Biblical Numbers 1 through 3
"...Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18).
Jots and tittles are small letters and hooks that identify certain Hebrew letters and give meaning to the words.
If Jesus said that even these small marks are significant, then every word in the holy scriptures is important including biblical numbers.
There is inherent dynamic spiritual power in God’s Word:
For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
We cannot explain the division between the human soul and spirit. Scientists cannot even identify the soul and spirit, much less divide them. But God’s Word is so powerful that it can not only do this, it can also divide the joints and marrow of your body and discern your innermost thoughts and intents.
God created the world by His Word:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3)
God spoke, and there was so much power in each word He said that the elements obeyed and our world was formed - darkness and light, day and night, the earth and the seas, the animals, and mankind.
God never wastes words. Every Word He speaks has divine purpose and meaning:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
If not one Word from God is void of meaning and purpose, then this confirms that even numbers used in His Word have great spiritual significance. Jesus said:
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).
Jots and tittles are small letters and hooks that identify certain Hebrew letters and give meaning to the words. If Jesus said that even these small marks are significant, then how can we doubt the importance of numbers in the biblical text?
From the very first temptation, a major strategy of Satan has been to pervert God’s truth. Satan’s first words to mankind questioned the instructions that were given by God to Adam and Eve: " ... And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1).
Questioning the truth of God’s Word is how Satan begins the perversion process. When answering Satan, Eve misquoted God's Words by adding to them and minimizing the penalty for sin. She claimed that God had said: "But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die" (Genesis 3:3).
Compare this with what God actually said:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)
God did not say "neither shall you touch it." This was added by Eve. God also said, "...thou shalt surely die"- this was the penalty for eating the fruit of the tree. Eve changed this phrase to "...lest ye die", meaning, "you might die".
In answering Eve, Satan again contradicted God's Word:
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5)
As you can see from this exchange, Satan always perverts the Word of God.
In terms of the significance of biblical numerology, the enemy operates in two major ways:
First, through the occult and their perversion of truth. The ancient Babylonians and Egyptians developed numerology based on astrological divination, which is forbidden in the Scriptures. Numerology is also used in Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, and other pagan religions for the purposes of fortune-telling and prediction of the future. Because numerology is used in the occult, many believers have avoided the subject.
Second, by inspiring some scholars to give bizarre interpretations of biblical numbers, overemphasize their importance, or infer their own beliefs and thoughts into their findings.
Perversion that results in diversion is a strategy often used by the enemy. Satan perverts a valid truth to the point that some believers are diverted from exploring its biblical significance for fear of being classed with those who have erred from sound doctrine. For example, consider the revelation of God in the heavens:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (Psalms 19:1-3)
Do you know that the stars and constellations actually tell the Gospel story? They reveal the plans and purposes of God. Astrology has so perverted the meaning of the stars and astronomical signs, however, that many believers are unaware that God’s message is revealed in the heavens. The legitimate study of astronomy and God's revelation in the stars is not related in any way to the ungodly practice of astrology.
The same is true in the study of biblical numerology. The importance of numbers is clearly seen in scripture, and you must not let the perversion of the enemy prevent you from recognizing the true value of this subject.
The Word of God is divinely inspired. You can take a word, such as love, study every place in the Bible where it is found, and come to a spiritual understanding of its meaning. In the same way, you can study numbers in scripture and arrive at an understanding of their meanings.
Some people say that we should not concern ourselves with numbers, but God commands those with understanding to count the number identifying the Satanic being that is to arise in the end-times:
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:18)
Should not this understanding of the spiritual significance of the number 666 extend to other numbers in God's Word also?
There is no biblical directive to apply a code or to give letters numerical values. Neither are there clear declarations like, "The number 7 means such and such." But by comparing scripture with scripture, word with word, number with number, and by studying related passages, you can arrive at the their true meanings.
The abuse of numerology must be guarded against, but not to the exclusion of a legitimate approach to this important study. Understanding basic guidelines for interpreting biblical numbers will help you guard against spiritual errors.
The Bible is the divine revelation of the true and living God and every jot and tittle in His Word is deemed important. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that every word is significant - and this includes numbers.
