complement of faith
Although not as prevalent as others, the number one is still important. It is the number of unity and has its greatest expression in the Shema. The Shema comes from Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!" We call it the "Shema" because the first word of the verse is "Hear," which translates the Hebrew shama. The purpose of the verse is to remind us that there is one God. As Moses said, "To you it is shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him."
Two is a powerful number and has deep significance. It signifies mutual support and often stands for work done on behalf of God.
The number three is one of the best known and most used numbers in the Bible. It is the number of completeness, although that one word doesn't carry enough meaning to cover adequately all the varied uses of the number. No single word could do justice to it.
Four is the "earth" number. While that may sound like something from a New Age book, it is not. Four describes the earth or its surface in some ways. For example, the first mention of four is the Book of Genesis. Speaking of Eden, the text states, "Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers." In the book of Isaiah, God speaks of "the four corners of the earth." God designed our planet to have four seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring.
Five is a number that is associated with worship. The number is repeated many times in the construction of Solomon's temple. For example, the wing length of the standing cherubim statues in the Holy of Holies was five cubits for each wing. There were ten lamp-stands, five on one side of the building and five on the other (see 1 Kings 7:49).
Of all the numbers in the Bible, six gets the most attention. In Revelation, there is a mention of the mark of the Beast. The infamous number 666 has clouded the actual meaning of the basic numeral. Six is a number of man. It is not an evil number. Indeed, in many ways it is a holy number. While the mark of the Beast mentioned in revelation is evil, it is the diabolic Beast that is evil, not the number six.
Every Bible student knows this number well. It is the crown prince of numbers. The number of explicit usages of seven, as well as those hidden a layer or two deeper in the text, is enormous. Seven is the "God number," the number of perfection.
Eight is also a significant number. It represents a new start. Eight people survived the great flood: Noah and his wife, the three sons and their wives. Peter noted, "When the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water."
Nine is the number of spiritual empowerment. In the Book of Galatians, Paul lists nine segments of the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." What makes this passage so interesting is the play on numbers. There are nine descriptions of the fruit, but the word fruit is singular. In other words, there is only one fruit of the Spirit (remember, one represents unity), but there are nine evidences of that fruit. As a single orange has many segments, so the single fruit of the Spirit has nine segments.
This number is associated with human government and kingdoms. Daniel and Revelation speak of ten nations. When the nation of Israel split into two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom was composed of ten tribes.
Twelve is a highly symbolic number and refers to God's appointment and plan. There were twelve tribes in Israel. These tribes could trace their lineage back to Abraham. Twelve became the number of Israel. Jesus twice fed the multitudes by multiplying a small amount of fish and bread. He did this for a primarily Jewish group, then later for a predominately Gentile group. After the first miraculous feeding, the disciples picked up the remaining bread and filled twelve baskets. They gathered seven baskets after the gentile feeding, representing the seven nations driven out by Joshua.
Thirty is associated with sadness and mourning. The people mourned Aaron and Moses for thirty days after their deaths.
Forty is a number that appears many times in the Bible and is associated with judgment or testing.
The number fifty also appears many times in the pages of the Bible. It is associated with celebration. Pentecost, called in the Old Testament the Feast of Weeks, came fifty days after Passover. It was on that day, fifty days after Jesus died, that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples who preached the message of Christ. More than three thousand people received salvation.
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