By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
Of the numbers we see in the Bible, seven appears to show up far more frequently than most others. God creates the world in seven days, if we include the resting day (Genesis 1). In fact, we see seven appear more than 700 times throughout the Bible. Jacob works seven years for Laban before he marries his daughter (Genesis 29). We also can’t seem to escape seven in Revelation in terms of seals, trumpets, and more.
Let’s look at how the number seven has a deeper meaning and significance than mere coincidence.
What Meaning and Significance Do Numbers Have in the Bible?
Although not every number has a deeper meaning in Scripture, frequently used numbers such as three, seven, and 12 often have historical, philosophical, and prophetic underpinnings throughout Scripture.
Seven is no exception to this. Many theologians consider seven to be a holy number, some even saying it’s the number of God.
Why is 7 called the number of God?
Often, we see the number seven in reference to holy works of God. God creates the earth in seven days (Genesis 1). He commands the Israelites to make the seventh day of the week, Sabbath, a holy day filled with no working activities (Exodus 20:8-11).
As mentioned in this video, seven tends to represent something is being finished or complete. Hence, God’s creation was complete on the seventh day. It also tends to represent divine perfection.
So when someone upholds the Sabbath, they uphold (or fulfill) a divine command.
The video above juxtaposes seven with the number six. Man was created on the sixth day, and six is never as great as seven. Later in this article we’ll see how 666 falls short of holiness, divine perfection, and completeness.
Although there are many occurrences of the number seven in the Bible, let's take a look at 7 specific and significant meanings behind the use of 7 in the bible.
1. Seven as a holy number
God describes the Sabbath as a holy day, the seventh day of the week (Deuteronomy 5:12-14). Although mankind can work for six days, six being the number often associated with man, they dedicate the seventh one, the number associated with God, to God.
In the Jewish calendar, in addition to the seven days of the week, one resting, they had a resting year after 49 years (7x7) of work. During this year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25), no work would be done, slaves would be freed, and property would be restored to its rightful owners.
2. Seven feasts or Jewish holidays
Speaking of the Jewish calendar, we see seven different feasts take prominence throughout Scripture:
Passover: Celebrating their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites once a year would gather together (Leviticus 23:5) to sacrifice a lamb (later represented by Jesus, who was sacrificed around the time of Passover), and partake of a meal. Still celebrated today, this meal includes bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and baked eggs, among other items; to remember the time in Egypt.
Unleavened Bread: Right after Passover, this feast (Leviticus 23:6) includes a seven-day celebration with meals using bread made without yeast to remember their time after Egypt when they wandered in the wilderness.
Feast of Weeks: Seven weeks after the First Fruits, this festival would include an offering of two loaves of leavened bread, known later as Pentecost.
Yom Kippur: One of the highest of the holiest days, this would be a holiday where the Israelites would come together to confess their sins (Leviticus 23:27).
Feast of Tabernacles or Booths: The third of the harvest festivals, this feast celebrated God’s provision and protection when they wandered in the desert.
3. Seven Churches in Revelation
The book of Revelation starts by addressing seven different churches (Revelation 2-3) who are in varying degrees of their spiritual walks. Some, like Smyrna, appear to have strong walks in the faith (Revelation 2), while others, like Laodicea, have no good marks and a terrible lukewarm spiritual fervor (Revelation 3:14-22).
4. Seven x 10 (70) years of captivity
When the Israelites enter captivity, they resided in Babylon for 70 years (7x10, Jeremiah 25:8-12). Every seven years was supposed to be a year of rest (the year of Jubilee had other items in addition to this). Israelites failed to observe 70 Sabbath years, hence the 70 years in captivity.
5. Seven in Relation to 666
As mentioned before, six tends to be associated with man. God created man on the sixth day. The devil’s number, or the number of man rather than the number of God (7), is 666 (Revelation 13:18).
By contrast, seven is greater than six. Although the devil will create false religions, governments, and economic systems, as stated in this article, he will not be able to overcome seven.
6. Seven x 10 Weeks until God’s Everlasting Righteousness
In Daniel (Daniel 9), he mentions a period of 70 weeks which, at the end of those weeks, God will bring about everlasting righteousness. Theologians haven’t agreed on when this period started or ended, but at the 70th week, God will put an end to sin.
7. Seven Seals, Trumpets, Bowls, and More in Revelation
In Revelation, we have quite a few series of punishments, pouring out the wrath of God upon the earth. Throughout Revelation we see a pattern of sevens in terms of God’s judgment.
The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpet judgments that wreak destruction with hail and fire. The seventh trumpet calls forth seven angels who carry the seven bowls of God’s wrath. God can indeed manage His creation in seven.
What Should Christians Remember about the Number 7?
Seven is a holy number that often represents completion or divine fulfilment. God has used seven multiple times throughout Scripture for Jewish festivals, and he isn’t done yet.
We will experience the fullness of seven in the seventieth week mentioned in Daniel as well as witness the various sevens mentioned in Revelation that have yet to take place.
All in all, we should remember that not every seven mentioned in Scripture is a holy seven. We should always exercise caution when it comes to biblical symbolism and check everything against Scripture and the original context.
But when we do read through the Old and New Testament, we can see God using numbers to bring about his kingdom.
Through analyzing this number, we can see the intricate patterns by which God has used in history, throughout Scripture, and in the age to come.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 450 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel “Den” for July 2020. Find out more about her here.
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