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:
Question: “What is biblical numerology?”
And these links will provide you with a few of the more obvious symbolic associations between a given number and a Spiritual Truth:
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBERS IN SCRIPTURE
The Symbolism of Numbers in the Bible
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.
8 thoughts on “BIBLE PROPHECY: The Symbolic Significance Of Numbers In Scripture”
The number 9 used to symbolize God through infinity.
I know that your post is speaking of actual numbers used (and repeated) in Scripture. For instance, the link you provided discusses “the idea of divine completeness, perfection, and wholeness by means of the number 7.” We know that the number “6” is the number of man – incomplete, imperfect, and not “whole” due to the fall into sin. In prophecy, the “666” number represents the unholy trinity.
But do you recall the arguments over the Bible codes years ago? There was the “equidistant letter sequence” codes and the other one written by Michael Drosnin that involved circling Hebrew letters in diagonal, vertical, and other shapes in order to give us hidden meaning. The arguments between believers and non-believers ran the gamut! Plus, some Christians labeled it all as forbidden numerology. What are your thoughts on this?
Honestly? I’m torn on this one. On the surface, it does appear that there MAY be something to this subject. And I have started to understand that it may even have been part of the Lord’s plan that the English language was to be involved. HOWEVER, I also know that Paul tells us NOT to go searching for or following after “secret” or “hidden knowledge.” So, speaking ONLY for myself, I tend to let this go. I think we can get a very firm and intimate knowledge of God, through His Word, entirely from the language in Scripture and without having to start applying logarithms to the numerical values.
Not sure if this helps, but it is the best, most honest answer I know to give 🙂
No logarithms necessary. Representations can have many facets intertwined. Some obvious indications which act as a sort of Sign, some facts imbued with meaning beyond the obvious. Both at the same time.
An example of the first “obvious” indication which lent itself to representation of God was the early realization of the arthmetic properties surrounding the number 9 :
Taking the numbers from 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. It was observed ( the earliest I don’t know) that :
0 + 9 = 9
1 + 8 = 9
2 + 7 = 9
3 + 6 = 9
4 + 5 = 9
5 + 4 = 9
6 = 3 = 9
7 + 2 = 9
8 + 1 = 9
And 9 x 9 = 81 ( 8 + 1 = 9)…..2 x 9 = 18 ( 1 + 8 = 9 )
And so forth…. it became a representation of the infinite nature, the enduring quality of God ….. a window to His existence if you will.
You are talking about the same symbolic/prophetic use of numbers as I am. However, there are people who do use logarithms to ‘find’ secret messages in Scripture, such as a prediction of the Twin Trade Towers bombings, etc. Plenty of claims based on what I hold to be dubious twisting of numbers in Scripture — numbers connected to the numerical value that was assigned to each letter in the ancient Hebrew language. THAT is the ‘numerology’ that I have always held suspect, not the sort of thing you mentioned here. 🙂
I didn’t know about the Biblical Logarithms stuff.
But speaking of Logs and Rhythms and the like ….. I remember encountering all that in Trig class in 7th grade junior high…. the teacher 34c and she was doing a number on my psyche and,….. oh wait…..you mean a different Loga-rythm…. better stop or Kells will report me….. ;- ).