Saturday, December 2, 2017

Revelation 14 Interpretive Notes / Part 1 Introduction

< Revelation 13

Revelation 14 (KJV adapted)

14 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
  1. A vision of spiritual reality - where Mount Zion in heaven and earth are one…which takes place outside time and eternity…in the mind and communion of the Word of God. This is the key to understanding this whole vision. This is what is meant by “heaven” in the context of these visions which begin in chapter 4. The 144,000 are not seen on earth, neither in time nor in eternity, but are seen always in visions in the heaven of heavens. This is the place of this revelation, the place where the Mashiach of Israel, sits at the right hand of God, the place where he has appeared as a Lamb standing before the Throne of God, and now appears standing on Mount Zion.  Though God is rightly called the Eternal One, God’s eternity has no beginning as well as no end. Now there is also an eternity that has a beginning, while it has, together with God, no end. This eternity is the eternity of time having been redeemed and transformed in Mashiach. So, eternity itself has now become something created in relation to time, and God, while his presence is in time and eternity, is himself outside of all that is created, either in This World of time or The World To Come, which is the world of eternity.  His Word is the power that forms eternity and is the Word of Eternity entered into Time.  In His Word is His Thought, the true spiritual reality.  And from that true spiritual reality we are shown this vision...
  2. …where the 4 camps of Israel’s 12 tribes are camped with Mashiach on Mount Zion, which is seen, in the mind and communion of the Word of God, as in the case in Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple, which is also seen in the mind and communion of the Word of God. We will see that the Lamb and the 144,000 are on Mount Zion as a personal embodiment of the Temple of God.
  3. It is not that Ezekiel’s vision is a vision in time or in eternity, but that it is the "blueprint", the print in holy light, for God’s Temple in time and in eternity.  In time the Temple is built according to the accommodations of God, which must be made for the sake of mercy and grace.  In eternity the Temple is built according to the rectifications of those accommodations, which are accomplished through the outworking of God’s Torah mercy and grace, in accordance with his Torah justice and righteousness. This "blueprint" is called the Torah of Mashiach, the Wisdom of God as spoken of in Proverbs 8.
  4. In the foreheads of the 144,000 is the complete rectification of their knowledge that was damaged by the sin of Adam, this is the knowledge of God personally, that is, the true knowledge of his Name.
  5. Having said this, we are left only with asking what the meaning and significance is of Mount Zion in the Torah of Mashiach.  And we then can ask what it is that is being revealed to us in this vision of Mashiach in the form of the Lamb on Mount Zion with the 144,000.
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
  1. The voice which Yochanan has already heard, which is the Divine Voice, but before always in context of revelations in time and eternity, now in a context outside time and eternity.  Therefore the Voice is itself at first the vision.  Each phase of this vision outside time and eternity is itself a vision revealing the mind and communion of the Word of God. 
  2.  In this second phase the Voice of God is itself the vision and is therefore accompanied by the harps of the harpers of heaven, introducing the next phase of the vision.  All of the seven thunders of that voice are here in one great thunder. This vision shows that the vision of the seven thunders and the vision of the 144,000 are one vision.
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
  1. The harpers who harped in accompaniment with the Thunder of God’s Voice, now sing the song of Israel’s eternal redemption, the song of the salvation of the world, the song of the revelation of the true name of Israel’s Father and God. This is the whole revelation that is given through the revelation of Yehoshua HaMashiach.  This singing of this song by the harpers of heaven is the third phase of this vision, which, while it is one phase of the vision of the Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion, is also like a vision in itself.  
  2. This song of Israel’s redemption and the world’s salvation is a version of the Song of the Lamb and of Moshe which is only heard outside time and eternity, here in this place where the Lamb and the 144,000 are together on Mount Zion.
  3. What does this say about the nature of the 144,000, about the way in which they prophetically represent Israel?  And what does this say about the relationship between the Lamb and Israel?  Everything in time and in eternity hinges upon the relationship between the Lamb and Israel.  Here, at this point in the Revelation of Yehoshua HaMashiach, when the truth about the Beast and the works of the Beast have been revealed, the secret  of the relationship between the Lamb and Israel, which was concealed at the time of his death and resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God, is being made known.
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes. These were redeemed from among humans, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
  1. The question has been raised, what does this vision say about the 144,000 and their representation of the relationship of Israel and the Lamb?  If in the mind of the Word of God the 144,000 are virgins, then in the mind of the Word of God it is Israel who is a virgin.
  2. If the 144,000 follow the Lamb wherever he goes, then in the mind of the Word of God, Israel follows the Lamb wherever he goes.
  3. If the 144,000 are the firstfruits to God and the Lamb redeemed from among the children of Adam, then, in the mind of the Word of God, Israel is the firstfruits to God and the Lamb redeemed from among the children of Adam.
  4. Having said this, we are left only with a deeper question of why Israel is represented as the 144,000.  We began to see the answer to this question in chapter 7.  Now we will see the answer more fully.
And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
  1. This is the final phase of this vision, which concerns the testimony of Israel, in accordance with the Scriptures, to the One God and His Torah's Good News.  Like the other phases of this vision, this phase is like a vision in its own right.  Before the 144,000 were described in terms of their attributes, revealing their identity in their prophetic representation of Israel.  In this phase their accomplishment is described.
  2. If in the mouths of the 144,000 there was found no imperfection before God and the Lamb, then in the mind of the Word of God there is found, by the Judge who sits upon His Throne, no imperfection in Israel’s testimony given on the witness stand before the nations and before the angels of heaven, concerning the truth of God and his Anointed One.
  3. We will see that it is the significance of this very thing (Israel's perfect testimony, as conceived in the Mind of God), that is being revealed to us in the full volume of The Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ \ Yehoshua HaMashiach.
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
  1. Having left the vision of the Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion in the place of spiritual reality beyond time and eternity, in the mind of the Word of God, with the fulfillment of the Scripture that Israel is Hashem’s witness, we come immediately to a new vision of an angel, coming from eternity into time with the everlasting Good News of God to announce to the world.  For this is the testimony given by Israel in the mind of the Word of God.
  2. We see that this Good News is preached to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people".  This is the designation of those to whom it was said Yochanan would again preach, having eaten the Little Scroll. We see a direct connection, therefore, between the vision of this angel and the vision of Revelation chapter 10.
  3. We now will consider what that means.
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
  1. When Mashiach rose from the dead, by the power of the judgment of God, after that he made a corporate atonement for Israel, the new creation of eternity was born in time and began to grow in time. It would grow until "the hour of [God's] judgment", when that which is eternal working in time would become dominate in the domain of time.  This hour which is coming is the hour when judgment of the nations is come, the time of the sounding of the seventh shofar.  From this point on in the Revelation, to the coming of Mashiach, we will see the revelation of that judgment.  And therefore from here there is nothing left but for the world to repent and to hear the testimony of the 144,000, which brings — from beyond time and eternity — the witness of Israel’s redemption in the Lamb of God from among the nations, and makes that testimony known in this hour of judgment in all the earth.
  2. The purpose of this testimony of Israel, given from heaven by the 144,000, is that the whole of creation should repent and turn again, as in one Adam, to the fear of Hashem Elohim and to his praise.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
  1. How can this happen, even before Jerusalem is fully united with her Mashiach upon the earth?  It can happen because, invisible to the world, Jerusalem has already, at this point in the revelation, turned to embrace him in her heart, as recorded in Revelation 12:13, and because now, with the ascent of the Beast, the truth of the evil one in the world is out in the open, so that Babylon has lost her power, which is the power of the lie. For she was given this power to chastise Israel, to help the work of the Spirit of God in bringing Jerusalem to repentance toward her Mashiach.  And now that work is accomplished.  Therefore Babylon’s power is taken away from her.
  2. And because Babylon’s power, which she used through the deceptions of secrecy, is taken away from her she is now to be held openly accountable for seducing all nations into her service against God and against the Jews.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
  1. The dethroning of Babylon leaves only the Beast in power on the earth, and now all people will be held to be accountable without excuse in turning away from God to serve the god of this world.
  2. At the very time of the fall of Babylon, which comes through the destruction of the system holding Israel in captivity in blindness to her redemption in Mashiach, the evil one will shift his control of the world to the mark of the beast, through the image of the beast, as has been discussed.
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
  1. As has been said, because at this time there will no longer be any room for confusion or pretense but every person on earth will stand either openly against the God of the Bible or in repentance toward Him, a final judgment upon the nations will come upon the whole earth.
  2. The aftermath of the judgement upon the nations, when Israel has openly been redeemed from her sins and from captivity among the nations, is that there will be no place anymore for repentance for those who, even like Esau seek it with tears, once they see Israel’s glory, if they have chosen under the leadership of the Lying Messiah to graduate from replacement theology to full blown outright enmity toward the testimony of God’s Two Witnesses, which converted the heart of Jerusalem.
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
  1. Once bottomless pit of foolishness and embarrassment for having worshiped the Beast is revealed throughout all the universe, those who are guilty of this choice will torment themselves with their own shame, so that there will be no help for them.
  2. Just as the Nazis sent the Jews up in smoke to the heavens, so they and all who follow in their spirit to worship the Beast, so shall Mashiach, seated at the right hand of God, smell the scent of the torment with which they torment themselves without relief.
  3. We have read that all the world, that is, a majority of people in all the nations of the world, will worship the beast, taking the mark and number of the beast.  In this ‘apocalyptic’ context worship is to be understood as a comprehensive concept.  Whatever one gives their loyalty to and whatever one gives one’s heart and mind to, whatever one believes, whatever one commits one’s life to and invests one’s industry in, that is the act of worshiping something or someone. Projecting from today’s society forward to that time, we could say, anyone who chooses to be in the consumer society of the Beast, where the Beast and all the Beast stands for is the ‘product’ that is consumed, worships the Beast.  Likewise, we can project the devices of our science and technology today forward to that time to create a near future picture that can explain why those who take the mark of the Beast will not be able to repent.  By a possible picture of the mark of the Beast as being a computer-human interface, joining all human minds directly to the Image of the Beast as a global A.I. hub robotically embodied, we can see how the human being could in this way be dehumanized beyond redemption. It was through just such an organic interface with fallen angels that the human being was dehumanized beyond redemption at the time of the great flood, when only eight souls were saved.
12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
  1. It is first that the people who God has made holy have waited for this day of truth, which the world will experience as a day of open rebellion and great tribulation.  It is second that when that day comes the people who God has made holy will overcome the world and the evil one by faith in the promise of Mashiach, whom they know and whom they await to come from heaven.
  2. These ones who God has made holy are, in the vision, represented in heaven by the 144,000, and in the unfolding days and years they are all Torah observant Jews who attach themselves to the True Tzaddik, the True Righteous One, that is to say, to Mashiach; and it is all those children of the nations also, who attach themselves to the tzitzit of the Jews, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you! (Zechariah 8:23).
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on: Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works follow them.
  1. Martyrdom has always brought the greatest blessing.  Now it will bring its greatest blessing, because the truth is out in the open in all ways.
  2. To live in the Spirit of Mashiach is also to be a martyr, and not only to die in testimony to the faith.  This has always been true, but at the time of the judgment, it will be true even more than before.  The evil one, dwelling in the hearts and minds of all who take the mark of the Beast, not being able to destroy the Woman or her anointed Child, will pull whatever of her children apart limb from limb on a scale far greater than has happened at any time except in the Nazi Holocaust.
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
  1. The vision of the Lamb has become a vision of the Son of Adam.  For now, while he is yet in the place of the vision of the mind of the Word of God that is beyond time and eternity, he is acting not in the capacity of redeemer of Israel from her sins but of redeemer of Israel from the bondage of the nations, that is, as judge of the nations.
  2. Yochanan describes him as one like unto the Son of Adam because, at first, he is not fully certain in viewing the vision whether this, indeed, is the Son of Adam.  And this occurs because he is not yet revealed on earth in his glory, coming openly from Heaven.  Yochanan is hindered slightly in suddenly seeing the Mashiach in his role and form as the Son of Adam, when he has become accustomed in the vision to seeing him in the visions of the Revelation as the Lamb that was slain.  Nevertheless, the very vision of the Lamb with the 144,000 on Mount Zion has come to show us that the time is come for Mashiach to begin to take on the role of Judge.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
  1. Because of this, “the time is come”.
  2. The harvest of the Gentiles, leading to the turning to Moshe of corproate Jerusalem, and the removal of the veil…leading to the vision of the seven vials…. All of these things and more will be heard by those able to hear what the seven thunders said, due to their communion proceeding underground through the ages with the apostle Yochanan.
  3. The earth is ripe because it has been cultivated by the Word of God through all the generations of history and the seed, of the Torah's Good News of Israel and Her Messiah, has in many places sprouted and taken root.
16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
  1. …as we will see when this vision comes from beyond time and eternity into the domain of eternity and into time.
  2. And as it was first envisioned beyond time and eternity in the mind of the Word of God, so it shall be on earth.
17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
  1. ...the angel over those who will come with the vials…
  2. The series of angels come one after the other as if it is all one vision, but again, each one is in content like a vision in its own right.
  3. Here the angle appearing with a sharp sickle confirms that God, who gave this Revelation, would have us know that nothing remains to prevent His judgment coming in full upon the nations.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
  1. …this angel has the office of mitigating the judgment for the sake of the children of the Woman…
  2. Now that the time of judgment between Israel and the nations is come, “the grapes are fully ripe”.  Looking at the same picture through another window, the “wheat” will be harvested, and the “tares” will be gathered up to be cast into fire.
19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
  1. So it will be…  All the chief angels for the time of judgment have announced their readiness to perform their assignments.  We therefore now see the vision of the harvesting of the earth that will take place in the hour of the judgment of the nations and the redemption of Israel from the Egypt of its own Adamic nature and the Egypt of the the Adamic nature of all nations.
  2. The wrath of God is not against Adam, but against the rebellion of Adam. Were it against Adam, no soul would be saved; not even "the elect”, the Chosen People, Israel, would be saved.  But because God turns His wrath against the rebellion of Adam and not Adam, Adam is corporately saved in the salvation of the nation of Israel, and all who bless themselves by coming under the wings of Jerusalem and of the Mashiach of Zion are saved from that wrath which is to come.
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
  1. …this is to describe the coming judgment as being the full measure of judgement…
  2. The winepress of wrath is trodden everywhere on the globe, but not in the city of Jerusalem, so far as that city has repented and turned to God and to His Lamb.
  3. In this vision taking place in the heaven of heavens a poetic picture is portrayed of all the armies of the nations surrounding Jerusalem on horseback.  This is to represent the war of rebellion that has been waged against God and against the revelation of His Mashiach from the beginning.  As soon as the sickle of the Son of Adam is swung, the trampling out of the winepress of the wrath of God against that rebellion is immediately shown as being accomplished in terms of all the armies of the nations which have, in every way, come up against Jerusalem, being turned into a lake or sea of blood, extending for about 200 miles all around the city.  This red sea of blood is so deep as to drown not only the last Pharaoh’s armies but also his horses as well.

Revelation 14 Interpretive Notes / Part 2 >

Friday, April 7, 2017

Revelation 13 Elaborated Notes

< Revelation 12 

< Revelation 13 Brief Notes 

  TABLE OF CONTENTS for this study series


Eschatology And The View of These Notes
Since the first centuries of the Christian era Christian teachers and denominations have been locked in argument over what time frame should be used in interpreting *The Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ*.  From this point going forward, these notes will refer to this book as, *The Book of the Revelation of Yehoshua the Mashiach.* The use of the Hebrew name reflects the attempt of these notes to go both more deeply than ever into the past and more deeply than ever into the future of this Revelation. 
This chapter, chapter 13, is one of the main points where the argument over the time frame for the interpretation of this book comes to a head. Some commentaries read the Revelation as if John/Yochanan were the true author. These notes recognize God as the true author and, accordingly, understand the Revelation according to God's view of time, which he makes known to us.
In a book written by a human author the time frame is necessarily limited by the author's perspective or imagination. In God's authorship of the Scriptures time can unfold in cycles, so that prophecies can be given to first be fulfilled in the form of types. Then in a later day and generation the same prophecy will be realized completely in a final fulfillment. This is because God sees and measures time from outside of time and communicates his view to us.
In What Generation Does The Beast Appear?
This chapter appears to be entirely about the beast.  A futurist view would say that the chapter is to be understood as taking place in the final generation before the return of Christ/Mashiach. An historical view might say that the chapter is to be understood as taking place in the immediate generations after Christ/Mashiach was on earth.  But it is only in the light of God's view of time and history that we can see that there has been an aspect of the beast in every generation since Judah was taken captive into Babylon. There has also been an aspect of the final revelation of the beast in every generation since the captivity of Israel started to take shape at the conclusion of Alexander the Great's empire.  In some way, the beast has been present in every generation since, and will have its final manifestation in a time soon to come upon us.  I hope to make these things clear in the notes on the verses of this chapter.
What Is the True Mystery Revealed In This Book?
The true mystery is not about Babylon or Rome, Hellenism or the Papacy or the final global rulers over Jerusalem and the nations. It is about Judah/Yehudah and its captivity, Israel and its captivity. It is about the revelation of the Redeemer of Israel from captivity to the beast and therefore about that redemption itself.
It is about exposing replacement theology, what it really is, where it came from and what God will do about it. In the end *the mystery of God and Israel* will be openly and fully revealed, and the four empires that tried to assimilate Israel, which are so fearful and fascinating to the human mind will be shattered endlessly, as if they never existed.

Many different films have been made about an Apocalypse bringing an end to civilization as we know it. There is one theme in common among them all. That is the theme of survival. Whether nuclear, biological, technological, ecological or Apocalypse of any other nature, the purpose of the film is to show that somehow Humanity survives and must survive the Apocalypse.
Often there is a largely metaphorical quality to the film. The moral of the story is that Human civilization can overcome the violent, evil inclination of human nature. Never is there an understanding of the Apocalypse that portrays it as the ultimate revelation of G-d's love for the world, as this book of the true Revelation, the true Apocalypse, actually reveals.
The Revelation Is About The World's Redemption
The most common idea found in the world is that the Bible, and especially the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, teaches that God's ultimate judgment is that, in the end, he must erase the world entirely and start over. That is what the world basically believes the Bible says about God.  He is the God who is threatening to bring the Apocalypse. When it comes down to it, then, from the world's point of view, as Hollywood sees it, surviving the Apocalypse is going to mean fighting against God, if not to defeat God then, at least, to change God's mind about erasing Humanity and starting over.
In truth, Yehoshua said, "I have not come to condemn the world, but to save it," (John/Yochanan 3:17). This statement has usually been understood in terms of the cross.  It must also be fully understood in its full eschatological application. Hopefully, we will come to see that what is revealed is how the world is finally brought corporately to repentance, through a love that could never be imagined, only revealed, in order that it might be redeemed and remade, transformed into an immortal and incorruptible world, never having been, never to be, erased.
The World's Choice of Life or Death
The first vision of the beast in Daniel is the vision of the idol of the four kingdoms, a vision of the image of the beast, as it were, which was given first to King Nebuchadnezzar, then to Daniel. That vision ended with a stone, a kingdom, being cut out of a mountain without hands and then crashing down on the feet of the idol, the image, of the four kingdoms and smashing those kingdoms into dust.  That kingdom is the kingdom of eternal life.  The eternal life of that kingdom shall consist entirely in intimacy with God.
Means And Ends
What is the end of the world moral dilemma? In one word it is this question: Does survival of Humanity justify the use of inhuman means? In the apocalyptic Hollywood scenarios this question is most easily posed in terms of the question of the threat of human extinction, the issue of the quantity of our time.  But the question is also posed in terms of the quality of our humanity.  Does Humanity have such a quality that can justify the use of any means for its survival?
When we are prepared to justify ourselves at all costs, we are in danger of our means simply justifying themselves. That our means should themselves become our end is the essence of enslavement to Technique, (as identified by Jacques Ellul), and it is the issue of the ultimate moral dilemma that has defined this world from the beginning and in every generation.  It is the issue of the final captivity of Israel, of Jerusalem and of all her children.  It is the essential property of the final manifestation of the beast.
In facing the truth of *the end of the world moral dilemma* we come soon to the truth that, since Adam's sin, the world we have lived in has been under the constant power and conditions of death, and therefore we have always been at the edge of the world. We have always, in every generation been facing *the end of the world moral dilemma*. 
Just as it was set before Israel, as stated in Deuteronomy 30:15-20, we have always been faced with choosing life by a miracle of salvation or choosing death by trying to use every means at our own disposal to find a technique, a technology, by which Humanity might survive, might escape death in the end. Here is the root cause of the captivity of Israel. Here is the mystery of Babylon and the beast. This chapter of the book, chapter 13 of the Revelation of Yehoshua HaMashiach brings us to this question: Does the final chapter of Humanity's trying to escape death's grip, trying to survive the end of the world, the Apocalypse, justify Humanity's worshiping the beast?
The image of the beast could not, then, just be a computer or global network of computers. It could not even be just an AI or human-AI collaboration. It has to be a whole technique system, (as Jacques Ellul described), a system of means that have become their own ends in virtually every human endeavour and in virtually all the human imagination. Machines and algorithms are just one expression of this system. 
Indeed, the image of the beast is a Technique Civilization, because the beast, from the time it was a lion, a bear or a Leopard was always the rebuilding of the Tower of Babel, the human collective effort to survive the end of the world, to live forever through the fruit of its own knowledge, its own science, and in the end, therefore, the applying of its own technology.

