The number seven is the fourth prime number (after two, three and five) but is also known as a lucky prime, a happy number and a safe prime. It is a number that has certain significances in mathematics – if only anyone but mathematicians could understand them! For us simple folk, we know that a heptagon is a shape with seven sides, and those interested in probability, the number seven has a 6 in 36 chance of being rolled (1/6) with two dice, which is the greatest of any of the possible numbers.
In Classical Antiquity, the number seven appears many times, for instance, the seven deadly sins, which in Christianity we call the cardinal sins. There are seven wonders of the ancient world and Seven Hills of Rome and Istanbul. According to legend, there were seven kings of Rome, beginning with Romulus who founded the city in 753 BC. There are seven days of the week, seven colours in the rainbow, seven seas, seven continents, and the list goes on.
In the Bible, the number seven is reportedly used 735 times, 54 of which are in Revelation. If we were to include words such as “sevenfold” and “seventh”, the total becomes 860 references. Already it appears the number seven must have some importance in scripture.
It is believed the number seven represents completeness and perfection. God rested on the seventh day when he was happy with the world he had created, which is why we have seven days in a week, the seventh day being the Sabbath – the day God rested. In the Book of Genesis, the word “created” is used seven times when describing God’s work and, according to some Jewish traditions, God created Adam on the first day of Tishri, the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar (if you are interested, this equates to 26thSeptember 3760 BC).
Originally, the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments, were divided into seven sections. These were the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels (and Acts), the General Epistles, the Epistles of Paul, and the book of Revelation.
In the Gospels, Jesus is recorded performing miracles seven times on the Sabbath:
In the book of Hebrews written by the apostle Paul, he uses seven different titles for Christ:
Let’s look at a handful of examples where the number seven is actually used:
Just by looking at theses example we can see that the number seven is important, although its connection to completeness and perfection is never actually mentioned in the Bible, that has been inferred at a later date.
Since there are so many instances of the number seven, I cannot mention them all but I will leave you with a few more important examples:
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon