Over the past several months I’ve been exploring some basic numerology as it is found in the Bible. I’ve always be fascinated with patterns, and during my Masters studies a few years ago my eyes were opened to the use of numbers to express meaning in the Bible, especially in worship.
Continuing on this idea, let’s look at the number 4. If you’ve not read it before, try going through the last half of Exodus. Much of it reads like Ikea furniture assembly instructions, only more complicated. God was very specific in how Moses and the Israelites were to construct the Tabernacle and its furnishings. The construction of the Ark included four rings attached to its four feet. The lid (atonement cover) was a perfect square, with four sides. Why is this significant? Because Exodus 25:22 tells us that above this atonement cover is where God will meet with Moses. It is a representation of God’s presence on earth, which points to the coming of Jesus on earth.
Finally, look at Ezekiel 1, where a vision of heaven shows four living creatures that each have four faces (human, lion, eagle, and ox: all created beings) and four wings. Or look at Revelation 5: four living creatures, this time with one face each (but the same likenesses as we see in Ezekiel). In Revelation, the four living creatures are leading worship. This is a picture of the entire world worshiping God on His throne.
When you see four in the Bible, it is often meant to represent the entire world. It’s no coincidence that the worship in Revelation mentions a new song from every (1) tribe, (2) language, (3) people, and (4) nation (Rev. 5:9). And this is what we are heading toward: a time when the entire world will worship Christ our Lord!
I know it’s hard to see all that is happening around us. News from around the globe can be so disheartening. I have made “Kyrie eleison” (Lord, have mercy) and “Lord, come quickly” a regular prayer. “But take heart!” Jesus tells us. “I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
When we gather for worship, lets remind ourselves and each other that the King of glory, the One who has overcome even death, the Spirit that lives in us, the Lamb and Lion has given us hope. He is making all things new, including this broken world we live in. In that knowledge, let’s lift our voices and give God all praise and honor and glory and power, and let’s live in the hope of the Gospel!