Biblical numerology is defined as the study of the spiritual significance of numbers used in the Bible. A proper understanding of numbers is possible through the application of basic guidelines for the proper interpretation of all scripture. These include the following:
The Bible must be discerned and interpreted spiritually.
Jesus told His disciples: "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables" (Mark 4:11).
You can only understand the mysteries of God’s Kingdom if you are a true disciple of Jesus and have spiritual discernment: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
You cannot understand biblical truths with a carnal, unregenerate mind. As you study biblical numerology, as well as other scriptural truths, ask God to reveal the meanings to you through the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
The Bible should be taken literally, except when symbolism is obvious.
God’s Word means what it says and should be taken literally. Pharaoh’s army did drown in the Red Sea. Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. Jesus was raised from the dead. Only where obvious symbolism is used should you take the Word symbolically.
For example, Jesus used the term "shepherd" to describe Himself, although we have no record of Him ever herding natural sheep (John 10:11). In Matthew 9:36, we are described as being sheep in need of a shepherd. The shepherd and his care for the sheep are used symbolically to describe our relationship with the Lord.
The Book of Revelation is filled with symbolism. For example, in Revelation chapter 6, the horses and horsemen are not actual horses and riders, but are symbolic of various events that will take place during the end-times.
The Bible must be interpreted within its proper context.
You cannot build a doctrine on one isolated scripture. You must consider all that the Word of God has to say on a given subject. Study similar passages on a subject, word, or number to learn how it is used elsewhere in scripture. Read the verses surrounding the passage you are studying, and use a concordance and biblical word study book to examine the meaning.
The Bible provides keys to interpretation.
The Bible often explains itself. When it does, that is the interpretation that should be accepted. An example of this is found in the parable Jesus told concerning the sower and his seed:
Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 4:3-9)
A few verses later, we find the interpretation of the parable:
The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. (Mark 4:14-20)
Many examples similar to this are found in the prophetic books - such as in the book of Revelation where symbolism is frequently employed and then explained in subsequent passages.
The Bible is interpreted according to precedent – precept upon precept.
Precedents - previous biblical explanations or uses of a number - help determine its meaning. How was the number used or explained elsewhere in scripture?
Biblical prophecy often has multiple interpretations.
In biblical prophecy, there is often an immediate fulfillment, in addition to a long-range fulfillment. For example, when Peter quoted from the prophecies of Joel on the day of Pentecost, he said that Joel’s words were being fulfilled that day. But the promise of God’s Spirit being poured out upon all flesh also refers to the last-day outpouring of the Holy Spirit prior to the return of Jesus Christ.
Another prophecy with multiple fulfillment's is found in Matthew chapter 24.
Many scholars believe that the predictions in this passage were fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans demolished Jerusalem. While much of the prophecy was fulfilled at this time, it will have its complete fulfillment at the end of time prior to Christ’s return. We know this because of the context in which Jesus spoke these words is recorded in Matthew 24.
It was an answer given in response to the question: "What shall be the sign of your coming and the end of the world?" Numbers in the Bible that are used prophetically may also have multiple meanings.
In addition to applying the basic rules of interpretation, numbers must be studied in relation to biblical languages. There are no numbers in the Hebrew and Greek alphabets. The Hebrews, Greeks, and other ancient cultures used letters for numbers. Each letter had numerical significance, so when a word was written, it also had numerical value or meaning.
In a small way, we do the same thing in English. For example, is "o" a zero or a letter of the alphabet? Does "l" indicate the number 1 or a lower case "l"? When "o" or "l" is used, the context tells us their meaning. The same is true for Hebrew and Greek. The authors knew these differences when they were writing numbers and letters.
Each of the Hebrew and Greek letters have a number assigned to it. For example, the word Jesus. In Greek, Jesus is lesous. Thus, Jesus in Greek becomes the number 888. How do we arrive at this?
Jesus in Greek is spelled: L-E-S-O-U-S.
-The letter "L" has a numerical value of 10.
-The numerical value of "E" is 8.
-The numerical value of "S" is 200.
-The numerical value of "O" is 70.
-The numerical value of "U" is 400.
-The numerical value of "S" is 200.
When the letters in the name Jesus (Lesous) are added up in the Greek, the result is (10+8+200+70+400+200) = 888. This means that the number 888 is a unique number for Jesus Christ.
