Thursday, December 21, 2017

Advent Thought 19 and Number 666 or 144,000

The Bible, and step forward please the Book of Revelation, teases us with numbers:

12 tribes and 12 apostles
40 days and 40 years
7 days of creation and deadly sins
The Holy and Undivided Trinity 3 in 1 and 1 in 3
Feeding of the 4,000 and the 5,000

Even the number of fish recorded by John as the miraculous catch at the end of his Gospel is counted - 153.

So we are left with some numbers that look important but probably aren't. And some numbers which don't seem all that significant but surely are. And despite all that Dan Brown has written we are left with no easy way to sort the one from the other. We will not find our symbologists able to provide us with dogma.

Revelation tempts us to be interested in the Number of the Beast - 666; and the number of the saved - 144,000. But both those numbers are clearly symbolic and are neither code nor amulet; not a secret insight or parameter.

The number 7 is far more interesting in Revelation. It is the narrative device John uses to hold his book together. 7 letters to 7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 visions, 7 bowls, 7 heads, 7 kings.

The band Genesis got from 666, to 7 to Pythagoras who:

...with the looking glass reflects the full moon

(See I gave you a big clue today.) But they were playing with symbolic numbers too.

What we do find is that where a number has significance in the Old Testament the New Testament writers will use it to add relevance to ther story. The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness; Jesus was tempted 40 days in the wilderness. This is not a trick. It was widely used at that time. There is history behind both events; the numbers should not be seen as part of it.

And if you think we have got beyond doiung that. Well that's a good subject for today's ponder. I'm happy to wait for your answer. For years. For ages. Until hell freezes over.

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