Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
The Numbers in the Scriptures!(Do they Carry any Spiritual Significance?)
by Tony Warren
There are many Christians who think that when God put numbers in the Bible there was no spiritual significance to it, and neither should we apply any meaning to it other than the number itself. But even if we were to look at this issue superficially, we can readily see that there is some method and certain numerical symbology to the use of numbers in scripture. The consistency in their signification in certain situations testifies to this. There is most certainly a great Spiritual defining in the application of many of these numbers. We are often inclined to underestimate God and what He has planted within His Holy Word. There is far more in the scriptures than can be understood in one man's lifetime, and we can only glean the surface of this storehouse of information. For we see through a glass dimly and know only in part. In this brief study we will look at some of the numbers that carry spiritual or symbolical significance, and examine many of the passages where they are found. Our hope is that this study might help you discern some of the truths which God has ordained that these numbers should illustrate.
The Number 2
When we look through the scriptures we find that God often uses the number two as a signification for agreement, and by implication, truth. And because God has declared that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1st Timothy 3:15), this number is also often used in association with it. It's the numerical symbolism of a faithful (truthful) witness or testimony. i.e., one being in agreement or a "confirming" witness of another. For example, the two witnesses spoken about in the book of Revelation chapter eleven. They are the Lord's faithful witnesses who bear testimony to the truth! Therefore are they spoken of as "two" witnesses, signifying that they come with the truth. In fact, we can readily see that the designation of two witnesses has always been the guide post that God has used for "establishing agreement of truth." From scripture we see that from the very beginning God instituted this number as the guide post for truth.
- "Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die."
Here God is using the minimum number of "two" witnesses to Illustrate the corroboration of what is the truth (Deu. 17:6). One witness could not by God's law establish it as the truth. It took at least "two" witnesses to establish any accusation true, that a man could be put to death. This number two signified the agreement or corroboration that established truth. That is precisely why Revelation chapter eleven uses the phrase "two witnesses". It is to signify that these are the truthful or faithful witnesses of Christ who went forth declaring God's Word! The Lord does nothing by coincidence and that phrase establishes that their testimony is the true witness. Again, we can see this same principle illustrated when Jesus reiterates this law of God in Matthew.
- "But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."
A minimum of two witnesses would establish the truth. Note it says there "that every word may be established". In other words, a witness to verify the truth of what's been said. Two witnesses symbolize that what's being said is verified true by law. The concept that God ordained from the beginning.
- "It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.."
God's law prescribed that the Testimony of "two" men is a truthful testimony. That number two illustrates God is using the number as the establishment that what is said is the truth. Likewise, when Jesus Christ sent the Seventy out to witness or testify to the truth, not coincidentally, he sent them out by two.
- "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them Two and Two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come."
He sent them out by two and two (two witnesses) and told them that he who hears you, hears Me! In Other words, they went with the unadulterated truth which was God's Word! Indeed, they were the truthful witnesses to it! And he who heard them, heard God's Word of truth, at their mouth! This is the Church sent out "the Two Witnesses." Jesus sending them out by two established in scripture the numerical symbology that they went with the power of the truth of God's Word. Likewise, Jesus did the exact same thing with the twelve disciples because God wants us to know assuredly that His Church declares His word in truth. Indeed, it is the pillar and ground of it! That is what is illustrated by this number two.
- "And He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits."
The truth of these things becomes self evident when we compare scripture with scripture. The testimony of the Old Testament is that God would often send two angels or messengers to His prophets in order to reveal some truth of His Word to them. Even as Jesus ascended to heaven there were two Messengers there to signify of a truth He would return in like manner. We read,
- "And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel:
Or again, God illustrates truth with this number in Hebrews six.
- "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, Confirmed it by an oath:
- That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to LIE, we might have a strong consolation..."
He confirmed it with an oath that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible to lie. That means the absolute truth! All through scripture we see the number two used to illustrate truthfulness or faithfulness. Whether it's the Spiritual signification of the two candlesticks, or the two fishes that feed thousands, or the two brothers (The sons of Thunder), or when the Disciples said, "Lord, Here are two swords" (Luke 22:38) and Jesus said, it is enough, etc., etc. The symbolism of the number two in scripture for the truth or the faithful witness is clear.
This being so, it's no wonder we see this number used many times in relationship to the body of believers, which is God's true church, and the Word of God which is the truth of scripture! Truth and God's church go hand in hand as they are the witnesses of it.
1st Timothy 3:15
- "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth".
The Church is identified with the number two because it is the Pillar and ground of the truth. The faithful servant and witness of God.
The Number 3
Another of the numbers where we can readily see God use it in a spiritual sense to signify something, is the number three. It is found over 466 times in the Bible. It is used of God to signify His Purpose or His Will! For example, when God sent the three messengers to Abraham to tell him that Sarah would conceive in her old age (Genesis 18), by the use of the number three we see in this an illustration that they came with God's "purpose and will" to Abraham. i.e., it was by the will of God and for His own purposes that Sarah should conceive so that God would make a great nation of Abraham through it.
The same illustration is seen as God brought a thick darkness upon the land of Egypt (exodus 10:22-23) for three days. In this, God's purpose and sovereign will of judgment was worked out. The number three illustrated that it was for God's purposes that they were in darkness, while all the Children of Israel received light in their dwellings. This prefiguring the darkness of three hours during Christ's judgment on our behalf (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33), that Spiritual Israel might receive light.
From the sixth hour to the ninth (3 hours) the darkness was a sign of the will and purpose of God in the judgment of Christ on our behalf, in the deliverance of spiritual Israel from bondage. The purpose of God seen in the fulfillment of the type, wherein Israel was set free from Egypt.