The vision of the beast in this chapter is a vision about how the world is deceived into believing that the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ / Yehoshua HaMashiach represents the ultimate terrorist threat, and that the God of this Apocalypse, is global civilization's enemy and must be resisted. Furthermore, it is the vision of how the world is brought to believe the lie that the ancient adversary of the God of the Jews, (here called the dragon), is the true friend of the pluralistic global civilization of the world. If read out of the context of the Book of Daniel and other Scriptures, this vision can be seen as very dark and terrifying. It can seem dire for the world, which will suffer great judgments, as well as for believers in Yehoshua and the Torah, who will suffer great persecutions, and ultimately, therefore, for Jerusalem, and for Israel. When studied in the context of Biblical prophecy and revelation, however, this chapter is an essential foundation for understanding how the dragon is ultimately made to bring about its own defeat, how its lie is exposed and how a true peace and exalted form of life is finally brought into the world.
The Trial of Yehoshua And Yehudah
The trials of Yehoshua and of Yehudah are really one.  Anyone who knows what this means will be able to know what is concealed in this revelation.  The trial of Jesus/Yehoshua has, in the course of history, turned into the trial of the Jews. In this trial there are two Christianities. One is a Christianity that has been called by the prosecution. And one is a Christianity that has been called by the defense. The one Christianity sees Jerusalem and Israel as being worthy of condemnation and tries to prosecute the Jews unto this end. The other Christianity waits until it is called to the witness stand to testify on the behalf of Jerusalem that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received double for all her sins, through her Mashiach's suffering and through her own suffering, and that it is time now for her to come out of Babylon the Great, and for her exile to end. This is the true message of this revelation, and what it is saying between the lines of this chapter to those who have ears capable of hearing it.
Having said all of these things by way of introduction, we will now enter into a full elaboration of the notes on chapter 13. A post presenting these notes in a very brief outline form can be found here.
The Text of Chapter 13
1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.
[Before looking at all the details of the vision of the beast in order to understand their symbolism, we should take notice of the fact that this vision is actually a continuation of the previous vision. We need, for a moment, to go back to the beginning. The devil, whose attributes are those of a dragon, took possession of the serpent in the garden. In the same way, he now takes complete possession of the ruling empire of the planet and all its citizens by taking personal possession of its ruler.  He does this in order to attempt to finally seduce and devour the woman, Israel, who gave birth to the Anointed child, the Mashiach.
We must see how the visions of Revelation 10-14 are one.  Indeed, here at the centre of the book, we do not have a series of separate visions but one vision in several episodes; one vision transforms into the next. 
Let me write this out in list form, so that it can be seen clearly:
1. Yochanan is told that he will prophesy again before many peoples, nations, tongues, etc. Then, (ignore the chapter break), immediately, without skipping a beat, he is given a measuring rod and told to measure the Temple that is in heaven. Yochanan is himself still a key player in the vision. His power to yet prophesy to the nations is connected to his authority to measure the Temple in heaven, leaving out the court of the Gentiles.  That court, and what it represents, will be given over to the captivity of the nations for 42 months.
2. These 42 months lead us into the vision of the Two Witnesses.  Thus, it comes directly out of the vision of Yochanan's measuring the Temple in heaven. It is as if the Two Witnesses suddenly take the lead role in place of Yochanan, as if there is, in the meaning of these visions, an identity, of a certain kind, between Yochanan and the Two Witnesses. It is as if their prophesying before all nations is the fulfillment of the promise that was made to Yochanan.
3. Because the vision of the Two Witnesses is about the ultimate repentance and regeneration of Jerusalem, (see 12:13), this immediately leads into the vision about the Woman, whom it is seen in the end, is Jerusalem, portrayed in this vision in a most unique light. For Jerusalem in her divine estate is the epitome and essence of All—Israel.
4. While the woman is Jerusalem, it is as G-d sees Jerusalem, in a corporate sense and an eternal sense; it is Jerusalem as she looks in the eye of G-d, without her sinfulness. It is as such that the dragon cannot reach her. But while she exists in this aspect of not being of the world, she also exists in an aspect where she is in the world. In that aspect her existence is found by the dragon in the form of "her children", whom the dragon is able to persecute. This is where that vision that is told in chapter 12 from the point of view of the Woman, ends but it is not where the story ends. For the vision of the dragon persecuting the woman, in the form of those who are hers, goes on in a form of a new vision. This is this vision of the beast. And we will also come to see later how this vision is the basis of the chronological narrative of the judgments that come upon the world, when the chronological narrative of the last plagues returns.
5. Afterward, we will see how this vision episode in chapter 13 leads into the vision found in chapter 14 of the Lamb with the 144,000 on Mount Zion.  From that point, we will be able to see how all the final judgments bring about the full redemption of Israel from her exile and reveal the mercy of God toward all the world.
All of these visions, then, roll from the one into the next.  Understanding the inter-relatedness of these central visions will help to make it clear that this vision of the beast is not about the beast. It is about the Woman. It is about the testimony that she gives corporately, when under attack by the beast, and that her children give individually to the Child to whom she gave birth, the one who is, by God's covenant, by His control of history, by His Holy Tanach, the Holy Scriptures, and by the Holy Spirit, and through the resurrection from the dead, *the Anointed One of Israel*. 
In all that we read in this chapter about the beast bringing all the world under its control and to the feet of the dragon we are reading about the strategy that the dragon uses to persecute the woman and her children on earth, in order that he might find fault with her testimony to the Lamb who was slain.  Her testimony to the Lamb is given in her own defence, for it is she who is on trial. Therefore the dragon, as the one who is the prosecutor seeking her condemnation in the courtroom of heaven, seeking the death sentence against her, tries to get a conviction against her though her own testimony by the torments he causes her through persecution by the beast.
The vision of the beast can be understood from an earthly point of view, but in order to be fully understood it must be understood from a heavenly point of view, just as was the case in the previous vision of the Woman, her Child and the Dragon.  In order to begin to understand this vision of the beast from a heavenly point of view, we must return to the book of Daniel. 

The story of the four beasts in Daniel was not a story about those beasts but about the kingdom of God that overcomes them. So it is also here in the Revelation. The story here about the one beast, the one global empire that was the four empires, is actually still the story about the Woman Israel as seen in the eye of God. This is so even though the Woman is not mentioned directly in this vision, or in this vision episode that appears to be only concerned with the beast.
At the end of chapter 12 we, so to speak, zoomed in on the dragon in his attempts to destroy the woman on the ground. We began in this chapter to shift to observing the dragon's strategy more from the dragon's perspective. The first part of the dragon's strategy was to destroy those of the woman's children that he could reach. How this comes about we see now, beginning in these first verses of the vision of the beast in chapter 13.
In the first verse we see a beast rise up out of the sea. We know we are to understand this as the sea of humanity, the masses.
While we are immediately referred to the beasts in the Book of Daniel, the Revelation hints to us here that this final incarnation of the fourth beast is an incarnation in some way of the dragon itself. The resemblance is almost exact.
Following this line of thinking, we would conclude that, by incarnating in the form of the beast, the dragon has come to power in the earth in the form of the *unnatural* beast in the vision of Daniel. The full symbolism suggests that all the empires that have held the Jewish People captive in exile have culminated in *this beast*. The power of global rulership is represented especially by the multiplied diadems on its horns.

How has the vision developed from what was given in the Book of Daniel? The fourth beast there was pictured with one head having ten horns, one of which then produced a further little horn which overcame three of the other horns. We are told there by the angel that these horns represent kings.
Dan 7:24 As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings.
Now that we see in the Revelation this beast, like the dragon, as having still ten horns but now seven heads, we can see that what is bing pictured is the outcome of what was prophesied in Daniel. Here in this state, where the dragon is ready to rule openly upon the earth through the beast, there are only seven kings who are ruling, though ten kingdoms, ( nations or empires). This is because one of the seven is the little horn which has suppressed three kingdoms beneath it. by which he has taken power over the whole. This is the notorious anti-messiah, who, according to Daniel chapter 11, is the final king of the north.
And this internal power struggle is the relationship between the anti-messiah and the beast as a whole. While the beast as a whole represents an empire, here at the last the global human civilization, the whole thing is incarnated by this one person, the anti-messiah, who rules over the whole through seven heads and ten horns, that is to say, through six other kingdoms together with his own, which he has expanded through the complete subjection of three others which came before him.
That the beast comes up out of the sea here means that it comes up out of the masses of the human population of the earth, especially in the aspect of their trade relations. Used in the poetic sense of Psalms 65:7 " who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples..." See Revelation 17:15 "And he saith unto me, The waters which you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."]
2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.
[In the Book of Daniel a vision of the empires which take and hold Israel captive is first seen as an image of a man, whose head is gold and is said to be Babylon, whose arms and chest is silver and is said to be Media-Persia, whose waist and upper thighs are bronze and is said to be Greece, and whose legs are iron and whose feet are iron and clay, which is only later understood to prophetically signify Rome. The same empires are then seen in the same book as a vision of four beasts. The first is a lion, the second a bear and the third a leopard. The fourth is unnatural, as if it were an *artificial beast*, not comparable in its nature to an animal that God created, but something devilish and of much greater ferocity than any of the three which came before it. These empires develop over the course of history.
Most commentators will explain that representations of these kingdoms were shown to Nebechudnezar, King of Babylon, then to Daniel, because they were all kingdoms that ruled the known world in their day. This idea blindfolds the eyes of understanding. It misses the key of revelation for all of these visions. The true reason that these kingdom's were represented is because they each, succeeding one another, held Judah captive. This is the pivotal fact upon which the whole of the revelation turns. In order to understand the significance of this we need to understand the true and complete meaning of Israel's captivity. It is all about God's covenant with Abraham and God's   keeping that covenant.

When we come to the end of days we see here that the force and attributes of all these empires are collected into a vision of one beast, rather than four. Or, more accurately, the fourth beast in Daniel's vision has now taken on an appearance that shows it to be comprised of the first three beasts, now with an openly satanic authority and position upon the earth. What has changed? Why are we now being shown that all of these empires have all along actually been one empire and why are we now being shown that this world empire, now having become truly global, was and is actually the creation of Satan?
We are looking at a picture of human civilization in the world today as it is seen in the Book of the Revelation of Yehoshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). Before we can go on to understand this in a fully detailed way, we must go back and understand it in its historical and prophetic development. The story of Israel's present captivity among the nations is not a story that began with the destruction of the Second Temple and then the city of Jerusalem. The story of Israel's present captivity among the nations began with the destruction of the First Temple and Judah's exile into Babylon. Even before this, it began with the exile of the ten tribes by Assyria. We might say that when the ten tribes were taken captive the body of Israel was taken captive, but so long as Judah and Jerusalem was not taken captive the head of Israel remained in the Land. When Jerusalem and Judah, the head, was also taken captive to Babylon, then the captivity of all Israel among the nations began, the captivity which Israel will be fully redeemed out of in the end of days.
But did not Judah and Benjamin return to the Land after seventy years? Although this return represented a partial return, it did not represent a full redemption of Israel. Had it been a full redemption of Israel out of the control of the empires of the nations, all the tribes of Israel would have been redeemed together. For this reason Ezekiel received a vision of that redemption when all the tribes would fully possess their inheritance in the Land as being in a time yet far in the future. And for this reason also, the angel revealed to Daniel that the 70 years of Jerusalem's captivity, as foretold by Jeremiah, were prophetic weeks and were to be amplified into 70 weeks of years, again extending far into the future. These 70 weeks of years were a heavenly measure which could not be calculated or interpreted in any exact way in terms of earthly measures. That is to say, the end of this measure could not be precisely known on earth until it was occurring, but the beginning of this measure was given by Jeremiah, as was made clear to Daniel. Therefore, looking back through what is now being revealed through Yehoshua HaMashiach in this book, we understand that the beast that Yochanan sees arising out of the sea, at the time when the dragon is seeking to find and destroy the woman, had its beginning as the very Babylon that took Judah and Jerusalem captive in the time of the First Temple.
According to the Revelation, the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, in the end of days, have become the one global human civilization. And within that civilization Israel is not yet fully redeemed but is still being held captive. But there is a certain mystery here! For we see, or will see, from the Revelation that until the redemption of Jerusalem and Israel is fully accomplished and revealed Mashiach himself will not be fully revealed. It is the redemption of Israel from its long captivity that the revelation of Yehoshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) is all about! But if Israel is being held captive by this beast, why can Israel not simply be destroyed, as the dragon wishes? How is she to be understood as the glorious woman who is hidden from the dragon, having been concealed in her place in the wilderness?
Indeed did not the dragon not attempt to destroy her immediately in ancient Babylon by animating Haman to do this work? But he was thwarted through the faith of Mordecai and Esther. And has the dragon not ceaselessly tried to destroy Israel, especially through the Greeks and the later day Romans? But there was always something heavenly and divine about her protecting her, keeping the dragon from ever fully finding her and being able to entirely destroy her, even now in our age when we see the industrial attempt by the Germans, Arabs and others trying to annihilate the Jews and Israel, we see them failing to do so. 
The source of that which protected her was always the prayer that was prayed for her child, the Mashiach, whom she brought forth, who was caught up to the throne of heaven. Now we can understand that the prayer of the Lamb for Israel has always been not simply that through his sufferings Israel's sufferings would cease, but that through his sufferings for her, she might be justified and accounted as one who is righteous in overcoming the devil in her own sufferings. For this is the glory of her salvation.
This understanding is reflected and further clarified for us in how the vision of the Beast takes shape in the last days. According to the Revelation that the dragon's empire finally manifested as the Beast had its beginning in ancient Babylon, the question could be asked, when was the dragon cast down from heaven? In order to answer this, we must accept that the heavenly realm is not bound by the time that is spun by the spinning of the sun, moon and earth. Heaven has immediate access to all points in earth's history.
The dragon was defeated when Mashiach's soul was offered up as an atonement for Jerusalem's sin of refusing him, and when he was buried in the earth for three days, so as to be raised again as Israel's Mashiach in newness of life for her justification, being then caught up to the throne of God for a decisive battle in Israel's victory. But the dragon, while defeated at that time, was then cast down to the earth at a point at the beginning of earth's history. It is in coming in earth's time to the time and place of his defeat that the dragon knows that his time is short. While his defeat by the Child is, as it were, an ever reoccurring nightmare for him, he also goes forward in time toward his defeat by the Woman, the Child's Mother. After that defeat, we will see, he is imprisoned for a thousand years, then released again for a short time in order for the final evil inclination in humanity to be rooted out and subjected to the power of repentance. Then the dragon, together will all things that belong only to the present creation, will come to an end. All things will be made new in Mashiach and in the redemption of Israel.
We proceed forward in this Revelation from this point where Yochanan sees the vision of the global human civilization represented as a single beast rising up out of the sea [of humanity]. And together with Yochanan, we see this beast has the body of a leopard. Greece and the Hellenistic culture and spirit, through the military powers of Alexander the Great and angelic Prince of Greece have become the body of the Beast. But while its body is that of a leopard, its feet are those of a bear. It does not have the swift feet of Alexander but the slow feet of Persia. Still, while they are slow feet, they are among the most powerful feet, the trampling and destroying feet, the place of Haman. And while its body is that of a leopard, this final beast's roar is not the shrill cry of a leopard but the deep and fearsome roar of a lion. Babylon, the source of judgment upon Jerusalem is the voice that roars in service to the dragon, seeking to subject the whole world to the service of the dragon and forcing it to worship the dragon. And though this beast has the body of a leopard, being built from ancient Greece, it does not have a single head like a leopard, but has seven heads with ten horns. In this way, in the number of its heads and its horns, this Beast is revealed to have been in its fourth incarnation as Rome, and now in its final incarnation out of Rome in the last days, to be just what it is, an incarnation of the Dragon itself.
Because the Spirit of God manifested for Israel, to conceal Israel in the wilderness, in a sevenfold manifestation, the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, the Dragon also divided its own spirit among seven heads, six having one horn, one measure of power, and one having much greater power, being represented by four horns. Previously, the different empires that held Israel captive had various earthly kings, but each had one angelic prince appointed over them. Now, in the final manifestation of Satan's empire on the earth, Satan desires direct and open recognition himself. Any angelic princes which are subordinate to him must serve that purpose. Likewise, any human rulers of the nations or kingdoms within the human civilization which the Dragon rules over, in the end will be those only who acknowledge Satan as their god. We are told in other places in Holy Scripture of the anti-Mashiach (Antichrist). Accordingly, we will see that one of the seven heads, that one with four times the power of the others, will correspond to the dominate ruler of all the global human civilization of nations for the final short period of time of this vision.]
3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marvelled as they followed the beast.
[One of its heads..., that is, seen both in the aspect of king and kingdom. A kingdom that was dead is revived through this king. Therefore this king becomes the head of the heads of the Beast.
This is as in Revelation 17:8 >
The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”
At first the world shall wonder at the power of the beast which seems to be greater than death, but in the end the world shall wonder at how completely subject the beast was to death after it had boasted so often against death.
4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
[The truth that the civilization that the nations built, which Israel also entered into in the flesh, cannot be separated from sin and is in rebellion against G-d is finally, irrefutably demonstrated by its citizens as a whole choosing to worship the dragon and the beast. Only those who worship and follow the Lamb are preserved from the great deception that results in the whole earth worshiping the dragon. The meaning is that human civilization, from the time that Cain killed Abel has always moving toward this outcome.
However, the Torah and the Prophets and all the Scriptures of the word of G-d were given to save one from this outcome. So long as one remains in the power of the Holy Scriptures of Israel, whether Jew or Gentile, one will be led ultimately away from error and delusion to being preserved in the end by illumination in the revelation of the Mashiach of Israel. Apart from this, one will remain in the mind of the world and the world will progressively be overtaken by the logic of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, to where the goal of the whole of the human race and civilization is nothing else than to possess the complete knowledge of time and space, of good and evil, of what works and what does not work in the realm of energy and matter, life and death, and to be gods through this knowledge and intelligence.
But those who remain within the power of the Holy Writings of Israel will be drawn apart from the world and together into one flock, and will be saved from the artificial intelligence of the beast and from the deception and delusion of the dragon, and preserved in faith in the One G-d by the spirit of the Mashiach of Israel. In this way, Jerusalem (Rev. 12:13) and All Israel will be saved. (See verse 8 below)
The beast is the central instrument in the dragon's plan for deceiving the whole world. The world does not worship the dragon directly but through idolizing the beast, attributing to the beast a quality that belongs only to the true G-d, asking, "Who is like the beast?" in a religious way. For this question can in truth be asked with reverence and awe only of the One G-d. The world judges only in terms of what it can see in this life. Therefore the world judges Yehoshua to have been a failed Messiah, because in their eyes he could not fight against the power of Rome. Likewise, the world will regard the beast to have saved them from the plagues unleashed by the Two Witnesses, whereas Jerusalem will repent at that time, finally understanding that Yehoshua was and is her Mashiach, and not an idol of the Gentiles, after all.
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.
[The mouth of the beast is its rulers and finally its last prophet; it is the head of the first and the head of the second beast in this chapter; for they are one and the same head with one and the same mouth. There are many Christs/Messiahs which are false, who are not the one promised to David. All false Christs/Messiahs have one mouth of blasphemy. In the end it is one false prophet who speaks, one head of the beast, and all that he speaks he speaks in order to deify himself and blaspheme the true G-d of Israel. This anti-Mashiach mouth gloats in the fact that the members of the human race have come to openly worship the dragon and not the Creator who made them. Therefore in this gloating the anti-Mashiach mouth boasts of its apparent victory over G-d, blaspheming and mocking G-d, ruling even over the land of Israel and Jerusalem for 42 months.
This 42 months is the same 3 1/2 years as spoken of in the vision of the Woman, etc.  It is a more precise measure of this period of time because the beast will be out down with all certainty at the appointed time, as is given in Daniel 2 concerning the stone cut out without hands which will smash the image starting with the feet.
6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
[After that the dragon was not able to pursue the Woman's child into heaven, but was instead cast down by Michael and his angels through the testimony of the Two Witnesses and all of the martyrs of the Lamb...  All that the dragon does through the beast is in essence blasphemy of heaven.  For it is all done in an attempt to create a counterfeit of Mashiach and his kingdom.
7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
[The beast is able to conquer the saints only in this world. Here is the definition of the distinction... In this world the believer becomes a doer of G-d's commandments unto death and in so doing becomes immortal in the world Above, the world that is coming. The beast gains authority in this world but in so doing is judged in the world Above, the world that is coming...
8 and all a who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written in the book of life of the Lamb, who was slain before the foundation of the world.
[n the book of life of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the earth. This goes to the core, to the very heart of the God's war with the dragon.  The serpent in the garden said to the woman that God was not telling the truth, that she would not die, or bring death to all the world through dying, if she ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that God had prohibited. Instead, the serpent said, she would be like God.  The serpent was saying to her that she was already immortal, that she could not die so as to become the agent of death.  All she had to do to prove this to herself was to eat the fruit.  She would then realize that it was only an illusion that she was distinct from God. Eating the fruit would shatter the illusion. This was the argument of the serpent.  Either God was lying or the serpent was lying.
Ever since that conversation with the serpent in the garden human beings have had a God complex. Indeed it can seem that immortality is only a half a breath away... perhaps dying just means returning to your source, to the oneness of God from whence you came. This is the thought suggested by the serpent, and passes on from generation to generation. 
9 If anyone has an ear, let them hear:
[This statement is used here just as in the messages to the seven gatherings of Mashiach in chapters 2 and 3. This confirms that the messages to the assemblies recorded in those chapters and the full Revelation are one, and that all that is written in the full volume of this book is directed explicitly to those assemblies.  This raises the question of what assemblies throughout the generations are actually being addressed, as being represented by the seven assemblies in Asia Minor that are named.  With the help of God I will return to that question at the end of this series.
This statement, “If anyone has an ear, let them hear,” can be understood in two different ways.  It can be understood as a kind of rhetorical expression, saying, “Since everyone has an ear, let everyone hear”.  Or it can be understood to say that not everyone has an ear, understanding, that will enable them to hear what is being said here.  Those who do, let them hear it.  The meaning is that everyone should be prepared to hear and understand what is being revealed here, but only those who, in fact, are prepared will understand it.  This is very much like Yehoshua’s parable of the Ten Virgins and The Ten Lamps (Matthew 25: 1-13).
10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain.Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
[This follows the fact that some are written in the book of life and some are not. This is the way it looks from the side of the experience of these things, but the call for endurance and faith is the call to see that to be slain for the Lamb who was slain means to be made alive with the Lamb who was made the foundation of the eternal world and of eternal life.
This verse is a reference and interpretive elaboration upon this theme in Psalms 68 and Ephesians 4. It is the revelation of the final conclusion of this theme of captivity and redemption.  
David writes:
You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among humans, yes, among the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell there.
 And Paul writes:
When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto humans.
Here in this chapter of the Revelation of Yehoshua The Mashiach, at the time when the beast is allowed to make war upon the saints, we are told that everyone on earth is given over to the judgment of these times that is coming to them.  If captivity and exile is what is judged appropriate for them, captivity and exile is what will happen to them.  If death by war or execution is what is judged appropriate for them, then this is what will happen to them.  In order to understand what we are being told by this, we need to see this in light of Psalms 68 and Ephesians 4.
In Psalms 68 it is made clear for us that the history of peoples being taken captive creates the stage for the covenant message, the message of Israel being taken captive in Egypt and of Hashem’s taking the captivity of Israel captive and bringing her up unto His own Presence.
In David’s expression,  שָׁבִיתָ שֶּׁבִי, shavita shevi, it is literally captivity that is taken captive by Hashem. In the largest sense, He has conquered all conquering power.  In the most immediate sense, He has set the captives free. He has received back to Himself the Shechinah, His Divine Presence on earth, who was in captivity with Israel in Egypt and who has led Israel through the wilderness to bring them to Mt. Sinai to receive the gift of God’s Torah, and then ultimately to the fulfillment of His covenant in the Land which He promised to Avraham.
Paul emphasizes that when David says that, in receiving the Shechinah to Mount Sinai, Hashem received gifts among humans, he did so because He gave the Shechinah with her gifts to Israel.  This began to be accomplished fully on Shavuot after that Mashiach died and rose again in order to write the Torah in the heart of the children of Israel.  This is the Good News promised to Israel.
The Captivity Itself Is Finally Coming Under Judgement:  It Is Good News
What we are reading about now in this verse is the announcement of the fulfillment of that Good News. Those who are decreed for captivity, to captivity they now will go.  And those decreed for death in the final warfare, to death they will go.  That is, the captivity that has been taken captive will now be revealed, and those who are foreordained to be found therein will be revealed.  But those who were their captors shall by the same action be themselves captured.  And those who were foreordained to die in the final conflict, weather as true witnesses, martyrs of Hashem, or as false witnesses, those who seek to serve the dragon, the prosecutor of Israel, who seeks to devour her.  All destinies will be realized at this time at this crossroads. Even the enemy seeks to be in the place of G-d, (1 Thessalonians 2:4).  But Hashem will use for the purposes of good even the evil desire of the enemy to be like G-d, to be in the heart of G-d; He will use the desire of the beast against him in the revelation of His Anointed One of Israel.
How this is so we can see from the Book of Daniel, where we read about the abomination of desolation.  For the teaching of Yehoshua leads us to understand how that the prophecy of this abomination cycled through various fulfillments, beginning with Antiochus Epiphanes’ defilement of the Temple and continuing on through other fulfillments until it is finally fulfilled with the beast sitting in the Temple of G-d.  As Hashem turned the Greek and Roman abominations around to bring about the Good News of Yehoshua the Mashiach, so He will turn the abomination of the beast around to bring about the fulfillment of that Good News in the final and full redemption of Jerusalem and Israel from among all nations.
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.
[There has already been an allusion to this second beast in the reference to the mouth of the beast, the mouth of blasphemy… this mouth is the pseudo-Mashiach.  In order to understand why there is a first beast and a second beast portrayed in the Revelation we must begin by putting this symbol once more in the context from where it comes in Scripture, in the Book of Daniel.  In the Book of Daniel, even though the fourth and final beast is a single beast, it is pictured as having two manifestations.  The first manifestation is the image of the ten horned beast itself.  The second manifestation is that of the little horn that comes up out of the fist manifestation, ultimately exalting itself through a mouth of blasphemy above all that has come before it.
In the Book of Daniel the fourth beast and the little horn are not, in essence, two different beasts or empires, but one, having two different manifestations.  So here also, though two different pictures of the beast are revealed, they are two different manifestations of one beast.  The first beast is primarily a symbolic representation in the vision of the whole empire.  It cannot be said to have one emperor or king but many going back right to its origin after it replaced the kingdom of Greece as the kingdom and empire holding Israel in captivity.  Some commentators see the final king of this kingdom as being referred to when the first beast is described.  Others see the vision of the second beast to be a vision specifically of that final king of the fourth beast of Daniel's vision.
Judaism talks about one named Armilius as being the final ruler who opposes Mashiach.  This Armilius, Anti-Messiah, may be alluded to together with his global empire through the vision of the first beast, or he may be specifically referred to in the vision of the second beast.

