A man dreams about the number 7 all night long. He wakes up, and the clock says 7:07. He is ready to dismiss it as coincidence but then looks at his phone and realizes it is July 7th. “It must be a sign!” he says out loud. So, he gets dressed, wearing a football jersey with the number 7 on it, gets on bus number 77 and goes to the race track. He then bets $777 on the 7th horse in the 7th race called “Lucky Universe”.
The horse came in 7th.
If we aren’t careful, we can be a lot like this man. Numbers often have great significance in the Bible, and they definitely have a role to play in biblical symbolism. However, we must be sure we aren’t treating numbers superstitiously, either. When is a number a symbol in the Bible? Well, you could say that a number in the Bible is always a symbol … except when it’s not.
Like so many things in the Bible and in life itself, you tell by the context.
A week lasts 7 days, and the 7th day is the Sabbath day of rest. The first time you encounter the Sabbath is at the very beginning of the book, and the number 7 is sprinkled throughout as a symbol of perfection and the end of a cycle. It isn’t just perfection, however, it is divine perfection. God ended the creative work of perfecting the physical planet on the 7th day. When you think of the symbolism of the number 7, it ties back somehow, at least in definition, to the week of (re-)creation. When Jesus taught, He often pointed back to the beginning.
Later in the Bible, we see the Sabbath is called a “feast” day, and it is listed as the first feast day in Lev 23. God then outlines 7 annual feasts. Two of them are 7 days long. One counts 7 weeks plus a day for 50 days. Is there any doubt that the number 7 is intimately tied to the feast days?
Pentecost is the 3rd feast of the annual feasts. It is in the middle. It is the fulcrum. It represents the law, and it represents the Holy Spirit. The law and the Holy Spirit is what binds all the others together into a package. Lest we go astray, it is helpful to remember that Christ ascended to the Father so that the Holy Spirit may come down to man. Christ and the Father both send their spirit to the earth to accomplish their work.
So, why cover this? I appreciated Mr Franks’ In Accord presentation where he covered the fact that Pentecost seems to be the festival with the most controversy. I belabor these previous familiar points for a reason: Pentecost does not signify the return of Christ to the earth. Too many have gone astray following “new teachings” that are simply new errors. I want to hone in on one false claim that says Pentecost symbolizes the return of Christ and the Feast of Tabernacles doesn’t.
Usually, the “gotcha” argument is that the Millennium is only a thousand years. The Feast of Tabernacles is seven days, representing a 7000 year span, not a thousand years. However, Pentecost is only one day, and so they would argue that it represents the return of Christ and the Millennium. Some proponents get so far off the rails that they will claim there are two seven-thousand year time periods where Christ and God are fulfilling their plan.
Now, they usually claim, without proof, that we teach that the FOT represents a thousand years *because* the FOT is seven days. Maybe I’ve been under a rock, but I have only heard one person say this. I was a teen in the church, and one guy claimed that the seven days represented a thousand year time period. Even as a teen, you can sometimes see where people’s theology gets off track. This person was not a minister, and I don’t ever recall any minister ever saying this. I don’t recall any magazine article from the church stating this. I don’t recall any of our booklets stating this. Where this guy got his information, I do not know.
It’s a strawman argument, brethren.
Quite simply, the FOT represents the Millennium not because it is seven days long, but because of its relationship to the other festivals. Chronologically, it fits. Christ returns, He puts away Satan for 1000 years, and then the Millennium begins. It must be in that order. The Book of Revelation makes this much very, very clear.
So, then, why 7 days? Why 7 days for UB? Mr Harvey gave a sermonette recently that spoke to the fact that you don’t just put sin out of your life and be done with it. It takes work, and it takes time. I want to build upon that concept. In fact, I want to expand it and say the 7 days represent a process. We know creation week represents a process culminating in creative perfection. These are no different. 7 days for unleavened bread means we must utterly and perfectly put sin out of our lives. However, 7 days, just like the recurring weeks ending in the Sabbath, do represent a 7000 year time cycle. In fact, they are different aspects of the same 7000 year plan.
Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, is 7 weeks of 7 days plus 1. In Scripture, when you duplicate something, you are emphasizing it. When Jesus would say, “Truly, truly”, it was a Hebrew idiom emphasizing the truth being told. Adam and Eve were to not touch the fruit in the middle of the garden, lest “dying you shall die”. It emphasized a finality, and we all understand that sin leads to the final second death.
When you multiply something by itself, you are now working in geometric proportions. Peter wanted to know if he should forgive his brother seven times.
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.~ Mt 18:21-22
5 is the number for mercy or for judgment, depending upon the context. Here, obviously, it refers to mercy. Be twice as merciful. Not only that, but do it with completeness squared. Jesus was referring not just to how often but to how deep and complete. Isn’t it much harder when someone keeps on doing something to completely forgive them? Yet, Jesus never promised that we would have it easy.
Pentecost is so important because it is the hinge for the other feast days and their meaning. Pentecost represents a process within a process. As Mr Franks put it, Pentecost is a celebration of the first harvest, but it is not a day when suddenly the harvest is over.
The hinge that is Pentecost is that it represents the answer because it is the missing ingredient that mankind has needed all along. Pentecost represents the giving of the law, but it also represents the Holy Spirit. We cannot keep that law correctly without that spirit. Pentecost is seven weeks of seven days, and then some. It represents the first harvest, that is, the firstfruits, and it shows just how important this phase of God’s plan is. It is a process, and it takes work.
The Church has long understood that there is a parallel between the spring holy days and the fall holy days. Both have the coming of Christ, both have sin or the author of sin put out, and both culminate in a great harvest. The difference is that the spring holy days represents us, the Church, here and now, while the fall holy days represents the rest of the world.
And yet, there is the emphasis that it all takes place in a 7000 year span of time. We have long understood that the 7 day week represents this 7000 year plan. We understand a day symbolizes 1000 years by Psalm 90:4 and other verses like it.
4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.~ Ps 90:4
So, why two periods of 7 days? Turn to . There are two periods of time showing two different aspects of the same plan. Mt 6. What is the Christian priority? There actually are two things a Christian must put first in his life.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.~ Mt 6:33
What festival represents the Kingdom of God? We could split hairs and say the Millennium represents the reign of Christ on the earth, but isn’t that the beginning of the KOG on earth? God is working for a complete and perfect Kingdom, and of course complete and perfect and its process of achieving it are symbolized by 7 days.
What festival represents righteousness? Well, what is righteousness? Is it not the result of the complete and perfect process of putting sin out of our lives? What festival better represents that than the DUB?
We are given two priorities, represented by two period of seven days to show it is a process, and therefore it requires time and effort. The spirit of God is the hinge that makes it possible. We know that the spirit of God moves and does the will of God, and it is engaged in the process of reshaping our hearts and minds even as it reshaped the earth after it became without form and void. Mr Armstrong often emphasized it was the missing ingredient in people’s lives, in addition to the lack of true knowledge.
The number 7 figures prominently in the festivals. Is there any doubt that God will complete His plan completely and perfectly? Is there any doubt that the only way to achieve it requires the perfection squared plus one provided by His Holy Spirit?