The number 4 appears over 300 times in the Bible. Not all of these appearances mean something but a good chunk of them do. God starts painting the picture of the symbolism right from the Genesis account of creation and continues with the imagery throughout the scriptures. Let’s take a closer look at the significance of this incredible number.
The meaning of the number 4 can be adapted from the Genesis account of creation. The sun was created not only to be a source of light and substance for most living things but also to be a demarcation between day and night. Additionally, the sun, stars, and seasons were also to be a sign for years, and seasons.
From this context, the number 4 can be a symbol of a new season or a new beginning.
The Hebrew word for seasons is moed (Strong’s Concordance #H4150) and it loosely translates to “appointed times” or divine appointments. This definition was in reference to God’s festivals, feasts, or periods of worship.
Interestingly, the Hebrew word for ‘seasons’ (of which there are 4) in Genesis 1:14 is moed (Strong’s Concordance #H4150), which literally translated as “appointed times” (divine appointments) in reference to God’s festivals. This is the earliest known allusion to what would later be called the Holy (or Feast) days (periods) of worship.
The fourth commandment that was issued to Moses was the one on the Sabbath. God had already modeled by resting on the 7th day and he now expected the rest of Israel to follow suit. The fourth commandment reads:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11.
It is no coincidence that the law of the sabbath was given on the fourth day. God did it as a symbol because the number 4, as we have established, the number 4 is a representation of the feasts of the Lord. the sabbath was, and still is, one of the most important feasts in Israel.
The Four Seasons and Their Spiritual Symbolism
God created the four seasons(spring, summer, autumn, and winter) on day four of the creation week. These seasons are important not only in the physical but spiritual realm. For instance, the individual seasons can represent different life aspects including growth, transformation, etc. Let’s take a closer look at each of the four seasons and their spiritual implications.
- Spring: This is a time of renewal, rebirth, or new beginnings. Spring awakens the earth from the dormancy of winter and new life is seen in the form of flowers blossoming on the ground. It is a time of vibrancy and growth. Spring can therefore be a season of resurrection and revival
- Summer: After spring comes summer – a time when there is a lot of productivity and abundance. The seeds that were born in spring have grown and borne fruit. The season of summer is a time of God’s blessing and a stark reminder that a life lived according to his will will result in an abundance of blessings.
- Autumn: Autumn is the season of harvest and preparation. It is nature’s way to warn you of the coming winter. The same applies in the spiritual realm. Fall is a season of reflecting on God’s blessings as you recharge your spiritual batteries in readiness for winter.
- Winter: Winter is a season of hibernation and unproductivity. But it is also nature’s way of rejuvenating as a preparation for the upcoming spring. In the spiritual realm, winter can also be either a season of barrenness or spiritual rejuvenation. In other words, it is a time to find yourself in God when the going gets tough.
Other symbolisms of the number four in the Bible
Even though the number four symbolizes seasons, there are also other meanings of the number in the Bible. The following are some notable examples:
- The four corners of the earth
The phrase “four corners of the earth” has been mentioned severally in scripture (e.g. Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1, Job 37:3, and Revelation 20:8). Since the earth is not flat but spherical, the four corners of the earth clearly do not refer to vertices. It is more likely that these corners refer to the four cardinal points (North, East, South, and West). The symbolism here relates to the symbolism of creation in Genesis where God finished creating the physical elements by the fourth day.
- The four living creatures
The four living creatures have been referenced in both the old and new testaments. The old testament reference is Ezekiel 1:10 while the new testament reference is Revelation 4:6-7. These four living creatures are said to have four faces (the face of a lion, ox, man, and eagle). These four creatures represent the creatures of earth and their call to worship God through the four seasons. The four living creatures can also be said to be a foreshadowing of the good news which would be brought through the four gospels. These four faces can be mapped onto the gospels with the man representing Mathew, the lion representing Mark, the Ox representing Luke, and the Eagle representing John.
- The four gospels
The word Gospel means Good News of the Kingdom and the first four books of the New Testament are the gospels. These gospels give a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus but from four different perspectives. The Gospel of Mathew showcases Christ as the son of David (Christ the King). Mark focuses on the suffering aspect of Jesus and his ministry while Luke focuses on showing Jesus as the perfect man. John on the other hand presents Jesus as the only begotton of God.
The number 4 has many symbolisms but the most notable is the symbolism of seasons. The number four can therefor signify a change in season or the beginning of something new. This could be in your financial life, social life, career, academics, or even spiritual life. It all depends on the context or your unique set of circumstances.