In my last post, I explained some of the symbolic language used in Scripture, and how to realize when Scripture is actually defining that symbolism. There is one last piece of the symbolic language of prophecy we need to discuss before we can start a serious study of Bible prophecy. This is the use of numbers to represent Spiritual concepts or ideas. This subject is often referred to as ‘numerology.’ I do not like this term because of its connection to what I consider to be an un-Scriptural abuse where people try to assign numbers to every aspect of Scripture and then use that to divine some secret or hidden message. There are many reasons I reject this practice, but they are the subject for another post. What I want to discuss is the repetitive use of certain numbers in connection to certain Spiritual themes.
While the use of numbers as symbolic of Spiritual Truths can become a complex subject, it can also be addressed in a short discussion. This is because we do not need to explore every possible use of numbers and find every possible meaning for them. The task at hand is simply to make the reader aware that numbers are used as symbolic representations of Spiritual Truths, and this symbolic use regularly appears in prophecy. I believe this is because the use of symbolic numbers was so important and so well understood by the ancient Hebrew that the prophet simply assumed his audience would be aware of their meaning.
So, how do we know that numbers are used as symbolic representations of Spiritual Truths in Scripture? By paying attention to the context. This is actually linked to Hebrew poetry. Part of the parallelism in Hebrew poetry is the way it is integrated in connection to the meaning of a number. For example: if something is mentioned seven times within a given section of Scripture, then it could be another way of stressing the number seven without saying ‘seven.’ This could be significant as, in Scripture, the number seven is connected to completion, perfection and God, Himself, as the only completed and perfect Being. Another significant number would be forty. Forty is often connected to the concept of trials and/or suffering. This link will further explain this subject:
And these links will provide you with a few of the more obvious symbolic associations between a given number and a Spiritual Truth:
With my next post, we will start to apply everything we have discussed thus far in this series on Bible prophecy. We will start in Daniel.