This question is left open by the Revelation and is an aspect of concealment together with the concealment of what the seven thunders said, which Yochanan was instructed to not write down.  Indeed, what is revealed is that there is a multiplicity of false Messiahs, and many false Mashiachs have come into the world.  This was taught by Yehoshua himself, as we read in Matthew 24. Once we have this foundation of understanding learned in this lesson we are able to advance in discernment through the teaching of 1 Yochanan 4:1 and following.  In this way we learn that any significance in any difference in person between the first beast and the second beast disappears.  Tor they are simply one spirit.
In this way we will not be among those drawn by the example o reverence and respect of the second beast for the first beast, by the one who has the power to work miracles serving the empire, the first beast, which is to say, the people of the empire.  We will not be drawn into an idolatry of the image of the first beast nor into service of the beast in the pursuit of the woman and her offspring.  We will discern the spirit of the lie and recognize it in its manifestation in the first beast and in its manifestation in the second beast.  We begin this lesson in Matthew 24.
Matthew 24
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?

4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no one deceive you.

5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

15 When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoever reads, let them understand...

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the sake of the chosen those days shall be shortened

23 Then if any one shall say unto you, Look, here is Christ, or there; do not believe it

24 For there shall arise false Messiahs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they would deceive even the chosen.

25 Behold, I have told you before.
12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.
[The mortal wound has reference to the 4th beast of Daniel and how the little horn overthrows and replaces the power out of which it arises.  In chapter 17 the angel who speaks with Yochanan, in the same manner as the angel spoke with Daniel, about this beast makes it clear that it is because this beast "was and is not and is to come," when it rises again, "out of the bottomless pit", that the world marvels at it.  The reference is clearly to the first beast in its manifestation as an empire. The same characteristic of being healed from a mortal wound may apply to the final king of that empire.  That remains to be seen.  However, what becomes apparent is that it is in his efforts to bring the whole world to a place of worshiping and serving the first beast that the second beast seeks to finally incorporate the whole of Humanity in the historical empire of the beast, body and soul.  The final prize for the beast is the body and soul of Israel.  it is Jerusalem.  And we have already seen a vision of the outcome of this battle in chapter 11 in the vision of the Two Witnesses and the final repentance of Jerusalem from her temporarily having made alliance with the beast.]
13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people,**
[It is the manifestation of the beast as the false prophet, pseudo-Mashiach, who is the demonic miracle worker...  It is this Anti-Messiah himself who chooses to imitate Eliyahu/Elijah the Prophet.  It is clear, therefore that his aim is to seduce with his deception the Jewish people and all people throughout the world who are converts to the the Bible.
However, the miracles of Eliyahu and all the miracles of the Bible are not about a demonstration of power, as is the case with magic.  Eliyahu brought fire down out of heaven in the name of Hashem and through prayer to Hashem in accordance with the Torah in order to demonstrate the truth of the Torah and the truth of Hashem to those who knew the Torah in their hearts but who had been swayed through the cunning of the devil to doubt Hashem and His Torah.  The beast, however, will do nothing in the name of Hashem, for he does nothing except through the blasphemy of the name of Hashem.]
14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
[The creation of the image of the beast is one miracle among many, and it is the greatest of those miracles. Its form as an image is made to represent the aspect of the beast as something, on the level of its being a kingdom or system, and someone, on the level of its being the head or king, that has been resurrected from the dead.
"Presence of the beast" means presence of the Technique System which the global human civilization has become, which is represented by the unnaturalness of the fourth beast of Daniel's vision. In other words, the miracle worker must be working within the Technique System in order to work his miracles.
"Wounded by the sword" means, in the first place, wounded by war, an empire extinguished which has risen again, as it were. Mussolini desired to build an empire that would be seen as the revived Roman Empire. It is this kind of thing that the Revelation tells us we can expect to see. However, whenever the beast is spoken of or described, what first applies to the kingdom ultimately applies to the king or head of the kingdom, the false Mashiach himself. He becomes the figurehead of the Technique System that is loved and worshiped by the human race. It would appear, therefore, that like the Cesar in his myth before him, the world believes that the false Messiah is the second coming of the true Mashiach, appearing himself to have been killed and raised again to life.]
15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
[That an idol should speak and act would be nothing but the greatest magic in generations past. Only in our own generation is it something that could be literally imagined, and without magic. But in our day we would not think of an artificially intelligent robot as being an idol. That is unless there were to appear world leaders and authorities who declared such a robot to be the masterwork of aliens or gods.
Not that many years ago wise people dismissed such incredible interpretations of The Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ as being mere "science fiction". But today's technological realities are not only able to supply a complete and coherent realistic interpretation of this chapter of the Revelation, such a modern interpretation, when rightly understood, is the only fully consistent and credible interpretation that has ever been available throughout history. This fact raises the questions behind the dispute over views, the amillennialist, versus postmillennialist, versus premillennialist.
These different views of eschatology do not have to be understood as either/or options. Just as all Biblical prophecies had both immediate and later forms of fulfillment, so do the prophetic visions of the Revelation of Yehoshua, Israel's Mashiach. Each of the three views has a virtue and something of importance to bring out. The amillennialist view that the reign of Christ/Mashiach is now, the present rule of Mashiach from heaven, is correct, as this is indeed true, but must be understood in the right way, through understanding the importance of concealment within revelation, as discussed in the notes on previous chapters. Otherwise, the view ends up having to be forced to try to make it fit at all with the teaching of the second coming of Mashiach.
The postmillennialist view is also correct, as it is true that the world cannot know Christ/Mashiach as who he truly is until it is entirely converted and regenerated and transformed into his likeness, which cannot and will not occur until the nature of this creation is itself changed into that which is eternal. However, this truth also must be understood in the right way if it is not to be falsified through an overly narrow perspective.
As our perspective widens with time and we see more of the history of redemption, we see that there is more to salvation than what we experience as individuals and understand through self-evidence. Salvation is not just, or even first, individual, or a matter of the collection of believing individuals. Salvation is first corporate, and out of corporate salvation comes individual and collective salvation. What I am saying here will not be easily understood by someone who has only been taught about salvation in terms of the individual. However, the eschatology of the Revelation cannot be clearly understood without an expanded understanding of salvation.
Salvation is first corporately of Israel, and through the corporate salvation of Israel, by way of judgment, comes the corporate salvation of Adam, of Humanity. As Adam was a complete entity only once Adam was a corporate entity, and then through and from the corporate nature the individual nature was made complete, so also it is with redemption and salvation. The individual soul born out of Adam is saved only through the salvation of the corporate entity of Adam, which G-d has done by saving Israel corporately, for in order to be saved the corporate entity required a new head, that is, Mashiach. To understand this is to understand the role of the Torah in the salvation of Israel. This is also the secret to why the dragon cannot find the Woman hidden in her place in the wilderness. I will return to this specifically at a later time, G-d willing.
The premillennialist view also has something of value to contribute to the understanding of the Revelation, but the populist premillennialism taught today falls short of making this contribution with complete success, since it does not understand that the purpose of the millennial reign of Mashiach is to instruct the nations in the Torah, in order to prepare the world for the final confrontation with the dragon, before the transformation of all things into eternal conformity with his resurrection. Even though the whole world will be ruled from without, as it must be, by the Torah of Mashiach, the majority of the members of the human family will still be ruled from within by the evil inclination, which will not yet be fully brought into subjection to the word of G-d. We will come to this in the later chapters of the Revelation. But here we must look at this in terms of how the dragon will set up his own rule over the whole world through the system of the beast.
You were born dying. You were born ruled by death. The governments that govern people with lives-born-dying are themselves governments that rule under the rule of death. Only the One who rules over death and who makes it, in the end, to serve eternal life can liberate human government from ruling in accordance with the rule of death. That all the governments of the nations are ruled under the rule of death and not the rule of life is demonstrated and proven in the end by the fact that all come in the end to submit to the system of the beast. All these things must be revealed in the process of the revelation of the Mashiach of Israel.
The One who sits upon the throne over all the heavens will show the children of Adam, who walk upon the earth like grasshoppers, what the angels see at the end of the stars. All will be revealed in judgment, for the sake of salvation.
G-d will let them dream until in their dreams they can imagine nothing more at all, until their dreams become empty. How long until they understand that they cannot hold onto their lives through dreams, lust and anger? How long until they understand that they have been allowed a taste of life only so that they understand the error of their ways, the error that is resulting in all their children being born dying?
“Of all of the trees of the garden you may freely eat…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. For in the day you eat of it you will bring death and dying!” Your children will be born as slaves of sin, under the rule of death, and will come in the end to worship the dragon and worship the image of the beast. But they did not fear Hashem their God. Therefore...
"...then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie...," (2 Thess. 2:8-11). For, "The LORD will make a short work upon the earth," (Isaiah 10:23 > Rom. 9:28).]
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
[Before looking at the number of the beast one must look at and understand the mark of the beast. The mark is said in the next verse to be the name of the beast. Only then is it said that the number is the number of the name.
So the number is the number of the mark. Any attempt to understand the number must start here with this fact and with the revelation that is given, that the purpose of the mark is not to reveal something to the saints but to control the world in the service of the beast and of the dragon.
Yes, once this is understood, Yochanan, being again the narrator of the Revelation at this point, uses this as a way of giving an advance warning to the saints. But this important advance warning is not the primary purpose of the Revelation here. The primary purpose of the Revelation is to show the nature of the captivity of Israel that is taking place through this 4th beast, which is the culmination of all the empires that have held Israel captive since Babylon. This will be brought out more clearly in verse 17.
Only when this is fully understood will it be possible to understand the distinction between the beast and Mystery Babylon and why the beast comes to hate Mystery Babylon and destroy it. Only through understanding this critical conflict between the beast and Mystery Babylon is the path of victory for the saints revealed to them through this book.
How do we put the idea of the mark of the beast into perspective? We begin by asking what the first people who heard or read the book understood when they read about this. There is the suggestion of some possible evidence that the Romans used tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business.*1 Taking this suggestion at face value, we can agree that what may have been a less than completely literal case of the using of a government mark for authorization for buying and selling in first century Rome could also have been a foreshadowing of a more completely literal use of such a mark by a global governing body 20 centuries later.
We only need to take note that the same circling olive branches that held the Roman Eagle in its two arms in the emblem of Roman power now hold the whole globe in their arms in the emblem of the aspirations of the United Nations. But we cannot say this kind of thing in our day and age without making sure that we distance ourselves from any form of cultic Christian "fundamentalism." We are not interpreting the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Yehoshua HaMashiach) in a manner that reveals that there are good and godly people on the one hand and evil, satanic people on the other hand. Just the opposite. We are interpreting this book in a manner to show that it proves that the whole Bible reveals a G-d who is merciful, loving and kind to all.
In the end, the difference between those who listen to the Bible as the word of G-d and those who see doing this as being an anti-rational act comes down to the question of what we should do about people who become sociopaths, or people who have no reliable conscience at all, especially when such people, like Adolf Hitler, become rulers of nations and deceivers of whole populations. But even being more or less leaderless, people have been known to turn at times into murderous mobs, sometimes even thinking that they do G-d a service.
For all its self-confidence in its mounting campaign against the Bible, the secular world today does not have any real answer to controlling human manifestations of evil, other than the same age old answers of using greater force "for good" that have always been offered and used. The Bible does offer a truly different answer than force, as we will see in the continued study of the chapters of this book, G-d willing.
Let us only begin by saying here that today it is undisputed that the systems of technology coming constantly online have the potential to completely control who might be allowed to work, to buy or to sell, (see following verse), should any power take control of these systems and determine to use them for that purpose. There is no need to argue for an end time interpretation of this book. If the words written in it were written in the mid 20th century, like the book 1984, they could unarguably simply be taken as an equally, if not greater warning of the potential of the developing technological society. However, these words were written about 2,000 years earlier. Whatever their application in centuries past, these words now challenge us, more succinctly than virtually any other words we can think of, to ask the question, in a cashless society, who would have any way or ability to resist the power of dictators?]
17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
[Even though the world worships the dragon, that is to say, the devil, it does not do so in a condition of entire freedom of choice. It does so under a certain measure of distress. In this narrative, the alternative is to be made unemployed, utterly homeless and to starve to death, etc. So it is that Israel's relationship to the evil inclination, the world and the devil has been coerced in captivity to the empires from the beginning, even as it was in Egypt. But this is the true nature of chastisement. As the reward of a mitzvot is a mitzvot, so the punishment of breaking a mitzvot is breaking a mitzvot. Now, when we come to it, we will be able to understand why there is a Mystery Babylon as well as a beast.
It is clear that force and coercion are indicated in relation to taking the mark of the beast on the hand or forehead. Although this is true, once it is realized that in all of this there is an attempt to imitate the ways of G-d, it can be seen that the intention is that those who take this mark should be sealed in heart and mind within the unity of the spirit of Lucifer. Thus the force and coercion is to be understood to have a form no more threatening than standard government action. And the acceptance of this action is to be understood as the freewill acceptance of citizens who willingly submit to their government's authority. But at the level of the ruler of this global government, the false Mashiach, all of this kingdom building through the image of the beast is in preparation for his standing in the Temple of G-d telling himself that he is God.
The falseness of the false Mashiach consists in all areas in some form of imitation of the true Mashiach. But the purpose of the kind of imitation that is used is not that of attempted perfect imitation. Rather, it is the kind of imitation meant to deceive, where there is the deliberate attempt to twist the truth. This began with the conversation of the serpent with the woman in the Garden of Eden. The argument of the lie with the truth which began there has never changed. In the whole of this world's history there has never been any other argument in heaven or on earth, even though its form has altered many times. In the end, the appearance of the false Mashiach is the dragon's greatest effort to make his lie when its argument with the truth. And though his effort has become very sophisticated and subtle, it has never changed in its basic method of attempting to start with an acknowledgment of the truth of what G-d has said but with a twisting of that truth at one and the same time.
At the time of the Roman Empire, Satan, the adversary of G-d's word, as the prosecutor of G-d's people in the heavenly court, had already gained much knowledge about the plan of redemption and how it was to unfold. Just as Israel was in the aspect of "the fullness of time", so the false kingdom, the Roman Empire, which had started with Egypt and Babylon, was at its high point.
It is no coincidence that the emblem of the Roman Empire is an eagle held between the arms of two olive branches, while, as the prophet Zechariah is shown, the true Lord of all the earth stands between two olive trees, which are His two witnesses. Nor is it by accident that the prosecutor who stands against Israel in the last days brings the two witnesses for the prosecution, one from the east and one from the west, to testify on behalf of the kingdoms of the north and the south against Israel. Nor is it by any accident that in the same emblem of two olive branches where the Roman Empire had its eagle the United Nations organization now has a map of the whole globe. This is the nature of the imitation of the truth that is used to falsify it.
Likewise, at the height of the historic false kingdom the worship of the Cesar was instituted, and the myth of the dying and resurrected god-man, which had been invented to imitate and twist the truth in Egypt and Babylon was applied to the worshiped Cesar. It is this that is the background for the final manifestation of the beast in the last days, when the whole world will worship the beast whose mortal wound in his head was healed, (see verses 3 and 14 above, as well as 17:8).
The mark taken in the forehead or upon the hand is, of course, first a false imitation of the tiffilin of the Torah. As such, it is then a counterfeit of the seal of G-d, which is the name of G-d, placed upon the forehead of the holy believers in G-d's redeemed nation and commonwealth of Israel. In respect to this and to how the mark of the beast comes from the image of the beast and carries some representation of the supposed death and resurrection of the beast, see John Gill's comments below on how the Protestants say some allusion to the papal use of the sign of the cross.]
18 This calls for [special] wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
[This calls for wisdom... Accordingly, in commenting on this verse, I have found the need to set out a special section, which I am calling Perspectives On Revelation 13:18.]



Matthew 24:15 "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads this, let them understand)...
[There is clearly nothing openly revealed in this verse of Revelation 13:18, not even the reason why it is given. But it would seem that its purpose is one with that of Matthew 24:15, that there should be those who read and understand and are able to teach Israel orally the knowledge sealed by Daniel concerning the abomination of desolation, that there should be those able to hear what the Seven Thunders said, which Yochanan was instructed not to write down.
The narrator, who seems again to be Yochanan himself in this verse, is the one who gives this information. Who are the ones with the special wisdom to understand what he is talking about and what the purpose is for which he is revealing this information? The clue to the hidden message here seems to be that either the number of Adam, or else the number of a certain man, or of his name, that is to say, the false Messiah, is 666. According to what school of wisdom is this numbering system to be understood?
Here again, in that we are not told what system of deciphering is referred to,  we have the fact revealed that there is something deeply concealed. What is openly revealed is that there is no point in anyone who does not already know that they are one of those being addressed as having the special wisdom required to even try to figure out what is being said, or why it is being said. All guesses are futile. This much is openly revealed.
Nevertheless, the number 666 has taken on a life of its own through the centuries in which it has been assumed to be the number of the beast. It is as if what was written in the Revelation was nothing but the following: 
"No one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the number of its name. The number of the beast is 666.  That is because the number of the name of the beast is 666."
Now, that  most emphatically is not what is written. Nor is it an accurate paraphrase of what is written. But it has become the case that in popular culture that nothing but this is thought to be written. If what were being said was that the gematria of the name of the false Messiah, according to some form of gematria, is 666 it would not make any sense for the number itself to serve as a mark for authorization for buying and selling. The popular mythology around this number is, therefore, very misleading.
For what purpose, then, is this verse stated? Can we ask? Not since the letters to the Seven Gatherings of Mashiach has the reader been addressed in the Revelation in this direct way. Why here is the reader addressed directly in this way? Why in this matter? What is the significance of this number and what hidden instruction is being given concerning it? In fact, what are we asking?  We are asking, what is the actual cipher here that needs to be deciphered? What number is actually under consideration? Is it the actual number, 666? Or is it another number for which this number is a code or a clue? And why is their a cipher here at all that needs to be deciphered?
Many people read the statement, "for it is the number of a man" to be saying simply that the beast is a man, the anti-Christ, anti-Messiah. At first that seems like a self-evident reading. However, this interpretation is not quite that easy to explain. There has always been a relationship between the king and kingdom in the symbolism of the beasts from the beginning, when Daniel first saw them.  This relationship has been brought out several times previously in these notes. Are we being told here, then, that the kingdom of the beast is named after a certain man, the king, that is to say, the little horn, the head of the beast? If so, are we being told that since the name of the beast is the name of its king, the number of the beast is the number of its king?  Such a reading would not be simple and self-evident.  It would be complex and mysterious.  But it has not even been established that there is some form of a gematria cypher system being used.
If we are being told that those who are wise should calculate the number of the name of this man and the number of this man is 666, what type of calculation are we, in fact, being told that the wise should make? Is it simply a matter of gematria? But, if so, what form of gematria? There are many. Or is some other form of calculation being indicated? And are the wise to be looking for the name of the king or the name of the kingdom? Or both? And, again, to what purpose should the wise be doing this?]
Speculation About The Number In The Past
Whatever else the significance of the number, it necessarily has to do with the fact that it is the number used by the second beast in relation to the image of the first beast, a number which the beast holds as being representative of its name in a manner that can be used by the citizens of the world to acknowledge their allegiance and ultimately, their identity with him.
For many centuries much of the speculation around this number interpreted it ultimately in terms of dates. This was especially so once the Protestants came to the conclusion that the reference was to do with the Roman Pontificate. However, since the basis for the number is its use by the beast as a false prophet in relation to the image of the beast, using the number as a symbolic mark that is equivalent to another symbol, a brand or mark, representing the beast, any idea of it having to do with dates would seem to be baseless, or very indirect at best.  I will bring one example, that of John Gill, the Calvinist Baptist.  Gill does not go into the working out of the number in terms of dates as some others do. Gill's is one of the most respectable historical readings of this verse, in my view.
John Gill, in 1746, said:
And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,.... Men of all ranks and degrees, states and conditions, within his jurisdiction; this refers to the beast, and not to the image:

to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; or "that they might give themselves marks", as the Complutensian edition reads; which is an allusion either to the custom among the Romans of imprinting marks upon their servants and soldiers, by which they might be known to whom they belonged; servants had them in their foreheads (i), and soldiers in their hands (k); or to the usages of the Jews in binding their phylacteries upon their arms and foreheads, to put them in mind of the law of God, and their obedience to it; or to the practices of the Heathens, in putting the mark of the god they worshiped upon their bodies; Maimonides (l) says, it was a custom with the Gentiles to mark themselves with their idols, showing that they were their bought servants, and were marked for their service: the sense is, that some received the mark in one place, and some in another: those who were obliged to receive the mark in the right hand seem to be the clergy, such who entered into holy orders; who lifted up their right hand, and swore and vowed allegiance to the pope, and testified they were ready to defend and support his religion and interest; and who in their ordination are said to have an indelible character impressed on them: and those who received the mark in their foreheads are the common people in general, who one and all have the same impress upon them; which may intend either the sign of the cross in baptism, or rather their open confession of the Popish religion, which they as publicly avow and declare as if it had been written on their foreheads.


Gill's footnotes: 
(i) Apulei Metamorph. l. 9. Ausonii Epigram. l. 15. Seneca de Ira, l. 3. c. 3. (k) Aetius apud Turnebi Advers. l. 23. c. 12. (l) Hilchot Obede Cochab. c. 12. sect. 11.

Why Does Yochanan Inform His Readers of This Number?
It would be a great mistake to get caught up in the mystery of this verse in the manner of solving a puzzle, as if it were a spiritual thing just to know the name of the anti-Christ/false-Mashiach, or the dates related to his coming, or even what nation or empire will end up taking power over all others. How would acquiring this kind of knowledge further the revelation of Yehoshua HaMashiach in the life of the one devoted to decoding this number?
The text states clearly what G-d wants to reveal here. It is the purpose of the beast to be worshiped and to ensure that anyone worshiping G-d instead is not able to survive, first economically, then to be executed. It is in this context that we need to think about why Yochanan would see fit to pass on the key to the mystery of the name, mark and number of the beast to subsequent believers.

Setting Out The Perspectives On Revelation 13:18

Having said these things by way of introduction to Revelation 13:18, I will now offer what I believe are helpful perspectives for understanding this verse.
I will offer several perspectives on the interpretation of Revelation 13:18.  I am offering more than one perspective in order to attempt to create some counter force to the momentum of the historical and popular notions associated with the number 666.  I also intend to make the study of this subject detailed enough here that an aspect of concealment will result and only the most committed readers will be able to remove the shell and find the kernel of shefa within.
Who Is The Audience?
The theory that 666 represents a code for the name of the Roman Cesar of Yochanan's day comes from a reading of the text that very likely does not see G-d as the author as much as it sees Yochanan as the author.  Isaiah, Jeremiah, or any of the Hebrew prophets can also be read in this way.  This approach is a slippery slope and very problematic. It becomes more profoundly problematic when one reads Moshe in this way. However, in order to ask the question how those that heard or read what the prophets wrote in the day and generation they wrote it, we do not need to diminish our understanding of G-d's authorship. We do not need to lessen our understanding of G-d's authorship by emphasizing the human author, the understanding of the immediate audience, etc. Nor, on the other hand, do we forget that "G-d's generation'" as the author of Scripture, is the last generation as much as the generation when the prophecy was first heard. So, let us now ask the question, what is the meaning of the eternal word of this prophecy for every generation and especially for our own generation?
Before we can do that we must decide what we believe this verse is actually saying. Our first question is this:  Is it saying that the number value of the letters, (lets agree they would be Hebrew letters), of the name of the beast is 666? It would seem to me that this idea should be quickly dismissed. Since this prophecy is taken from the Book of Daniel and from Daniel's visions and nothing was said to Daniel or by Daniel about gematria, we must ask why now, out of nowhere would the word of G-d ask for a knowledge of gematria? 
Rather, the nature of the wisdom here called for should be the nature of the wisdom granted to Daniel. Likewise, this is the nature of wisdom called for in Matthew 24:15. It might make sense, within the theory that John/Yochanan was writing in code about the Roman Cesar, to speculate that the code he was using was based on Jewish gematria. To those who are properly trained, who know how to use it correctly, the wisdom of Hebrew gematria can be helpful.  But it is not a wisdom revealed in Scripture.  Here let's compare the wisdom of Scripture to the wisdom of Scripture.
What Is The Number of Adam?
In the original text it is possible that where we read, "it is the number of a man," this could have read, "it is the number of an Adam".  The verse could then be read in this way:
 "...let the one who has understanding calculate (what) the number of the beast (is), for it is the number of an Adam, and his (Adam's) number is 666."
Is the verse implying that the number of the beast is a (certain) number of Adam, and that the clue to understanding this is that the Scriptural number of corporate Adam (Humanity) is 666? Could this be the correct reading?  We would have to ask:  Are there numbers in Scripture, in the Torah and the Prophets, that correspond to the individual Adam or to the Human Race, Adam corporately? If the prophets had such knowledge, are we to have this knowledge before we can understand the verse? Clearly, Adam was created on the 6th day and has the aspect of the number 6 in his/her/their identity in this Scriptural sense. Could this fact possibly have to do with what we are looking at here? Does the fact of Adam's being created on the 6th day and so in the beginning the number 6 being the number of Adam have anything to do with this number, 666? We don't yet know if we should be reading the verse as referring to the first Adam when it says, "it the number of a man".  So we have to ask another question. Should the verse be read in this way:
 "...let the one who has understanding calculate (the significance of) the number of the beast, for it is the number of an Adam, and his (the beast's) number is 666.
Is the verse saying that the number of the beast, (as given here), can reveal hidden knowledge about the beast? If so, is this knowledge about his name? And if so, is it knowledge that is sealed until the end of days?  Is it knowledge about the relationship of the beast to the abomination of desolation? It might be that these are the kind of things that the verse is saying, explaining that this knowledge can be learned from the number of the beast.  The verse might also be supplying the clue that this knowledge can be discovered with the help of the knowledge that the number is the number of the beast as a human being, not just an empire.  
Daniel saw the four beasts as representative of kingdoms more than as representative of kings. It may be that the verse is telling us that the beast can now be understood fully in the form of the king of that kingdom which was seen by Daniel, as represented by the fourth beast. The verse might be saying that hidden knowledge will be revealed to those who can prophetically expose the human being and not just the fourth kingdom.  Perhaps the verse is telling us, then, that the number of this king, who now incarnates in himself the whole historical beast, is 666, and that it is this number that needs to be deciphered above all.  Is this the case?
Or maybe it is both of these. Maybe, in what the verse is saying, both of these are in some way the same thing. Maybe in one way the number of Adam is 666 and the number of the final king of the forth kingdom that was seen by Daniel in his vision is also 666. Maybe this is where the verse means us to start. But is there any Scriptural basis for saying that there is anything to any of these possibilities?

The Key To Number Symbolism In This Book of Revelation
To begin with, we can ask the question as to whether there are numbers to be found in Scripture that correspond to people or families, etc. Immediately, we see in the Revelation itself that the number 144,000 has a special significance as being a number representing Israel in a heavenly state. And this, of course, refers us to the number 12 as also being representative of Israel in its corporate aspect. Such numbers are indeed numbers that have Scriptural, prophetic meaning and reveal the word of G-d. But is there a number of Adam, or of the "Adam of Sin," as Paul calls the final anti-Messiah, as opposed to the number or numbers that represent Israel?
Why is the number 12 the number that represents the corporate nature of Israel? One reason is that there are 12 different ways in which the letters of the name of the G-d of Israel can be combined. Since the letters of G-d's name each represent a certain attribute, each combination represents a certain quality. The fact that there are actually four letters in G-d's name, while two of them are the same actual letter, corresponds to the four sets that are formed through the relationship of the three distinct letters. Correlating the four letters of the name of G-d in accordance with their three possible relationships yields 12 arrangements.
Through the wisdom passed on to us from the apostles concerning these things we are able to conclude certain things. We know that the theology of the false Messiah who will rule the world civilization, the empire of the beast, is like the theology of the serpent, that of the devil tempting Mashiach in the wilderness. It is a form of pantheism, where he tries to achieve his aim by sitting in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. We can also see from the Tanach, (the Holy Scriptures used by Yehoshua and his apostles), that there is an affinity, to a certain degree, for the evil inclination in the form of this theology of the serpent to be found in the natural mind of the the nations.  But, it is not only to be found in the natural mind of the nations but also to be found within Israel.  We see this in that from early on there was a desire in Israel to be given a king who would be like the kings of the nations. Ultimately, the kings of the nations show themselves to have been dominated by the spirit of this final false Messiah, (even though not all of those kings were false Messiah's themselves.) 
Even though King Saul was not a false Messiah himself, he was made king through an act of G-d that was meant to mark an affinity in Israel, in the natural mind where it was found in Israel, for a king to be set up over the twelve tribes by other means and other purposes than G-d's means and purposes. This was a rejection of G-d being expressed in Israel like that of the sin of worshiping the golden calf and that of the ten spies who slandered the holy land of G-d. It was an expression of twisting the word of G-d, as the serpent had twisted the word of G-d in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, Saul was made king, anointed and kissed by Samuel, in order to save Israel by mitigating the consequences of this error in Israel. Nevertheless, it was an error that had to be corrected perfectly and entirely.

