You need not be superstitious: numbers carry important meaning in the Bible. And why shouldn’t they? God created the concept in the first place. You may be surprised by the significance surrounding the number eight.
You have probably heard of systematic theology: grouping topics together in logical categories and studying what the Bible has to say about them. There is also biblical theology: studying how the history of God’s revelation naturally unfolded in the pages of Scriptural history.
Whereas systematic topics are traditionally arranged in a “man made” order, biblical theology is naturally arranged in a “God made” order. Studying biblical theology strengthens your faith as it helps you focus on the beautiful detail of God’s plan for history revealed in Scripture. Biblical truth is a complex fabric, and its strands are woven from the first page of the Bible to the last.
Think of biblical truth as an acorn. Acorns grow into massive oak trees. The entire truth is contained in that kernel from the beginning, but over time it develops into something beautifully complex. The acorn seems simple if dissected and analyzed. But a fully developed oak tree contains so many complexities that it’s impossible to grasp all the detail, from the roots, to the structure and composition of the bark, to the ripples on its surface, to the branch patterns and their varying thicknesses and shapes, down to the individual leaves and the patterns woven into their flesh.
So is the complexity of God’s truth. Jesus Christ is revealed in Chapter 3 of Genesis: the seed of the woman would crush the seed of the serpent, and a bloody sacrifice would have to be initiated and made by God to reconcile Man to Himself.
But the details of Christ’s earthly ministry would not be fully revealed until almost 4,000 years later.
THE NUMBER ‘8’
Without further ado, here are 15 observations on the significance of the number ‘8’ as revealed in Scripture.
1. God’s creation week lasted seven days. The eighth day, then, was the beginning of a new week. Biblically the “eighth day” or the number eight is symbolic of the beginning of a new creation or resurrection from death into life.
2. Covenantal circumcision on the eighth day of birth was messianic. It pointed to Jesus because it was a passing from (covenantal) death into (covenantal) life on the eighth day of one’s life, as well as symbolic of being brought into a new creation. (Gen. 17:12, 21:4)
3. Jesus was resurrected from death to life on the eighth day. He spent the seventh day in the grave paying for Adam’s sin. Thus, the day of worship moved from the seventh day (the Sabbath) to the Lord’s Day, which was the eighth day (Sunday), the beginning of a new “week” or creation. Jesus brought us into a new creation.
4. The number of Jesus’ name in Greek is 888. In Hebrew and Greek, the letters of the alphabet served double-duty by also serving as numerals. Jesus, in Greek, is spelled: ΊΗΣΌΥΣ. Its numbers are (Ί = 10 + Η=8 + Σ=200 + Ό=70 + Υ=400 + Σ=200 ) = 888
a. See: http://biblehub.com/greek/2424.htm for Jesus’ name, Matthew 27:37
b. See https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_alphabet#Use_as_numerals for Greek numbers
5. The old creation was earthly with a heavenly presence, while the new creation is heavenly with an earthly presence. Compare the sevenfold description of the old creation, a physical “Mount Zion” (the first week of creation, or symbolically the first “week” of history) with the eightfold description of the new creation, a heavenly Jerusalem (the second week of creation, or symbolically the second “week” of history) in Hebrews 12, broken down below:
For you have not come to:
1) what may be touched,
2) a blazing fire
3) and darkness
4) and gloom
5) and a tempest
6) and the sound of a trumpet
7) and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.
For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” (Hebrews 12:18-21 ESV)
But you have come to:
1) Mount Zion
2) and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
3) and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
4) and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
5) and to God, the judge of all,
6) and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
7) and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
8) and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV)
6. God destroyed the world and all in it (the “old” creation) during Noah’s flood with the exception of Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives. They were brought safely through water, away from the destruction of the old life and world that they had known, and into the new creation and their new life in order to re-populate it. They were eight in number. (Gen.7:7, 1 Peter 3:20)
7. The kingdom of Israel had to be circumcised after being brought safely through the wilderness before they entered the land of Canaan to subdue it to God’s glory and transform it into a new creation under God’s authority. Their national circumcision was symbolic of their becoming a new creation and transitioning out of the wilderness and into new life.
