Numbers in the Bible (2)

New Jerusalem is eternalRevelation is a book of signs. One of the signs is the number twelve frequently encountered in the description of New Jerusalem. Romans 15:4 tells us that “the things that were written previously [including numbers] were written for our instruction.” This post continues a prior look at the spiritual significance of some numbers in the Bible. These numbers have a significance that can be seen in multiple verses. However, these significances should not be applied indiscriminately to every appearance of the number.

Seven

Seven indicates something complete done by God in this age or past ages. Examples are victory by encircling Jericho for seven days (Hebrews 11:30) and the seven Spirits for the seven churches (Revelation 1:4). In Revelation God’s operation to conclude this age involves seven seals (5:5), seven trumpets (8:2), and seven bowls (15:7). Seven also is used for interactions among believers in this age, such as one brother sinning against another seven times and repenting seven times (Luke 17:4). Another example is seven men chosen to distribute bread to the disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6).

Eight

Because seven indicates something complete, eight signifies a new beginning. The proper time for a Jew to be circumcised was the eighth day (Luke 2:21; Philippians 3:5). For a Christian, the reality of circumcision is in Christ, which is through our inclusion in His death, burial, and resurrection (Colossians 2:11-12). Christ is our real new beginning for the new creation (Colossians 1:18).

Ten

Ten is a full period of time, such as ten days from the ascension to Pentecost for the prayer of the 120 disciples (Acts 1:12-14; 2:1) and ten days for the suffering of the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:10). Ten is also a complete number, the outstanding case being the ten commandments. Others are the woman with ten coins in Luke 15, the ten leprous men healed in Luke 17, and the ten slaves in Luke 19. Additionally, ten is the majority of twelve, as in Matthew 20:20-24 and 25:1.

Twelve

Twelve is a number of the new creation. Whereas seven is completion in God’s temporal work, twelve is completion in God’s eternal work. Some twelves, such as those in the description of New Jerusalem, are directly tied to the new creation. Other twelves are symbols of what is eternal, such as raising up the dead twelve-year-old girl in Mark 5, foretelling that there will be no death in new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:4), and twelve handbaskets of bread in Mark 6, portraying the abundant richness of the tree of life.

Twelve is a number of eternity. It certainly indicates the transcendence of time, but it is more than that. Twelve indicates what is eternally perfect in quality, eternally complete in quantity, and eternally rich in composition. Everything that is characterized by twelve displays the unsearchable riches of the Triune God.

One Hundred Forty-Four

One hundred forty-four, in Revelation 7:414:114:3, and 21:17, is twelve times twelve. It speaks of the highest perfection, completeness, and richness.

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10 Comments

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