There are many references to the number seven in the Bible. What is this significance of this number and what does it mean or represent in Scripture?
Seven, the Template for Mankind
The number seven is a number of completeness, divine perfection or something that is finished, as in the creation week in Genesis one. Even though God spends six days in creating the earth, He could have done it all on one day but I believe God is giving a pattern for mankind to follow. That is, God is showing that since He worked six days, so should we. God rested on the seventh day, not that He was tired but as an example for us to follow. In fact, we are command to both work six days and to rest on the seventh as given in the Fourth Commandment in Exodus 34:21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.” Notice that God says “Six days you shall work” signifying that mankind is commanded to work for six days before being commanded to rest; therefore both work and rest are commanded and by His doing so, He gives us a pattern or an example of which we are to follow.
Creation and the designation for a week were both complete and finished in seven days which indicates that seven is a number of completion or a finished work. God’s use of the number seven elsewhere in Scripture frequently has meaning and purpose as we shall read later on.
Other Significances in Seven
- No animal could be sacrificed until it was seven days old (Ex 22:30).
- There were seven “I AM’s” in the Gospel of John that Jesus used when He spoke of Himself.
- The Lord would discipline Israel up to sevenfold (up to seven times) if they refused to obey Him (Lev 26:18).
- Jesus mentions seven woes (or judgments) on the unrepentant in Matthew 23.
- Jesus also mentions seven parables in Matthew 13.
- There were seven letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation (2, 3).
- There were also seven trumpets announcing judgments by God in the Book of Revelation (8).
- There were seven signs given in the Gospel of John.
- There were seven pairs of clean animals that were received into the Ark (Gen 7:2).
- Joshua and Israel marched around Jericho seven times while seven priests blew seven trumpets before the walls came crashing down (Joshua 6:3-4).
- Elisha told the military commander Naaman to bathe in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:10).
- There were seven qualities or attributes of the Messiah mentioned in Isaiah 11:2.
- There are seven things that the Lord hates mentioned in Proverbs 6:16.
- There were seven stems on the lampstand in the tabernacle (Ex 25:37).
- There were seven angels pouring out seven bowls of the wrath of God in the Book of Revelation (16:1).
There are so many other references to the number seven that this article could go on and on but I believe you see the point. The number seven in the Bible represents divine perfection, totality or completion and is mentioned at least 490 times. God created mankind and beasts on the sixth day and so six is a number that represents mankind and also represents created things. Even the number 666 mentioned in the Bible where the number of the beast is also called the number of man (Rev 13:18) so just as six is symbolic or representative of mankind, and seven is symbolic of God’s work and just as six falls short of seven by one number, so man will always fall short of God’s standard (Rom 3:23). I urge you not to put too much stock in the significance of the number seven when you see it in the Bible because sometimes the number seven simply means the number of seven and it may have no special significance to it at all. This is even more so when we encounter the number seven in our everyday life. It is not a lucky number or the number of God. God is not tied to any created thing. He is sovereign over all things and all circumstances.
The number seven is a number of divine perfection or completion but if you have never had a day when you repented and trusted in Christ, your end will be anything but perfect. You still have the wrath of God abiding on you (John 3:18b, 36b) and will face a Holy God on Judgment Day (Rev 20:11-15) and so if you don’t have Jesus’ own righteousness imputed on your behalf (2 Cor 5:21) then your eternity will be spent outside of the presence of God and be forever separated from any chance of repentance and eternal life. You can only be complete before God in Christ, so if you have never been born again, then today is the day for you to be saved (2 Cor 6:2) because tomorrow may be too late.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon