QUESTION: I have heard that certain numbers have significance when they appear in the Bible. Is this true?
ANSWER: Yes, I believe that this is true. A Bible scholar by the name of F.W. Grant wrote many years ago that "The Lord had led me into the discovery of a numerical structure everywhere pervading Scripture." He has written seven excellent commentaries comprehensively tracing this through many of the books in the Bible. These commentaries are called, "The Numerical Bible." I will only point out a few of the meanings of these numbers.
Seven is the number of perfection. "It often seems to merely indicate a complete view or accomplishment." The seven parables of Matthew 13 give a complete view of the kingdom of heaven. The addresses to the seven churches give a complete history of the church from the day of Pentecost to the rapture (Revelation 2:1-3:22). The book that the Lord Jesus opens is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb, our Saviour, is seen in Revelation as having seven horns and seven eyes. There are seven trumpet judgments and seven bowl judgments.
Six seems to give the idea of weakness and of sin in its full development. It is the number of the Beast, or the Anti-Christ. It is that person who will play such a terrible part during the seven years of the tribulation period. As we read in Revelation 13:18: "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the Beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is ."
Forty seems to be the number of testing. Israel spent forty years in the wilderness on their journey to the promised land of Canaan. The Lord Himself was tested forty days in the wilderness (Luke 4:2).
Fifty was also a significant number for Israel. After they had waved their sheaf of firstfruits unto the Lord they counted fifty days and then they came with rejoicing bringing their free-will offerings unto the Lord (Leviticus 23:10-21). It was on that day, called Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit came down and baptized all believers into the Church, which is the body of Christ (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 12:13). That chapter ends with believers "praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).
Fifty also reminds me of the number of years (50) that Moments With The Book has been used of the Lord in the publishing and distribution of tracts, books, and other messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only eternity will reveal the results of this work. But it is to "God who giveth the increase" that all glory belongs. It is the Lord who has provided the funds and steadfast servants who have worked diligently to sow the Good Seed of the gospel. Precious is the promise that their "labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
—John D. McNeil
The Jubilee is the fiftieth year, following the seventh Sabbatical one, as Pentecost, the fiftieth day, followed the seventh Sabbatical day from the sheaf of resurrection. Pentecost is the day after the Sabbath—an eighth day—first of a new week, a type of new creation blessing. This Pentecost of years is similarly an eighth year, and the type of new covenant mercies. It is in the grace of the new covenant that the nation can and will be restored; and thus it is, as the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles has assured us, that the blessing runs on without break from time into eternity.
And then this fiftieth year, how beautiful an overflow of the Sabbatic is it in its meaning (5 x 10), man with Almighty God, and capacity in grace to walk before Him! On the day of atonement that trumpet of Jubilee sounds, after the scape-goat has carried away the people's sins where they are never more found. "In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession" (Leviticus 25:13). True of Israel's land, so that they shall certainly return to it; true also of our heavenly inheritance. Lord, keep us mindful of our Jubilee—Thy coming for us!
—Condensed from The Numerical Bible, Vol. 1, by F.W. Grant