Number Seven (7) – Introduction

Number Seven (7) – Introduction

Number Seven (7) – Introduction.

Seven : a Biblical symbol for perfection, completion, fullness, fulfillment, wholeness, finished. 

A case can be made that seven (7) is God’s favorite number. Because of what it represents, the number seven seems woven into the very fabric of Holy Scripture. Between the Hebrew Bible (OT), and the Gospels (NT), the number seven is mentioned in well over 700 passages, which is an interesting fact. It is commonplace to have a number symbolize something when we communicate… Thanks a million! (an abundance); That’s a ten out of ten! (excellence); I’ve told you a hundred times! (frequency); Don’t wear number thirteen! (bad luck); They are definitely a pair (a committed couple). Sure enough, seven has its own biblical meaning and is used a million times, it seems!

Various sevens in the Hebrew Bible include:

  • 7 days of creation, the 7th being the Sabbath day, completing God’s initial creation;
  • the 7 colors of the rainbow of promise, the full spectrum of beauty in the sky;
  • the Sabbatical year every 7th year, completing the first cycle, during which the slaves were released, the debts were forgiven, and the land enjoyed some rest from cultivation;
  • the Jubilee year, 7 sabbatical year cycles, completing the bigger cycle of 49 years, during which all land was returned to the original owners, the land was at rest, and all hired workers were to be set free;
  • Noah bringing 7 pairs of clean animals onto the ark, all that was needed;
  • the 7 sprinkles of blood by the priest on the red heifer;
  • the menorah, with 7 lamps on the tabernacle lampstand, representing the fullness of creation;
  • Israel being punished 7-fold for “walking contrary to God in disobedience” (Lev. 26:14-21);
  • the light of the sun will be 7-fold during the messianic era, all the light that is needed (Is. 30:26);
  • the 7 days of Passover with unleavened bread, the complete remembrance;
  • the Jews in exile in Babylon for 70 years because they failed to observe 7 sabbatical years (according to Jewish tradition);
  • the 7 things that God completely hates, in Proverbs 6:16;
  • the deceitful person with 7 abominations in his heart, completely deceitful, perfectly abhorrent to God (Proverbs 26:25).
  • the dominance of the number 7 in the destruction of Jericho (Joshua 6);
  • the 7 times of daily prayer stated by the psalmist in Ps. 119:164, which developed into the Christian Liturgy of the Hours, covering a complete day’s time.

In each of these passages, the number seven represents the completion of something, the fulfillment of something, the perfection of something, the finished product or event.

The life of Jesus in the Gospels also revealed varied appearances of the number seven:

  • the 7 petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13);
  • the 7 I AM metaphors to describe Christ’s character and mission;
  • the unlimited forgiveness of 70 x 7 offenses (Luke 17:4);
  • the 7 woes against the Pharisees (Matt. 23);
  • Jesus’ 7 healings on the Sabbath;
  • the 7 loaves of bread given to Jesus to multiply;
  • the 7 demons cast out of Mary Magdalene;
  • the 7 unclean spirits that possessed completely the unfortunate man in Luke 11:26;
  • the 7 last statements of Christ on the Cross.
  • the 7 signs in the Gospel of John.

Once again, seven denotes completion, fulfillment, perfection, wholeness, finished.

The number seventy (70) is also significant in Scripture:

  • the traditional number of Gentile nations in Genesis 10;
  • the number of descendants in Jacob’s clan who settled in Egypt (Ex. 1:5)
  • the number of elders in the Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin;
  • the 70 men appointed to assist Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 11);
  • the 70 disciples sent out by Jesus to minister to the neighboring towns and villages (Luke 10).

One particular number mentioned that many times is not coincidence. It is significant. Scripture reveals that seven represents an idea that is part of so many passages that it would be tiresome and tedious to relate them all. God decided in His wisdom to create the universe in seven days, and the number 7 has been kept busy ever since. Many theologians consider seven to be a holy number because of its weighty presence in Scripture. It would be foolhardy to argue against that. Knowing what seven means in the context of a biblical passage will help us to understand that passage better. Seven (7), the biblical number that tops all other numbers.