Reading through Revelation this week I was overwhelmed at the amount of numbers used. It seemed like everything described had a number of something associated with it. Some numbers were used more than others. As I read I kept wondering what the importance of this repetition was. Why did John use certain numbers constantly? What did they mean? Was it coincidental or purposeful? With all of these questions I was faced with, I decided to do my blog on finding their answers. Obviously attempting to look into the significance of every number used in Revelation would be a very daunting task. I decided, instead, to pick a few numbers and inquire about them.This blog is not about what the things associated with the numbers mean but the numbers themselves. The passages that most intrigued me were, Revelations 14:3 which gives mention to the number 4 and Revelation 13:18 which mentions a repetitive number 6. My question became “what is the significance of the numerology in these passages?”
Revelations 14:3 states, “3And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.” (http://biblehub.com/revelation/14-3.htm) The first part of my research I focused on the number four. This passage mentions that there were FOUR living creatures present with the elders. The creatures themselves can represent many things including the writers of the four gospels. My question is what is the significance of there being four creatures? According to Markberrier.com, the number four represents the “the world or the universal number” (http://markberrier.com/content/articles/articleMBNumbersInRevelation.aspx) The idea that the number four represents the earth or the universe is also seen outside the realm of religion. According to www.Britanica.com, “The number of order in the universe is 4—the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water; the four seasons; the four points of the compass; the four phases of the Moon (new, half-moon waxing, full, half-moon waning“. The use of the number four in reference to the world or the universe is also seen in Genesis. According to Genesis 1:1-19, the first four days of creation focused on the world and the universe. I do not believe that these are mere coincidences.
The use of the number four in Revelation is also seen in reference to the FOUR horseman of the apocalypse. Revelation 6:1-8 states, “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. 3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. 5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Revelation-Chapter-6/) What bothered me about this use of the number four is that it references disorder and destruction. How can the number four represent both creation and destruction or order and disorder? This idea of order reminds me of a particular law of science. According to Newton’s third law, “in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equalsthe size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.” (http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/Lesson-4/Newton-s-Third-Law) I realize that this law is in reference to motion. However, it can also be used in reference to the order of the universe because it shows how it works. This law helps make sense of how very opposite ideas can be represented by the same thing, in this case the number four. As stated earlier, the number four represents the creation of and order in the universe. The four horseman play into this concept because they bring destruction or an end. If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, then every beginning has an end and every creation has a destruction.
The second part of this blog will focus on the 6 in the number of the beast. Revelation 13:18 states, “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (http://biblehub.com/revelation/13-18.htm). When I read this passage, I thought it was obvious that the number six was of great significance since it is repeated three times. What was the meaning behind the number six? According to www.agapebiblestudy.com, “Both man and the serpent were created on the sixth day, therefore, the number six represents both man and rebellion” (http://www.agapebiblestudy.com). Furthermore, the number six, according to www.ridingthebeast.com, can represent “the imperfection, the sin, the Evil, according to the Bible. But it is also the number of the test, the work and the servitude in the Hebraic law, which ordered to work during six days, to sow the earth during six years and that a slave serves his master during six years“. (www.ridingthebeast.com). I hypothesize that it is no coincidence that the number 6 can represent not only man and sin but also Satan since the serpent was also made on the 6th day. There are three representations pertinent to the reference in Revelation 13 which I hypothesize is the reason for the number being represented three times as the mark of the Beast.
In conclusion, the numbers 4 and 6 are both used purposefully in the book of Revelation. The number four represents the order set in motion during creation, particularly the first four days. Four also represents the culmination of order with disorder and destruction. The number six, however, represents three things: 1.) man 2.) sin/rebellion and 3.) the serpent or Satan. All three of these representations are seen in the number of the beast “666”.