Tamarajo is an avid Bible Studier who loves nothing more than to seek out the treasures in God's Word and share them with others.
I hope to exhibit in this writing how the life-cycle of the Monarch butterfly and its process of transformation illustrates and parallels transformative processes in creation, the human heart, and Biblical text. This will also be an exhaustive study on the number four as it categorizes these same concepts throughout the entirety of Scripture.
Before we continue, I should probably inform you that this article is lengthy, as in, there is enough material in it as there would be in an average-sized book. I recommend reading it in comfortable increments and maybe writing down where you left off. If particular sections don't interest you, scroll to the next section. There are many fascinating revelations as it involves this topic.
The first sections of this installment focus heavily on the number four's connection with the transitory natural created realm. The Scriptural context will follow.
Where It All Began
Every year, it is a great joy and educational opportunity for my grandchildren and me to observe the Monarch butterfly's life cycle. It is no less than a miraculous process to behold. We are blessed to live in a rural area that hosts plenty of milkweeds, the only staple food eaten by the Monarch in the caterpillar phase of its life.
"The wise person is one to whom every aspect of creation and life contains something of value to be learned."
— The Book of Psalms with an interlinear translation commentary the Shottenstein Edition Artscroll series
Observations of this fascinating development process perked my curiosity concerning the possible spiritual applications gleaned from it. I sincerely believe that all of God's creation contains a lesson about who God is and how life is intended to function.
. . . since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.
— Romans 1:20
Charles Spurgeon, "a preacher of preachers" from the 1800s, agrees.
"all things are full of teaching, and when the eye is divinely opened, that teaching flashes upon the mind far more vividly than from written books . . . all created things point to their Maker"
— Charles Spurgeon
Further commentary from the Schottenstein Edition of the Psalms adds to the resounding symphony of testimonies on this topic.
"Contemplating merely the general categories of the unfathomable Divine Power and Wisdom evident in creation, would completely overwhelm the most brilliant mind"
— Tehillim commentary The Schottenstein Edition
To which Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, agrees.
. . . in him were the all things created . . .
- those in the heavens,
- and those upon the earth,
- those visible,
- and those invisible,
. . . whether . . .
- thrones, whether
- Lordships, whether
- principalities, whether
. . . all things through him, and for him, have been created . . .
— Colossians 1:16
The foundation verse for this illustration, of our new life at salvation, is animated by the Monarch butterfly's life cycle.
. . . do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .
— Romans 12:1-2
The word transformed in the above portion of Scripture comes from the Greek word metamorphoo, from which the English term metamorphosis is derived. "Metamorphosis" is a term used to explain the complete change of form and substance of something. It is commonly used to describe the radical process of conversion during the formation and development of a butterfly. Therefore, we will study this incredible insect's testimony and lesson of our transformation process through God's plan and pattern of salvation.
"Metamorphoo" is only used four times in the New Testament. It is first used in our foundation verse. Twice it refers to Christ's transfiguration recorded in Matthew and Mark, in which four men were present. And the fourth one is found in II Corinthians 3:18, which will be noted later in the study.
Let us begin with the first of the four stages of development.
Egg—In the Beginning
The Monarch butterfly goes through a four-phase life cycle:
This cycle takes about four weeks to complete.
The first phase ("In the beginning . . .) begins with an adult butterfly laying an egg on the underside of the leaf of a Milkweed plant. A female butterfly lays approximately 400 eggs.
The butterfly carefully selects the location of laying and spaces her eggs based on the developing worm's best opportunities to feed. Paul informs us in the book of Acts that God has planted us in times and spaces that we might find, and find provision in Him.
He . . . has determined their (men's) preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him . . .
— Acts 17:26-27
Eggs in nature are incubators for the development of something outside the body of its species. The egg phase of the journey could be symbolic from the Christian perspective of how, in the natural, we begin spiritually outside of God's covenant.
. . . you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
— Ephesians 2:12
A Very Hungry Caterpillar
On average, it takes about four days for the tiny caterpillar to be formed and recognize its hunger for more and realize its captivity, at which time it eats its way out of the bondage of its shell. Exodus's are kind of like that. For further reference, read the Book of Exodus revealing how God had to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt by challenging their captors and helping them realize their need for deliverance and develop their desire or hunger for it.
We Are But a Worm
As it concerns the caterpillar phase of development, It might be observed that we, apart from God, are no more than a spineless defenseless worm as Spurgeon well noted.
"See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! . . . That caterpillar is yourself . . ."
— Charles Spurgeon
Bildad, one of Job's advisers, understood this reality.
How much less man, who is a maggot, And a son of man, who is a worm?
— Job 25:6
In concert with this revelation, one of the four colors used in the Exodus instructions for the priestly garments, curtains, and coverings, was scarlet.
This particular word for "scarlet" refers to the worm's blood from which they obtained the dye. The dye was used to create this color for each of these coverings. Covering speaks of atonement for sin, which typifies the bloodshed necessary to transform us into God's likeness.
The Number Four—The Stamp of Transfomation
You may have already noticed the number four is a common theme stamping the Monarch butterfly's creative transforming process, and yet there is so much more.
- It sheds four skins
- Its first molt occurs four days from its shell exit.
- It has four main sets of legs, with a total of 16 (4x4).
- It hangs in the shape of a "J" for 24 (4x6) hours in its caterpillar phase.
- It has 36 (4x9) gold spots on its chrysalis
- and has four wings that take four hours to fill with fluid and harden.
- The average wingspan is approximately four inches.
There are four main structures on the adult head:
- and proboscis.
- It has a four-color vision system in its butterfly phase.
- It also has a four-generation process of getting from Mexico to Canada and back
- it will spend four months in semi-hibernation in the Mexican mountains, a 56,000 (4x14,000) Hector biosphere.
The Monarch migration schedule also follows this pattern of four. It is theorized that Monarchs that have wintered in Mexico head due North from their roost on the first day of the spring equinox. Each day they are oriented one degree east. This pattern will follow into the succeeding generations until the final generation that will be oriented to migrate south. They will head that direction in and around the time of the autumn equinox. This direction is a 180 (4x45) degrees turn from their starting point.
A final fact that only four species of Monarch's live in North America.
Four's Relationship to God's Word and the Creation
Before I continue the phases of development of the Monarch butterfly, It would be relevant to start with the importance and meaning of the number four in both nature and God's Word. Of course, these are always consistent with each other, especially considering that the Word and Wisdom of God created the creation. F.W. Grant, a late 1800s Bible Scholar, also made this connection in his book "The Numerical Bible.
"Why should not a law of numbers pervade the Scripture also, and link God's Work and His Word together . . ."
According to Dr. Noah Hutchings, four is mentioned about 400 times in the Bible in his book "God the Master Mathematician," and, notably, the Bible was written by 44 authors.
It is also a worthwhile mention that the first sentence of the Bible
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
— Genesis 1:1
. . . contains 28 (4x7) letters in Hebrew. Four indicative of created things and seven concerning the fulfillment of and by God.
The very first sentences of Genesis, the written record of the beginning of all things created. The first four recorded acts of God have to do with the FOURmation and transFOURmation of the universe. Then comes a "change" with days five and six when the scriptures record that He filled the earth and sea with living creatures and the seventh He rested.
Acts chapter 4:24 reiterates the first clause of the Bible and confirms this pattern in a prayer prayed by the early Apostles and does so with four.
“Lord, You are God, who made
- and earth
- and the sea,
- and all that is in them"
Brad Scott from Wildbranch Ministry also makes these fascinating observations in his teaching of the biblical number four, relative to the created material universe along with its processes and functions
"On the first day we see YHVH restoring by four means: He said, He saw, He divided and He called. On the second day we see YHVH restoring His creation by four means: He said, He made, He divided, He called. On the fourth day we see YHVH restoring the earth by four means: He said, He made, He set, and He saw. On the seventh day we see our Creator giving His creation the pattern for Shabbat by ending, resting, blessing, and sanctifying. He does these four things on four of the seven days. On the fourth day the material creation is complete or tov. Our Creator shows us His creation through the number four from the very beginning"
The ancients considered there to be four elements.
- and water
Modern science observes and acknowledges that the entire universe consists of and functions by four elements.
- and energy
These are consistent with the biblical account of the beginning of all things.
"In the beginning . . . " (time), "God created the heavens" (space) "and the earth" (matter)" . . . Then God said, “Let there be light (energy)”
— Genesis 1:1,3
Light, also known as electromagnetic radiation, is the first transformation mentioned in Genesis chapter one. Light has four properties.
- Light travels in straight lines.
- Light can be reflected.
- Light can bend.
- Light is a form of energy.
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
— II Corinthians 4:6
Paul's transformation was an experience with light. Paul mentions this light in his testimony before King Agrippa four times. (Acts 22:6,9,11, 26:13)
Paul then testifies to king Agrippa the transformative mission of this visitation of light.
I (Jesus the light) now send you (Paul), to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.
— Acts 26:17
On the second day of the creation account, we see God creating space or atmosphere by dividing the waters above from the waters below. Water itself has four properties.
- temperature moderation
- and versatile solvent.
God also creates the "firmament" or heavens that could be considered the atmosphere and or space, which has four layers.
- and thermosphere.
The atmosphere consists of four elemental gases.
- and carbon dioxide.
Air itself has four properties.
- It takes up space.
- It has a measurable mass.
- It exerts pressure.
- Air has temperature
Four-Stage Water Cycle
Before continuing with space, our second element of creation, an interesting note concerning the subject of waters, mentioned in the above verse, is that the water cycle itself follows a four-stage transformation process of
- and precipitation
And it has a four-stage convection process, illustrated in the image below, as it moves about the earth. One demonstrates a type of heavenly process and the other an earthly one.
This little detour might be a good place to insert the mathematics part of this study. Math will be an integral part of the rest of this series and revelation, and no wonder that it is, considering math itself is the transformation of numbers through the four processes.
- and division
There also are known what is called Maxwell's Equations, which are a set of four complicated equations that describe the world of electromagnetics.
Kinematic equations are another type of four equations that can predict unknown information about an object's motion.
