Many people are superstitious about the number 666, which they take as a sign of the Antichrist. But this is not pertinent to our time.It was used as a secret code to denote the emperor Nero, since it was considered too risky to criticize him in open discourse. Since the bulk of Revelations was written in the time of the Emperor Domitian, who was just as odious as Nero was but saner, 666 may be evidence that some of Revelations dates back to the time of Nero's persecution, which is known as the great persecution. Domitian persecuted Christians like Nero did, and though the church saw him as an agent of Satan, he is now dead and gone . There are persecutions of Christians in our time, but there has never been a time when someone,somewhere is not persecuting Christians.
But what of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who bring travails to the Earth prior to the end? They are conquest or pestilence, war, famine and death. Are they not operating in our time? Well, death has operated in all times, so nothing can be inferred about the end from this. War also is endemic among humans. There has never been a time when someone was not warring against someone else. There, however does not seem very much war at the moment, mainly in Syria and Yemen. Not that we need have any naive allusions. At the moment no one can afford a war, especially with the cost of Corona virus. There are famine problems in the world, but there have been some horrific famines in the past. But there have never been times when someone,somewhere did not go hungry.
This leads us to pestilence. We are currently plagued with a new virus. But it is not the biggest killer that we have known, for the Black Death [Bubonic Plague] killed a third of Europe's population and came in waves over centuries. Cholera killed thousands until the nineteenth century and Smallpox was similarly menacing for a long time.When these plagues and others attacked society there were many people who took them as signs of the impending end of the world. But their predictions were false.
But the threats that we face are political, for unscrupulous leaders are already doing what dictators and tyrants always do, make states of emergency the excuse for strengthening their powers and victimising their opponents.Extremists may use the pandemic as an excuse to whip up mobs against minorities. Let us remember that most mediaeval anti-Jewish pogroms were initiated not by church or state but by mobs incited by rabble rousers. In our time the far right could use the virus to stir up anti-immigrant rhetoric. Already Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, noted for his anti-immigrant stance, has blamed the spread of the Corona virus in his country on foreigners and immigrants.
We do not need to fear the Great Beast of Revelations any more than we normally should do, for the powers of evil are ever working harm,but we need to be alert to the evil doers among us who see troubles in society as opportunities for personal gain.
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