Biblical Meaning Of Numbers
The biblical meaning of numbers has fascinated scientist, theologians, and Bible readers for thousands of years and there have been many attempts at finding not only the meaning of certain numbers, but also attempts at identifying numeric rhythms throughout Scripture. Mathematic phenomena in the Scripture is compelling but not surprising when we consider that the Author of the Bible has also designed our complex universe. He has measured waters, determined heavenly spans, and is capable of counting the sand grains on the sea shores and the hairs on any one person's head. The natural order of our world is precise and orderly. Therefore, it is not surprising to discover that the written Word, too, has mathematical structure. There are many explanations and opinions biblical numbers and some are without concrete merit. But there is fascinating evidence of numeric significance and we will take a look at a few of the most obvious ones in this brief article.
One of the most notable examples of numeric significance in God's Word is the number seven and it occurs in Scripture more than any other of the biblical numbers. From Genesis to Revelation, this numeral is used to symbolize completion or fullness. The value of seven is seen in the creation account at the beginning of the Bible. "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." (Genesis 2:3) There is another interesting occurrence of this number in the first book of the Bible: God makes seven declaration of who He is in Genesis. Another set of seven declarations are found in the New Testament book of John as well as in the book of Revelation. When looking into the biblical meaning of numbers and specifically, seven, we also find in Revelation interesting developments gathered around groupings of sevens. There are seven churches, seals, trumpets, vials, thunders, years, and more! It would appear that these numerical clusters in the last book of the Bible point to a completion or fullness of events.
Another numerical value used with totality or completeness is ten. Certainly, man's numeric systems are structured around ten, but we find in biblical numbers, ten plays an important role as well. Consider that there are the Ten Commandments. God also caused ten plagues on Egypt when Pharaoh refused to let Israel go. There are the ten kings in the prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah had ten visions. Ten, as with seven are both used with the concept of fullness which can also imply judgment. Combining the numbers ten and seven in multiplication also refer to a fullness of events or time. When Israel left Canaan to enter into Egypt, there were seventy souls and in the book of Numbers, there were seventy elders appointed to judge the people. Seventy was also the number of years that Israel spent in captivity in Babylon. The biblical meaning of numbers is especially fascinating when looking at the multiplication of seventy and seven. There are 490-year periods in history concerning Israel which begin with the birth of Abraham. There are different schools of thought about these cycles, but without a doubt, the last 490-year period ends with the fulfillment of the original promise of a millennial kingdom.
Still there are other numbers that hold significance. Another which indicates completeness is the number twelve. However, this value of the biblical numbers identifies closely with divine ordinance or governing. There are twelve months in a year, twelve tribes of Israel, and Jesus chose twelve disciples to work closely with. The number six seems to be associated with the idea of man or being short of perfection and completeness. Man was created on the sixth day and in the six-hundredth year of Noah's life, the flood destroyed most of mankind. Because man is disobedient, this number is also identifies with rebellion, the most notable of which is the number of the man of perdition: 666. In contrast, the number eight is associated with new beginnings or resurrection. Jesus was raised from the dead on the eighth day and there are an additional eight resurrections recorded in Scripture.
The study of numerology in Scripture can reveal much about the nature of our Creator in regards to science, and precision. Mathematical structure proves a God of order and not chaos. Looking closely at how He uses the meaning of numbers and their values, we can also use mathematical systems found in the Bible to help us discover more about prophecy. A perfect example of this is the prophetic word concerning the numerical value of the Anti-Christs name which seems to indicate that some will be able to identify this man before he is publically revealed. However, the mathematical patterns found in the Bible are too numerous and uncertain to use as a basis for support of doctrine, mystical or otherwise. Biblical numbers should never be used to prove a doctrinal position. The truth that some number values and systems found in the Word of God are significant and have meaning make their purposes apologetic as opposed to doctrinal. In other words, numerical values found in the Bible are used to prove God exists and that the Word, which was penned by many writers over a span of thousands of years, is supernaturally inspired by the Holy Spirit.