Goodnews Christian Ministry
"Listen, a rumbling in the mountains like a great crowd. Listen! The din of kingdoms, of nations mustering. It is the Lord God Almighty marshalling the troops for battle. They come from the far horizons, God and the instruments of his fury to lay the whole earth waste." ---Isaiah 13:4-5
"Is this the man who made the earth tremble, and overthrew kingdoms,
who made the world a desert and levelled cities,
who never to his captives opened the prison gates?"
The most malicious and fearsome of all the Caesar's who rose up to occupy the Roman throne was a tyrant named Nero. He called himself a god and considered himself greater than all the gods.
His violent actions against Christians in Rome (whom he persecuted in great numbers) sent terror through their ranks. And owing to Nero's erratic and violent behavior, his own citizens were as frightened of him as were his enemies.
Most early Christians felt at the time that Nero was the personification of the great pagan Rebel that Isaiah and Paul had predicted -- the evil 'Daystar' of Isaiah 14, and the 'Lost One' of 2 Thes.2:3-4.
Many of Jesus' closest companions and Apostles apparently were felled by his hand.
Between 65 A.D. and 68 A.D. (when he died), he managed to decimate the ranks of the fledgling Roman Church.
A prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah (superimposed as most prophecies were in the Old Testament over another incident) indicates that not only Peter and Paul, but probably seven close personal friends of Jesus, up to one half of his twelve Apostles, and most of the early leaders of the Christian Church in Rome were put to death under Nero's orders:
"The commander of the guard took prisoner Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank, and the three guardians of the threshold. "
"In the city he took prisoner a eunuch who was in command of the fighting men, seven of the king's personal friends who were discovered in the city, the secretary of the army commander...and sixty men of distinction discovered in the city."
"Nebuzaradan, commander of the guard, took these men and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king of Babylon had them all put to death." (Jer.52:24-27).
We already know that Peter (the 'chief priest') was in Rome, as was Paul (the eunuch who headed Christ's army), and that both of them died during Nero's reign and under Nero's orders.
Jeremiah's prophecy indicates that Paul's personal secretary was also taken (Luke) as were seven of Jesus' personal friends. These could have included Mary Magdalene and some of the other women who had followed Jesus from Galilee.
Who the person 'next in line in the priesthood' below Peter was, or who the three 'guardian's of the threshold' were is unclear, but it seems likely that these four were Apostles.
The 'sixty men of distinction' must have included the most distinguished members of the young Roman church.
To have captured so many of the Church's key figures in one place at one time indicates that Nero took them unawares. This is supported by the Act's of the Apostles which ends on a hopeful vein, indicating that the Church had begun to relax somewhat from it's earlier persecutions as Nero was ascending the throne.
Paul had even been freed from his Roman jail and was preparing to go to Spain. It was in this atmosphere of relaxed reticence that Nero struck.
The prophecy is an indicaton of just how swift and catastrophic his persecution of the Christian Church was. And he treated his own people with a similar disdain.
The beast will mimic all this. He will come in the image of Nero, and he will attack the Christian Church in a brutal assault, torching every church in his vast empire.
Rising to power, the Rebel will enthrone himself in the main citadel of the Christian faith and proclaim from there to the world that he is God and that he should be worshipped as such. (2 Thes.2:4).
It is at this point that he will order every citizen in his empire to be branded on the forehead or right hand in an affirmation of his worship. This maneuver will be designed specifically to ferret out all who oppose him. The mark will distinguish Christians from non-christians.
According to Daniel, anyone without his mark will not be allowed even to purchase food in the marketplaces of the countries that lie under his jurisdiction.
As we have seen before, the mark of the beast is the reverse of Christian baptism. Just as Christians are branded with the mark of God so that they are passed over by the Avenging Angel (Ez.9), so the Beast will tattoo his own in reverse.
Since we are marked three times by God in baptism, once for each part of the Holy Trinity, it is likely that his polar opposite has three 'marks' as well. Two invisible, and one appearing at the end of times, quite visible.
As we noted in an earlier chapter, the Book of Revelation has shown us that Satan has mimicked God, producing a trilogy of beast, false prophet and dragon. Branding his claim on earth, the mark of the beast will apparently involve a mirror image of God's formula.
Based on the computation of the Trinity, the number for God is 3. This number specifies the Trinity which forms His Being. Bach, a devout Christian, used this number as the framework for all of his musical compositions.
Since they are a divine singularity, the number for Jesus is 3 and the Holy Spirit is 3 as well.
When the Beast appears he will claim to be the reincarnation of Caesar Nero. In Hebrew, where letters are used for numbers, the total value of the letters that form the title 'Caesar Nero' is 666.
By claiming this title -- 'Caesar Nero' -- the beast heralds the reincarnation of the sixth head of the beast, which he claims to be. Thus his number is 6 (i.e., the sixth head).
Note here that the Book of Revelation does not assign a number to the Rebel (Rev.13:1), only to his seven predecessors. i.e., there are only seven heads on the Dragon. Numerically, the number of the Beast should have been 8. He seems to appear as the eighth head. But he will forego that position when he claims to be head number six reincarnated.
That reincarnation proclaims the healing of the fatal wound, allowing the beast to mirror in evil the resurrection of the Messiah -- a fact he will promote as an integral part of his role in his impersonation of God.
His counterfeit messianic claim, then, will be a key to his name. The dragon, as the counterfeit double of God, doubles God's number, so is 6. Therefore it follows that the beast is 6 and the false prophet is 6.
This is how we come to a key meaning of the number 666. The sixth head of the beast is one with the dragon and the false prophet, and his return to Rome evily incarnates all three.
The number, then, stands for impersonation -- God's double. The Rebel's given name will not be known until he appears, but the meaning of his name can be determined now. So, too, can be his title, 'Caesar Nero', already known to have a numerical equivalent which is 666.
According to Jesus, after all is said and done every person on earth will be proved either a child of God or a child of Satan. When all earthly toil is over, everyone will wear either the number of God or the number of the beast on their soul -- the kind of lives we lived, proof of the number we wear.
The spiritual brand of Satan comes through our love of this world. This is why our churches implore us so insistently not to embrace its intoxicant and hypnotic allure. Ridiculed by those around us, this warning is not intended to tell us that dancing is evil or that we should avoid seeing beauty in the grandeur of Yosemite. It is a warning about a hypnotic veil that pervades all of Babylon -- a curtain designed to turn us away from the commandments of God.
A much clearer representation of the world and its way which God warned us to avoid can be seen in the voices of the popular media. By hammering out a constant and erosive propaganda which attacks and ridicules the rules and regulations of God, the aristocracy of Babylon is able to convince even committed Christians that those rules are flawed, despite the fact that the same media headlines the consequences of that erosion in bold print on the very same pages.
Rejecting God and His rules and instead, embracing Babylon and its counteroffer produces brands that scar our soul, and they are the exact opposite of God's spiritual marks.
The ridicule of Babylon and its press fuels the fire that we must walk through as we leave this world. Along with the imprint of the Holy Spirit it is one of the two spiritual marks that place us in the footsteps of Christ on our way to His new world.
Those are the spiritual marks of God. The physical mark of God is baptism. It came at the beginning of the harvest, as it does in our Christian journey, because it paves the way for us to follow Jesus.
The Beast's physical mark is just the opposite. It comes at the end, as an unmasking of the world's reality. It proves the existance of the spiritual marks of Satan that have been trying to derail us from our journey, and which have been mortally wounding the unwary for the last 2000 years.
Hiding in the shadows awaiting his moment to strike, the beast's physical mark cannot be made manifest until he is allowed to appear on earth at the end.
Christ has made Satan's secret marking known and has broadcast across the globe the fact of it. This subject has obsessed the literature and art of the Western World, but it has not converted everyone.
The physical mark of the Rebel will unmask Satan, and it will glorify the image of Nero and everything he stood for.
Nero was such a malignant man, and so hated and feared that when he suddenly died, most people in the Roman empire could not believe that he was really gone.
So a rumor caught on in the Roman capitol and quickly spread throughout the world that Nero was going to rise again in the east -- in Parthia -- where he would gather an immense eastern army and march against Rome and retake the throne of his former empire by force.
This rumor became so rooted in Roman and Christian folklore, that it has never died -- an indication that the Holy Spirit could well have been responsible for its development and propagation.