Yehoshua said in Yochanan 5:43:
"I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him."
We can see, then, that there is an affinity for a false kingship in the natural mind of Israel that must be corrected, there is an affinity for the false theology of that false king.  This must be corrected. And we see that the false theology of the beast is a certain conception of pantheism by which he attempts to flatter Israel and the nations and exalt himself to the highest pinnacle of equality with G-d.
It is clear also that the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel in searching out Jeremiah's prophecy of the seventy years of exile, whether in the aspect of the beast as empire or in the aspect of the beast as emperor, has to do with one who ought never come near to the Holy Place actually being in the Holy Place, thus defiling it. Therefore, we see Scriptural evidence here that the "Adam of Sin" and the Empire of Sin, and the number of the image of the beast, all have to do with the pantheistic theology of the false Messiah. And so this also has to do with the covenant of peace that the false Messiah will make with Israel for one (prophetic) week, (as we see in Daniel 9).  If Israel defined in relation to the Lamb who was slain for Israel is counted by a number based in the number of arrangements of the name of G-d, then Israel defined in connection with the nations and its temporary covenant with the beast, the final king of the nations, is counted by some other number.
We conclude, then, that it is along these lines of Scripturally revealed, and prophetically revealed, wisdom that the number of the beast is to be understood in the final generation of the prophecy.  It is not simply to be understood along the lines of gematria. Putting aside once and for all, then, the assumption that Yochanan is working with gematria, we are able to open up the question as to with what exact grammatical structure and meaning Revelation 13:18 was actually written.

Going Back To Chapter 7

In chapter seven we saw that we are dealing with Scriptural numbers in a kind of simple formula, 12 x 12 = 144 and 144 x 1,000 = 144,000. Behind this are many other possible calculations which can introduce us to the Biblical significance of the number 72 (72 + 72 = 144). We see that the number 72 is associated with the name of G-d.
And that there should be two sides to the numbering of the tribes of Israel is indicated in Deuteronomy 27, as was done by Joshua, (Josh. 8:30-31). 12 pillars for the 12 tribes were set up at Mount Sinai when Israel accepted the covenant made there by G-d with Israel. These 12 pillars would be represented by the two pillars upon Israel's entering the Land, one on Mount Ebal, one on Mount Gerizim, with the name of 6 tribes upon the one and the name of 6 tribes upon the other. In anticipation of this, Joshua also set up two pillars immediately upon crossing the Jordan, (Josh. 4), one pillar within the Jordan and one pillar at Gilgal, with the Torah inscribed upon it.
So then, we have Israel represented in the heavenly corporate perfection as 12 x 12 x 1000, which in a scale showing its relationship to the Name of G-d is 72 x 72. And in anticipation of this we have Israel represented corporately upon entering the Holy Land for the first time, after having been re-immersed unto the covenant of G-d in the Jordan, divided into two sets of tribes for a promise and warning of blessing and cursing, to be understood in relation to the Name of G-d. In other words, 36 and 36 = 72. Whereas, 6 x 6 = 36 and 36 + 36 = 72, {6 x 6} + {6 x 6} = 72. So we see that if an attempt on the part of the false Messiah to imitate and counterfeit, and thus claim, the Name of G-d were being referenced by this number, if it were simply that we were being told that the false Messiah would claim to be Hashem that the number might be written as 6666. But instead, the number that is written is 666.
Following in this line of thinking based on 12 x 12 x 1000 = 144,000, it could be possible to read 666 as a different, but related, simple formula. That is, {6 x 6} + 6. This equals 42, another number associated directly with the Name of G-d. However, if the Name of G-d is magnified in the way that 72 is magnified, by being doubled, (so that the blessings and curses of the Torah are made one in the perfected corporate Israel of 12 tribes), the outcome is not 12 x 12 = 144. The outcome is 84. If magnified by 1,000, 84,000 versus 144,000. In order to come to 84, the multiple in relation to the 12 tribes is 7. Instead of 12 x 12 = 144, it is 7 x 12 = 84.
Looking At Seven Instead of Six
It is evident that 7 is another number, besides 12, that is directly associated with Israel. When in the Torah covenant G-d gave the seventh day uniquely to Israel for a commandment of rest and the promise of ultimate redemption, the number 7 became, as it were, the special possession of Israel. As well, the number 7 is uniquely related to the number 12 and to the Name of G-d. For it is the 3 distinct letters of the Name of G-d in relation to their four combination groups, ( 3 x 4), that produce the twelve-fold array of the Name of G-d, which is reflected in the four camps of Israel in the wilderness and the 12 tribes of Israel.
In the Midrash Rabbah 23:2 we read:  
"R. Abin commented: He redeemed them by His name; for the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, consists of seventy-two letters. The Great Name of Creation has 42 letters and leans to the left, and is the source of creation. The Great Name of Redemption has 72 letters and leans to the right, and rescues us from oppression and returns us to God." 
It is possible to postulate in this way that 666 was written in our verse to be read as {6 x 6} + 6 and that the understanding is along the lines that the false Messiah will claim to be the creator, or the incarnation of the creator, and the true god of Israel, who does not need to be revealed on any other level for the condemnation of sin and redemption from sin. For sin by the false Messiah is something relative and guiltless and death is only an aspect of the evolution of life. The true witnesses of G-d would then be called forward to witness to the truth that the false Messiah is neither creator nor the god of Israel, and that the true Creator cannot and will not be made known in the world which has rebelled against him except as the Redeemer of Israel.  While the dragon acts as the prosecutor attempting to condemn Israel he does so only because he desires to act in the end as the defense lawyer in defense of sinful Adam, not only wanting to defend Adam but wanting to defend sin itself.
I am not bringing this suggestion here into these notes in order to assert a position that this is the right  or only interpretation of this verse. I am only doing so in order to show how an interpretation along very different lines from those which have been followed by commentators through the generations is possible, and to encourage the seeking of Scriptural wisdom in understanding what is being revealed here.
The Sabbath Versus "No Sabbath
In line with what has been said above, the number 666 can be understood in one way as representative of the iniquitous notion of "no Sabbath".  What does this mean?  As said before, insomuch as Adam was created on the sixth day, it can be said that the number of Adam is 6.  And insomuch that Adam can be understood as the final goal of the creation in six days, the number 6 can be understood as representative of the Creator's intended design of coherence in creation.  It was a design of coherence in creation in which coherence was not intended to be complete or come to eternal stability and rest in itself but to be complete, to rest, in and with the Creator on a seventh day.
On the first day coherence in creation was revealed as being incomplete.  There was, as stated in the Torah, at first a state of tohu and bohu, chaos and incoherence, resulting in darkness dominating creation. That design of creation which was to culminate with the Sabbath was a design that would begin with the Creator being at first alone responsible for bringing the coherence of light into the world and would culminate with Adam being the Creator's agent in bringing that coherence to all things in unison with the Creator, thereby resting with the Creator on the seventh day.
Ten is a number symbolically representative of the distinct attributes with which the Creator communicates with the creation.  This is reflected, for instance in the ten commandments.  The number 6 if amplified by the power of 10, being 60, still has the potential of resonance with the design of the Creator for the desired coherence in creation to be accomplished through the action of Adam in unison with the Creator's own action. Indeed, the number 60 could be said to represent Adam together with the work of Adam.  It is still the number of the sixth day, after which Adam would rest with the Creator.  In this way the design of coherence, while being completed in the action of Adam in creation, is handed by Adam into the Creator's hand and forever in eternity remains open in the Creator's hand, under the Creator's control.  
However, if the number 6 is amplified by 10 to the power of 10, that is by 100, being 600, the meaning symbolized is the concept of Adam and the work of Adam being comprehensive in itself, as a completed whole in itself.  Symbolically, it is as if we are trying to describe the potential of Adam's work to bring about coherence in creation and are saying, "If Adam and the work of Adam together are 60, then multiply this by 10 again in order to get a true sense of the potential of Adam alone, apart from the Creator."  But this is just it.  Adam was not designed to be alone or to work alone.  Adam was designed to be with their Creator and to work with their Creator and then to rest with their Creator on the seventh day.
So what happens if we speak about Adam represented by the number 6, together with the work of Adam, 60, together with the potential of Adam considered in isolation, choosing to see Adam acting alone, and represent this by the number 600?  Indeed, we could say that putting these numbers together in the symbolism we are recognizing them to have, as 666, we could be talking about Adam standing before the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and choosing to begin to act independently, not in unison with the Creator, and therefore to say no to resting with the Creator on the seventh day.  In summation, the number 666 becomes a way of portraying Adam choosing to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and to not enter into the rest of G-d together with G-d on the seventh day.
According to this interpretation what does this number suggest?  It suggests a Humankind, a global human civilization which chooses not to work in unison with G-d and which chooses not to rest on the seventh day at the invitation and command of G-d and which will never come to an eternal Sabbath of a perfectly balanced creation together with G-d.  It suggests a Humankind, a global human civilization which will work endlessly to perfect coherence in creation on its own, to harness chaos and incoherence and transform it into an infinite power source that it can use to fulfill its own dreams and exercise its own control over all creation.  It suggests a Humanity that chooses its own Technology, its own Technique System, instead of G-d.  This is a description of the empire that holds Israel in captivity and from which it will be redeemed through the revelation of the Mashiach of Israel.
In conclusion we come back to the theme of this Revelation which is based on the number 7 instead of the number 6.  The revelation of the true Mashiach of Israel is the revelation of the true Shabbat, the final Sabbath Rest with the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Giver of the Torah to Israel, the One who made the covenant of blessing with Avraham, and renewed it with Isaac and Yaakov.  As explained earlier, this chapter has always been not about the beast but about the oppression of the woman and her offspring by the beast which she endures and escapes from, as Israel endured and escaped from captivity in Egypt.  The number 666 is mentioned because of how it falls short, through infinite reduction, of the number 7.  And so we return to the number 7 and its representation of the letters of the Name of G-d in relation to the camps of Israel and to the formation in eternal life of the 12 tribes of Israel.  And this is the revelation which we will study in the next chapter, chapter 14.  There are words in the Tikkunei Zohar about those who are perfect in wisdom and understanding and knowledge which can be applied to those about whom we will read in chapter 14.  They are:

Children in whom there is no blemish' (Daniel 1:4) — neither in their prayers nor in their eternal souls.... 'But who are given grace in all their deeds...' 'These go up to the Palace of the King, for they are completely righteous.'
* Footnote 1 to Introduction to Perspectives On Revelation 13:18:
*Elaine Pagels, in CNN blog post.* Leading scholars, like Elaine Pagels, who do not profess to know G-d or to be led by His Spirit in understanding the Bible can, nevertheless, offer helpful historic research information that can be helpful to us.
"Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins."