The study of the significance of the use of numbers in Scripture requires a lifetime of study and reflection, but a brief summary of some of the most significant numbers may be enough to wet one’s appetite for future study.
Despite the ribbing they take in music, One is not the loneliest number, nor is Two as bad as One.
ONE: In sacred Scripture “one,” ehad, in Hebrew, represents unity and is the quintessential number of monotheism, the worship of one God. This concept of one as a unity of one God is expressed in the opening lines of the first profession of faith found in Scripture, the Shema: Hear O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is One [Deuteronomy 6:4].
TWO: This number can mean difference, division or double portion. The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets of stone. [Exodus 31:18; 32:15; 34:1, 4, 29] thus separating them from the pagan religions. The children of Israel were forbidden to collect manna on the Sabbath and therefore were permitted to collect a double portion of manna on Friday.[Exodus 16:5]
THREE: This number represents that which is solid, real, substantial, and something in its completeness. This number usually indicates something of importance or significance in God’s plan of salvation by identifying an important event in Salvation History. This number operates as a “sign-post” in Scripture study for the reader to “pay attention” to the significance of the next event.
Three times the angelic Seraphim cry “Holy, Holy, Holy” [Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8]. There were three divisions of the desert Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem: the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies [Exodus 27:9]. The three attributes of God mentioned in Exodus 33:18-19 are hen, rachum, and hesed (gracious, compassionate /merciful, and loving kindness). The Messiah is three days in the tomb.
The depth of the Scriptures really awakens when you come to realize the numbers contained within a sentence are placed there intentionally to derive perspective for the reader. So, let us look at a few more…
FOUR: The number four represents God’s creative works, especially works associated with the earth:
- Four rivers flowed out of Eden [Genesis 2:10]
- Four directions N, S, E, W. with four Angels keeping watch at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the world [Revelation 7:1]
- Bible has four-fold division of mankind: lands, tongues, families and nations [Revelation 13:7]
FIVE: This is the number of power and Divine grace and is represented by the Hebrew letter “hey”. The “hey” was added to Abram’s name to become Abraham, likewise Sarai became Sarah. The Tabernacle was measured in multiples of five [Exodus 25 – 27] and the Torah is a division of 5 books.
SIX: Both man and the serpent were created on the sixth day, therefore, the number six represents both man and rebellion. All six of the letters which represent the number system of the Roman Empire added together yield the number 666: I = 1; V= 5; X= 10; L= 50; C = 100; D= 500 [there is no letter/number M. 1000 was two Ds back to back which resembled an M].
More importantly Jesus suffered on the cross for six hours (as he suffered that man might be saved); from 9 AM, (see Mark 15:25) the hour of the first daily sacrifice in the Temple to 3 PM, (see Mark 15:33-34; Matthew 27:45; Luke 23:44) the hour of the last sacrifice, and gave up His life at the beginning of the 7th hour (the number of completion and fulfillment).
SEVEN: Spiritual perfection and fullness or completion. There are seven annual holy feast days observed under the Law of the Sinai Covenant [Leviticus 23:1-44]. There are multiple sevens in the Book of Revelation: There are 55 sevens and 5 sevenths, 5×7 (35) phrases of sevens in the Book of Revelation.
Seven is a significant number in the natural world:
- mammals and birds have a gestation of multiples of 7:
|mouse: 21 days (3 x 7)||cat 56 (8 x 7)||Sheep 147 (21 x 7)|
|hare & rat, 28 ( 4×7)||dog 63 (9 x 7)||hen 21 (3 x 7)|
|humans 280 days ( 40 x 7)||lion 98 (14 x 7)||duck 42 (6 x 7)|
Probably the most fascinating of all….. is when we say we are a man after God’s own heart….. how incredibly real that statement is! A man’s pulse beats on the seven-day principle. For six days out of seven it beats faster in the morning than in the evening while on the seventh day it beats slower. The seventh day is the day of rest!