The Bible is full of symbols that have hidden meanings. These symbols are either in the form of animals, colors, parables, or numbers. One such number is number 8. This is an important number in the Bible because it is directly connected to God’s plan for salvation.
Number 8 typically symbolizes a new beginning or regeneration. God made everything in 6 days and rested on the seventh. After day 7, we do not go back to day 8 but day 1 of the new week. This makes number 8 a restart point of sorts.
There are many other illustrations of the number 8 and how to relates to new beginnings. Let us have a look at these below:
The symbolism of the number 8 in the Bible
We can derive the symbolism of 8 from the Genesis account of creation. According to the creation story, God created heaven and earth and everything therein in six days and then rested on the 7th day. This established the framework of a 7-day week that we still use today. In counting the days of the week, the week ends on the 7th day and we restart a new week. In other words, the 8th day counts as the first day of the new week. This is the first hint at the number 8 indicating new beginnings.
Another illustration of this can be found in the Genesis account of the flood. God told Noah who he would bring into the ark. God told him that he could only bring his wife, his sons, and their wives into the ark (Genesis 6:18). Noah had three sons and so we can infer that 8 humans were admitted on the ark. Apostle Peter says as much in the following scripture;
to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it, only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (1 Pet. 3:20).
From the time man sinned in Eden, the situation of sin seemed to be getting from bad to worse until God eventually decided to hit the reset button. The 8 people that were saved in the ark would be the new beginning to get back humanity to the right path.
The covenant of circumcision
When God called Abraham and promised to bless him and make him a father of nations, he asked him to circumcise all the males in his household as a sign of the covenant (Genesis 17). Until Abraham answered God’s call in Genesis 12, he had been living like his pagan neighbors who used to worship the moon. But he got a new lease of life when God called him and circumcision was an outward sign of the new covenant he had cut with God. From then on, Abraham’s descendants have always practiced circumcision but they now circumcise their boys on the 8th day. The circumcision happens on day 8 as a sign of the new beginning that their patriarch Abraham had when he met with God.
Number 8 can therefore be seen as a symbol of the circumcision of the heart by the new testament church. This is based on the prophetic word given by Jeremiah and Ezekiel where they said that God would cut a new covenant with his people that would be based on circumcision of the heart and not of the flesh (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:24-28). The circumcision of the heart is a wordplay on the circumcision of the flesh that was introduced in Genesis 17. It refers to the spiritual renewal that comes from receiving the Holy Spirit. As the scripture explains in 2 Corinthians 5:17, those who accept Christ will become a new creation.
8 and Time
A watch was one of the commonest units of measuring time in ancient Israel. A watch referred to a period in which a guard would go on duty. Initially, the days were divided into 6 equal watches (Judges 7:19) but the desire for more disability and accuracy led to the introduction of more watches. By the time of the writing of the New Testament, the day had been divided into 8 equal watches as recorded in Matthew 14:25 as well as Mark 6:48 and the night was likewise divided into 8 equal watches.
- The day watches: the first watch was at sunrise and it went up to 9:00 A.M. followed by the Second watch that ran from 9:00 AM to midday, the third watch from midday to 3 P.M. and the fourth watch that ran from 3 P.M. to sunset.
- The night watches: The first watch started at sunset and ran to 9 P.M. which was followed by the second watch from 9 P.M. to midnight. This was then followed by the third watch running from midnight to 3 A.M and finally, the fourth watch from 3 A.M to sunrise.
The number 8 can therefore be seen as a symbol of time, a window of opportunity (opportune time), and an appointed time.
The number of Jesus
The number 8 also symbolizes Jesus Christ. The name Jesus adds up to 888 in Greek. Furthermore, Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14 in the Jewish Calendar 4 days after he had been selected as the lamb that would take away the sins of the world. He then rose from the dead on Nisan 17. Nisan 17 was the 8th day from the time Christ was selected as the sacrificial lamb. The number 8 therefore not only symbolizes Jesus but also marks the ultimate sacrifice and his perfect victory over death.
After the resurrection, Jesus made 8 appearances. These appearances included when he appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), the disciples when Thomas was absent (John 20:19-24), to all disciples (John 20:26-29), to his disciples a third time in Galilee (Mather 28:16-17), and to his disciples again on the shores of Lake Galilee (John 21:1-24). After this, he appeared to a group of 500 believers ( 1 Cori. 15:4-7) and then to his followers before ascending to heaven (Acts 1)
The 8 appearances not only signified a new dispensation because the early church had just been formed but they were to dispel any doubt of his resurrection. Number 8, can therefore not only be termed as the number of Jesus but also the number of resurrection.
To summarise, number 8 is the number of Jesus and a number of resurrections. Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant who not only bridged the Old and New covenant but also bridged the gulf between man and God. As such, the number 8 can also be a symbol of the regeneration of a new beginning.