Studies in Revelation
Part 2 - The Spiritual Meaning of Seven
In Part One, we considered Matthew 1:17 and the 14 generations from Abraham to David, David until the captivity in Babylon, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ. As we discovered, three “fourteens” equals “forty-two,” which just happens to be the number of months recorded in relation to the “temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there” and “the court which is outside the temple” in Revelation 11:1 and 2. It is also the number of months that the beast of Revelation 13 is given authority to continue. When we bring Matthew 1:17 together with Revelation 11:1 and 2, Revelation 13:5, and Revelation 17:14, concerning the “called, chosen, and faithful,” here is what we have.
1. Abraham to David – Called [14 Generations]
2. David until the captivity in Babylon – Chosen [14 Generations]
3. The captivity in Babylon until the Christ – Faithful [14 Generations]
Since we have “forty-two months,” let’s take a moment to consider the idea of “months.”
Exodus 12:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.
Most everyone is familiar with the story of the exodus of Israel from Egypt, especially concerning the Passover, where Moses and Aaron instructed Israel to take a lamb “without blemish, a male of the first year” from either the “sheep or from the goats” (Exod. 12:3-5; NKJV). Most everyone knows that this “lamb” was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God”; see 1st Corinthians 5:7.
Note that in our passages, not only did the Lord instruct Moses and Aaron about Passover, but also declared, “This MONTH shall be your BEGINNING of MONTHS; it shall be the FIRST MONTH of the YEAR to you.” Why was this important? Because it marked the beginning of Israel’s year with the Feast of Passover, the first of the three great Feasts of Israel, which established Israel’s calendar around seedtime and harvest or the divine and universal principle of sowing and reaping. The Feast of Passover included the barley harvest while the Feast of Pentecost the wheat harvest. Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles was the fruit harvest which included olives and grapes for oil and wine. This reveals to us that in regard to God’s purpose in His people, the three great Feasts of Israel are indeed prophetic and signify a spiritual process that is relevant to His people even today. That being said, we could add to our list as follows.
1. Abraham to David – Called [14 Generations] (Feast of Passover)
2. David until the captivity in Babylon – Chosen [14 Generations] (Feast of Pentecost)
3. The captivity in Babylon until the Christ – Faithful [14 Generations] (Feast of Tabernacles)
Now, in keeping with our “forty-two months,” we also discovered in Part One that there are six important “sevens” which make up the greatest part of the visions in Revelation; seven stars and seven golden lampstands, which are the seven angels and the seven churches. Then seven prophecies to the seven churches followed by “a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” Following this, we have seven trumpets and seven bowls. Again, six TIMES seven is “forty-two,” the number of months in Revelation 11:2 and 13:5. So to emphasize, this shows that the “forty-two months” of Revelation 11:2 is indicative of a divine process and purpose through which His people must pass in order to arrive at a true and genuine revelation of Jesus Christ.
Our six important sevens are not the only “sevens” found in this book. This being the case, it is important for us to understand its spiritual meaning. In his book, Number in Scripture, E.W. Bullinger wrote that seven is from the root which means, “To be full or satisfied, have enough of. Hence the meaning of the word ‘seven’ is dominated by this root, for on the seventh day God rested from the work of Creation. It was full and complete, and good and perfect. Nothing could be added to it or taken from it without marring it."
Bullinger goes on to say, “It is seven, therefore, that stamps with perfection and completeness that in connection with which it is used. Of time, it tells of the Sabbath, and marks off the week of seven days, which, artificial as it may seem to be, is universal and immemorial in its observance amongst all nations and in all times. It tells of that eternal Sabbath-keeping which remains for the people of God in all its everlasting perfection.
“In the creative works of God, seven completes the colors of the spectrum and rainbow, and satisfies in music the notes of the scale. In each of these the eighth is only a repetition of the first.”
In his book, The Biblical Meaning of Numbers from One to Forty, Dr. Stephen E. Jones agrees with Bullinger, telling us, “Seven is the biblical number of completion and spiritual perfection.”
In his book, Biblical Mathematics, Ed Vallowe states, “SEVEN is used over 700 times in the Bible” and that “the whole Word of God is founded upon the number SEVEN."
In keeping with the idea of sowing and reaping, one of the best examples of the spiritual meaning of seven is the ripened “fruit” of a tree. Once a tree produces ripened fruit, it’s ready for harvest, which supplies food as well as more seed for further planting so that the cycle of sowing and reaping may be repeated. The ripened fruit shows that the purpose of the seed/tree has reached its “seven” or completion.
Perhaps the most important way to think of the spiritual meaning of seven is in the words “fulfill” and “fulfilled.” Let’s go to Matthew 5.
Matthew 5:17-18 (NKJV)
17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle (smallest detail) will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
Our word “fulfill” in verse 17 speaks of something yet to be completed, however, our word “fulfilled” indicates this completion. So it is that seven incorporates all the stages necessary to reach spiritual completion.
