Unnoticed Connections in Scripture: Lesson 4: Numbers

Counting in Hebrew

The Hebrew language didn’t use numbers.  Instead, letters took on the task of denoting numerical values.  Like Roman numerals, each letter denotes a value (“I” = one; “V” = five; “X” = 10, and so on).

To write a number, one combined different letters.  A development, which took place within the languages that used letters for numbers, is something called “gematria.”  Gematria assigns numerical values to words, names, or phrases.  At times, this also meant a number became a way to denote something else.

 

Jesus = 391

The Old Testament often used the word “salvation” to refer to someone’s restoration of health.

  • Psalm 103:1, 3: My soul, bless the Lord, and all that is within me, bless his holy name…. He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases.
  • Isaiah 53:4-5: Yet he himself bore our sicknesses … and we are healed by his wounds.
  • Jeremiah 17:14: Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved.

Scripture even describes the opposite of salvation as being in poor health.  “Because of your [God’s] wrath, there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin” (Psalm 38:3).

After God rescued His people from Egypt, He made the bitter water at Marah sweet.  Afterward, He told the people: “I, Yahweh, am your healer” (Exodus 15:26).  This phrase adds up to 391 in the Hebrew way of counting, which is the same numerical value for Jesus’ name “Yeshua.”  Coincidental?

Does God providing “living” water to His people, so they didn’t die, pointing forward to His promised Messiah?  If so, Jesus should heal others as one of the “proofs” He is the Messiah.  This we find: As Jesus traveled through Judea and Samaria, He often encountered the blind, the lame, and the sick.  In Him, they found a prophet with a compassionate heart, so many came to Him for healing.

  • Matthew 4:24, 8:16, 12:15, 14:14, 14:36, 15:30, 19:2, 21:14
  • Mark 1:34, 3:10, 6:5, 6:56
  • Luke 4:40, 5:17, 6:18-19, 7:21, 9:1, 9:11, 19:2
  • John 7:23, 9:14

Read Mark 5:24-35

  • What word did Jesus use to describe what He did? (vs. 34)

 

The woman’s healing, however, was not the main event.  No, the principal message is her salvation, her spiritual healing before God.  The visible healing was a public demonstration of her hidden, more profound, healing.

The physical healings Jesus performed were always visible signs of an inner healing, of salvation.  The physical healing was not the most important; the spiritual healing, the salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, was.

 

Lamb of God = 391

Not only does the name “Jesus” in Hebrew equal 391, so does the phrase “Lamb of God.”  This title, if it does apply to Jesus, will be significant in helping us understand who He is and what He came to do.

In the institution of the Old-Covenant Passover:

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they must each select an animal of the flock according to their fathers’ families, one animal per family….

You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male; you may take it from either the sheep or the goats.  You are to … slaughter the animals at twilight.  They must take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they eat them.  They are to eat the meat that night; they should eat it, roasted over the fire along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both people and animals. I am the Lord; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt.  The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you.  No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” [Exodus 12:1, 3, 6-8, 12-13]

  • What did God do through the sacrificed animals on Passover?

 

When God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, we find:

Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, “My father.”  And he replied, “Here I am, my son.”  Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” [Genesis 22:7-8]

The prophet Isaiah, referring to the long-prophesied Messiah, wrote:

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth.  Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth. [Isaiah 53:7]

Did these Passover lambs, whose blood provided divine protection for Israel and whose flesh was eaten in a liturgical meal (Ex 12:1-27), point forward to Jesus?  Did Isaiah tell of Jesus as the suffering Messiah, as an innocent lamb slain for the sins of others (Is 53:7-12)?  If so, the New Testament should affirm this.

John 1:29:

The next day John [the Baptizer] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 1:36:

When he [John the Baptizer] saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

Jesus is the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29).  His redeeming work accomplished a new deliverance from the slavery of sin (John 8:31-36), not in the Passover meal, but in the Meal of the New Covenant (John 6:53-58; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

 

Three

The leading number used to represent God in Scripture is three.  Even when the Persons of God are unnamed, we find three-part patterns referring to Him.  Here are a few examples from the Old Testament.

