The Spiritual Symbolism of Numbers
It is obvious that numbers—their use, value, symbolism, power, and mystery—are rooted in the intentions of our Creator. They are used throughout scripture, not only as signs of physical quantities, but, even more importantly, as symbols of spiritual reality. Understanding the symbolic message of “God’s numbers” is critical to the disciple’s growth to most fully live out the meanings and mysteries of their Savior Lord’s revelation. There is a theological danger of making too much of numbers, but it is equally risky and arrogant to ignore them.
Books have been written on biblical numerology, and they are fascinating. I have several in my library. Secular numerology is the practice of foretelling the future or interpreting history by the study of supposedly meaningful numbers or their combinations, based on special factors as determined by the numerologist. A biblical numerologist believes that God has used numbers in His scriptures and creation to foretell His purposes and wisdom!
Every disciple, to some degree, should be a biblical numerologist. This is necessary if he or she is to assess and calculate the numbers the Savior has put before us in His scriptures and our experience of living. His symbols are numerous, indeed, and open our eyes to His wondrous purposes for our daily, practical reality. Many are the discoveries that are ours through the numbers of science as they reveal His creative and prophetic intent to bless us.
Keeping certain basic numbers in mind is essential for the beginner. They will serve as a key which opens our minds to the vast implications of the Godhead’s use of numbers in His revelation of Himself as our Creator-Redeemer-Perfecter. This is no place to argue the pros and cons about number interpretation other than to say extremism and literalism must be guarded against. We should, however, take the numbers seriously and pray for that knowledge. That the Lord God is one but is expressed as three is a good place to start our adventure of understanding biblical numerology.
He is one:
- Moses, in Deuteronomy 6:4, said, “The Lord our God…He is God alone…the only One.”
- David, in Psalm 96:10, said, “…You alone are God.”
- Isaiah, in 44:6, said, “I Am the first and the last! Apart from Me there is No God.”
He is more than one:
- In partial revelation, Jesus makes the Godhead two: “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30).
- In fullest revelation, Jesus makes them three: “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
Welcome to the insightful world of biblical numerology. The numbers below will not only get you started but carry you a long way toward seeing, enjoying, and responding to His mind through His numbers. They are outstanding and essential pointers on how disciples relate to the realities set before them in the gardens of earth in which we are placed.
Zero is the number of the unknown. The Lord God made, began, and initiated everything from nothing: “In the beginning God created…” (Gen. 1:1). Philosophers call this ex nihilo which means “out of nothing” (Heb. 11:1-3).
One is the number of God. The Lord our God is one: “I Am” (Deut. 6:4). He is supreme over everything and the only God (I Tim. 1:17).
Two is the number of division, diversification, and separation. He divides and distributes the elements of His creation into land/water, night/day, male/female, sun/moon, animal/mineral, and so forth (Gen. 1:2-24).
Three is the number of Triune intent communicated to man: “Let Us make man and tell him what he is to think, be and do to exist in Our Image: (Gen. 1:26-30). “Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). “These three…faith, hope, love” (I Cor. 13:13).
There are four issues or options for every decision we face. Each should be recognized, comprehended, unified, and then applied to our life. There are four directions, four seasons, four life stages, and four time periods in each 24 hours (sunrise, day, sunset, night). In political and personal decisions, there are always four positions: liberal, radical, conservative, and passive.
By the Holy Spirit and the light of truth we see all things with the eyes of God. Revelation (3) gives division (2) divine meaning so that, together (3+2), we see the grace (5) of God’s initiatives. Many see but do not understand what they see without illumination (Matt. 13:13-17).
Six is the number of our enemy, Satan. He forces his multiplied lied (666) on everyone he can (Rev. 13:16-18). The evil allowed by God will, in the long run, exalt His glory and vindicate His purposes. Satan’s area of power against us is most powerful (6) when we are ignorant of the reality of grace (5) and visionless about our union with the Godhead (7).
Seven is the number of God (3) and mankind (4) together. All of us who are saved have become positionally one and will become experientially one with the Godhead. We are now a holy people made holy by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
As there are eight notes to the musical scale, the Lord’s progress always goes higher or lower with the same sound (notes), fulfilling its purpose for eternity’s score. Every “octave” of our living can be complete in itself (childhood, career, marriage, motherhood, retirement). When all the octaves are joined together—the bass notes of heaviness and the treble notes of lightness—the full sound of our music and our life are heard.
Triune blessing keeps repeating itself in richer fullness and purpose as man fulfills his role as a Triune Thinker. In Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit is nine-fold (3 x 3).
The number 10 or multiples of 10 can be found in the following examples:
- A baby’s 10 fingers and 10 toes
- A man’s full life or rule of 40 years, as demonstrated by Saul, David, Solomon. Theirs was the number of man (4) times God’s perfection (10)—40.
- The perfection and completion of God’s purpose for their lives; 10+2=12, the perfection purpose of uniting creations and mankind’s divisions (2) with ultimate Divine intent (10) , 12 Tribes, 12 Disciples;
- The Lord’s rule of 1000 years over mankind in a perfect government: (10 x 10 x 10 = 1000) the divine mystery and wonder of perfection multiplied!
Truly Jesus is Lord; He is the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. In these perfect four titles, He answers mankind’s four greatest needs perfectly: perception about all things, power over all things, patience with all things, and peace above all things!
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’” (Romans 11:33-34).