There are also four levels of measurement
- and the ratio
A form of Biblical math is called the Gematria, whereby the letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet are considered numbers. This ancient concept might be more familiar when considering Roman numerals in which letters were also numbers and used for mathematical and linguistic purposes. The Hebrew method differs in that the numbers and formulas produced by the numeric values are consistent with the meanings of the words they spell. An example concerning our study comes with the understanding that words that are divisible by four are most likely to carry the themes of creation and transformation. There are four methods of doing Gematria.
- Absolute value
- ordinal value
- reduced value
- and integral reduced value
Paul's Fourth Dimension
In terms of and back to space, we are all familiar with the three dimensions of space that we were taught in geometry class: length, width, and height. Science is now considering a fourth dimension based upon algebraic formulations that reveal this. Paul prays about four "dimensions" of knowing Christ and being filled with His fullness.
. . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
— Ephesians 3:14-19
In view of our referencing space and dimension, Paul wants us to be filled in every sphere and "dimension" of our lives with the comprehension of the love of God. Sphere, "dimension," and the potential of created things are communicated by the number four
Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.
— Jeremiah 23:24
On the third day, we see the dry land appear (matter).
There are four states of matter.
- and plasma
Relative to the material earth itself, there are four spatial directions of the Earth.
- and West
These divide the Earth into four hemispheres. There are 360 (4x90) degrees in a circle describing the Earth.
The Earth also is made up of four layers.
- inner core
- liquid core
- and crust.
Its circumference is approximately 40,000 Kilometers or 24,000 (4x6) miles
There are four components of soil.
- organic matter,
- and air.
The Earth also has four major oceans.
- and Indian
The primary dry landmasses of the Earth can also be divided into four groups.
- and Australia
An additional fun fact is that North America has four major deserts.
- The Great Basin
- and Chihuahuan
In terms of distance, there are 5280 (4x1320) feet in a mile, 36 (4x9) in a yard, and 12 (4x3) in a measured foot.
Fruit Trees and Botanical Life
Fruit trees, which were created on the third day as well, weren't considered fully mature or developed until the fourth year of growth.
‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord.
— Leviticus 19:23-24
In his commentary Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible, John Gill notes that this was both beneficial to the tree that it may grow stronger, as well as the eater of it considering that fruit produced before its maturity was considered of no nutritional benefit to man. They thought it to be possibly harmful.
Sukkot, a Biblical Jewish feast that is themed as a memorial of their wilderness earthly journey to the promised land as well celebrated in appreciation and acknowledgment of the gifts of the earth God has provided, uses four species of plants and fruit in its observance.
And you shall take for yourselves on the first day
- the fruit of beautiful trees,
- branches of palm trees,
- the boughs of leafy trees,
- and willows of the brook;
. . . and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days
— Leviticus 23:40
In general, there are four main categories of plants that all exhibit the processes of transformation.
- and flowering plants
consisting of four main parts.
- and flowers
The four parts of the flower.
- stamen (male reproductive organ)
- and carpel
The carpel is the female reproductive organ, which also has four parts.
- and stigma
They go through four stages of development.
- lowering-fruit development,
And this development is governed by four hormones.
- Abscisic acid
Fourth Day—Time—Sun Moon and Stars
On the fourth day, we see the creation of the markers for the passage of time. Time is a natural event in contrast to eternity.
God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for . . .
- and seasons
- and for days
- and years
. . . and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
— Genesis 1:14-19
Revelation chapter 8 (4x2) includes each of the fourth-day elements in its announcement of judgment to the earth's inhabitants.
Then the fourth angel sounded:
- And a third of the sun was struck,
- a third of the moon,
- and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened.
- A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night (time)
And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth.
— Revelation 8:12
Revelation 16 (4x4) begins with the topic of the angel's instructions for judgment in created earth.
Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.
— Revelation 16:1
The fourth angel's judgment, including the fourth-day element of the sun, discusses the transformative act of repentance.
Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
— Revelation 16:8-9
The Greek word translated "blasphemed" is used four times in the book Revelation (Rev 13:6, 16:9,11,21), referring to man kinds refusal to acknowledge the God who created all things repent of their wickedness. The second occurrence in chapter 16.
They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
— Revelation 16:11
Four things are listed that humankind did not repent from.
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their . . .
- murders or their
- sorceries or their
- sexual immorality
- or their thefts.
— Revelation 9:20-21
Four shows us that repentance is part of the transformation process and that God will do everything physically naturally possible to save a man's soul.
In terms of quantum, physics time is considered the fourth dimension.
The fourth day account is the first time that the word "sign" is used, which in Hebrew pictograph language is the picture of a cross with its four directional arms. The second mention of the term for "sign" is, would you believe, in Genesis chapter four relating to the first birth and death, which are evidence of our physicality.
Four Terrestrial Planets and Four Gaseous Planets
As it concerns the planets, it is noted, according to Wikipedia, that there are four terrestrial (or rocky) planets in the Solar system:
There are also four giant gas planets in the Solar system.
And there are four moons of Jupiter known as the Galilean moons that are readily visible from Earth.
It is noted that the fourth day contains the first mention of the word "sign," and the second mention is in Genesis chapter four. Could it be that God's organizing His creation and truth in this mathematical form is a sign of who has done all these things?
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the Lord has done this.
— Job 12:9
The fourth Word of the Bible in Hebrew is a reference to time in a sense. It is a word that is untranslated and consists of two letters Aleph and Tav. Aleph and tav are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet and, in Greek, would translate to something most Christians are quite familiar with, and that would be Alpha and Omega.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty".
— Revelation 1:8
And of course, the phrase "Alpha and Omega" occurs four times.
"Aleph," the first letter of "aleph" and "tav" occurs four times within the first four words of the Bible. The tav, pictographically speaking, is the sign of the cross.
Categorically speaking, as it concerns time, there are four seasons.
- and in winter.
After the flood, God covenants with the creation with these four words expressing seasonal patterns, processes, and cycles in the earth.
“While the earth remains,
- Seedtime and harvest,
- Cold and heat,
- Winter and summer,
- And day and night
Shall not cease.”
— Genesis 8:22
Many climates are also known for their dry and rainy seasons, but even these divide into four consisting of two rainy seasons, in the Bible known as the early and latter rains, and two dry seasons in between them.
"Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above, Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love".
— From the Hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" written by Thomas O. Chisholm composed by William Runyan
There are also four biblical divisions of the day.
- and night.
The Bible also refers to "watches," which is how both day and night are divided into four equal 3-hour sections.
It is the fourth watch of the night that Jesus comes to His disciples walking on the sea, demonstrating how He had stepped into the created realm of time yet held authority over the physical natural world. (Matthew 14:25, Mark 6:48)
In modern timekeeping, there are 24 time zones (4x6), 24 (4x6) hours in each day, 60 (4x15) minutes in every hour, and 60 (4x15) seconds in a minute. In a Biblical year, there are 360 days (4x90).
Four lunar phases are also noted in marking months (4 weeks) and appointed times- new moon, crescent moon, gibbous moon, and full moon. Even, notice that there are 12 (4x3) in each year.
There are at least four eclipses every year. Two lunar and two solars.
Paul, in his fourth epistle to the Galatians, refers to the weak and beggarly elements of this world. Before Christ's redemption, we were in bondage to these elements, and Paul gives four observances of time.
. . . how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe . . .
- and months
- and seasons
- and years
— Galatians 4:9:10
There are four Jewish New Years.
- Time of Selichot in preparing for the High Holy Days,
- Rosh Hashanah,
- and Shevat 15 Tithe of the fruit trees.
A portion of the book of Ecclesiastes sums created time up well in communicating the truth that all of the creation, including time and experience, will serve the creator's purposes.
Ecclesiastes is well noted for using the phrase "under the sun" and is a poetic expression of our natural physical life on the earth. He notes all the futility there is, from only a subjective, rather than spiritual perspective.
Notice that each verse contains four "times" or seasons for things on the earth, and seven sections consist of four lines, each indicating God's perfect fulfillment.
To everything there is a season (ziman used 4x in Scripture),
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
The "Preacher" wraps up his discourse with the understanding that God is in control, whatever our experience in the earth might be, and it will serve His purpose in the end, and all we are asked to do is trust and obey.
What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
— Ecclesiastes 3:9-11
This thought reminds me of Paul's observation recorded in the book of Romans.
. . . we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
— Romans 8:28
Mark makes some time references in a fourfold manner as it concerns the end of the age.
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming . . .
- in the evening,
- at midnight,
- at the crowing of the rooster, or
- in the morning—
lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
— Mark 13:33-36
The word "watch" is used four times.
The Fourth Commandment Concerns Time
In wrapping up this section on the fourth day and time, a little look at the Sabbath and its relationship to earth and creation will benefit this study.
According to E.W. Bullinger, the fourth commandment to keep the Sabbath is the first that mentions the earth and references time. The first transgression of the law occurs in the fourth book of the Bible. (more on the fourth book later)
In "The Bible Wheel," book Richard Amiel McGough observes that
"The Sabbath is the prophetic prototype of the rest we have through the Work of Christ on the fourfold cross",
The New Testament application of the concept of Sabbath in spiritual terms can be found in Hebrews chapter four and references time and quotes from Psalm 95 hailing God as King over all creation and worthy of our observation and adoration.
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
— Hebrews 4:6
The Psalmist also gives the protocol in the form of four instructions for us to approach the King of all creation in verses 1 and 2
- "Let us sing to the Lord."
- "Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation."
- "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving."
- "Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms."
Relative to creation, the Psalmist also declares four things in God's hand in terms of creation, ownership, and, therefore, rightful rule.
- "deep places of the earth."
- "The heights of the hills."
- "The sea."
- "dry land."
Psalm 95 ends with what happens when we refuse to acknowledge nor rightfully worship the Creator King and is congruent with the whole theme of Hebrews chapter four and the Sabbath.
. . . a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest
— Psalm 95:10-11
This OT verse is also quoted in Hebrews chapter four.
Was The Dirty Deal Done On The Sabbath?
