This is a topic I once briefly suggested as a possibility in the general discussion forum last year at this link: http://www.gracecentered.com/christian_forums/general-discussion-forum/66-6-beast/
At that time, I thought it was an idea that showed real promise, but I didn't take time to give it serious study until recently, when a post by LaSpino3 triggered me to bring up the subject for some heavy examination. That post by LaSpino3 is at this link: http://www.gracecentered.com/christian-forums/end-times-forum/timeline-for-head-of-gold/
I am going to repeat much of my comment to LaSpino3 here, using a more obvious subject line, since there are other comments I've posted elsewhere on this forum where I incorrectly interpreted this 666 number by using the classical preterist technique called "gematria". This is a process where numerical values are assigned to letters of the alphabet. I would now like to go on record as dismissing that gematria method for interpreting the 666 number, since I no longer think that was scripture's intended means for explaining John's use of this 666 number. As time allows, I'll try to locate each comment I made in support of using "gematria" and do a retraction on this point where needed.
This number of 666 has morphed into such a notorious subject, that even those who know next to nothing of scripture are spooked by it, as if this number itself bore some kind of inherent power to inflict evil. My last visit to my local bank to make a deposit is one example. The transaction code on the bank receipt handed to me had the number 666 in it, for which the bank teller apologized profusely.
This kind of paranoia regarding the 666 number is a completely opposite reaction to the attitude John wanted his readers to have about this subject. Instead, he wanted those who read his letters to exercise a bit of "wisdom" and UNDERSTAND what the 666 number meant. It wasn't intended to be an esoteric puzzle with a near-impossible solution. The ordinary man on the street in John's days, using a moderate amount of concentration, could figure this out by "CALCULATING" the number of the Sea Beast. This WAS intended to be a simple kind of math problem, but it had absolutely nothing to do with "gematria".
This 666 number was to be used to count the NUMBER OF YEARS this Sea Beast had already existed in the world, up to the time John was writing Revelation. If we know when John was writing his apocalypse, (and I do), then we count backward 666 YEARS, and we arrive at the year the Rev. 13 Sea Beast first came into existence. I have gone to considerable lengths of studying Revelation's internal witness to determine just when it was written. (A link to just one of my comments on that subject of study is found at another of LaSpino3's posts at http://www.gracecentered.com/christian-forums/end-times-forum/when-was-revelation-written/
Simply put, we can narrow Revelation's date down by using two basic events: first of all, John was writing to his fellow-sufferers in the Asian churches who were then experiencing tribulation in Asia following the AD 57 Ephesian riot of the silversmiths in Acts 19. This persecution was rapidly joined by the Jews in all Asia that were hostile to the faith, and tribulation for Christians abounded - so much so, that Paul said he had "despaired even of life" because of that tribulation (II Cor. 1:8 - written around AD 57).
The anger of these Ephesian Jews of Asia against Paul’s teaching prompted their vicious attack on him in Jerusalem at the temple steps. This led to Paul’s AD 58 trial before Felix, and his 2-year imprisonment until AD 60. Their seething hatred for Paul did not fade during those years, because the Jews still desired for Felix to keep Paul bound, even after Felix’s term of office had expired in AD 60 (Acts 24:27).
This puts the first time bracket for Revelation at no earlier than this AD 57-60 tribulation period in Asia, which originated from Ephesus.
Second, we have John's letter to the Laodicean church, which of necessity HAD to be written prior to the AD 60 Laodicean earthquake, when God was "about to spue them out of his mouth" for their self-satisfied, rather cocky attitude. That gives us another time bracket for Revelation to be written no later than early AD 60.
Using these two time brackets, if Revelation was written sometime between late AD 57 - early AD 60, we count backward 666 years from that time to arrive at the Sea Beast's first year of existence around 607-606 BC. For any one of John's readers who was aware of the basic history of the Jews, once they had made this simple calculation, they would have immediately recognized the notorious 607 - 606 BC date as the first time that Nebuchadnezzar had come to Jerusalem to take "the good figs" captive and to deport these various members of the Jewish nobility to Babylon - including Daniel and his three young friends. What was even more important, this year of 607 BC was the first year that began the humiliating 70-year exile for the Jews, which figures largely in prophecy.
