Numbers as Symbols

Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 42:8; Zechariah 14:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 3:20; Mark 12:29; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 12:11,13; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 4:4-5; Hebrews 10:14; Deuteronomy 19:15; 2 Corinthians 13:1; Numbers 14:6-9; Joshua 2:1; Zechariah 4:3; Revelation 11:3-4; Hebrews 6:17-18; Matthew 18:19; Matthew 18:20; Colossians 1:19; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; John 12:28; 1 John 5:7-8; Luke 24:44; Ecclesiastes 4:12; Luke 13:32; Genesis 22:4; Acts 9:9; Jeremiah 49:36; Revelation 20:8; Numbers 10:14-25; Ezekiel 1:5-8; Revelation 4:6; Numbers 7:17-83; Leviticus 26:8; John 6:9; 1 Corinthians 14:19; Matthew 25:2; 1 Kings 10:19; 1 Kings 10:14; John 2:6; Revelation 13:18; Numbers 8:2; Zechariah 4:2; Leviticus 4:6,17; Leviticus 8:11; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; Revelation 1:4; Proverbs 26:25; Revelation 13:1; Matthew 18:22; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; Revelation 17:11; Exodus 7-12; Exodus 34:28; Genesis 14:20; Numbers 18:21,26; Matthew 25; Luke 19:13; Revelation 17:12,16; Revelation 12:1; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 21:12-21; John 11:9; Exodus 24:18; Numbers 13:25; Acts 13:18; 1 Samuel 17:16; Jonah 3:4; Mark 1:13
There can be little doubt that numerals are used in scripture as symbols; and by comparing the instances in which any numeral is employed the idea hidden in it may often be arrived at. The signification of some numbers is too obvious to be mistaken; that of others is less apparent. In some cases the symbolical number may be discovered where the numeral itself is not mentioned: as, for instance, under three we may class the law, the psalms, and the prophets; spirit, soul, and body, and so forth. A few references only are given here for each number.
ONE. Supremacy, exclusiveness.
TWO. Distinctness, and hence adequate testimony and fellowship when in agreement.
THREE. Divine fullness or completeness, and hence perfection in testimony.
God—Father, Son, and Spirit. This fullness was pleased to dwell in the Son of His love (Col. 1:1919For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (Colossians 1:19)).
The Lord Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King; Son of God, Son of Man, and Son of David.
Faith, hope, and love are elements of christian life here.
FOUR. Completeness in that which is created or ordained of God.
In the arranging the camp of Israel there were four standards (Num. 10:14-2514In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab. 15And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel the son of Zuar. 16And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon. 17And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle. 18And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elizur the son of Shedeur. 19And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 20And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel. 21And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came. 22And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elishama the son of Ammihud. 23And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. 24And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni. 25And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rereward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. (Numbers 10:14‑25)).
FIVE. Human weakness in its appreciation of obligation.
In the dedication of the tabernacle each prince offered for a peace offering two oxen, five rams, five he goats, and five lambs (Num. 7:17-8317And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab. 18On the second day Nethaneel the son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, did offer: 19He offered for his offering one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 20One spoon of gold of ten shekels, full of incense: 21One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 22One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 23And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Nethaneel the son of Zuar. 24On the third day Eliab the son of Helon, prince of the children of Zebulun, did offer: 25His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 26One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 27One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 28One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 29And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Eliab the son of Helon. 30On the fourth day Elizur the son of Shedeur, prince of the children of Reuben, did offer: 31His offering was one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 32One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 33One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 34One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 35And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Elizur the son of Shedeur. 36On the fifth day Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, prince of the children of Simeon, did offer: 37His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 38One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 39One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 40One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 41And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 42On the sixth day Eliasaph the son of Deuel, prince of the children of Gad, offered: 43His offering was one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty shekels, a silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 44One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 45One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 46One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 47And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Eliasaph the son of Deuel. 48On the seventh day Elishama the son of Ammihud, prince of the children of Ephraim, offered: 49His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 50One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 51One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 52One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 53And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Elishama the son of Ammihud. 54On the eighth day offered Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, prince of the children of Manasseh: 55His offering was one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 56One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 57One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 58One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 59And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. 60On the ninth day Abidan the son of Gideoni, prince of the children of Benjamin, offered: 61His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 62One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 63One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 64One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 65And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Abidan the son of Gideoni. 66On the tenth day Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, prince of the children of Dan, offered: 67His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 68One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 69One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 70One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 71And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. 72On the eleventh day Pagiel the son of Ocran, prince of the children of Asher, offered: 73His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 74One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 75One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 76One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 77And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Pagiel the son of Ocran. 78On the twelfth day Ahira the son of Enan, prince of the children of Naphtali, offered: 79His offering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering: 80One golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 81One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: 82One kid of the goats for a sin offering: 83And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year: this was the offering of Ahira the son of Enan. (Numbers 7:17‑83)).
The disciples could only provide five barley loaves and two small fishes when the five thousand were fed (John 6:99There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? (John 6:9)).
In the parable of the virgins there were five wise and five foolish (Matt. 25:22And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (Matthew 25:2)).
SIX. Incompleteness, imperfection (one short of the perfect number seven).
Six hundred sixty and six talents of gold were brought him in a year (1 Kings 10:1414Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold, (1 Kings 10:14)); yet he had to confess that all was vanity and vexation of spirit.
The Jews at Cana had six water-pots for purification (John 2:66And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. (John 2:6)); but they expressed the insufficiency of ordinances to meet man’s need.
SEVEN. Spiritual completeness, generally in good but occasionally in evil.
It is the compound of three and four, and the highest single indivisible number.
Seven days in a week, every seventh day was a day of rest, every seventh year was a year of rest for the land, and every seven times seven years brought the jubilee.
Creation was complete on the seventh day, God’s rest being the result.
In the Revelation “seven” occurs frequently; the symbol is found therein more than seven times seven.
EIGHT. A new departure outside of, but connected with, creation-order: hence in resurrection.
Circumcision was on the eighth day, when a new communion was entered into.
The resurrection-day may be called the eighth, the day after the seventh, the Jewish sabbath.
TEN. Complete ground of human responsibility.
Pharaoh was visited by ten plagues (Ex. 7-12).
Ten virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom (Matt. 25).
TWELVE. Completeness administratively, that is, in what is set forth or displayed manward.
(The first most divisible of the earlier numbers.) There were,
twelve patriarchs,
ancestors of the twelve tribes,
who are commemorated in the twelve loaves on the table,
the twelve stones in the breastplate and
twelve names on the shoulders of the high priest;
the twelve stones taken out of Jordan, and
the twelve stones placed in the bed of the river;
Through the twelve apostles the Lord fed the hungry multitudes.
The new Jerusalem will have twelve foundations for its walls
with the names of the twelve apostles;
it will have twelve gates,
consisting of twelve pearls,
with the names of the twelve tribes inscribed,
the gates will be attended by twelve angels (Rev. 21:12-2112And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. 17And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. 18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. (Revelation 21:12‑21)).
The flexibility of administrative perfection may be seen in:
Six-twos: Two apostles in each of the six companies sent to preach.
Two-sixes: Six loaves in each of the two rows of shewbread.
Three fours: Four rows of three names each on the breastplate.
Four-threes: Three gates on each of the four sides of the new Jerusalem.
FORTY = 10 x 4. Complete probation to bring to light good or evil.
Moses was forty years in the desert, being himself tried;
Saul, David, Solomon, and Jehoash were each tested by a reign of forty years.
Elijah’s period of testing at Horeb was forty days.