Sunday, August 5, 2012

More Numbers used in the Bible

Matthew 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

Yesterday I blogged about biblical numerology - that is - the study of how God uses certain numbers in the Bible with different meanings.  We looked at numbers one through ten, noting how they are used in the scriptures.  Today we want to continue this survey, noting more numbers that we can definitely say teach us about the major themes of God's revealed Word.

1. The Number Twelve -The Number of God's people. In the Old Testament we see Israel divided up into twelve tribes.  Jacob, Abraham's grandson, has twelve sons, from whence trhe twelve tribes came.  In the New Testament Christ of course had his twelve disciples.  In Revelation we see references to the 24 elders - most likely pointing back to the twelve sons of Jacob (the patriarchs) and the twelve apostles.  On the foundation of the New Jerusalem there are twelve layers of foundation, inscribed with the names of the Apostles. (Revelation 21:14) 

2. The Number Fourteen - The Number of Redemption. We see this most readily in Matthew Gospel, wherein he mentions three sets of fourteen generations in Jesus' geneaology. 

3. The Numbers Forty & Forty Two - The Numbers of Testing. This number has extensive use throughout the scriptures.  Noah had forty days of testing during the flood when it rained for forty days and forty nights.  (Genesis 7:4)  Moses went up and down Mount Sinai three times, each times for a forty day period of time.  The spies of Israel in Numbers 13-14 spied out the land for forty days and brough back a bad report.  For forty years they wandered following their unbelief, and ended up traveling to 42 different locations. 

Saul reigned in Israel 40 years, so did David and so did Solomon.  The Kings following the reign of Solomon, when you add them all up, equalled forty in number.  Elijah the Prophet fasted for forty days.  Christ was tempted for forty days.  Many more significant patterns could be mentioned, but the primary thrust of this number is that of testing God's people for the purposes of either: purification, preparation or proving.

4. The Number Fifty - The Number of celebration. Fifty days after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, the Law of God was revealed to them on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 12-20)  The Jews, every fifty years, celebrate Jubilee, wherein all debts were cancelled, all slaves were set free and houses returned.  We also come to the New Testament and see the Holy Spirit coming on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus' resurrection. (Acts 2)

5. The Number 1,000 - The Number of Kingdom. When David killed Goliath, the women of Israel sang: "David killed his thousands, but David His tens of thousands." In Psalm 90 we read that a thousand years is like a day unto the Lord.  Scholars debate whether the thousand years in Revelation 20 are literal years or figuarative.  Those that take Revelation 20 to be referring to a figurative view of the 1,000 years often appeal to passages such as Psalm 90.  Others who take the 1,000 years to be more literal, stress that six times in that chapter we find the number mentioned.  We will leave further discussion about Revelation 20 for another time - since it would take us beyond the scope of today's blog. Whichever view one takes, there can be no doubt that the Kingdom or Reign of God is in view. 

The above numbers are some of the more significant ones mentioned in the scripture.  I would encourage the Bible student to tuck them away as useful tools in studying through God's Word. 

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