What Does the Number Four (4) Mean or Represent in the Bible?

What Does the Number Four (4) Mean or Represent in the Bible? November 4, 2014

Numbers often have meaning in the Bible and so what is the number 4 representative of in the Bible?

The Four Seasons

There are four seasons that God instituted on the earth. On the fourth day of creation, the physical universe was completed.  This was where the sun, the moon, the stars and the entire universe was finished (Genesis 1:14 -19).  I believe the number 4 is derived from its place in creation because the physical universe was established and set in motion on the 4th day of the creation week.  Even the 4th Commandment is related to God’s resting from His creative work and this day of rest is commanded for his the creatures that He created for His glory and that being the Sabbath day.  The Hebrew word used in Genesis for “fourth” is “rĕbiy`iy” and is interesting because it means “the fourth” or “four square” or the “forth part” and the fourth commandment relates to the physical world in which God set aside for His creatures a day of rest as He Himself did on this day.

The Four Corners of the Earth

There are four given directions on the earth.  There is north, south, east, and west and these are set by God as a divine imperative. As in the Hebrew word for four or fourth “rĕbiy`iy” there are four directions that someone can go from the point from where they are.  The “four square” meaning of the Hebrew word for fourth makes us think about the four corners of the earth.  There are also four directions that we can go in the physical universe; up, down, to the left and to the right.   The so-called “fourth dimension” is sometimes called the “tesseract” which refers to the hypothetical fourth spatial dimension.

The Four Rivers of Eden

Just as in the New Jerusalem that descends out of heaven, there were four rivers in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10–14).  These rivers names were Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel and the Euphrates and their names in the order given mean “increase,” “bursting forth,” “rapid,” and “fruitfulness” which is relevant to the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem or the Kingdom of Heaven that will come down to earth after Christ’s return and His judging the world (Rev 21).

The Four Angels

During what many people consider the Great Tribulation there will be four angels that come down from heaven.  John writes about this in the Book or Revelation in chapter 7 in verses 1-4 “After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

The Four Living Creatures

Ezekiel tries to describe the indescribable when he tries to depict the four living creatures in Ezekiel 1:5-10 “And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings.  Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.  Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went.  As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.” There has been much debate among scholars as to the meaning of these 4 living creatures but they seem to have at least some of the same attributes of God like the strength of a lion and the quickness and eyesight of an eagle but one thing is for certain is that trying to describe what Ezekiel saw is just too difficult to describe with words.  It’s like what one scholar said…it’s like trying to unscrew the inscrutable.

Other Things Related to Four

There are four gospels.  Why did God see the need for us to have four gospels?  Perhaps it’s because we needed to see Jesus from 4 different perspectives.  Just like 4 court room witnesses, they are seeing the same thing but they see it from a different angle and each adding important details the others might have missed.  Even though they are all right, they give us a side of Christ that we might miss if we only had one side of Him to see.  For one thing, Matthew wrote from the Jewish side of things since He included ties to the Old Testament, all of which pointed to Christ as the fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah. Mark, who it is believed recorded Peter’s account of his time with Christ, wrote for a Gentile audience.  Luke wrote with the Gentile’s in mind but his gospel is one of historical consequence.  The Gospel of John is decidedly different and is not considered part of what are called the “synoptic gospels” and his gospel is one that emphasized the divinity of Christ.  Perhaps this was due to the growing influence of the Gnostics who did not believe in the humanity of Christ.

Conclusion

If you have never repented and trusted in Christ then there is only one number that will have meaning to you someday and it will not be a good one at all.  If you have rejected believing in Christ, please read what your final fate will be in Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” There is no chance to repent at that time, therefore I beg you to consider placing your trust in the Savior today while it is still called today (2 Cor 6:2).

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

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