In order to explain my views of the “Lake of Fire” in the book of Revelation – the destination for everyone who is not a believer in Jesus – I have started to point out that much of the book is to be taken symbolically, not literally (as the author himself suggests). My eventual point is that the author is not giving a literal description of how most people who have ever lived will spend eternity swimming in a lake of fire.
In my last post I began my discussion of symbolism by focusing on the image of the “whore of Babylon” who sits on a horrible “beast” as described in chapter 17, The careful reader of Revelation will recognize that this beast in chapter 17 has already appeared in chapter 13. There we are told of a beast “rising out of the sea,” again with ten horns and seven heads. Moreover, “the whole earth followed the beast,” worshiping it. The beast in this earlier chapter is said to be haughty and blasphemous, and to have waged war on the saints (this is Rome, the embodiment of Satan, persecuting Christians). At the end of the chapter comes the most famous cryptic statement of the entire book, as the author reveals the identity of the beast: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six” (13:18).
It is interesting that in some manuscripts of Revelation we are told that the number of the beast is 616 rather than 666. How are we to explain all this?
Brilliant and profligate explanations have ….
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