My name is Solomon Keal. I am a minister for the General Church of the New Jerusalem, which is a Swedenborgian Christian denomination. These are some of my thoughts about the Lord, the symbolic meanings in the Bible, life after death, faith, charity, usefulness, loving the Lord and one's neighbor, the 2nd Coming, Swedenborg's Writings, and other theological stuff.
Monday, March 8, 2010
The Number Seven in Revelation
The book 'Apocalypse Revealed' by Emanuel Swedenborg, reveals the hidden meaning of the Book of Revelation. It's interesting to note that even the numbers have hidden meanings.
“Numbers symbolize properties, or rather they serve
as a class of adjectives to substantives, assigning
some attribute to their subjects, because a number
in itself is a natural quantity. For natural things
are measured by numbers, but spiritual things by
properties and their states. Therefore someone
who does not know the symbolism of numbers in
the Word, and particularly in the book of Revelation,
cannot know the many secrets that it contains.”
Seven is the most common number in the book of Revelation (aside from the number one)
It occurs around 60 times in Revelation
It occurs in 15 out of 22 chapters.
The number 7 is - in many ways - a theme of the book of Revelation.
The number 7 appears in nature: 7 colors of the rainbow, 7 notes in the musical scale, 7 crystal systems in the mineral kingdom, 7 groups of elements in the Periodic Table.
The number 7 also appears in culture: 7 wonders of the Ancient World, 7 continents, 7 seas, the lucky number 7, and the 7 deadly sins.
The number 7 is one of the most common numbers in the Bible: 7 days of Creation, 7 fat cows and 7 lean cows, 7 branches on the candlestick in the Tabernacle.
"Seven symbolizes all things or all people, and so also fullness and completeness, and it occurs in the Word where the subject is something holy, and in the opposite sense, something profane." (AR 10)
In Revelation chapters 1 through 4, we find the 7 churches, the 7 angels of the churches, the 7 lampstands, the 7 stars in the Lord's hand, the 7 torches before the throne and the 7 spirits. All of these represent the New Church, or in a broader sense, all Christians who worship the Lord and read the Word.
In Revelation chapters 5 through 8, we find the opening of the 7 seals on the scroll, which represents that the Word was completely hidden, but then revealed by the Lord.
In Revelation chapter 5, the Lamb of God has 7 horns and 7 eyes, which represents that the Lord is all-seeing (omniscient), and all-powerful (omnipotent).
In Revelation chapters 8 through 11, we find the 7 angels and the blowing of the 7 trumpets which represented the Lord's manifestation of truth and the subsequent revealing of profanation in the church.
In Revelation chapters 12, 13 and 17, we find three different beasts (including the dragon) with 7 heads, representing the irrationality brought about by profanation in the church.
In Revelation chapters 15 and 16, we have the 7 angels with 7 bowls pouring out the 7 plagues, which represents the Lord's exposing of profanation by means of the Word.
In Revelation chapter 17 we have the 7 king and the 7 mountains which represent the complete profanation of the good and true things of the church.
In Revelation chapters 11 through 13 we find less obvious sevens in the nations trampling the Holy City for 42 (7x6) months (Witnesses). In Chapter 13: The beast of the sea exercised authority for 42 months. Both of these mean the complete end of the church.
The two witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days (7x180, 3.5 years, 1/2 of 7), and in Chapter 12: The woman is nourished in the wilderness for 1260 days. Once again, both of these mean the complete end of the church, and a new beginning.
In Chapter 11: After 3.5 days the two witnesses will come back to life, and in Chapter 12: The woman is nourished in the wilderness for time, times, 1/2 time (3.5)
Once again, both of these mean the complete end of the church, and a new beginning.
In Revelation chapter 13, the number 666 is mentioned, which represents profanation. It's interesting to note that 6 is completed by 7. One might think of 6 as humanity's number, and 7 as God's number.
All of these point out that the number 7 illustrates the theme of the book of Revelation as being about the end of the old church and the beginning of the new church. And that this Last Judgment was brought about by the holiness of the Lord exposing the complete profanation of the church.
Most of the book of Revelation features the number seven. But in the last few chapters the theme changes to the number 12, which addresses the nature of the New Church.