To put it simply, our word fulfilled means “filled to the full.” Think of a glass in which you are pouring water. While pouring, you are fulfilling or filling to the full, but once the water reaches the top of the glass, it is fulfilled; it has been filled to the full.
So why is this important? Because, as we know, the book of the Revelation is filled with “sevens,” no pun intended. Not only do we find our six important sevens as previously mentioned, but there are also “seven Spirits of God,” “seven lamps of fire,” “seven horns and seven eyes,” “seven thunders,” “seven thousand” men slain, a “great red dragon,” “beast,” and “scarlet beast” with “seven heads,” which are defined as “seven mountains” and “seven kings.”
Our number seven is the Greek transliteration hepta. What’s interesting is that this word is found in the King James New Testament a total of 88 times. The number eight follows seven and just happens to represent a “new beginning.” Two means “witness,” so in two eights we have the “witness” of a “new beginning.” When added together, we have 16, which represents “love.” Furthermore, of these 88 times, 55 are in Revelation. Five represents “grace,” while again, two means “witness.” Might this suggest that every seven in the book of the Revelation is a discovery of the “grace and truth” found in Jesus Christ?
So why do all of these sevens relate to us in the book of the Revelation? Because every seven in Revelation indicates a fulfilling and impending fulfillment. Just as Jesus said He did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them, so He also said that “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle” or smallest detail, “will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Brothers and sisters, this is not just a casual remark by the Lord regarding the Law and the Prophets, but a divine injunction which Jesus promised to accomplish, and, I can safely say that, when rightly understood, we will discover that this is exactly what has been unfolding since the Lord first appeared in the flesh almost 2,000 years ago. We find confirmation of this coming fulfillment in Revelation 21:1, where we read, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,” agreeing with the words of our Lord in Matthew 5:17 and 18.
Beloved, once we get a solid grasp on the spiritual meaning of seven, we have a better understanding of John’s visions in this amazing book of prophecy. And what is prophecy? It is prediction which is eventually fulfilled. This is why this book holds such fascination for us, for the message of this book speaks to the future of His body, the church (and the world). The fact that there are so many “sevens” in Revelation means that something has been and continues to be unfolding before His people and the world.
As Matthew 1:17 states, we have 14 generations three times. What is 14? It is two sevens, so this number reflects the “witness” of God’s “spiritual perfection” in the church due to the immutability of His divine Word. No wonder 14 means “deliverance” or “release.”
We should also consider two fourteens, i.e. the number 28. This would signify “Abraham” to the “captivity in Babylon” or “David until the Christ.” In both 28’s if you will, is found “captivity in Babylon.” Coincidence, or does this suggest something we need to know? Let me share a portion of what Stephen Jones wrote concerning its spiritual meaning.
“To write twenty-eight in Hebrew, they wrote two Hebrew letters: kaph-chet. These signify the open palm covering the inner chamber of the heart.
“Twenty-eight is the number of the leading of the Spirit…
“In the first chapter of Matthew, the genealogy of Christ is divided into three sections of 14 each. Matt. 1:17 says,
“Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the deportations to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations.
“The number 28, then, should be viewed as having a connection with the number 14, which is the number of release, as well as the number 42. These three numbers, in a sense, represent Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Israel was released from Egypt at Passover because of events occurring on the night of Abib 14/15. The number 28 indicates the leading of the Holy Spirit, which points to Pentecost. And finally, the number 42 has to do with the full anointing of Christ, which points to Tabernacles.
“The number 28 is the climax of the second period of 14 generations. After 28 generations from Abraham, the people of Judah were taken into captivity to Babylon. Because of a general lack of understanding of the nature of Pentecost, most people find this to be puzzling, because one would think that Pentecost would be a time of freedom, rather than bondage. However, when we understand that Pentecost is a leavened feast and that King Saul was a Pentecostal type, the connection becomes clearer.
“Israel left Egypt at Passover and spent its Pentecostal days in the wilderness under Moses. They were supposed to enter the Promised Land at the time of the feast of Tabernacles. And so we find that after 28 generations, Judah was led into another “wilderness” type experience outside of the land, where they had to rely upon the leading of the Holy Spirit.”
As you might guess, there is much to consider in the idea of “forty-two months,” but for now, it is enough to understand that within this time frame we have a spiritual pattern set forth that helps us to better understand God’s purpose in the church, a pattern that is reflected in the three great Feasts of Israel and the divine principle of sowing and reaping.
Finally, let’s look once more at our passages from Matthew 5:17 and 18 in the English Standard version.
Matthew 5:17-18 (ESV)
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Friends, consider what Jesus said here, and, in light of these passages, let me reiterate and emphasize that the book of the Revelation is a spiritual record of Jesus Christ fulfilling every prophetic detail of the Law and the Prophets “until all is accomplished.” In agreement, let me end today’s study with the following from John 4.
John 4:33-34 (NKJV)
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."
See our word “finish”? It means to “complete,” “accomplish,” or “consummate.” Brothers and sisters, that’s a seven.