The primary purpose of scripture is to communicate spiritual truths in a way that you can understand and apply biblical principles in your life. Thus, translating words into numbers or analyzing the significance of numbers is meaningless if you do not gain spiritual insights that affect your life and ministry.
The understanding of the meaning of a number enables you to comprehend its prophetic significance so that you can prepare yourself accordingly. The meaning of numbers can also encourage you, bless you, or warn you.
The spiritual significance of biblical numbers is apparent from the beginning of time, so let’s go back and see how it all started.
Numbers are symbols that are used to represent quantities. So who created the concept of quantities? God. By Him, all things were created:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)
All things - including numbers as a way to represent quantities - were created by God.
In the beginning, God measured, weighed, and balanced His creation:
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (Isaiah 40:12)
Numerical significance in scripture is not surprising when we consider that the Author of the Bible designed our universe. He measured waters and determined heavenly spans. He is capable of counting the grains of sand at the seashore and the hairs on your head. The natural order of our world is precise, so it is not surprising to learn that every Word and number used by God is also meaningful.
The first use of numbers in the Bible appears in the creation account. The number 1 was first in sequence. On the first day, light was created, representing unity because light cannot be subdivided. Light represents the Lord Jesus Christ and His unity with God:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5)
Thus, the number 1 represents unity and the truth that the Lord, our God, is one (Mark 12:29). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. As light, they are indivisible.
On the second day, God separated the firmament (the heavens) from the waters, thus establishing that the number 2 represents a division initiated by God. The number 2 also represents a double portion, as it is double the number 1. The Bible also emphasizes the power of two as witnesses to the truth.
On the third day, the waters were gathered together, the dry land appeared, and plant life was created. In the creative process of the third day, we see the life-giving power of God at work, initiating and sustaining life. The number 3 refers to the life-giving power of the Trinity of God which is also reflected in the triune nature of man and the fulfillment of God's purposes.
On the fourth day, God set the heavens in a proper relationship with the earth by creating the moon, stars, sun, other planets, and the entire solar system. Thus, the number 4 symbolizes the universal nature of something.
On the fifth day, God created animals, He blessed them and continues to feed and watch over them. This is provided by His grace, not because of anything these creatures do themselves. Thus, the number 5 is established to mean the work of grace, symbolizing God’s unmerited favor.
On the sixth day, God created man in His image. The number 6, then, is a number that represents man.
On the seventh day, God rested. He had finished creation and declared it to be complete. and perfect The number 7 refers to rest, completion, and perfection.
We see from the beginning that numbers are significant.
God created light on the first day. Since light cannot be divided, it represents unity. The number 1 symbolizes unity because it consists of no additional number as other numbers do. For example, the number 2 consists of two 1s; the number 3 consists of either three 1s or 2 plus 1, etc.
Light represents Jesus Christ and His unity with God the Father and the Holy Spirit:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5)
Thus, the number 1 represents unity and the fact that the Lord our God is one God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. As light, they are indivisible. This concept of the number 1 denoting the unity of the one true God is expressed in the opening lines of one of the first professions of faith found in scripture: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Jesus declared that He and His Father were one: "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). Jesus desired this same indivisible unity for His followers.
He prayed that believers would become one with Him and with God, their Heavenly Father:
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one , even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)
One Man, One Name, One Focus, One Shepherd
It was by one man that all men were affected by sin and its devastating penalties:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)
It was through one man, Jesus Christ, that all men can be made righteous:
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
There is only one name by which you can be saved - the name of Jesus (Acts 4:10-12). Only through Jesus can you be saved and declared righteous before God.
Jesus admonished that you should have one focus (Mark 10:21-22). You also should have a singleness of spiritual vision (Matthew 6:22). Paul's focus was the Kingdom of God and getting to know God more intimately (Philippians 1:10,14).
What is your focus?
Jesus declared that He was the Good Shepherd and that:
... other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)
There is one shepherd and one fold composed of all true believers. Are you part of the fold?
The Unity Of Believers
God has made believers of all nations to become one in Him:
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. (Acts 17:26-27).
Paul understood this concept of unity among God’s people. He admonished:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Part of walking worthy of our calling is keeping the bond of unity - our oneness in God.
