The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: R

Previous Index Next

Rev, sevens and seven sevens

The briefest glance over the Apocalypse indicates that seven is a very prominent number: seven lampstands, seven letters to seven churches, seven angels, seven spirits, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven bowls, etc., etc. Further investigation [see page 6 in the following article] reveals that some of these "sevens" may be further organized into groups of "seven sevens"!

This is not a matter of ingenuity, chance, or coincidence. This design is from God. From the very beginning, God has worked on a "plan of sevens":
"For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exo 20:11).
God commanded Israel to memorialize this simple yet awesome truth in a calendar in which every seventh day was a special day of rest and worship. To this day, the major religions of the world -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- all commemorate a seventh day, although for various reasons the particular day is different in each religion.

But, in God's timetable, it is not just the seventh day that is special and sacred. It is also the forty-ninth day -- the end of seven cycles of seven days each:
"And you shall count from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven full weeks shall they be, counting fifty days to the morrow after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a cereal offering of new grain to the LORD" (Lev 23:15,16).
The "sabbath" in v 15 was the great day of the Passover. A count of 49 days -- or seven sevens of days -- ended with the Feast of Harvest (Exo 23:16), or the Feast of Weeks (Exo 34:22), when the firstfruits of the field were to be offered to God. This feast is also called "Pentecost" in the New Testament, from the Greek for "fifty", because it began on the fiftieth day, ie, 49 days after Passover.

The "plan of sevens" applied to both days and years in the Jewish calendar. The seventh year was a very special "sabbath" for the people of God, just as the seventh day was a regular "sabbath" of rest:
"At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release... every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord's release has been proclaimed" (Deu 15:1,2).
Not only were debts to be forgiven after seven years, but those who were sold or had sold themselves into contractual service to satisfy debts were also to be released:
"If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you" (v 12).
The seventh year was also significant even for the soil of Israel (Deu 11:12). The Land of Israel was Covenant land, beloved and watched over by Israel's God himself, granted especially to the people of Israel, and apportioned to each tribe. They were to hold their particular inheritance in trust only so long as God willed. As man was to rest one day in seven, the soil was to rest, or lie, fallow, one year in seven:
"When you come into the land which I give you, the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruits; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. What grows of itself in your harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of your undressed vine you shall not gather; it shall be a year of solemn rest for the land" (Lev 25:2-5).
And, with the years as with the days, the cycle of seven was itself to be repeated seven times:
"And you shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee [literally, a trumpet blast: cp the seven trumpets of Revelation!] for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family" (vv 8-10).
The trumpet blast that resounded and echoed throughout the Land would signal the return of all properties, sold or leased during the interim 49 years, to their original owners or -- if they were deceased -- to their heirs. Thus the integrity of God's original deeding of the Land to the particular tribes would be preserved.

Several themes are evident in these divine cycles of seven and seven times seven:

In Scripture, the special numbers seven and 49 stand for the completion of cycles and the returning of affairs to their rightful, original state. And this is what the Apocalypse is all about: a time when the kingdom of men becomes the kingdom of God and His Christ (Rev 11:15). A time when the people of God, delivered out of tribulation and bondage, will find rest and comfort with Him (Rev 7:14-17). A time when the faithful will be released from the greatest debt -- sin -- and the greatest bondage -- death (Rev 20:4-6,11-14)!

And a time when God's own blessed Land, long in alien hands, will itself be freed and returned to its rightful owners:
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.' And he who sat upon the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true... He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son' " (Rev 21:3-7).
Previous Index Next