Over the past several months I’ve been writing about some basic numerology as it is found in the Bible, and especially as it pertains to worship. I’m going to skip six (a number that represents fallen man) and go to seven this month. Next month I’ll conclude this series of articles with the number twelve.
Seven represents so many ideas in the Bible. The first meaning is found in the first chapter of the Bible. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. Seven represents creation and completeness. It also represents rest, which plays heavily into our understanding of Sabbath and worship. God has made us to live lives of rhythm: work and rest.
Sometimes numerology in the Bible requires a little addition or multiplication. Why? Because in ancient times, people thought in terms of pictures. That’s really what numbers and letters are anyway: pictures that represent something else. If I wrote a big red ‘N’ you would probably start thinking about Nebraska football or volleyball. If I wrote next to it 1994, the number would represent a national championship. The letter and the number derive meaning from each other.
The same is true for the number 7. If we jump to the end of the story, we see the number 7 occurring 54 times in the book of Revelation: seven churches, seven lampstands, seven angels, seven seals, seven bowls of wrath, seven stars. Why is the number seven so prominent in these passages? It could be that 7 represents the sum of 3 and 4, numbers that represent God (Trinity) and creation (4 corners of the earth). If Revelation is about the return of Christ to rule the earth and bring about the new creation, it would make sense to see seven a lot in this context: the reunion of God with his restored and renewed creation, forever.
In worship, these ideas should always provide context for our songs and prayers. We are part of God’s creation, so we worship Him as our Creator. We are called to step away from the world in a Sabbath rest, so we gather as the Church to reflect and be refreshed by God. We speak of faith and hope in worship because we know that Christ is coming soon to right all that is wrong and to restore what is broken in and around us. We live in-between creation and new creation. Worship, in a way, connects the past and the future of God’s great story.