For this reason, it needs to be examined.
The Parthians were a nomadic people that migrated down from the northern grasslands of the Soviet Union to occupy the area currently called Iran. From there they expanded westward to the Euphrates, eventually occupying much of southern Iraq as well -- taking control of both Media and Persia.
Their conquest of Mesopotamia occurred at about the same time that the Romans were just coming to power. The Parthians were famous and most feared for their deadly use of archery -- a weapon they used with far greater perfection than any other nation in history.
There is a significant parallel here, of course, to the massive use of archery described so often in the prophetic descriptions of the the rise to power of the East in the warfare of the last days.
For instance, according to Ezekiel, at the time of the end, the Lord will say to Gog, "When you attack the mountains of Israel I will break the bow in your left hand and dash the arrows out of your right." (Ez.39:3).
The flight of thousands of arrows arching up through the air and falling down on their victims mimics the trajectory and flight of rocket warfare. The modern equivalent of bow and arrow, of course, is guided missles and their mechanical launchers.
The only difference between the two is the type of bow and the type of arrow -- and what lies at the tip, of course. Today, terrifying explosives and nuclear bombs have replaced the iron arrowheads used by the Parthians.
These prophecies imply that the armies of the East which are to arise out of Media and Persia in the last days will be experts in the use of rockets and missles.
The Parthians were fierce fighters who were such skilled archers that they were able to utterly wipe out the massive Roman army under Crassus at the Euphrates river.
If the location of this disaster sounds familiar, it should. This was the only defeat the great Roman army ever suffered, and it was catastrophic, coming at the same Euphrates river described in all the prophecies of the last days as the site where the East will commence its destruction of the West.
If we are to accept the ancient Roman and Christian prophecy regarding the resurrection of Nero in Parthia, the defeat of Crassus is a prophetic symbol for what still lies ahead.
It was, in fact, this defeat that gave gist to the Nero/Parthian rumor in the first place.
Crassus was the powerful Roman general who crushed the slave rebellion memorialized in the movie 'Spartacus'. He and his battalions appeared invincible.
Thus the rout of this army under a withering barrage of Parthian arrows explains why the Roman citizens had such a great fear of these eastern warriors: they were the only people on the planet able to soundly defeat the great Roman army at the height of its power.
The Roman fear of the Parthians engendered by this unexpected defeat illustrates why the rumor of Nero rising from the dead to lead a Persian army against Rome evoked such consternation among the people of Italy in the early days of the Church.
The implication being that the people of Italy would be powerless to stop the advance of this 'Parthian Nero' when he returned to reclaim his Roman throne.
"The beast you have seen, once was, now is not; he is yet to come up from the Abyss, but only to go to his destruction." (Rev.17:8).
John wrote these words about 20 years after Nero died; therefore, the rumor of the reincarnation of Nero and this prophecy in the Book of Revelation predicting his return, have ever since been related.
There is precedent in Christianity for this sort of reincarnation: The Jews expected Elijah the prophet to reappear in Israel and precede the Messiah, but when Jesus revealed that John the Baptist was in fact the Elijah of the prophecy, it confirmed that one person can prefigure another as far as God is concerned in Biblical prophecy.
Whether Elijah and John the Baptist were actually one and the same person we do not know, they probably were, but that does not matter because God considered them one and the same as far as the prophecy was concerned.
We must expect the reappearance of Nero -- as he forms into the beast of the end -- to evolve in a similar way.
Since the prophesies calling for a reign of terror at the end similar to that of Nero's fit so closely with him, and because he, too, will eventually retake control of Rome (Babylon), a great many Bible scholars see the Rebel of the future as a repeat of Nero.
His Parthian connection is also clear. The fact that the Rebel will appear at the head of an eastern army is well documented throughout the scriptures.
And everything that the beast will do in Rome seems a clear indication that he will lay claim to this early Roman prophecy and say that he is Nero reincarnated.
It is not necessary for him to do so, of course. The prophecy can be fulfilled either way. John the Baptist, for instance, never indicated that he was Elijah, (although God considered him to be) proving that such a self-proclamation is not necessary as far as the prophecies of God are concerned.
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