Nebuchadnezzar is described by Daniel's vision as being the first of 4 beasts - i.e., the lion. He was also called the "head of gold" on Daniel's statue of A MAN. This is important, because the 666 number of the Rev. 13 Sea Beast was called "the number of A MAN" (Rev. 13:18). It's not simply a single, individual human male intended by this description, but refers to Daniel's *STATUE* OF A MAN. In addition, the first lion beast (which represented Nebuchadnezzar) was made to "stand upon the feet AS A MAN", and "A MAN'S HEART" was given to it" (Daniel 7:4).
When we look at the Sea Beast in Rev. 13 that comes up out of the sea (just as all of Daniel 7's four individual beasts of lion, bear, leopard, and the "dreadful and terrible" 4th beast had all come up out of the "Great Sea" / the Mediterranean), this Sea Beast of Rev. 13 included features of the first three of Daniel's beasts; it was like a leopard, but with a bear's feet, and the mouth of a lion. That means this Sea Beast of Rev. 13 was portrayed as having all three of these kingdoms subsumed into the last, 4th beast. The Sea Beast was meant to include the historical record of Daniel's first 3 beast kingdoms, plus the current 4th kingdom of the Romans that was then in power under Nero in John's days. A composite figure.
This shows us that the Rev. 13 Sea Beast's career had lasted ever since Nebuchadnezzar first came against Jerusalem, on down through the Medes and Persians kingdom, then the Greek kingdom, and finally the Roman empire, as of the time when John was writing Revelation, which had to be around AD 59. All these kingdoms in one way or another had demanded or seduced homage from their subjects. We are all familiar with the story of the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to bow on pain of death to Nebuchadnezzar's golden image.
Likewise, we all know the familiar story of Daniel, who ignored the command to pray to no one for 30 days except to Darius from the Medes and Persians kingdom (aka the bear / aka the silver kingdom), and was thrown into the lion's den for his refusal. Mordecai was also another who refused to bow to Haman, the representative of this same kingdom.
As for the third Greek kingdom, (aka the leopard / aka the brass kingdom), the Maccabean era gave rise to some faithful ones who refused to obey Antiochus Epiphanes' orders to abandon their observance of Judaic law. The famous "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11 lists these faithful ones as having "trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment...", etc.
Finally, by the time Christ came on the scene during the Roman phase of this Sea Beast, (aka the 4th "dreadful and terrible" beast / aka the iron kingdom), there was even more emphasis on giving homage to the Sea Beast. This increased emphasis was due to the Judean Land Beast / the False Prophet who demanded of their fellow Israelites that they give homage to this Roman Sea Beast, and backed up their demands with threats of casting their opponents out of the synagogue if they did not comply. The dilemma of whether or not to pay taxes to this Roman Sea Beast was the tempting question thrown at our Savior, who gave the perfect response when holding up the coin with the image and superscription of Caesar on it: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's". Christ had no problem with submitting to the kingdom then in power by paying the taxes due, but the worship and loyalty of the heart was not to be handed over to this Roman version of the Sea Beast.
These examples above show us that the Rev. 13 Sea Beast (an amalgamation of all 4 beasts in Daniel 7) had been in existence LONG BEFORE the AD 70 era. It included the characteristics of A MAN'S FEET, and A MAN'S HEART (Daniel 7:4), the EYES OF A MAN (Daniel 7:8), and A MAN'S MOUTH, since it was given the ability to speak (Daniel 7:8 and Rev. 13:5). All these human-type characteristics explain why John said that the 666 number was "the number of A MAN".
When we understand that this Sea Beast existed ever since 607 BC in Nebuchadnezzar's time, it gives us a better understanding of Revelation 20's list of those who did not give homage to the Sea Beast, or to his image, or to his mark during the millennium (Rev. 20:4). This means that somehow the Revelation 20 millennium overlapped the lengthy career of the Sea Beast.
