God uses signs and symbols to communicate great ideas. When He stopped the rain and preserved Noah, his family, and animals, God sent a rainbow as a promise that He would never again flood the entire earth (Genesis 9:12–17). The rainbow is a literal thing, but also representative of God's covenant with Noah (and all of mankind). Bread is used to symbolize God's presence with His people (Numbers 4:7), the gift of eternal life (John 6:35), and Jesus' body broken for us on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins (Matthew 26:26; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26). Bread is a real thing, but is also used to convey a deeper truth in certain places.
Does the number seven (7) have biblical significance?
The rainbow and bread are fairly obvious symbols in Scripture. It seems that God may also attach deeper meaning to some numbers in the Bible. Certain numbers, such as three and seven, seem to pop up in more significant places than others.
As for the number seven, the entire planet throughout history follows God's pattern of seven days in a week. God created the universe in six days, then rested on the seventh (Genesis 1). Seven, then, throughout the Bible, often signifies the completeness or perfection of an event or thing. In Exodus 22:30, the Israelites are told not to sacrifice an animal until it is at least seven days old. Naaman is commanded to bathe in the Jordan seven times to be cleansed of leprosy (2 Kings 5:10).
Maybe the best-known use of seven is when Joshua and the people marched around Jericho for seven days, circled it seven times on the seventh day, then had seven priests blow seven trumpets before the walls came down (Joshua 6).
Remember the rainbow and Noah? Genesis 7:2 tells us that seven pairs of each clean animal were on the ark. God commands seven stems on the lampstand of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:37). In Isaiah we find seven qualities of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:2) and seven signs in John's Gospel. Proverbs 6:16–19 lists seven things that are an abomination to God. In Matthew we find seven parables (Chapter 13) and seven woes (Chapter 23).
We find seventy weeks in the prophecy of Daniel (9:24). Jeremiah 29:10 foretells a seventy-year captivity in Babylon. The year of Jubilee was to follow the forty-ninth year (7 times 7) (Leviticus 25:8).
Jesus says He is the "I AM" seven times in Matthew, and told His followers to forgive those who wrong you seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22).
In Revelation, John sees seven bowls of the wrath of God to be poured out in the tribulation (16:1). The number seven is used more than fifty times in Revelation! Seven letters to the seven churches (Revelation 2—3), seven lampstands (1:12), seven stars (1:16), seven seals (5:1), seven angels and seven trumpets (8:2), and more! Seven here connotes a completeness, the end of things, bringing all together as planned.
So, are we to attach significance whenever the number seven appears? After all, it is in the Bible more than 700 times. We should be intentionally careful when attaching meaning to seven, or three, or any number we aren't specifically told carries significance, and nowhere does God say in the Bible that seven is a special number to pay special attention to.
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