The Biblical significance of the Devine # 7
Used 735 times (54 times in the book of Revelation alone), the number 7 is the foundation of God’s word. If we include with this count how many times ‘sevenfold’ (6) and ‘seventh’ (119) is used, our total jumps to 860 references.
Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It derives much of its meaning from being tied directly to God’s creation of all things. The word ‘created’ is used 7 times describing God’s creative work. There are 7 days in a week and God’s Sabbath is on the 7th day. From the Seven Days of Genesis to the Seven Seals of Revelation, Scripture is saturated with the Number Seven. God laid the foundation of its meaning when He introduced this number in the context of His finished Work of Creation (Gen 2:2-3): And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
God introduced the Number Seven as a symbol of the completion of His initial creative act. But the work that He ended on the Seventh Day in the First Book was really just the beginning of the Biblical revelation of all history that He consummated in the Last Book. And it is here that we see the Divine consistency of the Number Seven as a Biblical symbol; God used it with exactly the same meaning when He revealed the end of time, described as the completion of the “mystery of God,” in Revelation 10:5-7 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The word translated as finished is the Greek teléo, which generally means to bring to a close, to complete, to end, to fulfill. This word appears again in Revelation 15:1 which explicitly states the reason for seven angels with seven plagues: And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; because in them is filled up (teléo) the wrath of God.
This verse displays a double emphasis on temporal consummation; the word translated as last is eschatos, whence eschatology, the study of the end times. God reiterated its connection with the Number Seven a third time in Revelation 16:17: And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
This is characteristic of the Bible; most symbols are clearly defined in the text and used quite consistently from Genesis to Revelation. The Number Seven, the numerical symbol of Fullness, Completion, and Perfection, is a prime example of this consistency.
The Bible, as a whole, was originally divided into 7 major divisions. They are 1) the Law; 2) the Prophets; 3) the Writings, or Psalms; 4) the Gospels and Acts; 5) the General Epistles; 6) the Epistles of Paul; and 7) the book of Revelation. The total number of originally inspired books was forty-nine, or 7 x 7, demonstrating the absolute perfection of the Word of God.
Appearances of the number seven
• There are at least seven men in the Old Testament who are specifically mentioned as a man of God. They are Moses (Joshua 14:6), David (2Chronicles 8:14), Samuel (1Samuel 9:6, 14), Shemaiah (1Kings 12:22), Elijah (1Kings 17:18), Elisha (2Kings 5:8) and Igdaliah (Jeremiah 35:4).
• In the book of Hebrews, written by the apostle Paul, he uses seven titles to refer to Christ. The titles are ‘Heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2), ‘Captain of our salvation’ (2:10), ‘Apostle’ (3:1), ‘Author of salvation’ (5:9), ‘Forerunner’ (6:20), ‘High Priest’ (10:21) and the ‘Author and finisher of our faith’ (12:2).
• In Matthew 13 Jesus is quoted as giving seven parables (Matthew 13:3 – 9, 24 – 30, 31 – 32, 33, 44, 45 – 46, 47). Seven Psalms are ascribed to David in the New Testament (Psalm 2, 16, 32, 41, 69, 95 and 109).
• In the book of Revelation there are seven churches, seven angels to the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpet plagues, seven thunders and the seven last plagues. The first resurrection of the dead takes place at the 7th trumpet, completing salvation for the Church.
How is number seven linked with God’s annual Feast Days?
There are 7 annual Holy Days, beginning with Passover and ending with the Last Great Day (the day after the Feast of Tabernacles ends in the fall). The cycle of the holy days is completed in 3 festival seasons by the 7th month of the sacred calendar: Passover and Unleavened Bread, 1st month; Pentecost, 3rd month; and Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and Last Great Day, 7th month.
Additional info on the Biblical Meaning of 7
Jesus performed seven miracles on God’s holy Sabbath Day (which ran from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset), thus affirming its continued sacredness to God and necessity in the life of the believer.
1. Jesus healed the withered hand of a man attending synagogue services (Matthew 12:9)
2. At a Capernaum synagogue he casts out an unclean spirit that possessed a man (Mark 1:21)
3. Right after the above miracle Jesus heals Peter’s wife’s mother of a fever (Mark 1:29)
4. A woman attending synagogue, who was made sick by a demon for eighteen years, is released from her bondage (Luke 13:11)
5. At a Pharisee’s house eating a meal with the host and several lawyers, Jesus heals a man with dropsy (Luke 14:2)
6. A man who is disabled and unable to walk is healed at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:8 – 9)
7. Jesus heals a man born blind at the pool of Siloam (John 9:14)
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6
In Scripture, seven symbolizes completeness or perfection. On the seventh day God rested from his labors and creation is finished (Gn 2:2). Pharaoh in his dream saw seven cattle coming from the Nile (41:2). Samson’s sacred Nazirite locks were braided in seven plaits (Jgs 16:13). Seven devils left Mary of Magdala, signifying the totality of her previous possession by Satan (Lk 8:2); “seven other devils” will enter the purified but vacant life of a person (Mt 12:45). However, on the positive side, there were the seven spirits of God (Rv 3:1). In the seventh year the Hebrew slave was to be freed (Ex 21:2), having completed his time of captivity and service. Every seventh year was a sabbatical year (Lv 25:4). Seven times seven reiterates the sense of completeness. In the Year of Jubilee (at the completion of 7 x 7 years = the 50th year), all land is freed and returns to the original owners (Lv 25:10). Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, is seven times seven days after Passover. “Seventy,” which is literally “sevens” in Hebrew, strengthens the concept of perfection. There are 70 elders (Ex 24:1) in Israel. Israel was exiled to Babylon for 70 years (Jer 25:12) to complete its punishment. “Seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) reiterates this still further. The Lord was not giving Peter a mathematical number of times that he should forgive another person, but rather was insisting on limitless forgiveness for a brother’s sin.
When God introduced the Number Seven as a symbol of the completion of His Work of Creation, He also associated it with sanctification (holiness), declaring that He “blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” Thus God laid the foundation for its application throughout the rest of Scripture. It is a double symbol signifying both completion and sanctification. These ideas natural cohere because sanctification denotes the setting apart or separating of a person or thing as wholly devoted or completely given over to God, as when He separated the Levitical Priests saying “they are wholly given unto me” (Num 8:16), or again when Paul prayed that “the very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (1 Thes 5:23). This is the essence of the Fourth Commandment which mandates the complete cessation of all mundane work and the complete devotion to the things of God. The Christian fulfills this through faith in the finished work of Christ, our eternal Sabbath (Hebrews 4:10).