When it comes to numbers in The Bible, there’s a lot you can say. However, being an English teacher I’m going to keep it brief and also because I think that when it comes to numerical data in The Bible – less is more.
However, I acknowledge that could be a personal bias, so if you want to explore further than this post, do an online search. Just be aware that as with all things Bible, there are people who go mental with this numbers thing.
If there’s one number you take away from this post, then take seven. It symbolises ideas of completion, wholeness and perfection. The significance of seven is right there in the opening pages of The Bible when God creates the world in six days and then rests on the seventh. Seven days makes a complete (or whole) week and that’s how The Bible thinks about the number as well.
For example: The Jews march around Jericho for seven days before the walls come tumbling down. Seven = job done.
Often things are grouped in threes for effect (and completion, also). This is why God’s number is 777 and the Devil’s is 666. From The Bible’s perspective the devil is short of perfection. Hence, subtract one.
Ten and Twelve
Again, ten and twelve are numbers that are code for perfection and completion.
There are examples of ten in The Bible but twelve is really the front runner of these two.
There were twelve sons of Jacob who headed up the twelve tribes of Israel. There were twelve disciples that Jesus called to follow him and when Judas betrayed Jesus and committed suicide, he was replaced by a guy called Matthias – because there has to be twelve for it to be complete.
Additionally this is why in Revelation when the disciple, John has a vision of ‘the new Jerusalem’ it has a high wall with twelve gates, twelve angels, twelve foundations, is 12,000 stadia in width and length and has a wall that is 144,000 cubits thick “by man’s measurement”.
This is why I think the numbers thing is symbolic.
My personal belief, for the minute amount that it is worth, is that you can’t measure a spiritual realm or spiritual architecture with man’s measurements. Because our brains are human brains we cannot yet understand God properly, so he explains things in ways that we do understand, if we’re aware of the code words and numbers.
A city that is built with a whole bunch of lengths based on twelve or twelve squared, is architecture that is perfect (Stand aside Kevin McCloud, you ain’t seen nothing yet).
The Heavenly Jerusalem: It’s big. It’s complete. And it’s perfect.
This is why, as I mentioned last week, I don’t think there will be literally 144,000 people in heaven. I believe that this number in Revelation means that everyone who is supposed to be there, will be there and there will be many.
Yours in counting,