Genesis 1:27:

So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Exodus 3:14:

God replied to Moses [at the burning bush], “I AM who I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

Even “the shema,” which affirms God to be One, has a Trinitarian pattern.  Deuteronomy 6:4:

Hear O Israel: The Lord, our God, the Lord is one.

Numbers 9:23:

At the command of the Lord they would camp, and at the command of the Lord they would set out.  They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.

Isaiah 11:2:

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him: The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

From the New Testament.

Matthew 28:19-20:

Therefore, after you go, disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

  • Explain why it wouldn’t make sense to baptize into the name of …, if one of the Persons weren’t God?

 

2 Corinthians 13:14:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

Fourteen

Go over Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1.  Especially read Matthew 1:17.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. [Matthew 1:17]

  • Into what sized groups did Matthew arrange Jesus’ genealogy?

 

  • In the entire genealogy, who are the only two people listed with their titles?

 

Since only Jesus Christ (vs. 1) and David the king (vs. 6) are mentioned with titles, Matthew must be linking Jesus and David together by using titles.  Also, we know his genealogy wasn’t exhaustive since he omits several Old Testament names and the divisions cover unequal periods of time.  So, we should not read this genealogy as a full historical account but understand it differently.

Let’s go back to Matthew separating the genealogy into groups of 14.  This must be significant.  Also so must David, for he is the 14th name listed!  So, Matthew’s hitting us over the head with 14.  Why?  Going back to gematria, the numerical value of David’s name in Hebrew equals 14.

  • So who is Jesus the fulfillment of?

 

  • Consider the biblical uses of three. Jesus is not only the fulfillment of King David and His kingly line but also what?

 

666

Solomon a Foreshadow?

Since we’re looking at numbers in the Bible, everyone wants to understand the meaning behind 666.  Can this also be a case of gematria?  First, let’s explore any uses of 666 in the Old Testament.

The number 666 appears in the life of King Solomon.  Solomon started out well as Israel’s king but, over time, fell away from God.  Before God’s people entered the Promised Land, He commanded them not to multiply armies (horses), foreign alliances (wives), or accumulate wealth (Deuteronomy 17:14-17).

As the King, Solomon violated all three.  At the peak of his power, he received 666 talents of gold in a single year in taxes (1 Kings 10:14; 2 Chronicles 9:13).  Solomon’s excesses led to oppressive taxation and sowed the seeds of a later revolt, which split Israel into two kingdoms.  Despite his wisdom, King Solomon made many foolish decisions.

With this “666” as a backdrop, John wrote, “Wisdom is needed here,” (Revelation 13:18).  Like Solomon, the beast, denoted by “666,” must have been much like Solomon with massive armies, foreign alliances, and wealth.

Read Revelation 13:16-18

  • Based on the verb tenses, was the beast “666” alive when John wrote Revelation?

 

Gematria

If one writes “Nero Caesar” in Hebrew from the Greek, using gematria, his name would add up to 666.  Now, this could be coincidental.  So, some corroborating evidence would be helpful to affirm if this is so.

The early Church father, Irenaeus of Lyons, in his Against Heresies, wrote “666” was “found in all the most approved and ancient copies of the Apocalypse [Revelation].”  In the same section, he went on to say some asserted “that instead of six … they assert that there is … one [equaling 616].”  This was based on another text of Revelation, “which others have accepted …  without examination” (AH 5:30, 1).

The manuscript Irenaeus referred to had to be the Old Latin version (before the Vulgate).  For when you put the Latin for “Nero Caesar,” which is spelled differently from the Greek, into Hebrew, the second “N” (Hebrew, nun) drops out.  Now it reads NRO QSR instead of NRON QSR.  Since the “N” (nun) is missing in Latin version, which has the value of 50, using gematria, the Latin version reads 616.

In Greek:

In Latin:

The ancient Bible manuscripts affirm “666” refers to Caesar Nero.  The present tense of the Greek tells us John wrote Revelation while Nero was still alive.

 

Link to the next Lesson.

 

Speak Your Mind

*