- "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
- And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
- And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
We can see this in the three times in a year God commanded that the men of Israel were to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem (Ex. 23:14,17 Deu. 16:16). This illustrated the will and purpose of God in the feasts Laws, which all pointed to Christ!
In 2nd Samuel 21:1 the Lord sends famine in the land for three years, and says it was because of Saul and his bloody house. In other words, it was God's will that this happen, and the purpose of God in doing this was to bring judgment because of Saul's bloody House.
Another example is in 1st kings 17:21 as Elijah stretches forth his body over a dead child three times, and the child lives again. This signified that it was God's will and for His own purpose that the child should yet live again, a type or spiritual "shadow" of things to come.
Again, as the Lord said His servant Isaiah walked naked and barefoot three years as a Sign (signification) and a wonder upon Egypt (Isaiah 20:3), once more indicating God's will and purpose for Egypt.
Even when we look at the three men who were cast into the furnace of fire, and a fourth who was there like the Son of God (Daniel 3:24-25), we see that it was God's will and purpose that these three men would not be harmed by the fire because of the presence of the Son of God. This was demonstrating that by the presence of Christ, the will and purpose of God that His people not be harmed in the fire, will be accomplished.
These are just a few of the examples, and we could go on and on about this. These places where the number three is found is numerical symbology which is putting forth spiritual truths, that we can learn from as we consider them. For in three, God works out His purpose and His will. As Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so it indicated it was for God's purpose, and that His will would be worked out in this (Again, a type of Christ).
If I could use an earthly analogy of a Biblical principle, It's somewhat like asking someone three times whether they really want to sell their house for a certain fee. After they say yes the third time, it's established that this is their will and purpose or intention. That, of course, is a bad analogy, but one which makes the point. That is the way the number three is often used in scripture. It signifies the establishment of God's will and His purpose. The three days and three nights Jonah spent in the fish established that God's purpose and will would be worked out in that. In Acts, the Lord smote the Apostle Paul with blindness for three days:
- "And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink."
Was the fact that he was blind "three" days just a number picked out of a hat, as if any number would do? No, the number was God breathed. He was Blinded three days not by coincidence, but "by divine fiat or decree". It was God's purpose for him to be blind and to neither eat nor drink for those "three" days because He was bringing Paul to the light! Why not four days? Why not two days? Because those are numbers God uses to signify other things, and He wanted to indicate by the number "three" that it was for His own good purpose and by His sovereign Will that Paul be blind. And that is what the number three signifies.
The exact same principle in Acts Chapter 10, when a voice from heaven told Peter to rise kill and eat the beasts of the earth that were on a sheet descending from heaven. And Peter says No, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. Then the voice says, "what God has cleansed, don't call it common". And we read,
- "This was done thrice (3 times): and the vessel was received up again into heaven."
Why was this done "three" times, and then the sheet received up again into heaven? When we study scripture in context, we find that these passages were to indicate that the gospel was going out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. And that is why it is meticulously pointed out by God that this was done three times and "then" received up again unto heaven. It is to signify this is the purpose and will of God that Salvation go to all the world. It's not just any number, it's the number that signifies God's purpose and will that Salvation go to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The "three" times it's done, gives us this spiritual signification that it is established by God for His purpose.
Christ spoke a parable which was about a fig tree in a vineyard in Luke 13:6 (Symbolizing Israel) and the man of the vineyard came "three" years seeking fruit and found none, and so said cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground. Why didn't God in this parable say cut it down after one year, or after two years? It was because the "three" years he came seeking fruit is symbolizing the purpose of God. He gave it "three" chances before he said cut it down. (Remember the analogy I made of three times asked makes it established?) The establishment of God's purpose and will is seen in this number three.
One of the greatest places to see this numerical symbology is in that there is only one God, and yet there are three in the Godhead. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
1st John 5:7
- "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one".
The purpose or will of God the one God, is worked out in these three. Read the Bible with wisdom and understanding. Because these things were put there for just that purpose. The purpose and will of God is worked out in the three of the Godhead.
When Paul sought God to remove the thorn in the flesh, but it was for God's own purpose that Paul retain this thorn (it wasn't God's will to remove it) He illustrates this by the number three. Consider what we read in,
2nd Corinthians 12:8:
- "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice (three times) that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My Grace is sufficient for thee.."
Here we see it again "three" times Paul besought the Lord! Why not once, or twice? Why didn't God tell him after the first time or the second? Why did God wait for the third time? It's because God deliberately wants to indicate in scripture by this number 3, that it is not His purpose, or His Will that this thorn be removed. He says to Paul after being asked the third time, "My Grace is sufficient for you." In other words, My Grace is enough for you. i.e., After the third time asking, it was established as God's will that this was not to be removed. Grace was enough for Paul. So again we see clearly that the number three here was an indication to us that it was not God's will that this be removed.
There are just so many indications of the number three being used to symbolize the will and Purpose of God. None more "God Glorifying" than the atonement that the Lord made at the cross. The Atonement has the number "three" all around it and we can readily understand why. That's because though Christ was Crucified, it was God's will and for His purpose that Christ went to the Cross. For example, Jesus sat with the elders in the Temple three days being about His father's work, there were three Crosses, there were three men crucified, there was writing in three different languages on the cross, Jesus prayed three times that if it was possible could this cup pass from me, three Apostles went into the garden to pray with Him, Peter denied Our lord three times, Pilate sought three times to let Jesus go, it was the "third" hour when they crucified Him, Jesus was in the heart of the earth "three" days and "three" nights, When Jesus was risen He asked Simon three times loveth thou Me, and on, and on. The number three is everywhere indicated in the atonement that Christ made for us because it was God's will and purpose. Are these all just coincidental references? The scoffers will tell you that, but the Spirit tells another story. Christ had to go to the cross in order for us to be Saved. It is a Gift of God. It was His will. The number three being used this way is a coincidence like the sheep being used as an indication of a believer is a coincidence. No Possible Way! They were both put there by God to give us a great Spiritual, or symbolical picture that we can learn from. Unfortunately, there are many in our day who choose to remain spiritually ignorant in these things.
It's not curious then that the number three is sometimes used in conjunction with the number two (which signifies the agreement of truth) when making statements about God's purpose. Because His will and purpose go hand in hand with the truth. For example, in relationship to the Church. For the Church is the pillar of truth, and it is also doing God's Will, and working to accomplish His purposes. Jesus says in:
- "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.
- For where two or three are gathered in My name, there Am I in the midst of them."
There we have the establishment of the truth (2), and the Purpose of God (3) in the definition of the Church. Where two or three are gathered in Christ's name, there is the truth and the will of God being done, and Christ in their midst. That's the two or three witnesses of God. That's the Church with Christ in the midst (remember the two witnesses of revelation chapter 11?) There is the "definition" of the Church! Two or three witnesses gathered together in the name of Christ! The two is illustrating established truth, and the three illustrating the purpose and will of God.
The Number 4
There are many other numbers which carry great spiritual significance, just as the numbers two and three does. The number four for example illustrates the universality of something. Derived from the four compass directions being all points, all directions, or everywhere.
- "Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel; an end, the end is come upon the four corners of the earth."
The earth of course doesn't have four corners, but God uses this language to show that the end is come universally upon the all the land. On every compass direction, on every part. The number four illustrates this universality.
Acts 10:11, 11:5
- "And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth."
And of course, with further study we come to understand that this was to show us that Salvation was going to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. I.e., there would be universal Salvation! Salvation to all parts of the earth, to every nation and kindred and land. Again,
- "And after these things I saw four Angels standing on the FOUR corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree."
Again, four angels, four corners of the earth, four winds of the earth. Universal judgment over the earth everywhere, being held back by the angels of God. The Earth, universally is kept from this "until" God seals His servants in their foreheads. Then and only then will this universal judgment occur. The number four (Winds, Angels, Corners of the earth) signify this is a worldwide judgment. It is everywhere present.
- "And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, God and magog, to gather them together to battle..."
The nations from the four quarters of the earth is again a picture illustrating universality. I.e., all the nations of all parts of the world. Jesus uses the same type language as he speaks of his return, declaring,
- "And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a Trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another."
In other words, all the Elect (chosen) universally will be gathered together from all parts. This symbolism is seen consistently in scripture. We see the same principle demonstrated in scriptures about the four carpenters, the the four horns of the Altar, the four Spirits of Heaven, the four beasts, etc., etc. They are all illustrative of the universality of whatever is in view.
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it was giving us a picture of the resurrection wherein we all (believers) would be made alive.
- "Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already".
Lazarus here was representing the universality of the called in Christ. The whole of all those who would be raised up in Christ. That's why when Martha said, "I know he shall rise in the resurrection of the last day", Christ corrected her, saying "HE was the resurrection and the life" and then raised Him up! In Christ, is the resurrection from the dead, and in Him is the Life! Not all the dead, but all the dead who shall be resurrected to life, will be resurrected in Christ! And that resurrection is for people from all time, a universal resurrection of the dead! There is none other name whereby men may be saved. They universally lay dead (four days) till Christ came to raise them up. The resurrection of Lazarus illustrated that all who were dead (universally) who would rise, would rise by the Word of Christ! lazarus, come forth! The number four signified the universality (throughout time) of all who are raised.
The Number 6
One number which there has been a couple of popular ideas about what it might represent, is the number 6. Some Theologians say it's the number of man, some say it represents something else. But the problem is, there is generally no solid biblical foundation that would substantiate these claims. We must have solid scriptural reference before we can say that we believe a number seems to indicate a certain thing. Sound Biblical hermeneutics demands it! I'm sure that many think that they have justification, but when their proof texts are examined carefully, it doesn't really hold up. For example, the popular belief that six is the number of man or mankind. This belief is chiefly based on the fact that man was made on the sixth day (along with a few other ambiguous references). But so were cattle made on the 6th day. Does that give us the justification to say that the number 6 signifies the number of cattle? Not at all! Birds were made on the 5th day, does that give us justification to say the number 5 is the number of birds? No! We must be careful in the applying meanings to numbers, and we have to take the "whole Bible" into consideration when searching for meaning, not just a couple of verses. Jumping upon a popular theological idea is not the way to come to truth.
When we look at the number six in scripture, it most often deals with the application of "work" in the world. In fact, even in the chapter of Genesis that many use to claim it represents man, it clearly signified the completion of work days. i.e., in six days, work was complete, and on the seventh there was Rest! The emphasis was on the number 6 being days of work, not on it being the day man was created (which was a work of God). And this theme of work is what is usually seen being illustrated by the number six all throughout scripture. It was the time that God spent doing His Work, and it is the time we are likewise told to work!
Through much consideration and study in the scriptures, I have also come to believe that ultimately it is a representation of our sojourn (work) in the world, on our way to the ultimate Sabbath of rest. From the very beginning God used the number six to illustrate a period of work.
Genesis 1:31 - 2:1
- "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
- Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
- And on the seventh day God ended His WORK which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made."
Note carefully God tells us when He ended his work. i.e., He did all his work, made Heaven and earth and all that is therein, in six days, and then rested on the seventh. The number six is the example to us, who were commanded to do the same. We work for six, and rest on the seventh. For example, in telling Israel when to work and rest, God says:
- "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
- but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord Thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
- for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
The "six" was the length of time that God assigned Himself to work to create the world, and it is the length of time He assigns to Man to work in this world. That's an important fact. We can see this representation of the number six "for working" holds true right down the line as it's not only illustrated in six days, but in "six years" as well. A consistent use of the number throughout scripture as an illustration of Work. For example, we read that God had made a Covenant with the children of Israel, and that bondmen were to serve or work six years. Yet on the seventh year, were to be set free.
- "...I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying,
- at the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee..."
Again the emphasis of the working for the length of the number "six". This time it is in years instead of days, and on the seventh, being set at liberty. God doesn't do these things just by coincidence. God knows what He is doing, even when we do not.
The number six is in use in far too many places of scripture, showing our work in the world, to simply be a coincidence. Likewise, God didn't choose to create all in six days just because it's a nice round number. It's a God breathed number signifying His work time. And it signifies our work on this earth before we ultimately enter into our Sabbath of Rest. That's why the previous verse spoke of the Covenant, and being brought out of Bondage in Egypt when it spoke of the man serving six years and being set free. Christ is our freedom from Bondage, our Sabbath of Rest from Works. Six illustrates work. Likewise, our work in this world is illustrated by the number six. We work in this world "the six," and then we enter into our Sabbath of Rest when Christ Returns. This is not idle speculation, but is backed up with scripture as God Himself in His Word indicates that we are in fact "laboring" to enter into His rest, and He uses the seventh day Sabbath (after the six days work), as a picture of that Rest. Now, of course, truly we enter into that rest the moment that we are Saved, because the works were accomplished before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3) in Christ. But those works are "worked out" in our lives. Christians labor in the world to bring the gospel, because Christ has finished the work for us.
- "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after that same example of unbelief."
This is also seen in verses like,
- "...Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may REST from their labours; and their WORKS do follow them."
You see, our work in the world is equated with the six, and our rest with the seventh or Sabbath of rest in God. Remember when Jesus gives the parable of the sower in the field? It was a picture of our laboring in the world. Is it coincidence that Israel was commanded literally to sow in the field six years, and rest on the seventh? Does God's word deal in coincidences?
- "And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor and the needy shall eat."
The six is signifying the time of work we do in the world. The seventh, the Sabbath of rest.
Sometimes the meaning of the number 6 is less conspicuous. For example in a verse like Ezekiel 46:1 when talking about the Sanctuary,
- "Thus saith the Lord God; the gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened."
Again, the six "working" and the opening of the gate to the Sanctuary on the Sabbath. These things are Spiritual pictures. The seventh is the Rest. Revelation chapter 11:15 speaks of the seventh trumpet sounding, and the end of the world, and in verse 19 we read the Temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of the Covenant seen. That's the sanctuary being opened! God doesn't just say things like this or place numbers like this by chance. They are here for our learning. Six working days, and on the seventh the sanctuary shall be opened! It's the sabbath of rest! This also confirmed by the number seven which illustrates the totality (more on that later). Again, in,
1st Kings 10:19
- "The Throne had six steps, and the top of the throne round behind:...."
Are we to believe that God just arbitrarily picked the number six here just because six steps to the throne is a nice round number? No! There is a reason God says there are six steps to the throne. The six steps to the throne are a picture of something, and Blessed are those who God gives the knowledge to discern it. It's our "walk" to God! Our walk translates to our work in this world on our way to God! There are many, many verses like this to show that the number "six" is often illustrative of the time of our walk, or work or labour in the world. And at the end of that six, is our rest on the seventh (the Totality of it all). At the end of our work here on earth, is our Sabbath of rest.
- "Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord Thy God: thou shalt do no work therein."
This is the prevailing illustration of the number six in scripture. It's the time that God has assigned in the world for work. Whether it be us, or God Himself. The number six signifies working.
The Number 7
Another number which I believe is widely misinterpreted is the number seven. Many Theologians say that the number seven illustrates perfection. I have studied this conclusion and I must say that I fail to find sufficient biblical justification for this interpretation. If anyone knows of any sound Biblical explanation, I'd be delighted to read about it, but I have received no strong Biblical references concerning it.
While it is true that perfection can be represented in completeness (1st Corinthians 13:9-10), it is not consistently represented that way. I believe it is the other way around. When the completion is come, then that which is in part (partial knowledge and prophecy) will be done away with. In other words, the number seven rather than representing the perfection is often numerical symbology illustrating the 'totality or completeness' of whatever is in view. It is the 'all inclusiveness' of a thing. For example, the seven Churches of Asia (Revelation 1-3) represent the 'totality' of God's congregations (nothing to do with dispensationalism). This can be clearly seen as God says Christ stands in the midst of the seven candlesticks. This signifies that Christ stands in the midst of all Churches 'which are represented by these seven Churches' of Asia. Likewise, they are called seven golden candlesticks signifying that they are to be what the Old Testament called the [tamiyd], the 'Continual' or the 'Daily.' They are to be the light of the world shinning continually. This can also be seen in the seven stars of the seven candlesticks (Churches) which are the seven messengers of the Churches, and they are in God's right hand. These are all the messengers of the Churches whom God holds securely and who do His will (the right hand). The truth is, when God talks to these seven Churches, He is not talking to just those, He is talking to all believers and to all Churches. The totality of them which spans throughout time. We today are part of the seven (totality) Churches to whom God gives these warnings and encouragements.
God is talking to us, and that is why these things found themselves recorded on pages to become scripture. To think that these messages were only to the seven Churches of that literal place in asia is foolish. They are directed to 'he who hath an ear to hear.' That is all true believers. The totality or complete Church throughout time. And the number seven signifies this totality. It is a Blessing to the faithful Church, and a warning to the unfaithful church. Overcome, and live, forsake God, and He will remove your Candlestick out of it's place. The seven Churches of Asia stand to represent all the Churches. The complete Church from then until our day.
- "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches: To Him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
Another place to see this symbolism is in the episode of the seven baskets full of fragments that was taken up when Jesus did His miracles.
- "And they did eat, and were filled, and they took up of the broken that was left, seven baskets full."
This is not the perfection of baskets taken up, it is the totality of baskets taken up. The number seven illustrates that these baskets were 'completely' full. Upon careful consideration of the example it illustrates there was still enough left over for the totality of all who are to eat of the leftover crumbs of bread. The baskets left were still totally full. Sufficient to the task. This of course is the spiritual 'signification' that there is enough crumbs left over for the Gentiles also. Remember the parable of the dogs eating the crumbs from their master's table?
..it is enough! The crumbs from the children's (Jews) table is enough to feed the 'totality' of the dogs (gentiles) who come after. The seven baskets of crumbs signify that totality. i.e., the miracle of Christ feeding Israel was both enough for them, and enough crumbs left over for the totality of those Gentiles who would eat the leftovers. It would feed both the First, and the Last. This is just part of the magnificent spiritual pictures that God incorporates into His Holy Word. The number seven signified the completeness of what is being spoken about.
- "And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs".
Likewise, we can see the exact same application of the number seven in the opposite of Christ. As in the totality of authority in the kingdom of Satan. This is illustrated in the seven heads of the dragon as revealed in Revelation chapter twelve.
The seven heads are seven mountains (revelation 17:9) which are symbolic of kingdoms. Seven equals the totality of authority (heads) of this dragon and of his rule throughout time. The crowns signify that it is a kingdom, and the seven his complete rule throughout time in it. Thus we see in this symbolism a picture of the totality of the dragon's (satan's) rule. That is why it says (revelation 17:10) that five of the heads of this beast had already fallen at the time of the writing of Revelation. Those rules of Satan were over. It said, one is, and one is yet to come, and there was a final 8th (which was part of the seven). i.e., it's part of 'this totality,' and he would rule a short time near the end of the world when Satan is loosed. The Seven illustrates the totality of the time of rule of this beast. God uses this number in this way to show us certain Spiritual truths. It's not the perfection of Satan, but illustrates the totality of his authority (heads) and rule. He is the prince of the power of the air. When the seventh king falls, that will be the end of him, the finish of the totality of his rule and authority.
- "And there appeared another Wonder in Heaven, and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads."
Related to this is the ten horns of this Beast that signifies a rule for 'a short time.' The number ten here illustrates the fullness of time while not being the complete (totality of) time (more on this in the study of the number 10). So we see seven as the totality of his time, and the number ten as a short period he reign in within the totality. The very context and content of Revelation Chapter seventeen also confirms this. As the ten kings had received no kingdom as yet, but would reign later, one hour with this beast.
Earlier in this number study we looked at the number six and we saw that it was the number of work. In looking at that number we also saw that the number seven was the Sabbath of rest. Even in that, we see that number 'clearly' illustrated as the totality of the week. It signified the completeness of time as it relates to coming to the Sabbath of Rest. Seven is the complete (finished) week. This is the same principle with this number.
The whole Bible is replete with the numerical symbology of the number seven. There were seven seals to the book that is opened by the Lamb, which were indicating that it is completely or totally secure in these seals. No one could open it but God. Likewise, the seven trumpets are indicating the totality of God's judgments. From start to finish, when we reach seven, it is finished. Or in the seven vials which are the totality of the Wrath of God that is to be poured out upon the earth. All these things show this spiritual signification of the number. Even when Mary Magdalene was healed:
- "And certain woman, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called magdalene, out of whom went Seven Devils."
Jesus cast out of her seven devils to signify the totality of the rule of Satan in her. When we are saved, we are made free from Satan where he no longer has rule over us. The number seven signified the total removal of Satan from within her, and now God would make His abode there. And what agreement has the Temple of God with the temple of idols? None. Satan is totally cast out. The Number seven illustrates his total rule in the unsaved. But by Grace of God he is totally cast out when we become Saved.
- "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared unto mary Magdalene, out of whom went Seven devils."
There we see that the blood was to be sprinkled seven times, which signifies that the person is 'totally' forgiven and made completely clean. Likewise:
- "And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary".
In these verses God is illustrating that the number of times we should forgive someone is 'seventy times seven.' In other words, we are not to forgive just some sins, or even literally four hundred and ninety sins (70x7), but by the use of seven it is illustrating that we must forgive in totality. We must have complete forgiveness as often as we are sinned against, just as Christ has forgiven 'all' our sins. Seven is multiplied by seventy (10x7) to emphasize total fulness and bring home the point that we must love as we are loved, unconditionally. As Christ continues to forgive us all our transgressions, so we are likewise to forgive in 'totality.'
- "Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven".
Another example is in Revelation, where the Holy Spirit of God is signified by 'Seven spirits, and seven eyes.'
- "And unto the Angel of the Church at Sardis write, these things saith He that hath the Seven Spirits of God, and the Seven stars; I know thy Works, that thou hast a name which thou liveth, and art dead."
- "And out of the Throne proceedeth lightnings and Thunderings and voices; and there were Seven lamps of fire burning before the Throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."
Horns in scripture 'Signify' Power. As you can see in Revelation chapter seventeen, the ten horns that were on the Beast were said to be ten kings which had received no power (when it was written) but would receive power to rule with the beast. i.e., Kings symbolize Rule, and Horns symbolize Power (horns of an animal are a figure of his power). Likewise, these horns here in Revelation chapter five signify God's Power. Unlike Satan's rule in power, God's rule in power is omnipotent. The seven horns signify the 'totality' of his rule and power, and the seven eyes illustrate the 'totality' of the watch of the Holy Spirit. Eyes equate to seeing/knowing. There is one Holy Spirit, but the number seven here is numeric symbolism illustrating His presence over the totality of the world. And the same application with the Seven eyes. It illustrates his 'total' watch over the earth where He sees all. The Holy Spirit of God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent. The number seven illustrates the magnificent totality of this.
- "And I beheld, and lo in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures,, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having Seven Horns, and Seven Eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."
(7 horns - Omnipotent) The totality of His Power!
(7 spirits - Omnipresent) He is all (totality) Everywhere!
(7 eyes - Omniscient) He is all (totality) knowing/seeing!
Seven times illustrates 'complete' Purity. In other words, there is no impurities found God's word anywhere. Total infallibility of the Word. The spiritual significations of the number seven are seen all throughout scripture.
- "The Words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified Seven Times."
This book was sealed totally so that none could open it but God. The number seven again signifying this total sealing.
- "And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with Seven Seals."
Seven thunders signifies the totality of God's voice. His Word will be complete, finished. The mystery is over. When that which is complete or perfect is come, we will then know, even as we are known. We see the same principle as it speaks of the seventh trumpet sounding. It's the 'last' trumpet, the 'totality' of the trumpets accomplished.
- "and He cried with a loud voice, as when a Lion Roareth, and when He cried Seven thunders uttered their voices."
Again, the totality being illustrated by the number seven. It's finished, ended, all fulfilled, all complete! The Sabbath of Rest is Come. The labours in this world are over.
- "but in the days of the voice of the Seventh Angel, when He shall begin to sound, the Mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the Prophets."
This is how the number seven is used in scripture to illustrate this spiritual significance. It shows us the totality of whatever is in view. This is also seen in multiples of the number such as seventy, seven hundred or seven thousand. A good example is when Jesus sent the seventy out two by two. They represented the totality of the Church. Much like the seven Churches of Asia do.
The Numbers 10, 100, 1000
The Numbers ten and it's multiples (100, 1000) often illustrates the Fullness of whatever is in view, without it "necessarily" being the totality. As a practical illustration, monday would be a full day, but not the totality of the week. Likewise ten would represent the fullness or completeness of that particular day, but not necessarily the totality of the whole week which that day is part of. A perfect Biblical example is the Beast of Revelation chapter 12 and chapter 17, with it's 7 heads and 10 horns. The number seven illustrates the totality or total length of time of Satan's authority (heads) and rule (crowns), while the ten horns illustrates His rule only near the end of the world. i.e., as said in Revelation 17, the ten horns had no kingdom as yet (when revelation was written), but is prophesied to reign one hour with the Beast. The ten horns signified the fullness of time (10) that these kings would have power (horns) to reign with the beast. It's called a short season, but it is the fullness of time within the time context of the rule of this Beast! That number ten signifies that fullness of time.
Likewise, the multiples of ten, as ten times ten (100) or ten times one hundred (1000) illustrate the completeness or fulness of whatever is in view, without it necessarily being the totality of it. As an example, look at the parable of the silver money.
- "Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?"
Here in the parable of the ten silver pieces, a woman loses one of the ten. She searches for it until she finds it. This is numerical symbolism which shows the believer's search for lost souls representing those who are to be Saved. When we have found what was lost, the batch will be a full or complete treasure. The number ten signified the fullness of believers there. We are the silver which is found by the lighted candle. This is just like the parable of the one hundred (multiple of 10) sheep,
- "And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
- What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
- And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing".
The same principle applies. If we lose one of them, we search till we find it. The fullness of them must be found. The number one hundred there signified the fullness of believers which are shepherded over. Likewise in the multiple of 10x100, it signifies the fulness of whatever is in view. Isaiah chapter seven speaks about the First coming of the Lord (verse 14) and says,
- "And it shall come to pass in THAT DAY, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. With arrows and with bows shall men come hither; because All he land shall become briers and thorns."
Are we to suppose this is a literal number. Were there literally one thousand vines and one thousand silverlings (not 1001 or 999)? When we look at the verse carefully we see that God is using numerical symbology to signify that where there was the fullness of vines, there will be briers and thorns. The number one thousand is not to alert us to the exact literal number of vines, or the exact literal number of one thousand silverlings (pieces of silver money), rather it is to illustrate where the fullness of vines once were, and where the fullness of treasure was, it is changed to briers and thorns. Not literally every place where one thousand pieces of silver were of one thousand vines were. The word thousand is merely being used to signify a very long time, but not literally a thousand.
- "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;"
1st Chronicles 16:15
- "Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations,"
- "He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations."
This is a thousand used figuratively to illustrate the fullness of time, not literally a thousand generations. His Word is commanded to all generations, not just literally one thousand. But God is using the number thousand here to show spiritual consistency in representing the fullness. Likewise in Revelation chapter 20, where it speaks of the one thousand year millennial reign of Christ. It is the perfect example of this numerical symbology. It signifies the fullness of time of the reign of Christ, the binding of satan, and the rest of the dead live not again, before the second Resurrection. Not the totality of time from the beginning, and not literally one thousand years, but the fullness of time between events spoken of there.
The Number 12
The number twelve is another prime example of spiritual significance. In other words, God uses this number to show us some spiritual truth in it's application. Would we be prudent Bible students in thinking that it has no meaning besides a count, and it's mere coincidence the places which it is found? No, we would be negligent to think so. In my studies I have found that the number twelve spiritually points to the Congregation of God.
A good example would be the twelve brothers, the twelve sons of Jacob who were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. This was the Old Testament congregation, or Children of God. The number twelve spiritually signified this! These twelve sons were not a coincidental number of births, they were God ordained! Likewise, the significance is passed on after the cross as the twelve apostles became the New Testament representative of the congregation or Children of God. The exact same spiritual number attached to God's congregation on both sides of the cross. We can see this brought forth Gloriously as in Revelation 21, the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem (Thee Church) comes down from Heaven.
- "And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the Twelve Tribes of the Children of Israel:"
- "And the wall of the City had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the Twelve Apostles of the lamb."
The twelve gates signify the entrance to the City. And note that the Old Testament congregation is represented as well as the New. The names of the twelve tribes of Israel at the gate, and the names of the twelve Apostles in the foundations. Why would anyone make the assumption that this number twelve is not spiritually significant, or that it's just some coincidence that there were twelve tribes, twelve Apostles, twelve gates, the City measuring twelve thousand furlongs, having twelve precious stones, etc. No, it is obviously not coincidence. And if it's not coincidence, then the number twelve has special meaning there. God "specifically" made sure there were twelve sons, and twelve Apostles, twelve gates, twelve fragments of food left over, etc. That means He did it for a reason. And the reason is to show us some spiritual consistency in where He is using it. To say that the number twelve has no special significance, is to not fully understand that God's inspired Word, is not just words, they're numbers also!
When we look at the miracle that Jesus did for the damsel who was twelve years old in raising her from the dead, we see it was a signification that the Church would be raised from the dead. This is why it is meticulously pointed out that the woman was twelve. There is no other reason for God pointing out her age except this spiritual signification.
- "And straightway the damsel arose and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. and they were astonished with a great astonishment."
Likewise, the Church (The woman 12) would be raised from the dead by Christ. This miracle signified this arising from the dead, and the woman is 12 not by coincidence, but to indicate this. As the 12 stars of the woman in Revelation Chapter 12 are also pointing to the Congregation of the Lord.
Things that might appear coincidental to the average or carnal reader are brought out spiritually by God to His people. They are not understood by natural man, they are spiritually discerned.
Another example is when the wicked men came to take Jesus away, and His Apostles were going to fight for Him, and Jesus told them to put away their swords,
- "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve Legions of Angels?
- But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
You see, He equates His army who would do battle with Him as twelve legions. Coincidence? Not when you understand that the Church is the Army of the Lord, which have on the whole armour of God and the Breastplate of righteousness, and carry the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. i.e., His father has presently given him twelve legions of Messengers, and we do fight with Him. Not in a literal war with literal swords, but in a spiritual warfare with the Word of God as our sword. And this is how it must be. as it's all a matter of discerning the things which God has placed in His Holy Word.
Another example would be the woman who had suffered many things of Physicians, and none could heal her. God meticulously points out that it was for twelve years..
- "And a certain Woman which had an issue of blood twelve years.."
This woman touched but the hem of Jesus garment, and was made whole. I.e., what was unclean for 12 years was now clean. The garment of Christ is signifying the Righteousness of Christ. Just as scripture says we are clothed in the Righteousness of Christ. This Woman had been made righteous, by the virtue of Christ!
- "And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press and said, who touched My Clothes."
You see, this is signifying that we are made whole by Christ's virtue, by Christ's righteousness, and by Christ's garment. And the fact that this woman had this plague twelve years and "none" could heal her, signifies our predicament before we receive the virtue or the righteousness of Christ. But when we receive the virtue of Christ, we are made whole by his garment. I.e., we are Clothed in the righteousness of Christ! So we understand the number twelve is used all throughout scripture in many different ways to signify the Church!
The Number 40
The number forty in scripture often illustrates a time of trial or testing. For example as the Lord tried/tested Israel in the wilderness.
- "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments or no."
The Lord tried (proved) them forty years in the wilderness. The word proved means to test! It was God's testing program to see if they would keep His commandments and be faithful. The number forty signified this. we see the same testing as Jesus Christ was tried of Satan forty days in the Wilderness.
- "and He was there in the Wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan."
That word translated tempted is the word tried or tested, not tempted as we might use the word in our day. Christ was never tempted to Sin, he was tried by Sin. Or in other words, by sin He was proved or tested.
likewise, after Christ was killed, He proved Himself forty days.
- "to whom He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."
Again, Moses was in the mount forty days and the Children of Israel were tried, and they failed the test making themselves an idol. Again, many scriptures show this spiritual significance.
All these numbers, and more, have spiritual significance. God puts importance on every Jot and tittle in His Word. He says in Luke 16:17 that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. That means (in the literal) even down to the least particle of the scriptures! Down to each and every jot or letter of the word. And that would "include" down to the last number. The Word of God is divinely inspired and so the numbers written in the Word are equally divinely inspired. Just as we can take a word in scripture like Sheep, and look at every place in the Bible where it is found and come to some spiritual understanding of the word sheep, So we can also look at certain numbers wherever they are found in scripture and come to some spiritual understanding of what it is signifying. This is not to be confused with numerology. This is simply called scriptural study. The same that we would do for every word in scripture. Numerology is the belief in the occult influence of numbers upon the life of an individual. This of course is both unbiblical and an offense to God. But the study of numbers (like words) in scripture is Bible study.
If we were to listen to some people (and many of them may mean well, nevertheless they are in error) who say leave the numbers alone, then we would have to disobey God Himself, as He Commands us who have understanding to "count" the number of the beast (666). Do we simply ignore that command because we have some phobia against studying numbers in scripture, or do we "count it" as God commands? Who hath wisdom and understanding?
- "Here is Wisdom. Let him that hath understanding COUNT the number of the beast: For it is the number of MAN; and his number is six hundred threescore and six."
How do people who say it's improper to interpret spiritual significance in numbers, get around this verse? Do they turn to the right hand and to the left to avoid it, or simply ignore it all together? We cannot do that, we must put God's commands in our hearts as a permanent fixture, that we might not sin against Him (Ps 119:11). Perhaps then the Spirit of God will cause some to take down that wall of Spiritual ignorance and start listening to the Word, and not man's conclusions. It says count the number six hundred and sixty six! When many are told that, they often reply with something like, "Oh, that's talking about a computer debit card, or a mark to be electronically scanned on the skin", or some other "flavor of the month" interpretation. But when you query, "please direct me to the scripture where it indicates that," they suddenly don't like the subject anymore. They don't want to hear that because they have no real scriptural basis for saying it. There are "only" two ways to understand scripture. The right way of understanding it by searching it out "in" scripture, and the wrong way of coming to some conclusion based on our own understanding or what "seems" right in our own eyes. Shall We call God a numerologist because He commands us to count this number in scripture, and he tells us that it is the number of man? Is He telling us to dabble in Numerology? Of course not! What He is telling us here (in plain language) is to count the number that He has placed there. Search the scriptures to find exactly what "He" means by the number when counted. That is how those who have wisdom and understanding count the number and come to the truth of scripture. It doesn't go unnoticed that God says here is wisdom, let he who has understanding count it! God knows everyone does not have the spiritual understanding (for it is God who gives it) and that everyone will not receive what His Word says. But He also knows that His people are wise to things Spiritual, because He has given them that spiritual discernment (1st Corinthians 2:14-16).
Everyone does not read His word with an eye to keep it, or to surrender to it. That would be wisdom! That's the wise in Christ! Many read His Word with an eye to be inclined to make it fit into whatever they were taught or already believe. Even to force it to conform to what they "want" to believe. The sad truth is, few in the Churches today go to the Word looking for truth. Most go to the Word seeking their own justification. Those who say that there is no Spiritual significance assigned to numbers, don't seem to be looking to follow scripture, they are trying to lead it. What is the lesson learned in Revelation 13? It tells us that there is some spiritual significance assigned to the number 666. What is the Spiritual Significance? God says we are to count it (the number 666) to find out.
Let me reiterate, I am in no way endorsing wild numerological ideas about computations of numbers in scripture, or of codes, or other unbiblical schemes. Nor the assignment of letters to numbers to reach some untenable conclusion. What I am talking about is simply looking at the numbers God has put here, and seeing how God Himself uses them elsewhere "IN" scripture, to see if He has placed some spiritual significance there. Nothing more!
Eyes to see is a gift that is not in any man's power, it is up to God who discerns things spiritually. One man will read a scripture quoted "word for word" and say, "..You're right, I see it does say that", while another will read the very same scripture and say, "...You're wrong, that's just your interpretation and in no way does God says that!" What's the difference? The Spirit of truth (John 16:13) is the difference. One will (by the Spirit of Truth) receive the truth of scripture, another will reject it because he cannot discern it without that Spirit. The same thing with seeing the big Spiritual picture. Comparing the Spiritual with Spiritual (1st Corinthians 2:13), and scripture with scripture. One sees, and another mocks. Ones humble and another is prideful. That's just the way it is! It's the difference between the righteous, and the unrighteous.
The numbers are in the Bible as a count, and also to symbolize, or give a spiritual significance to certain things.
There is no Biblical validation for coding or applying letters to numbers. But comparing scripture with scripture, word with word, number with number, passage with passage, we can come to the truth of God's Word in God's Word.
We are not to ignore numbers in scripture any more than we are to ignore the letters alpha or Omega! They all have a story to tell. It is not wise, but foolish to think otherwise. Not one jot or tittle is there without the Lord's knowledge of it. Not one number is there that the Lord didn't put there. So why would man think it insignificant other than the amount it literally states. That's like arbitrarily saying that the word sheep has no significance in scripture except as it relates to an animal. We can't do that because we are to follow scripture, not lead it!
As the Lord hath said. Here is Wisdom! Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast..
He didn't say Change it, He didn't say, match it up with the IBM in Copenhagen. He didn't say see it on a magnetic strip on a card, He didn't say it was the address of a man in Rome. He didn't say match it to letters and see what you get, He said "count" the number! There, hidden in plain sight, lies the Key. It is the key which so many in looking for wild fanciful interpretations, miss!
Copyright ©1993 Tony WarrenFeel free to duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone who would like a copy, as long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. This publication can be distributed only in it's original form, unedited, and without cost.
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