The number 7 with its variants (seventh and sevenfold) appear 860 times in the scriptures making it one of the most commonly used numbers in the Bible. If we exclude these variants, the number seven appears 735 times. Of these, a whooping 54 instances are in the book of Revelation alone.
What’s the meaning of 7 in the Bible?
The number 7 is the perfect number of God. This is because God created everything in 7 days and then rested on the 7th day. It is also the explanation for the law of the Sabbath. However, number 7 can also signify completion and rest as well as fulfillment and perfection.
Let us take a closer look at these symbolisms in scripture.
- Completion and rest
The number 7 signifies completion and rest. According to the Genesis account of creation, God created the heavens and the earth with all they contain including humans in 6 days and then rested on the 7th day. The word “created” appears 7 times in the Genesis account of creation (Genesis 1:1-27, 2:3-4). This was to emphasize the creative power of God that was displayed in creation. By creating everything in 6 days and resting on the 7th day, God instituted the sabbath law which was later amplified by Moses to the children of Israel. When Giving the law to the children of Israel, God emphasized the importance of observing the sabbath day as a day of rest as well as a day of worship. The 7 days of creation also form the template for the current 7-day week that we use in our calendar to date.
The Book of Revelation also uses a series of sevens to denote the completion of God’s work on earth and the eventual return of Christ to take the church. The sevens used in teh Bible include the 7 churches, the 7 angels (of the 7 churches), the 7 seals, and the 7 trumpet plagues. As John the Revelator documents, the resurrection of the dead occurs after the blowing of the 7th trumpet as a symbol of the completed work of salvation.
- Fulfillment and perfection
The number 7 also signifies fulfillment. One of of the best illustrations of this can be found in the story of Naaman the Leper. Scripture explains that even though he was a great man of valor, he had an ailment of leprosy – an incurable disease. When Naaman visited Israel to find help from God’s prophet, the prophet instructed that he goes dip himself 7 times in the Jordan. At first, Naaman thought it was a queer request and resisted. However, his servants prevailed on him and he did it. Upon completing the 7 dips, he was instantly healed of the leprosy and his skin was restored and made as smooth as a young boy’s.
So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. 2 Kings 5:14
The reason the prophet asked him to dip 7 times is that 7 represented the fulfillment of God’s perfect work of healing.
Another illustration of this truth is when Joshua led Israel in the conquest of Jericho. Jericho was the most fortified city at the time. There is no army, not even Israel, that had a chance to bring those walls down. But when they approached it, God instructed Joshua to march around it the city every day for 7 days. On the 7th day, they were to make 7 circuits and then climax with a shout as signaled by the blowing of 7 trumpets from 7 designated priests.
You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow. Joshua 6:3–4
On doing this, the seemingly impregnable walls of Jericho came tumbling down. God had promised that he would give them possession of the land and even though Jericho seemed like a tough nut, his perfect word still stood. The symbolism of 7 was used to affirm that his promise to give Israel the promised land by subduing their enemies would come to pass – and it did.
- The number of God
As we have already established, God created everything in 6 days and then rested on the 7th. He then instructed mankind to keep the tradition of keeping away from work on the 7th day and instead dedicate it to worship. From this context, it is inferred that 7 is the number of God. Interestingly, Man was created just a day before the seventh day and as such, the number 6 can be seen as the number of man. This is made clear in Revelation when the number of the mark of the beast is described as a number of man and then revealed to be three sixes. Since 6 is always less than 7, we can infer that God is always higher than man and that man is always inadequate and in need of God’s grace. In the words of scripture, all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
Number 7 as the number of God can also be seen in the 7 names that are attributed to Christ in the book of Hebrews. The seven titles are:
- The Heir of all things -Hebrews 1:2
- The Captain of our salvation – Hebrews 2:10
- The Apostle – Hebrews 3:1
- The Author of salvation – Hebrews 5:9)
- The Forerunner – Hebrews 6:20
- The High Priest – Hebrews 10:21
- The Author and Finisher of our faith – Hebrews 12:2
In summary, the number seven can mean perfection and completion. But whether you look at 7 as a number of completion and rest or fulfillment and perfection, they both point to the symbolism of 7 as the number of God. This is why God blessed and hallowed the sabbath day and commanded his children to observe it diligently.