just in shear volume compared to any other explanaiton of judgement and destruction. Additionally, the charactors of the Beast (the way its appearance and actions are described) make it stand out compared to the relatively quick explanations of the rest of the charactors throughout the chapter including that of the images of God. Finally, the numerology game played in Revelation is most intriguing when comparing the number of the beast to the unmentioned name.
It is easy enough then with the secular interpretation in modern culture to condense the entire idea into some godzilla-esque mantle of destruction focusing it on the Beast. the ambguity of the number makes it easy to superimpose it on anything one chooses that might reflect something similiar (such as a date). the miseducation and undereducation of the masses makes it easy to tweak the story of Revelation to appear as something focused on evil rather than something focused on repentence and a bonding of the inner-spirit.
Today isn’t going to be the end of the world. the beast isn’t just going to pop out and anhiliate the world in a day anyhow. The Final Judgement takes time and any spiritualist who derives their beliefs from a judeo-christian background can tell you that. There will be signs greater than the inevidable coming of day on the calendar. Although the extreme exploitation of a date, creating it into something to be feared and worshiped might be a sign of the apocalypse, the final breath of God over the human race isn’t going to just happen because today happens to look similiar to the number six hundred and sixty six.
Oh, and by the way, if you want my guess for a better date for the end of the world using the 666 justification, assuming the calendar remains in current era that long, june six in the year six thousand six hundred and sixty six, the end will be the sixth hour on the sixth minute on the sixth second, making six six six in a trinity form, a much stronger marker to the role of evil in the end of the world.
enjoy 06-06-06 anyway you’d like folks. if you want to be sucked into the halmark card style commercialization of judeo-christian beliefs, that’s just fine with me. Just do a little research before you start preaching how today is anything other than just another hijynx on the calendar like that whole all Hallow’s eve mess.