Here are a couple questions:
At just what part of history does the Rev. 20 millennium overlap the Sea Beast's career? And how much longer beyond those 666 YEARS did the Sea Beast continue to exist after AD 59? I wish I could put the answers to these questions in a really fabulous graphic demonstration that's easy to follow, but instead, you guys are going to have to settle for a plain, unadorned list that breaks down the events surrounding this 666-YEAR period of the Sea Beast's existence, showing how it interlocks with other specific prophetic events. The dates and events for many of these points I have discussed in various other places here on the forum, so I won't submit full proof of these assertions, unless specific challenges are made about any of them.
967 BC until AD 33 - the duration of the literal 1,000-year millennium of Rev. 20 with Satan's deception of the nations being limited by a "chain". This ended with the "First Resurrection" in AD 33 and Christ's ascension that day, when Satan was cast out of heaven to be loosed on earth. The millennium ended when Christ ascended, and the devil descended. Simple.
467 BC - when God "revived His work in the *MIDST* OF THE YEARS" (the very center of the 967 BC - AD 33 millennium). Ezra 9:9 provides this fulfillment year for the "revival" of the whole house of Israel, prophesied by Habakkuk 3:2, and the Ezekiel 37 prediction for the "dry bones" coming back to life in the post-exilic return.
607 BC until AD 59 - the age of the Sea Beast at the time John was writing Revelation (666 YEARS up to that year)
607 BC until AD 70 at the Pentecost-day resurrection at Christ's second coming - the total life-span of the Rev. 13 Sea Beast, with its leopard, bear, and lion components. The fallen divine council members behind the kingdoms of this Sea Beast were simultaneously destroyed on that day, and the divine council of the "Watchers" over the nations was disbanded from then on.
AD 33 until AD 66 - the "short time" and the "little season" Satan was loosed to deceive the nations again after he and his angels were cast out of heaven at Christ's resurrection-day ascension
May-Sept. AD 66 - the last 5 months of ferocious, ramped-up demonic "locust" oppression mentioned in Rev. 9:5, 10
Sept. AD 66 until AD 70 Pentecost day - Satan and the entire demonic realm imprisoned in Jerusalem (Rev. 18:2 cp. Isaiah 24:21-23) along with the living Scarlet Wilderness Beast of Rev. 17 and the False Prophet / Land Beast of Rev. 13
AD 70 Pentecost day - the 1,335th day of Daniel 12:11-13, when Satan and the demonic realm were destroyed, and the divine council was disbanded for all time, with those kingdoms of the world given to Christ to rule with an unbroken rod of iron, the I Thess. 4 "rapture" of only the bodily-resurrected saints, the establishment of the New Heavens and the New Earth with the New Jerusalem manifested, and the GWT judgment of the dead, with destruction of the wicked dead after judgment. No eternal torture chamber.
AD 70 Pentecost day until the close of the AD 70 siege - lots of "weeping and wailing" in Jerusalem's "Lake of Fire" as the city died for the second time after the Sea Beast under Nebuchadnezzar's leadership had killed it completely for the first time in 586 BC. This period was the judgment of the "quick" (the living, as in II Tim. 4:1), who had been giving homage to the Sea Beast and had its mark.
There are many who would find fault with these dates and descriptions above, but there is at least one charge that cannot be leveled against this list - there are NO internal contradictions in it. This is a seamless presentation, whether or not anyone can find agreement with it. The Rev. 13 Sea Beast's 666-YEAR CAREER as of AD 59 coincides perfectly with the entire tricky Revelation 20 chapter that is so hotly debated. In addition, it removes all the quibbling over the gematria process, and how to inject various names of individual men into the 666 number, (since it is Daniel's *STATUE* OF A MAN that it represents). Above all, it is a perfectly simple, internally-based solution for the dating of Revelation, once and for all.