This does not mean that we must agree in all of our opinions or convictions. Rather, we are to be one in spirit, as we are all members of one spiritual body:
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. (1 Corinthians 12:13-14)
Spiritual unity results in the manifested presence of God. In the upper room prayer meeting when the disciples were all in one accord, the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 2:1-4).
In the Old Testament, at the dedication of the temple the cloud of God’s glory descended upon His people when they were united in worship:
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)
Some people are always seeking blessings from God. Do you want to know how to live in the continual outpouring of His blessings? Then grasp the true meaning of the number 1, this concept of spiritual unity:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (Psalm 133)
Where does God command His blessings? Where His people are dwelling together in unity. You don’t have to seek His blessings. You don’t have to pray them down. Begin to function in unity with other believers and His blessings will be commanded upon you.
The Number 2
On the second day, God divided the firmament from the waters and established the number 2 to mean division.
The Division Of Good And Evil
In the beginning, God created light (symbolizing good) and immediately divided it from darkness (symbolizing evil): "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness" (Genesis 1:3-4).
The truth that good is represented by light and evil by darkness is apparent when Peter declares:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
In the beginning, God made a division between the light (which represented good) and the darkness (which represented evil). One of the final acts of our Lord will be to divide those who are saved from those who are lost:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:31-34)
Spiritually, when you accept Jesus you are separated from your old life of sin and you become a new creation in Christ:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The two thieves who were crucified with Christ were symbolic of the division of all mankind into the saved and the lost, those forgiven and those not forgiven (Matthew 27:38).
You live life either according to the dictates of the Spirit or according to those of the flesh:
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:5)
You will either live your life as part of the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. There is no middle ground. Amos 3:3 declares: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" The Bible clearly indicates that you cannot serve two masters:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
In His Word, God has set before you the critical choices of blessing or cursing, death or life (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Then He gives you the correct answer: Choose life!
He has set before you two ways to build your life - on the rock Christ Jesus or the shifting sands of this world (Matthew 7:24-27). He has set before you two paths of life: A broad one that leads to destruction, and a narrow one that leads to everlasting life (Matthew 7:13-14).
Division Over The Word
The Word of God is the two-edged sword that divides the soul and spirit and the bones and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). The Word also divides the entire world on the basis of those who accept God's truth and those who reject it.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was called the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6). On the occasion of Christ's birth, the angels pronounced peace on earth (Luke 2:14) and the Prophet Zacharias, under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, declared that Jesus would guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:67, 79).
Prior to His return to heaven, Jesus gave the gift of peace to His followers, promising "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
The word "division" brings to mind problems and conflicts, not peace and unity. This concept of divine division, however, is found in the Bible in words spoken by Jesus Himself who declared:
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:51-53)
How could someone with the name "prince of peace" and who left His followers with the gift of supernatural peace possibly make such a declaration as, "I came to bring division?" It is because Jesus spoke of a division whose source is not evil, but which comes from God Himself and accomplishes His divine purposes.
This division results because of the Word of God:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36)
The sword of God’s Word makes a division between those who embrace God's truths and those who do not.
Did you ever stop to think that the divisions that have come into your life might have been instigated by God to fulfill His purposes?
Do you realize that perhaps a division or loss you experienced may have occurred because of your belief in and adherence to the Word of God?
The Double-Portion Blessing
The number 2 also indicates a double-portion blessing:
-The firstborn child in an Israeli family received twice the inheritance as the other children (Deuteronomy 21:17).
-A double-restoration was to be made of anything that was stolen (Exodus 22:7).
-The children of Israel were forbidden from collecting manna on the Sabbath, but they were permitted to collect a double-portion of it on the sixth day (Exodus 16:5).
-Elisha asked for and received the double-portion of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:9).
Ask God for the blessing of two - the double-portion of God’s anointing to fall upon your life and ministry.
Two Witnesses To The Truth
The number 2 also signifies truth. It is the numerical symbol of a truthful witness or testimony. Numbers 35:30 declares: "Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die."
God mandated the principle of requiring a minimum of two witnesses to establish the truth. We see this principle illustrated in Matthew 18:16, where Jesus declared concerning offences: "But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."
A minimum of two witnesses confirm the truth. Jesus reiterated this in John 8:17 when He declared: "It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true."
When Jesus Christ dispatched the seventy disciples to evangelize, He sent them out by twos (Luke 10:1). He did the same with His twelve disciples (Mark 6:7), as both groups were bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel. When Jesus ascended to heaven, there were two angels to testify to the truth of His resurrection, ascension, and future return (Acts 1:10).
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
In all of the preceding examples, two witnesses were used to confirm the truth of God’s Word. This principle was also illustrated when God confirmed the immutability of His Word:
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17-18)
God confirmed His Word by two immutable things (two witnesses), in which it was impossible for God to lie. Jesus said that the Father bore witness of Him:
It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. (John 8:17-18)
Jesus bore witness of Himself, and the Father confirmed it. Thus, in the mouths of two witnesses, the truth was established. When Jesus died and His side was pierced with a sword, blood and water flowed out - two witnesses to the validity of His death.
Recognizing the biblical concept that truth is established by two witnesses helps us understand why it is so powerful when two or more gather in the Name of Jesus: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
When two or more believers gather together in the Name of the Lord, they are confirming the truth of the Word, and Jesus shows up! This is why there is great power in the agreement of two or more believers in prayer:
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)
The Last Witnesses
There will be two last witnesses to the truth in the end-times. Prophetic teaching in the Bible reveals that during the closing days of time, the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt and the nation of Israel will enter a seven-year treaty with the Antichrist. In the middle of that treaty, the Antichrist will stop the daily sacrifice and set up the abomination of desolation that was prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 11:31, 12:11).
This event marks the beginning of an era known as the Great Tribulation. During this time, God will give power and authority to two special witnesses who will prophesy for three and one-half years. Again, two witnesses are used to confirm the truth of God’s Word.
Revelation 11:1-14 describes these two witnesses and their ministries. They will wear sackcloth, which indicates that they are in mourning. They will have power to shut up the sky so that there will be no rain; ability to turn the waters into blood; and power to strike the earth with various plagues.
Over the years, there have been many different views as to the identity of these two witnesses. Some believe that they will be Enoch and Elijah.
This belief is usually based on the fact that they are the only two people in the Old Testament who did not physically die.
Others believe that Moses and Elijah will be the witnesses. Moses represents the law, and Elijah represents the prophets. Others believe that these two witnesses are symbolic of the church, with both Jews and Gentiles working together in the end-times.
There is another school of thought that claims that the witnesses will be two new prophets who will minister in the spirit and power of Elijah.
The identities of these two witnesses will be made known at God's appointed time. What is important for you to understand is their role in fulfilling God's end-time plan and His purpose for raising them up.
The word witness is translated from the Greek word martus, the English word martyr, meaning "one who bears witness by his death". Webster's Dictionary defines a witness as "one who gives evidence" and "to furnish proof of something." Through their lives, deaths, and resurrections, these witnesses will be living testimonies of the power of God.
These two witnesses will prophesy for three and one-half years. Through the miracles, signs, and wonders they perform, they will furnish proof of God's power and authority to the world. When the two witnesses have fulfilled all God has purposed for them to accomplish, the Antichrist will kill them. Their bodies will lie exposed in the streets of Jerusalem for three and one-half days.
The deaths of these witnesses will be a great news event. Satellites will transmit pictures of their bodies and people around the world will celebrate their demise (Revelation 11:10).
These celebrations will be short-lived, however! After three and one-half days, the two witnesses will be resurrected from the dead by the power of God. John saw a vision of the witnesses standing to their feet and noted it in Revelation 11:11-12.
Dividing To Multiply
Do you know that sometimes God divides in order to multiply and accomplish His purposes?
Mankind was divided into two beings: Male and female. They were to multiply, replenish the earth, and fulfill God’s reproductive plan.
In New Testament times, when the Church in Jerusalem was persecuted and forced to divide and scatter, it actually multiplied:
...And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. (Acts 8:1,4)
God's arithmetic is not the same as ours. We must realize that all divisions we experience are not negative. God often divides in order to multiply.
With the initial study of the numbers 1 and 2, the tremendous importance of biblical numbers is becoming apparent. We are ready now to move on to one of the most significant numbers in the Bible, the number 3.
In the creative process of the third day, we see the life-giving Spirit at work, initiating and sustaining life. The waters were gathered together, the dry land appeared, and plant life was created, so the number 3 refers to the life-giving power of the Trinity of God.