8. Consider the Levitical laws of purification. Anyone who touched a dead person became unclean for seven days (“death” was transferred to them through touch). (Num. 19:16) A clean person was to sprinkle purification water on the unclean person on the 3rd and 7th days, and at evening on the seventh day he was cleaned. (vs.19) The new day (in those days) began at the evening of the old day, so the evening of the seventh day was the beginning of the eighth day. Thus, the unclean person passed from death unto life on the eighth day (if they were sprinkled with the purification water; otherwise, they were cut off from the assembly and cast into covenantal death — excommunicated).
9. In Judges, because of their harlotry, God gave Israel over to Cushan-rishathaim of Mesopotamia for eight years. Then they cried out to the Lord, and he raised up a judge (Othniel) and delivered them into new life for 40 years. (Judges 3: 7-11) I’m assuming this happened in the eighth year, though the text doesn’t explicitly say for sure.
10. Similarly, in the verses immediately following (vs. 12-30), because of harlotry, the same situation was repeated, except the durations were 18 years in bondage (8 + 10, “ten” being a number of quantitative fullness in the Bible) and 80 years in rest.
11. David was a type of Christ. This is evident from the evidence as follows. Jesse had eight sons. David was the eighth, the youngest. Where Jesus definitively fulfilled the prophecy spoken of in Genesis 3:15 (the Seed, Jesus, crushing the head of the serpent’s seed), David typified its fulfillment in his fight with Goliath.
Goliath was six cubits and a span tall. He was a beast of a man, wearing a suit of scale armor that by itself weighed as much as a regular person (5000 shekels of bronze, 1 Sam. 17:5). He carried a huge spear whose head alone weighed 600 shekels of iron and had a shaft like a beam. He was not just six cubits tall, but a “span” taller — as if he were reaching for more. Both beast and man were created on the sixth day of creation, and it was Satan, a creature, who wanted to be more than just a creature — a crime for which he and his followers were cursed. He tempted Eve and Adam with the same impossibility.
Man was created on the sixth day by God; God performed his perfect process of creating in seven days. Seven is generally symbolic of a qualitative fullness that is possessed only by God, but evil men, symbolized by the number six, are always trying to transcend their “sixness” in order to become “a seven.” (Gen. 3:5) Thus, Goliath wasn’t happy just being six cubits tall, no; he wanted to be taller, to transcend his creaturehood and become as God, so he was six cubits and a span: six, and reaching for more.
Where David was a seed of woman, Goliath was a seed of Satan; he even looked like a serpent in his scale armor. Indeed, David was even tempted with scale armor, which he cast off so that he may choose to walk in faith. David defeated him with a blow to the head from his sling; he then cut his head off completely. The “Number Eight” did battle with, and crushed the head of, the “Number 6-and-a-span.”
David also brought the kingdom of Israel out of the bondage of an apostate king Saul and transitioned the land into new glory under his rule. (1 Samuel 17) The kingdom was transfigured under his rule from a struggling tribal monarchy to a united kingdom.
12. Josiah was eight years old when he began his reign. (2 Kings 22:1) Because of his penitence and commitment to implementing national reforms in order to return to obeying the Book of the Covenant, he, in a sense, resurrected Judah from the immediate death that Israel to the north suffered (though it wasn’t enough to fully placate God’s wrath due to the abominations committed by Manasseh). There was no king like him before or after him. (2 Kings 23:25) [2 Kings 22-23]
13. Ishmael escaped the jaws of death with his eight men, and escaped into new life in Assyria. (Jeremiah 41:15)
14. Thomas denied Jesus’ resurrection, but eight days later he saw Jesus, and Jesus showed him his hands and asked him to touch his side. On the eighth day Thomas came to faith (in a sense). (John 20:24-29)
15. Aeneas had been bedridden from paralysis for eight years. In the eighth year, Peter went to him and said “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose into new life. (Acts 9:34 ESV)