What is biblical numerology? Does God assign meaning to certain numbers He put in the Bible? If so, is it biblical?
Numerology is what Bible scholars believe is the placing of meaning on numbers in the Scriptures. There is said to be numerical values in the numbers in the Pentateuch or what is known as the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Numerology is by no means restricted to the Old Testament but is said to be found throughout the Bible – from Genesis to Exodus. Numerology attempts to explain the meaning of these numbers to see what God may be telling us by using them and the interpretation of them relating to the Scriptures or verses where they found. Examples are the numbers three, six, seven, and ten, but there are more. Numbers are thought to be symbolic of the sovereignty of God and so let‘s take a look at certain numbers and their meanings.
The Number One
The number one is a number of unity or absolute singleness. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “The Lord our God is One.” God is one God in Three Persons, but still One God. This is difficult to wrap our minds around and a hard concept to explain but that is why God is infinite and the finite mind can not comprehend all of God.
The Number Three
The number three is important in the Bible. In the first place, there are three Persons in the Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each member is equally God and no less God than the other Members of the Trinity. God is Three in Essence. God is three also in that He is omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time), omnipotent (all powerful), and omniscient (all knowing), therefore three is seen as the number of divine perfection or holiness. God also knows that past, the present, and the future and He abides in all of these.
Three was also the number of major feast seasons for Israel in ancient times (Exodus 23:14-19). There are three times of daily prayer (Daniel 6; Psalms 55:17). There was even a special sacrifice of animals that were three years old (Genesis 15:9). Also of great importance, Jesus was resurrected after three days and three nights and why He said that if they destroyed this temple (meaning His body), He would be raised in three days (John 2:19). His earthly ministry took place in roughly three years and that was the number of years of Jesus training of the disciples.
The Number Four
Most people may not be aware of the significance of the number four in the Bible but there are said to be four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:2), there were four dominant kingdoms mentioned in Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 7:3), there are four seasons on the earth, there are four major directions on the earth (north, south, east, and west), and there were even four types of soil in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13). There were also four pillars in the Temple.
The Number Six
The number six can be seen as representative of mankind since humans were created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Mankind was commanded to work for six days that were given in the Fourth Commandment. The number six is also seen as a number of imperfection since man was created on it, six days is an imperfect week, and the perfect evil can be seen in the number of man, 666 (Revelation 13:18), a sort of unholy trinity. There were six cities of refuge given to the Levites for those who killed or caused great harm accidentally to others; these were places for them to take refuge (Numbers 35:6). God established these cities so that family members would not retaliate against them for the harm they inflicted upon them by accident or not intentionally.
The Number Seven
The number of seven appears to be the number of perfection since the earth was created in seven days, regardless of the fact that God rested on the seventh day. Rest is still doing something and the seventh day is a day of rest and we are told to work six days and rest on a seventh day. Seven is symbolic of a totality of perfection or completeness like the seven-day week.
The Book of Revelation is big on the number seven, there were:
- seven bowls of wrath,
- seven seals,
- seven churches,
- seven trumpets, and
- seven spirits.
This pictures God’s complete and totally perfect judgment of the inhabitants of the earth, in particular those who are not under the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and have not had the wrath of God removed from them because of their rejecting Him as Savior. Even the Tribulation is said to last seven years.
The Number Eight
The number eight appears, interestingly, to be symbolic of victory. Consider circumcision was to be done on the eighth day and eight people were saved inside the ark that Noah built. The number eight has significantly less numerical meaning to most Bible scholars.
The Number Nine
Again, most Bible scholars see no major significance to the number nine other than there are nine fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-24, although I do not believe that this is a complete list of all of the fruit of the Spirit.
The Number Ten
The number ten relates to human governments and laws. There are Ten Commandments given to mankind (Exodus 20), there were ten elders in most of the city gates (Ruth 4:2), and the Northern Kingdom of Israel consisted of ten tribes (1 Kings 11)
The Number Twelve
The number twelve clearly implies the number of governmental perfection and this number relates to God’s divine authority or sovereignty. There were twelve tribes of Israel, there were twelve disciples and later apostles (counting Paul), there are multiple groups of twelve in Ezekiel‘s description of the construction of the heavenly temple (Ezekiel 48), there were twelve foundations, twelve angels, and twelve gates in the New Jerusalem Temple. The walls of the Temple had twelve foundations and there the twelve names were written of the twelve apostles (Revelation 21:14).
The Number Thirty
This is a number that is associated with sorrow or fasting. It represents affliction as Aaron was mourned for 30 days (Numbers 20:29) as was Moses (Deuteronomy 34:8), and Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 27:3-5).
The Number Forty
This number is clearly a number that is associated with testing and trials. For example,
- it rained 40 days and 40 nights during the flood (Genesis 7:4),
- Israel wandered for 40 years in the Wilderness for their disobedience and unbelief (Numbers 14:33),
- Moses went up into the clouds on Mount Sinai and was there 40 days and 40 nights, and
- most importantly, Jesus was in the Wilderness for the great temptation and fasted 40 days and 40 nights before He was tempted of Satan (Matthew 4:2).
You see many applications of the number 40 in the Bible but it is almost always associated with severe trials and a time of testing.
The Number Fifty
This number is significant to the Jews. It is the year of Jubilee when liberty was proclaimed to those who were indebted to others, for those who had been forced to sell themselves into slavery for their inability to pay their debts, and when land and property was returned to their original owners (Leviticus 25:10). The Feast of Pentecost was also celebrated on the 50th day after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16) and was the day that the church of Jesus Christ was founded (Acts 2). It is significant that it was 50 days after Jesus Christ’s resurrection that the Holy Spirit came to those in the church for the first time. Prior to this the Holy Spirit, like in the Old Testament, was with certain people, but at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit could actually dwell within the believers.
The Number Seventy
Finally, the number 70 seems to be associated with human justice, judgment, and human delegations of authority. For example, there were 70 elders in Israel that helped to make judgments and were rulers (Numbers 11:16), there were 70 elders that Ezekiel saw in the House of Israel (Ezekiel 8:11), and speaking of judgment, 70 years was the number of years that Israel spent in captivity by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 29:10).
What are we to make of these numbers? God is trying to tell us something in the Bible about His sovereignty. He is sovereign over all, He rules over all the earth, His perfect will can not be changed or frustrated, and like the Year of Jubilee (50), His desire is that you would be set free. Free from the penalty of yours sins. You can be free from the wrath of God and be at peace with God (1 Corinthians 5:21) if you would only place your trust in Jesus Christ to save you (Romans 10:9-13) because there is no other way that you must be saved (Acts 4:12). Please read the final numbers that really count and the number can not really be counted by human reasonings. Revelation 20:11-15 says,
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
When your number is up (at death) and you did not put your trust in Christ, then your fate is sealed and your name will not be in the Book of Life. It will be too late at that time so I beg you to consider putting your trust in Jesus Christ to save you…do it today, while it is still called “today” (2 Corinthians 6:2) and you will be numbered among the children of God for all eternity.
Have you walked the Romans Road to salvation? Take a look:
Resource – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide