Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Does God Have Seven Spirits? The Number Seven in the Bible

God’s Seven Spirits? The Number Seven in the Bible

There are seven lamps burning in front of God’s throne, which are designated as the seven spirits of God, or the sevenfold spirits of God, depending on the translation (Revelation 4:5). We should probably not read this verse as saying that God literally has seven spirits but rather that God’s Spirit is perfect and complete in itself, the number seven often being used in the Bible as the number of perfection.

Whereas there are some incidental uses of the number seven in the Bible, the vast majority of the time, the number is used to denote a sense of perfect completeness or fullness.

  • God rested on the seventh day because His work was complete and perfect (very good). This seventh day was proclaimed to be a Sabbath, and many of the festivals that God commanded the Israelites to observe lasted for seven days, stretching from Sabbath to Sabbath – Genesis 1:31-2:3; Exodus 12:15-13:7, etc.

  • God said that if anyone killed Cain, Cain would be avenged seven times over, making the vengeance complete – Genesis 4:15.

  • Lamech said that he would avenge himself on his enemies seventy-seven times, but Jesus told Peter to forgive his enemies seventy-seven times. Peter thought that seven would be the complete number – Genesis 4:24; Matthew 18:21-22.

  • God told Noah to take seven of every clean animal and every bird on the ark and was given seven days to complete the task of doing so – Genesis 7:1-4.

  • The Flood started on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested on Mount Ararat on the seventeenth day of the seventh month, and Noah waited seven days each time before sending the dove out – Genesis 7:11; 8:4, 10, 12.

  • Abram began his journey to Canaan when he was seventy-five – Genesis 12:4.

  • Abraham used seven ewe lambs to make a solemn treaty – Genesis 21:28-30.

  • Sarah was one hundred and twenty-seven when she died, Abraham one hundred and seventy-five, and Ishmael one hundred and thirty-seven – Genesis 23:1; 25:7, 17.

  • Jacob worked seven years for each of his wives, but is chased for seven days when he tries to take them away back to Canaan – Genesis 29:18, 27; 31:23.

  • Jacob bowed to Esau seven times, a sign of perfect humility – Genesis 33:3.

  • Joseph was seventeen when his brothers sold him into slavery – Genesis 37:2.

  • Pharaoh’s prophetic dream of the famine, which Joseph interpreted, featured two sets of seven cows and two sets of seven heads of grain – Genesis 41.

  • There were seventy members of the clan of Israel when they moved to Egypt – Genesis 46:27.

  • Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years before he died, at which time he was mourned for seventy days, including a special seven-day period. King Saul and Job’s children were also mourned seven days – Genesis 47:28; 50:3, 10; 1 Samuel 31:13; Job 2:13.

  • When the Israelites left Egypt, the first place they camped was an area with seventy palm trees and twelve springs, the number twelve also being a significant number in the Bible. This area was a perfect place for the twelve tribes of Israel – Exodus 15:27.

  • Related to the Sabbath, any Israelite servants were to be set free in the seventh year, a sign that their time of service had been completed, and all debts were to be cancelled – Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:1.

  • The land was to lie fallow in the seventh year - Exodus 23:11.

  • At the end of the forty-ninth year (seven times seven), all land was to be returned to the original owners or their closest relatives - Leviticus 25:8-10.

  • There were seventy elders overseeing the affairs of Israel in the desert – Exodus 24:1; Numbers 11:16-25.

  • God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, giving him the Ten Commandments after seven days – Exodus 24:16.

  • There were seven golden lampstands in the Tabernacle/Temple and before Christ in Heaven – Exodus 25:37;

  • The ordination ceremony for a new priest took seven days – Exodus 29:30-37.

  • During an animal sacrifice, the priest was to sprinkle blood before the Lord seven times – Leviticus 4:6, 17.

  • It often took seven days to be ceremonially cleansed – Leviticus 12:2, 13:4-6, etc. Shame and punishment also lasted seven days – Numbers 12:15.

  • When an animal was born, it was to be allowed to complete one full week (seven days) of life before being used as a sacrifice – Leviticus 22:27.

  • God threatened to punish Israel seven times over for continued disobedience – Leviticus 26:18-28.

  • The sprinkling bowls offered by the twelve tribes of Israel for use in the sanctuary each weighed seventy shekels – Numbers 7:13ff.

  • The prophet Balaam ordered seven altars to be built and seven sacrifices to be made before he inquired of the Lord – Numbers 23:1, 14, 29.

  • God helped the Israelites drive out seven nations in Canaan – Deuteronomy 7:1.

  • God will make His enemies flee in seven different directions – Deuteronomy 28:7, 25.

  • During the battle of Jericho, God ordered Joshua to have seven priests march around the city seven times on the seventh and final day of the siege (Joshua 6:4).

  • One Canaanite king boasted that he had defeated seventy other kings – Judges 1:7.

  • When Israel sinned, God gave them over to their enemies for seven years before calling Gideon to be Judge - Judges 6:1.

  • God chose the seven-year-old bull, rather than the other, for Gideon to sacrifice – Judges 6:25.

  • The town of Succoth had seventy-seven officials – Judges 8:14.

  • Gideon’s tribute for defeating the Midianites came to seventeen hundred shekels of gold –Judges 8:26.

  • Gideon had seventy sons – Judges 8:30.

  • Abimelech’s tribute from the people of Shechem was seventy shekels – Judges 9:4.

  • Ibzan served as Judge for seven years – Judges 12:9.

  • Judge Abdon’s sons and grandsons rode seventy donkeys – Judges 12:14.

  • Samson tempted Delilah to tie him with seven fresh thongs, to weave his seven braids of hair into the loom, and finally to cut off his seven braids - Judges 16:7, 13, 19.

  • Ruth was better for Naomi even than seven sons would have been – Ruth 4:15.

  • Hannah compared her previous barrenness with the birth of Samuel, saying she felt like she had borne seven children – 1 Samuel 2:5.

  • The Ark of the Covenant came back to Israel after being stolen and held in Philistine territory for seven months – 1 Samuel 6:1.

  • God killed seventy men when they looked into the Ark of the Covenant – 1 Samuel 6:19.

  • Samuel commanded Saul to wait for him seven days – 1 Samuel 10:8, etc.

  • David and Bathsheba’s first child died on its seventh day – 2 Samuel 12:18.

  • Seven of Saul’s descendants were killed as punishment to him – 2 Samuel 21:6.

  • God killed seventy thousand Israelites in a plague to punish David – 2 Samuel 24:15.

  • Solomon spent seven years building the Temple – 1 Kings 6:38.

  • Solomon had seven hundred wives – 1 Kings 11:3.

  • Elijah told his servant to look for rain seven times before the cloud appeared – 1 Kings 18:43.

  • God kept seven thousand Israelites faithful to Him in Elijah’s time – 1 Kings 19:18.

  • The Israelites and Aramean armies waited seven days before battling – 1 Kings 20:29.

  • The king of Moab chose seven hundred men to aid him in a special mission – 2 Kings 3:26.

  • When Elisha raised the dead boy, the boy sneezed seven times before waking up – 2 Kings 4:35.

  • Elisha told Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan River – 2 Kings 5:10.

  • God declared a famine in Elisha’s time that lasted seven years – 2 Kings 8:1.

  • King Ahab had seventy sons – 2 Kings 10:1.

  • The Babylonians deported seven thousand soldiers from Judah – 2 Kings 24:16.

  • King Asa sacrificed seven hundred bulls and seven thousand sheep as a sign of thanks and recommitment to God. Similarly, King Hezekiah sacrificed seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven goats – 2 Chronicles 15:11; 29:21.

  • The tribute brought by the Arabs to King Jehoshaphat was seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred goats – 2 Chronicles 17:11.

  • Jehoiada the priest overthrew Queen Athalia after seven years, installing the seven-year-old King Joash – 2 Chronicles 23:1; 24:1.

  • In the seventh month, the Israelites began to rebuild the Temple after they returned from exile – Ezra 3:1.

  • King Artaxerxes had seven advisers and his father, King Xerxes, had seven eunuchs serving him and recognized seven nobles. Esther was given seven maids and married the king in the seventh year of his reign. Haaman built and was hung on a gallows seventy-five feet high and the Jews killed seventy-five thousand of their enemies on Purrim – Ezra 7:14; Esther 1:10, 14; 2:9, 16; 5:14; 7:9; 9:16.

  • Ezra sacrificed seventy-seven lambs, as well as sets of twelve and multiples of twelve – Ezra 8:35.

  • Job had seven sons and owned seven thousand sheep starting out, then had seven more sons after his hardships – Job 1:2-3; 42:13.

  • Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends, says that God will rescue the faithful from seven calamities – Job 5:19.

  • God told Job’s friends to sacrifice seven bulls and seven rams – Job 42:8.

  • David said that God’s Word is as perfect as silver that has been refined seven times and that he praised God seven times a day for God’s righteous commands – Psalm 12:6; 119:164.

  • David prayed for God to avenge Himself seven-fold on His enemies – Psalm 79:12.

  • Solomon named seven things that God hates – Proverbs 6:16.

  • The penalty for thievery was to pay back the amount seven times – Proverbs 6:31.

  • “Wisdom” has seven pillars in her house – Proverbs 9:1.

  • Even if a righteous person falls seven times, they will get up again – Proverbs 24:16.

  • The lazy person thinks they are wiser than seven others – Proverbs 26:16.

  • A mean person holds seven sins in his heart – Proverbs 26:25.

  • In the time of the Exile, men were scarce, so much so that seven women wanted to marry one man – Isaiah 4:1.

  • The Euphrates River had seven streams – Isaiah 11:15.

  • God would punish Tyre after seventy years – Isaiah 23:15-18.

  • God said He will make the sun shine seven times brighter when He forgives and restores His people – Isaiah 30:26.

  • Even a mother of seven children would die when God punishes Israel – Isaiah 15:9.

  • God decreed that the Judeans would be exiled to Babylon for seventy years – Jeremiah 25:11-12.

  • The false prophet, Hananiah, died in the seventh month of the year – Jeremiah 28:17.

  • God will destroy God and Magog so much so that the Israelites will use their weapons as fuel for seven years and will take seven months to bury all the dead – Ezekiel 39:9-15.

  • King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – Daniel 3:19.

  • King Nebuchadnezzar was cursed to live as an animal for seven years – Daniel 4:16.

  • Daniel’s prophecy of the End Times includes seventy sevens – Daniel 9:24-27.

  • Seven leaders are sufficient to ward off the Assyrians, and eight is more than enough – Micah 5:5.

  • God gave Joshua a stone with seven sides on it – Zechariah 3:9.

  • God is said to have seven eyes, symbolizing that His vision is perfect and that He sees all – Zechariah 4.

  • The evil spirit takes seven more with it to inhabit a person – Matthew 12:45.

  • Jesus used seven loaves of bread to feed the second multitude and picked up seven basketfuls leftover – Matthew 15:34-37.

  • The Sadducees used seven brothers in their story of the resurrection – Matthew 22:25ff.

  • The early church chose seven deacons – Acts 6:3.

  • Jesus commanded John to address Revelation to seven churches, and speaks specifically to those seven – Revelation 1-3.

  • The scroll that only Jesus can open is sealed with seven seals – Revelation 5:1ff. See also Revelation 8ff and 15ff.

  • When an angel shouts, it is the like the sound of seven thunderclaps at once – Revelation 10:1-4.

  • Seven thousand people will be killed in an earthquake sent by God – Revelation 11:13.

  • Satan is depicted as having seven heads and seven crowns – Revelation 12:3; 13:1.

After reading scanning this list, we can see that seven or some form of the number seven is often used to show completion or fullness. The fact that God is described as seven spirits or a seven-fold spirit tells us that He is complete in and of Himself.


This blog post is included in my book, Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times.

Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times by [Wilson, Rev. Stephen R.]
Kindle $4.99, Print $7.99

Read the answers to more interesting questions on my Theology 101 - Simple and Surprising Answers to Your Questions! page.

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