'The Number Seven'

Saturday Reflection

20th June 2020

Interesting facts about the number 7 in the scriptures.

Yesterday we looked at the significance of the number 40.
Another significant number is the number 7.
It is especially prominent in Scripture, appearing over 700 times.
7 is the number of days taken to create the earth and all that is in it, when we include the day of rest.
In the New Testament the number 7 symbolizes the unity of the four corners of the Earth with the Holy Trinity.
The number 7 is also featured in the Book of Revelation
(seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven stars).

The number 7 was the most sacred number to the Hebrews
and considered to be the number of the spiritual perfection
because it is a symbol of God's work.
King David referred to the number 7 in describing the perfect nature of God's words
when he wrote that the Lord's words are flawless,

'like gold refined seven times.'(Psalm 12:6)

When the prophet Isaiah described the coming Messiah,
he listed 7 qualities that the Saviour would have.
He would be
"born of a virgin",
"Emmanuel, God with us",
both God and man,
a descendent of David,
he will rule as king,
"wonderful counsellor",
"Prince of Peace."

When it comes to healing, the prophet Elisha
directed Naaman the leper to bathe in the Jordan River seven times
to be healed (2 Kings 5:9-10, 14);
and Jesus performed seven healing miracles that on the Sabbath,
or, the seventh day of the week;
A man with a deformed hand (Matthew 12:9-13);
A man possessed by an unclean spirit (Mark 1:23-26);
Peter's mother-in-law with fever (Mark 1:29-31);
A woman crippled by a spirit (Luke 13:10-13);
A man with abnormal swelling of the body (Luke 14:1-4);
A lame man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:5-9); and
A man born blind (John 9:1-7).

When Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone,
suggesting 7 times (obviously trying to look virtuous
as the Jewish law said 3 times) Jesus replied,
'seventy times seven.' (Matt. 18:21-22)
He wasn't telling Peter (and us)
literally to forgive 490 times but to forgive completely.

When looking at the number 7 in the setting of perfection,
Jesus spoke in a grouping of seven when
He was asked how we should pray (Matthew 6:9-13)
In response, Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer,
surely a perfect way to pray considering that the words came from Jesus Himself!
The Lord's Prayer contains seven petitions:

Hallowed be your name;
Your Kingdom come;
Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread;
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us;
Lead us not into temptation; and
Deliver us from evil.

Jesus again spoke in a grouping of seven
when He used seven metaphors to describe Himself as the way to salvation.
Jesus tells us He is:
The bread of life (John 6:35);
The light of the world (John 8:12);
The gate to salvation (John 10:9);
The good shepherd (John 10:11);
The resurrection and the life (John 11:25-26);
The vine (John 15:5).
The way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6);

The number seven also denotes completion at the Crucifixion,
when Jesus spoke seven statements in agony from the Cross.
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34);
"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43);
"Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" (John 19:26-27);
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46);
"I thirst," (John 19:28);
"It is finished" (John 19:30); and
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!"(Luke 23:46)

The Bible's widespread use of the number seven,
in connection with such subjects as completion,
forgiveness, and the fulfilment of promises,
suggests that God gives a sacred nature to the number seven.

However, not every mention of that number in Scripture
has a sacred association attached to it.
Is all this just speculation?
Are we reading more into the subject than is intended?

As with yesterday's number 40
we need to remember that we can never fathom
the depths of God's mind and that

'...just as the heavens are higher than the Earth,
so are the Lord's ways higher than our ways
and His thoughts higher than our thoughts '(Isaiah 55:9).