The Trinity Of God
-The number 3 represents the Trinity: The Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
-It is evident in God’s triune character. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
-It is noted in the three major attributes of God: Goodness, graciousness, and mercy (Exodus 33:18-19).
The Triune Nature In The World
-This triune nature is reflected in time, space, matter, and speech. Time is divided into past, present, and future. Space is measured in terms of height, width, and depth. Matter is described in terms of solids, liquids, and gas.
-Mankind also has a triune nature. Humans are composed of body, soul, and spirit. Their abilities include thought, word, and deed.
-In the Old Testament tabernacle and temple there was a tri-fold separation between the outer court, inner court, and the holy of holies. The death of Jesus enables believers to pass through the outer and inner courts spiritually and come into the presence of God in the most holy place.
The number 3 is related to God’s purposes being accomplished.
There are many examples of this in the Bible. Here are a few illustrations:
-God sent three messengers to Abraham to tell him that Sarah would conceive in her old age (Genesis Chapter 18).
-God brought darkness upon Egypt for three days while His sovereign purposes were accomplished (Exodus 10:22-23).
-Elijah stretched his body over a dead child three times, and the child was resurrected (1 Kings 17:21).
-Isaiah walked around naked and barefoot for three years to illustrate God’s prophetic purposes (Isaiah 20:3).
-Jonah was in the belly of a great fish for three days while God’s purposes were accomplished (Jonah chapter 2).
-The Apostle Paul was blind for three days while God worked in his life (Acts 9:9).
-Peter's vision of the beasts let down from Heaven were symbolic of God’s sovereign intent to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Peter was told three times to rise and eat (Acts 10:16).
The Life Of Jesus
We have seen in the preceding examples how God’s purposes are expressed symbolically by the number 3. There is no greater example of this than in the life of Jesus Christ. We see the number 3--indicating God's accomplished purposes - - occurring repeatedly in His life and ministry.
-The Father spoke from heaven three times during Christ’s ministry (Matthew 3:17; 17:5, and John 12:28).
-Three characteristics of a shepherd were applied to Jesus:
-The good shepherd: Speaking of His death (John 10:14-15).
-The great shepherd: Speaking of His resurrection (Hebrews 13:20).
-The chief shepherd: Speaking of His future glory (1 Peter 5:4).
-Three appearances of Jesus are mentioned in the Bible:
-In the past: To take away sin (Hebrews 9:26).
-In the present: At God's right hand (Hebrews 9:24).
-In the future: To those who look for Him (Hebrews 9:28).
-Three disciples witnessed Christ's transfiguration.
-Three disciples went into the garden to pray with Jesus.
-The Lord asked three times for the impending cup of His suffering to pass, but only if it was His Father’s will.
-Peter denied the Lord three times.
-Pilate sought three times to let Jesus go.
-It was the third hour when they crucified Jesus.
-There were three crosses, three men crucified, and writing in three different languages on the cross of Jesus.
-Jesus was in the heart of the earth for three days and nights.
-After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter and questioned him three times regarding his love for Him.
-The Word of God declares a tri-fold witness that Jesus is the Son of God:
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. (1 John 5:7-9)
-We see Christ holding a three-fold office as king, prophet, and priest (Deuteronomy 17:15; 18:5,15 and Isaiah 6:3).
Next to seven, the number 3 is the most common number in the book of Revelation:
-An angel will pronounce three woes to those living on earth to warn them of trials to come (Revelation 8:13).
-The murdered bodies of the two witnesses will lie openly in the streets of Jerusalem for three days before they are resurrected (Revelation 11:7-12).
-Three unclean spirits will be allowed to deceive the whole world (Revelation 16:13-16).
-The new Jerusalem will be square, with three gates on each side (Revelation 21:13).
The Divine Commission
The number 3 is also related to the divine mandate given to believers by Jesus. The commission has a three-fold manifestation of the Godhead and consists of three components.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19)
The Trinity - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are the power behind our commission. Our three-fold mandate is to teach the Gospel to people of all nations, baptize them, and then teach them to observe all things that are commanded in God's Word.
Three times in the New Testament, we are told to walk worthy of this divine calling:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10)
That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12)