The Sabbath was the day that God the creating conquering King was seated on His throne. It was a final act of establishing His dominion over all that He had made. It could be considered that it was the very day that the fateful act of treason took place. It was the day that His vassal king Adam was to follow suit in resting in the dominion God had given him, but instead, he was dealing and trading with the devil and "working" to establish his own independent kingdom.
After paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus did what Adam was initially supposed to do.
He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
— Mark 16:19
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it . . . For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
— Hebrews 4:1,10
This transaction concerning the dominion of the earth and the devil's deal is recorded in Ezekiel 28, which lists four things that occurred. The King of Tyre is addressed in this speech but is also a metaphoric representative of Satan/Lucifer — one who can appear as light, proposing what looks to be a good deal.
- By your great wisdom in trade
- you have increased your riches . . .
- became filled with violence within,
- you sinned . . .
You defiled your sanctuaries.
— Ezekiel 28:5,16,18
The Hebrew word translated "trading" is used four times, all in the book of Ezekiel three in the above-quoted portion of Scripture. Ezekiel 26:12 contains the fourth use of the word "trade," which also refers to Tyre, a city well noted for its trading and exploits. Jezebel was from this very area.
According to Wikipedia
"The commerce of the ancient world was gathered into the warehouses of Tyre"
And relative to the theme of four, Tyre is currently the fourth largest city in Lebanon and is its most major port city.
Saturn And The Sabbath
The planet Saturn, sixth from the sun and known as Shabbatai by the Jewish people, honoring God's six days of creative works, has four main rings and three faint ones. Four meaning physical, three meaning spiritual, together with completing and fulfilling all the purposes and plans of God.
Days Five and Six
As was mentioned previously, day four was a pivotal point in the creation narrative. Days five and six concern the living creatures that would inhabit the earth, of which four are mentioned—birds, fish, beast, and man.
The sixth and final day of God's creative work, "And God said," is recorded four times.
"The material world became the cradle into which He (God) placed His spiritual-material message" "The material world became the cradle into which He (God) placed His spiritual-material message"
— Kenneth E. Bailey "Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes"
Four Levels of Creation
Although there were seven days of creation, there are four levels of creation in Jewish thought, as is noted in an article titled "A Little Word With a Big Meaning" by Phil Walker at "One for Israel."
In Jewish thought there are four levels of creation in the Genesis account:
- inanimate matter (rocks, minerals, waters and so on)
- vegetative matter, which can grow and reproduce
- animal life, with willful motion and a voice,
- but only the fourth layer of creation, humanity, can grow, reproduce, move as they wish and also use language.
The Human Body—The Crown of God's Creation
"God created me and you to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying His Supreme excellence in all spheres of life".
— John Piper "Don't Waste Your Life"
On a practical note, There are four main building blocks of the human body. Hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen.
- and oxygen
There are also four primary systems of the human body.
- and respiratory.
The fourth day of the FOURmation of a human being inside the womb, which takes 40 weeks or 280 (4x70) days, is known for "Momentous change," as noted in the book "From Conception to Birth" by Alexander Tsiaras and Barry Werth.
The process of cell division and multiplication, as does occur in human creation, is known as mitosis, which involves four processes.
- and telophase
I couldn't help but think of the loaves and fish when Jesus gave thanks, He divided the bread, and it multiplied. Bread, the symbol and staff of life, illustrates our necessity for God's Word that can give us life and reproduce when we receive it into our hearts by faith.
. . . receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
— James 1:21
Let it be to me according to your word.
— Luke 1:38
Let us break open His Word with thanksgiving and allow His truth to be developed in us.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
— Psalm 34:8
There are four elements of taste
- and salty
By 16 (4x4) weeks gestation, a baby is, on average, four inches long and weighs about four oz. This period is noted for being a time for a significant growth spurt.
There are four types of body tissue.
- Epithelial tissue,
- Connective tissue,
- Nerve tissue,
- Muscle tissue
Flesh in the Bible always indicates our limited physical existence, and being there are four types of flesh mentioned in I Corinthians 15:39.
All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
There are also four systems of the human body.
- and respiratory.
As well as four quadrants of internal organs
Muscle has four distinct properties
- excitability- ability to respond to stimulation
- contractility- ability to shorten actively and exert a pull
- extensibility- ability to continue to contract (range of lengths)
- elasticity- ability to rebound to original length (like a rubber band)
There are four blood types (A, B, O, AB).
Four components of blood are
- Red blood cells carry oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the lung and tissues.
- White blood cells kill bacteria and other organisms.
- Platelets are important in clotting.
- Plasma is the liquid component of blood and carries nutrients and minerals.
The Hebrew word for blood is "dam," and it consists of the letters dalet (4) and mem (40) gematria value is 44. Our life is in the blood that is transported through our bodies by our hearts.
. . . the life of the flesh is in the blood . . .
— Leviticus 17:11
Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, in their book "In His Image," write.
"Blood was always poured out before God an offering, for life that belonged to Him."
It would make sense then that In Psalm 40, four types of offerings are mentioned, as Bullinger observes.
The death and life of Christ are set forth by a four-fold type and record. His death. the four great offerings.
Sacrifice and offering . . .
Burnt offering and sin offering . . .
— Psalm 40:6
Leviticus chapter four shows us four types of people for which the sin offering is applied.
- the anointed priest,
- the whole congregation of Israel,
- a ruler,
- and the common people.
Fours characterize the altar of sacrifice measured in Ezekiel's vision of the Temple shown him.
The altar hearth is four cubits high, with four horns extending upward from the hearth. The altar hearth is twelve (4x3) cubits long, twelve wide (4x3), square at its four corners; the ledge, fourteen cubits long and fourteen wide on its four sides.
— Ezekiel 43:15-17
The book of Hebrews displays four verses that speak of Christ's offering of Himself for our sins. (5:3, 9:7, 9:14, 9:25) Isn't it through the forgiveness of our sins that we are transformed?
Once again, Ezekiel chapter one spends a fair amount of time describing four living creatures called Cherubim.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's commentary note that about the creation.
"The Cherubim represent the ruling powers by which God acts in the natural moral world".
They were considered guardians of the threshold of God's dwelling. No one passed through apart from the blood sacrifice.
Ezekiel's vision also began in the fourth month, and the number four is recorded 40 times in this particular biblical and prophetic book.
He was told to prophesy to four places in creation that represented the highest and lowest places on it.
“Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to
- the mountains,
- the hills,
- the rivers, and
- the valleys,
‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and My fury, because you have borne the shame of the nations.”
— Ezekiel 36:6
The Creation of the Human Heart—A Demonstration of Four
The human heart is the first functional organ to form by day 28 (4x7/week 4), and it is developed in a four-fold fashion that follows along with the creation account.
"Heart development consists of the formation of a primary tube that loops and separates into the four cardiac chambers and paired arterial trunks that form the adult, human heart."
We see this imaged in the biblical account of the planting, development, and function of what was to be the "heart" of the created world, that being Eden representing the life of a paradise in unhindered fellowship with God . . .
. . . a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four river heads.
— Genesis 2:10
There will be more on this later, concerning the four gospels that are to go throughout to all the earth preaching the message of salvation.
There were also four in the garden (the heart of creation); God, Adam, Eve, and the serpent.
After the garden, there were four First recorded family members were Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel.
There were four commissions of the Edenic covenant,
- Be fruitful and multiply,
- fill the earth and subdue it,
- rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky,
- and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
Blood gets produced in the marrow of some types of bones.
There are 248 (4x62) bones in the human body.
The four types of bones are short bones, long bones, flat bones, and irregular bones.
Four functions of the skeletal system are:
- supports muscles and tissues,
- protects the vital organs from injury and trauma,
- allows for movement, and
- stores essential body minerals and immature blood cells
There are also four types of bone cells.
- Osteogenic cells
- and Osteoclasts
Where teeth are concerned, humans have four canines, four incisors, and four wisdom teeth. According to Wikipedia, tooth enamel is one of four primary tissues that make up the tooth.
- dental pulp
Connecting our bones are four types of joints:
- ball and socket,
- pivot, and
The body's major joints have a bursa sac or cushion, of which there are four types of a bursa.
- and sub-muscular
The Fourth Intercostal Space or Fifth Rib
Relating to the heart and bones, a recurring phrase occurs in II Samuel.
. . . the spear smote him under the fifth rib (chomesh חֹ֫מֶשׁ).
— II Samuel 2:23
My curiosity got the better of me, and so I googled "fifth rib" and discovered an article at Simple Bible Studies.com titled "Adam's Fifth Rib."
Much to my amazement, this phrase is used four times in the Scriptures. And all refer to the killing of four men in the establishment of the Davidic kingdom. God regarded David as "one after God's own heart." It was through King David that the Messiah of all the hearts of man would come.
The meanings of the names of the men who were killed have a compelling message that points prophetically to a coming Messiah.
- Asahel (God has made)
- Abner (My Father who is light)
- Ishbosheth (man of shame)
- Amasa (sparing His people)
Sentence structure is different in Hebrew, in that the action always appears first, so I will paraphrase it how we would better understand according to our sentence structure with the subject being first. "God, My Father, who is light, has made a man of shame to spare his people."
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised . . .
. . . Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him...
. . . For the transgressions of My people He was stricken . . .
. . . Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin . . .
. . . My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities . . .
. . . Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
— Isaiah 53
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
— II Corinthians 5:21
. . . Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Hebrews 12:1-2
The "Adam's Fifth Rib" article notes that the 5th rib would be the nearest, most vulnerable, and accessible path to the heart.
The fifth rib is located just below the fourth intercostal space of the human rib cage, which is the most vulnerable place for a piercing or puncturing wound to the heart, considering that from that space, both ventricles of the heart can be accessed.
The author then connects the rib God took from Adam's side to build the woman. The original text uses just the word "rib" in this case and doesn't tell us that it is the fifth. But could this clue from II Samuel interpret that for us?
These four occasions of the use of this phrase relate to our topic of the processes of transformation. This collective idea connects with the piercing of Christ's side. Eve was built from Adam's open side. The church, those who would come to God through faith in His one and only Son, would be built from the wounded side of Christ.
Is it possible to consider that the piercing of Christ's side occurred at this very fourth intercostal space or fifth rib from which blood and water flowed?
. . . one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately, blood and water came out.
— John 19:34
There is a condition called pericardial effusion, which is thought to have occurred to Jesus when He was on the cross. A possibility from the dehydrating loss of blood He experienced.
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”
— John 19:38 9 (fourth Gospel)
Pericardial effusion would have caused the shutting down of His kidneys and created a fluid build up around His heart. This consideration would explain why both blood and water flowed. Blood and water indicated the place of the piercing (fourth intercostal space). This thought confirms the meaning of the names of the four men who were pierced in the fifth rib (fourth intercostal space) in establishing the kingdom of David.
A typical rib cage consists of 24 (divisible by four) ribs. There are twelve on each side. The book of Revelation may give us insight into what these 24 ribs could represent in terms of creation.
. . . twenty-four elders (first mention in 4:4) fall down before Him (four mentions) who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
— Revelation 4:10-11
We are not told in the text which the twenty-four elders are, but a Scriptural pattern may give us clue in that there were twelve tribes of Israel in which God governed and was authorized to bring his Son and rule to the earth, known as the Jewish people.
In the New Testament, there are twelve apostles to whom He gave His authority and through whom He worked His kingdom in the earth. According to this revelation, it would make sense that the heart of God's dwelling with man centers inside the structure of His people, both Jew and Gentile believers who would bow in submission to Him.
Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.
— Acts 26:23
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
— Revelation 21:23
Chapter five of Revelation continues this theme and reveals four categories of created ones who will be redeemed and singing His praise naming four things ascribed to the Lamb by those new creations.
Out of every
- and tongue
- and people
- and nation,
. . . have made us, and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth . . . ”
— Revelation 5:9-10
. . . And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
- and honor
- and glory
- and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
— Revelation 5:13-14
Christ Enthroned on Our Hearts
What an amazing consideration that the Creator of all would enthrone Himself on our hearts. It is even more awesome that God would entrust the tenderness of His own heart to humankind within this structure. He has placed the responsibility of man to cherish, guard, and protect that relationship just as the rib cage does the heart through his submission to God.
This enthronement of Christ in our hearts is further evidenced by the crown of arteries surrounding our hearts known as the Coronary (Carona) arteries, which take its root from the Latin word for "crown" it resembles a crown of thorns.
Dr. Charles Thurston at Science and Wonders furthers this revelation with Revelation chapter four's account of the throne surrounded by the 24 elders, comparing it to the structure and function of the human heart as such.
. . . from the throne proceeded lightnings (electrical signals of the heart), thunderings [Lub (Leb spelled lamed bet is the Hebrew word for heart) dub sound made by the valves as they open and close] . . .
. . . and voices (the blood flowing through valves and the chambers of the circulatory system.
— Revelation 4:5
There is a further explanation of the parallels of the human heart's picture of salvation and the throne of God, according to Revelation 4 and 5. Four heart valves, beginning with the tricuspid, meaning three-leafed, that the de-oxygenated carbon dioxide laden blood passes through into the upper right atrium or chamber before descending into the right chamber. The number three, signifying spiritual things, will be significant for this section.
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!” (three phrases with three items each)
. . . the living creatures give
- glory and
- honor and
to Him who sits on the throne
and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
- and honor
- and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
— Revelation 4
The three, the number of spiritual things or dimensions, shows us that this salvation of created humankind was a spiritual endeavor.
Next, the blood gets pumped through the second valve known as the pulmonary valve and into the lungs from the right ventricle.
Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
— Revelation 4:5
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
— II Corinthians 5:21
The now cleaned and oxygenated blood returns to the heart and collects in the left atrium, where it is released through the third valve and into the lower-left ventricle. Finally, it is released through the fourth valve, the aortic, to flow and feed and cleanse the rest of the body. Revelation chapter five gives us four praises for this incredible work that gives life eternal to all who believe.
Represented by the tricuspid (who came in the form of sinful flesh to bear and take away the sin of the world)
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
— Ephesians 4:8-9
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
— Hebrews 2:9
The Mitral is a picture of the resurrected and glorified Christ.
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
— Romans 6:4
and power mirrors the Aortic (New cleansed believers going out with power)
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
— Revelation 5:13
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen
— Matthew 28:18-20
. . . the earth is man's province. We are bidden to perfect it and transform its material nature into something spiritual. In deed, we were created to make the earth heavenly
— Commentary from the "Tehillim" Schottenstein edition.
"Thy Kingdom come Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
Bowing Down Before the Throne
Can you see the twenty-four bones that make up the rib cage all curving and bowing to the King of King's enthroned upon our hearts?
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the . . .
- and length
- and depth
- and height
. . . to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Back to the Davidic Kingdom through whom the Messiah was foretold to come, the place where God would dwell and meet with His people, namely the temple, would be built and established by David's fourth son of those born to him in Jerusalem, with Bathsheba. Bathsheba birthed four sons, representing the heavenly city, where David reigned for 33 years, the same number of years Christ the King of Kings was in the earth exhibiting the heavenly Kingdom. David purchased this place, which was a threshing floor, from Onan, who had four sons.
David's first fourth son, Adonijah, from the sons born to him in Hebron (Kiriath Arbah - a city of four), prepared for himself to take the throne. But David, who ruled over Israel for a total of 40 years altogether, overruled Adonijah's assumption and chose Solomon instead.
Solomon built four houses.
- his own house,
- the house of the forest,
- house for Pharaoh's daughter (his wife),
- and God's house.
The work of building God's house (temple) began in the fourth year, on the fourth day of the month, of Solomon's reign, and he reigned for 40 years, 480 (4x120) years after the children of Israel came out of Egypt. (I Kings 6). The temple Solomon built would stand for a little over 400 years.
In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its details and according to all its plans.
— I Kings 6:37
The most sacred space, the Holy of Holies, in Solomon's temple 400 cubits square. The curtain that guarded this sacred space was said to be four inches thick woven with 72 (4x18) strands of yarn. The curtain was hung on four pillars.
May it also be noted that the Davidic covenant was the fourth covenant God made with the nation He created, Israel, and this covenant contained four promises of a land, a son, a house, and a throne. These four things foundational themes run throughout all of the scripture from beginning to end.
There are four structures/temples/places where God could meet and dwell with His people on the earth in scripture.
- The tabernacle, (400 years)
- Solomon's temple, (400 years)
- Ezekiel's temple,
- and the New Jerusalem built of His body of believers.
. . . do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
— I Corinthians 6:19
The first of these four, being the wilderness Tabernacle, consisted of four materials.
- and wood
The silver sockets, typifying the redemptive price the Messiah would pay, that provided the foundation for the wilderness tabernacle totaled one hundred (4x25). They were arranged
- Forty (4x10) sockets along the south
- Forty (4x10) sockets along the north
- Sixteen (4x4) sockets along the west
- Four across the tabernacle that divided the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies
The transformed life begins with redemption.
The tabernacle had four coverings, Much like our human body that consists of four layers of flesh.
- goats hair,
- ram's skins,
- badger skins,
- and fine linen.
The brazen altar, which displayed the Divine judgment, is four-sided and had four horns. So with the golden altar. The camp was also foursquare.
The priesthood had four orders of people;
- Aaron and his sons,
- and Merari, Levites, also the earthly copy and pattern of the more real and true in the heavens.
We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things
— Hebrews 8:1-5
The New Testament Greek word for temple is used in four ways, according to C.I. Scofield
- of the temple in Jerusalem Mt 23:16.
- of the believer's body 1Cor 3:16,17 6:19
- of the local church 2Cor 6:16 and
- of the true church Eph 2:21 But in all these instances, the thought is simply of habitation of God
The Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures) consists of 24 books which comprise what Christians call the Old Testament, and all of it is an invitation to submit our hearts and bow down to the King of Kings who came to the earth for our salvation, 400 years after the last words of God were spoken to His chosen ones.
Ezekiel's Heart Exhibit
Back to the "heart,"—the book of Ezekiel, which contains the highest concentration of the use of the number four, as well as is located on the fourth spoke of the Bible Wheel, records these Words of God about transformation, through the recreation, of our stubborn, willful hearts?
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
— Ezekiel 36:26
In the following chapter of Ezekiel, we are given an illustration of transformation and the revival of people by changing dead, dry bones into living beings through a four-fold process.
- "I will put sinews on you
- and bring flesh upon you
- cover you with skin
- and put breath in you
and you shall live."
— Ezekiel 37:6
When Ezekiel prophecies as instructed, the transFOURmation begins.
Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
— Ezekiel 37:9
Charles Spurgeon wisely comments on this portion of Scripture in terms of the transFOURmation process.
"here is a picture of the recovery of ungodly men from their spiritual death and corruption—a parable of the way in which sinners are brought up from their hopeless, spiritually dead condition, and made to live by the power of the Holy Ghost"
C. I. Scofield makes this observation concerning this portion of Scripture concerning the transformation that occurs when God revives His people.
"Having announced Ezekiel 36:24-38 the restoration of the nation, Jehovah now gives in vision and symbol the method of its accomplishment. Ezekiel 37:11 gives the clue. The "bones" are the whole house of Israel who shall then be living. The "graves" are the nations where they dwell. The order of procedure is:
- the bringing of the people out Ezekiel 37:12-14 Ezekiel 37:19-27
- the bringing of them in ( Ezekiel 37:12 );
- their conversion ( Ezekiel 37:13 )
- the filling with the Spirit ( Ezekiel 37:14 )"
Four Soils—Stages of Transformation
Jesus taught His kingdom truths to His followers through forty (4x10) parables.
Parable teaching was not new to Jesus's audience. It is thought that there were and are approximately 4000 Jewish parables.
Matthew records that these parables contained secrets kept hidden since the founding of the world.
All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“I will open My mouth in parables;
I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
— Matthew 13:34-35
In the parable of the four soils (Matthew 13, Mark 4), Jesus references four conditions of hearts, allegorized as soil types, that receive the Word of God. Each type of heart/soil reveals the pitfalls that prevent the seed of God's Word from producing fruit in our lives.
These four can also be viewed in a progressive way that can show how hearing the word of God transforms us as we continue to hear and obey it.
The first soil of the hard ground is a picture of how we are hard to His truth when we first hear it, and the enemy comes to steal it. But as His truth continues to work in us, it begins to break up the hard fallow ground causing the rocks to surface. Once His truth removes the remaining hardnesses of unbelief, we then become soft and vulnerable to weed infestation, expressed in these accounts as distractions and desires for other things. His truth does not stop there. It continues to work the soil by weeding out the distracting concerns and desires of this life until we become unadulterated soil capable of producing the fruits of His kingdom.
Brad Scott, on the Hebrew Roots Network, in part five of his series, Prophecy In The Field, makes an interesting observation about the fourth soil. He notes that it is the only soil that produces and reveals a previously hidden meaning about the amount Jesus said would be produced.
. . . other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.
— Matthew 13:8
Brad connects this statement with the four patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The connection includes all except Jacob's age about when each birthed their chosen sons. Joseph's ( a type of Jesus) link to the patriarchal numbers related to when he entered into Pharaoh's service. Abraham was 100 years old when he produced Isaac, Issac was 60 years old when He had Esau and Jacob, and Joseph was noted to be 30 years old when he began his ministry, as was Jesus. Jacob is not included because he is the only one who is not a chosen son recalling that Esau was Isaac's favorite. Recall as well that three concerns spiritual realities. Therefore, God reveals that through these four physical men would come the seed of Abraham, "Jesus Christ," the Word of God, God's only chosen Son who contained His Holy Spirit, and through faith in Him, we can be saved and produce a harvest. Faith in Abraham's promised seed that is the Lord Jesus Christ is the secret of the good soil.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear! . . . Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven . . . for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it . . . “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” . . .
— Matthew 13, Mark 4
Paul reveals four transforming qualities of God's Word when received and applied in his second letter to Timothy.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable
- for teaching,
- for rebuking,
- for correcting,
- for training in righteousness,
so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
— II Timothy 3:15-17
In each of these, so far studied, systems, we can see the material universe, the human heart, and the butterfly along with their laws and functions, all categorized by the number four, exhibiting God's power, ability, and will to create, establish, transform, and sustain it all.
The Two Sets of Four Kingdom Parables
Matthew, chapter thirteen, kicks off what is known as the eight (4x2) kingdom parables. The first one being the parable of the four soils, as shown in the above section.
Frank E. Geabelein's commentary on this chapter on pages 301-302 borrows this revelation from David Wenham's observation.
"The discourse may be broken down into two parts of four parables each (vv.3-33, 44-52). The first four are addressed to the crowds, the last four to the disciples . . . of the first four parables, the first stands apart from the other three, separated by discussion about the purpose of the parables (vv10-17) and the interpretation of the parable (vv.18-3). It has a formally different introduction (the other three begin "Jesus told them another parable, "The kingdom of heaven is like . . . "), separated from the fourth, which has a different beginning, by the explanation in vv.49-50 and the question and answer about the disciples; understanding of parables. The central section separating the two sets of parables (vv. 34-43 divides the chiasm and further explains the function of parables while expounding one of them." (see diagram in the image below this section for a more visual understanding)
Lockyer explains the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of this earthly life.
"The Kingdom of heaven . . . implies, not the glorified state of the future life, but that presently existing spiritual community of which Christ is the Head, and which is composed of those whose hearts and lives are subject to Him as sovereign . . . He surveyed the age and looked toward it's consummation and described the mixed conditions that would prevail until His return as King of Kings"
The fourth parable of the first set of four mentions four ingredients, three measures of meal and leaven.
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
— Matthew 13:33
Fine flour or "meal" is generally symbolic of righteousness and purity, and leaven throughout Scripture is a symbol of hypocrisy, corruption, and pride, both of which were added to the "Garden" experience through man's choice. It led to humankind's natural physical toil and spiritual death and could not be recovered until the coming of Christ, the Messiah. Only twice in Scripture was it permitted and required to add leaven to an offering of flour, and that was the "Shavuot"/"Pentecost, which represented both Jew and Gentile who would experience salvation yet live life in the flesh on the earth.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
— Galatians 2:20
Could this offer us the pattern of these two sections of the Kingdom of Heaven that would consist of these very two?
Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.
— Acts 26:23
Thomas Newberry, an English Bible scholar, connects this parable of the leaven with the fourth church, Thyatira, in the book of Revelation. This church was noted for its corruption. Its NKJV introductory title is "Four good works of love, service, faith, and patience." But they are also accused of four destructive influences.
. . . because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to
- and seduce My servants to
- commit sexual immorality
- and eat things sacrificed to idols.
— Revelation 2:20
The Kingdom Parables and Their Chiastic Arrangement
The structure of these particular parables is in a literary form called a chiasm. Chiasms are literary structures that emphasize the main point at the center of a portion of text rather than at the beginning. The outer texts are parallel in theme and, many times, wording.
Kenneth E. Bailey, a Bible scholar, suggests that viewing the text like a sandwich can help. The outer slices of bread envelop the meat of the sandwich. The image above is Kenneth Bailey's example of this structure as displayed in these kingdom parables.
When comparing one and eight in the diagram above, they are similar in theme (landowner, householder). The same is true with two and seven (separation of tares and wheat, separation of fish). Three and six contain two small things (mustard seed and a pearl). Both develop into something more significant and more substantial than their humble beginnings. One grows into something beneficial and useful, the other something valuable. Some other considerations concerning the landowner and householder; one person plants and the other person buys. A common word used in both is "great" the small seed grows into something much "greater" than it began. A "great" price is paid for a "small" pearl), then four and five (hidden leaven and hidden treasure). Observe as well that the central axis is in the middle and separates the fourth and fifth parable.
The first four parables center around the landowner and agriculture. And the second set of four parables center around the transactions of a householder and business.
Herbert Lockyer also observes
"Four of the parables spoken to the multitude exhibit, not only the aspect of the kingdom to the outside world - the number four, when used typically, is the number of the earth, it also shows the working of the mystery of iniquity . . . "
"The first four parables were given to the multitudes as they thronged the shore, where the Master's pulpit was a boat. The last four parables were spoken to the disciples in the house . . . In the four parables (the first set) now to be given, Jesus having spoken to men of sight now speaks (in the second set) to men of faith."
In his Thru the Bible Commentary, J. Vernon Mcgee writes concerning what he calls the "mystery parables."
"in the Mystery Parables Discourse our Lord set before us kingdom-of-heaven conditions on earth during this interval (time between Christ's first and second comings) . . . These Mystery Parables show the direction of the kingdom after it had been offered and rejected by Israel. They reveal what is going to take place between the time of Christ's rejection and the time when He returns to the earth as King. With these parables our Lord covers the entire period between His rejection by Israel and His return to the earth to establish His kingdom"
He also notes that the chapter opens with
On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
— Matthew 13:1
He also comments about our key concept of this study, that being change.
"Notice the symbolism here. "The same day went Jesus out of the house," which speaks of the house of Israel. "and sat by the sea side" - the sea represents the gentile nations (a symbolism used elsewhere in Scripture). Our Lord is leaving the nation of Israel and turning to the world. He is now speaking of what will take place in the world until He returns as King. This act denotes a tremendous change that has taken place in His method. Great multitudes were gathered together to hear Him, and He went into ta ship and began to talk to them as they stood on the shore."
Other Parables and Lessons
Luke presents what is known as the Parable of the wicked vinedressers.
Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out.
“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.’ But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”
And when they heard it they said, “Certainly not!”
Then He looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone’?
— Luke 20:9-17
We see that the fourth and final one sent is none other than the Messiah himself.
Luke, chapter 20, also records a conversation between Jesus and the Sadducees about the reality of the resurrection. The Sadducees present this scenario to Jesus.
Now there were seven brothers. And
- the first took a wife, and died without children. And
- the second took her as wife, and he died childless. Then
- the third took her, and in like manner
- the seven also; and they left no children and died.
Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”
Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.
— Luke 20:29-34
Notice that the brothers are seven, but three are presented singularly, then in the fourth presentation, the rest are lumped together. The word died is also used four times. The reason is revealed in the phrase "The sons of this age" Jesus is trying to express to the Sadducees that they are so very limited in their logic and ability to see because they are only considering and observing the natural, not spiritual things.
Jesus Transforms the Deformed
After healing a Canaanite woman in Matthew chapter fifteen, Jesus left there and went up on a mountain and sat down. Great multitudes of various ailments came to Him for their conditions to be changed and transformed. Their conditions are listed in four specific categories with four specific transformations.
Moving on from there, Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee. He went up on a mountain and sat there, and large crowds came to Him, having with them
- the lame,
- the blind,
- the deformed,
- those unable to speak,
and many others. They put them at His feet, and He healed them. So the crowd was amazed when they saw
- those unable to speak talking,
- the deformed restored,
- the lame walking,
- and the blind seeing.
And they gave glory to the God of Israel.
— Matthew 15:29-31
In terms of transformation, should it be any surprise that the New Testament begins with four Gospels, perhaps indicating the new creations that would be born from them?
"Christs purpose in giving us this teaching was not to write a famous book . . . Christ wanted not to create an infallible book, but to create true lives, and to trust them through the power of His Spirit to create other true lives till the world became altogether true."
— J. Edgar Park "The Wonder of His Gracious Words"
John, the fourth Gospel, begins very much like the creation account in Genesis.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light . . .
— Genesis 1:1
In John's account, notice the four descriptions of Jesus the Word sent to the earth to save, as well as the four things He, the Living Word that came to the earth, and what He did.
- In the beginning was the Word,
- and the Word was with God,
- and the Word was God.
- He was in the beginning with God.
and . . .
- All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
- In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
- And the light shines in the darkness,
- and the darkness did not comprehend it.
— John 1:1-5
John, the fourth Gospel, also gives the idea of becoming a new creation through a born again event.
. . . unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
— John 3:3
In his commentary titled "All the Doctrines of the Bible," Herbert Lockyer reveals the FOURmation/transFOURmation aspect of the message we are commanded to proclaim to all the earth. We are to call all men to come and be born again, as he writes in a portion titled The Spirit Transforms Men into Christ's Image.
"As we possess four gospels, presenting four different aspects of the one divine person, so the continuous ministry of the Spirit is to fill the world with men and women reproducing Christ."
The four rivers of Eden illustrate the four Gospels that go out to all the earth. They reveal the source of all life, the Fountain of Living Waters, that are flowing from the very heart of God, crying out in the wilderness of this world His desire that all men would repent and be saved.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
— II Peter 3:9
The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
The four Gospel accounts are centered around the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and sent by Him to the earth for the express purpose of saving the souls of men. He was most likely born approximately four B.C., four hundred years since the people of God had heard a word from Him.
Matthew, the first Gospel, opens with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. In Matthews's genealogy, the developing theme builds the case for the rightful rule of the coming King (Son of David) to reign in the hearts of men who would come to Him by faith (Son of Abraham). This genealogy is arranged in a four name, four times pattern. Two divisions divide these four sets of four into three sections, eventually culminating in the birth of Jesus.
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
— Matthew 1:1
This announcement connects Him with both Abraham and David. Frank E. Gaebelein in "The Expositors Bible Commentary observes that . . .
"Jesus the Messiah came in fulfillment of the kingdom promises to David and of the Gentile-blessings promises to Abraham."
J. Vernon McGee makes a further note in his "Thru the Bible" Commentary, establishing that . . .
"The line of Abraham places Him in the nation, and the line of David puts Him on the throne . . . This is most important because it puts Jesus in a very unique position. He said the Shepherd of the sheep enters in by the door but the thief and the robber climb up some other way to get into the sheepfold (John 10:1-2) That fold is the nation of Israel. He didn't climb into the fold over a fence in the back, and He didn't come in through the alleyway. He came in through the gate. He was born in the line of David and in the line of Abraham . . . He is the fulfillment of everything that had been mentioned in the Old Testament"
The genealogy continues.
(four names) Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. (notice Judah is the fourth listed in the genealogy and he is also the fourth son of Jacob)
(four names) Judah begot Perez and Zerah (twins counted as one - same generation) by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
(four names) Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.
(four names) Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse.
— Matthew 1:2-6
Notice the transition after the fourth set of four names with the announcement of "King David" . . . with only three names at this transition
(three names) and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
Also, observe that the four women in the genealogy occur in this set and transition.
(four names) Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.
(four names) Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah.
(four names) Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah.
(four names) Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon,and Amon begot Josiah
— Matthew 1:6-10
After the fourth set of four names, There is a transitional reference to the captivity in Babylon and contains only two names.
(two names) Josiah begot Jeconiah (meaning Yah will establish) and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. (Notice "and his brothers" as it was with Judah) And after they were brought to Babylon,
(four names) Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud,
(four names) Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok,
(four names) Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar,
(four names) Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary,
— Matthew 1:11-16
Christ stands alone. Notice this third point of transition after four sets of fours. Three sets of fours tell us that this development through natural means in the created earth was a spiritual work on God's part that only Christ could do.
. . . of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
— Matthew 1:16
Notice the transitions also signal a count down with the first one with three names, the second one with two names, and the final one, Christ, the Messiah, who has arrived.
The sets overlap names like links in a chain, and the count as such is for literary purposes, explicitly designed to establish the message. There are forty (4x10) total names from Abraham to Jesus, not using the overlapping feature.
The text wraps up the genealogy with the use of the word "generations" four times.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations,from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations,and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
— Matthew 1:17
Jesus is born when its fourth Gentile world government was ruling Israel, that being Rome. The three prior were Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece.
The time frame from Abraham to Jesus is divided by four markers.
- and Christ
There are four people omitted from Matthew's genealogy of Jesus Christ, according to Bullinger. They were the final four successors to the throne before the Babylonian captivity.
- Ahaziah, or Jehoahaz, 2 Kings 8:29-10:27; 2 Chron 22:39.
- Joash, 2 Kings 11:2-12:20; 2 Chron 24:1-25.
- Amaziah (or Ahimaaz), 2 Kings 14:8-20; 2 Chron 25:7-27. And one between Josiah and Jeconiah, viz.—
- Jehoiakim, 2 Kings 23:36-24:6; 2 Chron 36:5-8. It was he who cut to pieces and burnt the roll which contained the words of Jehovah (Jer 36:23). The Talmud says that the reason why his name is not mentioned generally in the genealogies is because it was said concerning him (2 Chron 36:8)
There are fourteen generations between each in verse 17 of chapter one.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations
— Matthew 1:17
It is also noticed that there are 400 years represented by four generations from Perez to Amminadab, both from the line of Judah, the fourth tribe of Israel, establishing Christ the Messiah as rightful Heir and King.
In announcing His birth and earthly reveal, the angel that appears says four things about Him Luke 1:31-33, represented in the four Gospels and coincides with four Old Testament "Beholds" concerning the Messiah who would come to the earth which He created.
1. "Thou shalt bring forth a Son" = Behold the man
— Zechariah 6:12 (Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man)
2, "and shalt call his name Jesus" = Behold my Servant.
— Isaiah 42:1 (Mark presents Jesus as servant Savior)
3, "Shall be called the Son of the Highest" = Behold your God
— Isaiah 40:9 (John reveals Jesus as the Son of God)
4. "He shall reign . . . and of His kingdom there shall be no end" = Behold your King
— Zechariah 9:9 (Matthew presents Jesus as the King of kings)
Ray Stedman, Pastor, Bible expositor, and teacher, summarize this with the four "Beholds" and Old Testament connection.
Four different times—and only four times—in the Old Testament there was an exclamatory statement made concerning the Messiah, introduced always by the word behold. In one of the prophets we read, "Behold thy king, O Israel!" In another place we read, "Behold the man!" In a third place we read, "Behold my servant!" In still a fourth place we read, "Behold thy God!" These four statements are amplified and developed in the four Gospels—Matthew, the Gospel of the King; Mark, the Gospel of the Servant; Luke, the Gospel of the Son of man; and John, the Gospel of God, the presentation of the Son of God.1
E.W. Bullinger, a respected theologian and Bible scholar, also writes of four titles of the Messiah.
There are four titles of the Messiah who was prophesied to be born into the earth as a physical person that would govern the hearts of men who would submit there lives to Him.
His name will be called
- Wonderful Counselor,
- Mighty God
- Everlasting Father,
- Prince of Peace.
— Isaiah 9:6
In his commentary for Isaiah, chapter four, Scofield writes that the name of Christ is used in a fourfold way, describing the coming Christ as "the Branch." This thought corresponds to the four Gospels and the four faces of Christ as a King, Servant, Man, and God.
1. I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness
— Isaiah, Jeremiah 23:5 (Messiah of the seed of David according to the flesh revealed in His earthly glory as King of kings, and Lord of Lords) — Matthew presents Jesus as King
2. behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH
— Zechariah 3:8 (His obedience to death)
— Mark presents Jesus as a servant
3. “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
From His place He shall branch out,
And He shall build the temple of the Lord;
Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord.
He shall bear the glory,
And shall sit and rule on His throne
— Zechariah 6 (in the vision of the four chariots)
— Luke presents Jesus as a man
4. the Branch of the Lord
— Isaiah 4:2
— John presents Jesus as the Son of God.
God's witness in the earth to the lost souls of men is also noted in Hebrews, to be exhibited in four ways.
- and wonders,
- with various miracles
- and gifts of the Holy Spirit
— Hebrews 2:4
There were four prohibitions given to the first seventy sent out into the earth to preach the Gospel. carry no purse, no scrip, no shoes, and salute no man by the way (Luke 10:4)
- carry no purse
- no scrip
- no shoes
- and salute no man by the way
— Luke 10:4
There is also a four-fold sphere of suffering for those who would follow Him.
- We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;
- we are perplexed, but not in despair;
- persecuted, but not forsaken;
- struck down, but not destroyed
— II Corinthians 4:8-9
The lost son brought home was given four things;
- a robe,
- a ring,
- and a kiss
Fours Surrounding Christ's Birth and Childhood
Borrowing from the thoughts of Margaret Minnicks, in her article "Joseph's Four Dreams Before Jesus was born, "11 the narrative surrounding the birth and early childhood of Jesus Christ included four dreams that directed Joseph through four pivotal transitions of developing plots of the potential destruction of the infant/toddler Messiah. All of the scenes involve prophecy fulfillment, which is the divine foretelling of events on the earth and included in the theme of four.
The first dream involved changing Joseph's mind regarding his reluctance to formalize his marriage to Mary after discovering that she was pregnant but not by him.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
— Matthew 1:18-24
The second dream occurred after the Wisemen from the east followed a star, a fourth-day creation object, pointing to the designated area where Jesus was. Herod knew of the prophecy of the coming Messiah/King identified in a four-lined Old Testament prophetic poem.
- And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
- are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
- because out of you will come a leader
- who will shepherd My people Israel.
Herod is jealously beside Himself and plots to kill Jesus by using the Wisemen to discover where He is.
Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
— Matthew 2:7-8
The star, mentioned four times in Matthew's account of this event, indicated the appointed time and place that the Messiah would be born and later located.
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
— Matthew 1:9-11
After the Wisemen were divinely warned in this second dream to not return to Herod but leave another way, Joseph is again divinely warned in a dream to take the child to Egypt.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
— Matthew 2:13-15
Herod is furious and orders the killing of babies two years old and younger in hopes that one of them is Jesus. After Herod died, Joseph is instructed in a third dream to go back to the land.
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
— Matthew 2:19-21
The fourth and final dream concerns a warning not to return to Judea. They end up in Nazareth. As Margaret Minnick mentions in her article, they had come full circle.
But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
— Matthew 2:22-23
Under the Fig Tree
The Messiahship of Christ, our only hope and source of transformation, seems to be strongly coded with four, as we have seen and will continue to see throughout this study. He is known by four Sonship titles.
- Son of God
- Son of Man
- Son of Abraham
- and Son of David
It is the Messiah who came as a man to the earth to transform the hearts of man. In ancient Hebrew culture, the son was the one who was to build the family and house.
In John, the fourth Gospel, Jesus is gathering His disciples and calling some to follow Him. In totality, there will be twelve (4x3). The first two acknowledge that they indeed have discovered the Messiah.
One of the two who heard John (the Baptist) speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
— John 1:40-41
Nathanael is introduced to Jesus by Philip, whom Jesus found the following day.
The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
— John 1:43-45
Nathanael is skeptical but goes with Philip to see. The next scene is significant as it concerns the number four, the Messiah, the establishment of God's kingdom, and a hidden message of how He accomplishes this.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.
— John 1:47-48
The above verse is one of four places in scripture where this phrase "under the fig tree" is used. The three others are in the Old Testament and altogether preach the Gospel message. Its first occurrence is in First Kings in relation to Solomon establishing God's kingdom and ruling over His people.
Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
— i Kings 4:25
The second occurrence is found in Micah chapter four, titled "The Lord's reign in Zion," and symbolizes freedom from their oppressors.
. . . everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid.
— Micah 4:4
The third mention is in Zechariah and discusses the removal of iniquity.
I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts,
‘Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.
— Zechariah 3:9-10
How interesting that Philip "invites" Nathanael, who is "sitting under his fig tree," to come and meet the foretold of Messiah. Michael Card, in his book The Parable of Joy, fills in the blanks of our modern understanding of this event.
The key to unlocking the mystery is Jesus' reference to the fig tree, which had symbolic significance in Israel as a sign of the nation. But Jesus' words have more than symbolic meaning. The fig tree was a common place for prayer, especially for young rabbinic students, which Nathanael may well have been. If he was specifically under a fig tree when Philip called him, chances are he was in prayer . . . The Jewish believer was taught that 'he who, when he prays, does not pray for the coming of the Messiah, has not prayed at all . . . Thus, if Nathanael had been at prayer, chances are he was praying for the Messiah. Perhaps this is why Jesus refers to him as a true Israelite; his faith was focused on waiting for the Coming. When Jesus tells Nathanael He saw him under the fig tree the implication is (and it is just an implication) that Nathanael put two and two together in his mind. Only one person could have known, could have heard his solitary prayer for the Messiah: the Messiah Himself! As the pieces fall together in his heart and mind Nathanael finds himself on his knees. The true Israelite declares Jesus is the King"
Commentary by Charles Soles on the StackExchange website concerning this topic further's this insight.
The fig tree was significant. A sacred place of prayer,study and meditation. A place of peace and safety in the midst of cruel circumstances. A place of longing for the Messiah to show himself as King.
It is awesome that Christ revealed his heart toward Nathanael. He was man of no pretense, no false estimation of himself who had been sincerely seeking the Messiah. Jesus takes note of the fruit or evidence of our faith. In Matt.21 He cursed the fruitless fig tree. Fig tree's bear fruit before foliage. The clothing of the tree (the regalia of worship) was really the bi-product of a fruitful life.
"How do you know me?", Nathanael asked. Oh how he knows the sincerity of our hearts! And with that knowing reveals more of Himself to us. He promised Nathanael he would see greater things! He would from that moment on see Jesus in full revelation as the stairway to heaven, Gen 28. Jesus would from that moment be someone who stood in the Gap between heaven and earth fulfilling the longing of Nathanaels heart indeed.2
In all four references to "under the fig tree" taken together, we can see God establishing a kingdom and delivering us from our oppressors by removing our iniquity and inviting us to come. That is the Gospel in its entirety, as seen in these four places.
A more personal and specific application of this event is given by Barnes Bible Commentary that includes four things.
Our Saviour also worshiped in such places. Compare John 18:2; Luke 6:12. In that place of retirement it is not improbable that Nathanael was engaged in private devotion.
I saw thee—It is clear, from the narrative, that Jesus did not mean to say that he was bodily present with Nathanael and saw him; but he knew his thoughts, his desires, his secret feelings and wishes. In this sense Nathanael understood him. We may learn:
- that Jesus sees what is done in secret, and is therefore divine.
- that he sees us when we little think of it.
- that he sees us especially in our private devotions, hears our prayers, and marks our meditations. And,
- that he judges of our character chiefly by our private devotions. Those are secret; the world sees them not; and in our closets we show what we are. How does it become us, therefore, that our secret prayers and meditations should be without "guile" and hypocrisy, and such as Jesus will approve!
Zacchaeus Returns Fourfold
The book of Luke records an incident of a transformed heart that occurs with one man's encounter with Christ.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector and wealthy because of it. He most likely obtained his wealth by questionable means and at the expense of his fellow neighbors.
The text also records that he was a short man who had heard that Jesus was going to be passing by and climbed a fig tree to see Jesus. Jesus notices him and declares that he intends to visit his house, to which Zacchaeus joyfully accepts the invitation. What accompanied his joy must have been a conviction as well as he does a little house, or could we say heart cleaning, in the form of a confession and promise of restitution.
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
— Luke 19:8
The Old Testament Law required that if someone stole a sheep, they must pay it back fourfold.
If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.
— Exodus 22:1
This legality is also exhibited when Nathan, the prophet, confronts King David concerning David's adultery with Bathsheba. Not only did he commit adultery, but David had Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, killed in battle to cover up the resulting pregnancy. Nathan confronts David with a hypothetical story that would mirror his misdeeds.
Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
— II Samuel 12:1-4
David is appalled by this deplorable action by the rich man. He requires not only the life of the rich man but also that he must restore fourfold for the lamb.
So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.
— II Samuel 12:5-6
Zacchaeus showed by his actions that he genuinely understood the gravity of his sins and how it affected those he had harmed and stolen from to obtain his wealth. He realized that these were the Lord's defenseless and helpless lambs that needed no further oppression, especially from one of their own, which is the prerequisite for any genuine repentance or transforming change of heart.
Four Men and the Transformation of a Friend
A neat, practical application about the number four and the earth in Scripture appears in Mark's version of the healing of the paralytic man brought to Jesus by four men. It is the only miraculous event recorded that mentions the earth. When the scribes had reasoned within themselves that it was blasphemous for Jesus to forgive the man's sins, Jesus' replied with a question.
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? That you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.
— Mark 2:10
A practical application we might glean from this event is that the four men represented this material world's limitations that could not save this man from his condition. His paralytic condition gave an illustration of what sin can do to one's life.
"Palsy is a fit emblem of sin's paralyzing power and of the utter helplessness of the sinner to do anything for his own relief...If you have a burden regarding a friend who is palsied by sin and is helpless and hopeless in his or her condition, then that one must be "borne of four" - your consecrated life, your compassionate love, your prevailing intercession, and your undaunted faith"
— Herbert Lockyer, All the Miracles of the Bible
The paralyzed man's four friends took him up to the roof, illustrating a going over the physical realm's head and limitations by prayer.
. . . the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.
— Revelation 8:4
This idea of rooftop and prayer is confirmed in Acts chapter 10.
Peter went up on the housetop to pray.
— Acts 10:9
The narrative continues.
They brought the man to Jesus.
Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
— Matthew 19:26
The idea that prayer invites God's kingdom's heavenly realm to visit and affect the earth links to the transfiguration (Metamorphoo—one of the four uses), account in Mark chapter nine. Just after returning from the mount of transfiguration, a man approaches Jesus explaining that His disciples could not deliver his son from a demon. The disciples seem to be equally perplexed, in that it was just before the transfiguration that Jesus gives them the authority to do this. Jesus replies to their confusion.
". . . Bring him to Me"
— Mark 9:19
He then proceeds to tell them how to do that.
“This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
— Mark 9:29
In both accounts, people were brought to Jesus by limited human beings through prayer. One dealt with deliverance, the other with healing and forgiveness. Whatever the malady, it is all incurable from a human perspective, but "With God all things are possible."
We, too, are excitingly invited to participate in the process of transformation through the process of intercession by bringing our loved ones to Him in prayer. Charles Spurgeon comments about the four friends and their role in participating in the work of God.
“And the Lord shewed me four carpenters.”
— Zechariah 1:20
"In the vision described in this chapter, the prophet saw four terrible horns. They were pushing this way and that way, dashing down the strongest and the mightiest; and the prophet asked, “What are these?” The answer was, “These are the horns which have scattered Israel.” . . . but on a sudden there appeared before him four carpenters. He asked, “What shall these do?” These are the men whom God hath found to break those horns in pieces. God will always find men for his work, and he will find them at the right time . . . the Lord finds enough men. He did not find three carpenters, but four; there were four horns, and there must be four workmen . . . Rest assured, you who tremble for the ark of God, that when the “horns” grow troublesome, the “carpenters” will be found".
In Acts chapter twelve, Peter is imprisoned and kept by four squads of soldiers. It was by the continuous prayer that an angel delivered him quite miraculously. Our understanding of four shows us that our activity in the Spirit realm by prayer supersedes any hindering force in this natural physical realm.
The Beatitudes of Transformation
Luke also presents the Beatitudes of Jesus in the form of four blessings with four matching curses. They are outlined in what is known as "The Sermon on the Plain." The sermon portrays Jesus as "The Son of Man" who is like us. And the Beatitudes are His counsel to us.
Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples and said:
- Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.
- Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled.
- Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.
- Blessed are you when (1) men hate you, And when (2) they exclude you, And (3) revile you, and (4) cast out your name as evil
For the Son of Man’s sake.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
- “But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.
- Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger.
- Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.
- Woe to you men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
— Luke 6
Notice the fourth blessing that is at the center of them all lists four forms of persecution.
Interesting that Matthew's beatitudes are in the form of eight (4x2) blessings. Four are included in Luke's version that differs slightly. Luke titles the discourse "The Sermon on the Mount," portraying Jesus as the King of King's who issues the protocols of His kingdom on the earth.
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
— Matthew 5
Relative to the Gospel, Matthew is addressing a Jewish audience. Luke's Gospel addresses a Gentile audience. Can we see in these Beatitudes the blessings and happiness of those who follow Jesus the Christ to both Jew and Gentile?
. . . the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.
— Acts 26:23
"Man need not perfect heaven, because it is already dedicated to the holiness of God. But the earth is man's province. We are bidden to perfect it and transform it's material nature into something spiritual. Indeed, we were created to make the earth heavenly"
— Commentary on Psalm 115:16 Mesorah, "The Book of Psalms Shcottenstein edition"
Four Months Then Comes the Harvest
To the native people of the Mexican mountains, where the Monarchs overwinter for four months, covering over four hectares out of 56,000 (4x14,000) hectares of a nature reserve, the Monarch is known as and named the "Harvest Butterfly" because the butterflies arrive, at the same time as the corn harvest.
In chapter four of the fourth gospel, John, Jesus speaks to a Samaritan woman of questionable character and very "worldly" in conduct. In His discourse with her, He uses the created things, such as a well and water, to image spiritual truths relevant to her core life problem: who and what she worships. Isn't it so true that our earthly troubles are all so very spiritual at the core and also center around who and what we worship? As she comes to discover who Jesus is, she ends up transforming an entire community by the enthusiastic testimony of her encounter with the Messiah.
While the woman at the well runs off to make this grand announcement, Jesus has a little lesson for His disciples as well, comparing physical things like hunger and eating with spiritual truths about the satisfaction of doing God's will. It is the salvation of the souls of men that is first and foremost on His mind concerning His will. At this time, a sea of Samaritans all dressed in white, as they still do to this day, come to see for themselves and know the Messiah Jesus. It is at this moment that He tells His disciples.
Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
— John 4:35
In Middle Eastern agriculture, it was four months from seed time to harvest. Jesus was saying that in the natural fields of the earth, it would be four months before the fields would be white, signaling the timing of their harvest. Still, He had just planted one seed that very day, in the heart of a lowly woman at a well, which immediately produced a harvest of the souls of men!
"His prophetic eye takes in all mankind, whose conversion, begun by Him, would be fully accomplished by His disciples."
— Meyer's New Testament
Is it any wonder that the first four disciples were fishermen who would illustrate Christ's purpose on the earth that all men would be invited to follow Him.
Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.
— Matthew 4:19
He left them with this revelation of His governance of both spiritual and created things.
. . . “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. . . therefore . . .
— Matthew 28:18-19
. . . Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature
— , Mark 16:15
Note that there was a total of twelve disciples, which is 4x3. Three is the number of the substantial reality and solidity of the spiritual realm. Therefore, the twelve represented how the Kingdom of God (spiritual dimension - 3) would be established, solidified, and realized in the earth (natural dimension - 4)
Our Father in heaven
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth (4) as it is in heaven. (3)
— Luke 11:2
This theme continues into Acts chapter one when Christ appears to His disciples after His death and resurrection, which occurred at the beginning of the fourth day. He continues to instruct them concerning the things of His Kingdom and how they, as followers of Christ, would affect the earth as witnesses of the Lord Jesus Himself and the realities of His Kingdom. His followers appear to be more concerned about the earthly kingdom when they ask.
“Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
— Acts 1:6
Jesus redirects them by giving them four progressive earthly spheres of influence. He will empower them to reach out with the transforming love of the Gospel's invitation to an everlasting spiritual kingdom.
you shall be witnesses to Me in
- Jerusalem, and in all
- Judea and
- and to the end of the earth.
— Acts 1:8
Keep in mind this statement was issued by Jesus just ten days before and in anticipation of the fourth required biblical feast of Shavuot, known by four names (Shavuot, Feast of Weeks, Firstfruits, and Pentecost) that celebrated the wheat harvest and the giving of the Torah.
It was in fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy given by Joel that is four chapters long, which took place at the time of Shavuot, giving four manifestations that could be observed by whom the Gospel would be delivered.
And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh
- Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
- Your old men shall dream dreams,
- Your young men shall see visions.
- And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
— Joel 2:28-29
Once again, we can conclude that God's will is for His Kingdom to be the dominating force and influence over all that He has made.
Wheat originated in the Middle East, known as the "Fertile Crescent" There are four wild species from which our domestic varieties formerly come. It is now cultivated all over the world. What an image for the Gospel and those who hear it.
According to Wikipedia
It is grown on more land area than any other food and world trade in wheat is greater than for all other crops combined.
Some wild varieties are tetraploid, meaning they contain four sets of chromosomes.
There are six classifications of wheat. Six being the number of humankind, we can see how this, too, relates to the salvation of the souls of men who come to Christ.
Shavuot was the fourth of seven Biblical observances in the Bible. Its central theme was the wheat harvest representing the souls of men who would be gathered, saved, and harvested through the preaching of the Gospel in the end times.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
— Matthew 24 (4x6/man):14 (4x2)
Mattew chapter twenty-four deals primarily with what is to come upon the earth and its inhabitants at the end of time. Four chapters after the Above verse, Christ gives His disciples the great commission that accompanies the Good news.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
— Matthew 28:18
In Acts chapter ten, Peter has a vision of the Gospel being presented to the gentiles and is represented by the four corners of a sheet containing four-footed animals. The vision is a depiction of the Gospel that was to be preached to every man of the earth in every corner of creation. The vision was also in response to a gentile man's fasting and prayer for four days.
The feeding of the 4000 is relevant to this as well. There are two events where Jesus miraculously feeds people through his disciple's service. One is the 5000 (only miracle besides the resurrection presented in all four gospels), representing the Jews to whom Jesus came to first. This thought explains the twelve baskets leftover and speaks of the twelve tribes of Israel (Jews). The four thousand represented the Gospel that would be preached to all the ends of the earth and marked with the seven (completion, satisfaction) baskets remaining. Both referred to both Jew and Gentile salvation completing God's plan.
Proverbs Chapter Thirty—Creation and the Gospel
The book of Proverbs chapter thirty emphasizes earthly created images to illustrate spiritual (3) and practical (4) living lessons.
It begins with four questions that ask "who" as it refers to who created all things, in the fourth verse.
- Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
- Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
- Who has bound the waters in a garment?
- Who has established all the ends of the earth?
— Proverbs 30:4
The first order of establishment of any life lesson is to know that He created all things, and all things give teaching and testimony of Him.
. . . since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.
— Romans 1:20
He also is
. . . the great pattern-pilgrim, passing through this world.
— Henry Ironside
There are four wicked generations discussed in verses 11-14, who do not trust Him and follow His ways for this life.
- There is a generation that curses its father And does not bless its mother.
- There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
- There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.
- There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, And whose fangs are like knives, To devour the poor from off the earth, And the needy from among men.
— Proverbs 30:11-14
Frank Gaebelein makes an excellent observation in his Expositor's Bible Commentary.
Four times the word generation is used, describing the classes of people frequently mentioned in the preceding chapters of proverbs. Then follow four things which are insatiable.
Four times "three and four" are used together concerning the spiritual lessons that can be gleaned from the things that He has made.
The list begins with the leech.
The leech has two daughters—
Give and Give!
— Proverbs 30:14
Charles Spurgeon comments about a leech's insatiability as it refers to the natural man.
It is like the "flesh" in man. In the natural and spiritual spheres "the dose has to be increased.
The examples continue.
There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four never say, “Enough!
- The grave,
- The barren womb,
- The earth that is not satisfied with water—
- And the fire never says, “Enough!
— Proverbs 30:15,16
There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand
- The way of an eagle in the air,
- The way of a serpent on a rock,
- The way of a ship in the midst of the sea,
- And the way of a man with a virgin
— Proverbs 30:18-20
Notice the four uses of the word "way." (see the section on way path and doors) Gaebelein makes these observations that are in keeping with the number four's theme. First, he notes that all four of these cannot be observed continuously. They appear then disappear. Secondly, they all have a means of propulsion or driving force. Thirdly, they all describe movement from one sphere or domain to the other. And the fourth is the mysteriousness of them all.
. . . three things the earth is perturbed,
Yes, for four it cannot bear up
- For a servant when he reigns,
- A fool when he is filled with food,
- A hateful woman when she is married,
- And a maidservant who succeeds her mistress
— Proverbs 30:21-23
There are three things which are majestic in pace,
Yes, four which are stately in walk
- A lion, which is mighty among beasts And does not turn away from any;
- A greyhound
- A male goat also,
- And a king whose troops are with him
— Proverbs 30:29-31
The Four Wise Things
One final four in this chapter does not use the number three, but is introduced between the third and fourth "three things . . . and four" Henry Allen Ironside makes note that these four wise things "present a beautiful picture of the Gospel" I will attach his notes to the end of each "wise" thing as it refers to this in the following sections.
There are four things which are little on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise:
— Proverbs 30:24
The Ant—Eternal Preparation
The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer;
— Proverbs 30:25
"In material things, man readily shows the same wisdom as this tiny creature. He, too, provides against the coming days when ill health or old age will forbid his going forth to labor. But is it not amazing that men who display remarkable foresight in earthly matters will forget altogether to prepare for that unending eternity to which every moment brings them nearer? . . . Forgetful of the ages that follow this short life on earth, they allow golden opportunities to slip by, never to return. They rush carelessly on, ignoring the need of their souls and the fearful danger that lies just beyond death. “As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation . . . little ant preaches loudly, crying in the ears of any who will listen, “Flee from the wrath to come . . . It is unlike human beings who waste the days of childhood, youth, and middle age with insignificant matters, leaving themselves unprepared for eternity."
— Henry Ironside
Hyrax—Taking Refuge in Christ
The rock badgers are a feeble folk, Yet they make their homes in the crags;
— Proverbs 30:26
. . . the rock speaks of Him; for He alone is the sinner’s refuge. The little unclean hyrax, weak and feeble, flees to the rocks and is safe. So, too, the helpless unclean sinner, awakened to a sense of his dire need and aroused by the signs of the storm that is soon to break over the heads of all who neglect God’s salvation, flees for refuge to the Lord Jesus Christ. He finds in Him a safe and blessed shelter where no foe can ever reach him and judgment can never come...It is in the clefts of the rock that the hyrax hides; it is in a Savior, pierced for our sins and bruised by the awful vengeance of the Holy One, that the believing soul finds a hiding place.
On Him almighty vengeance fell,
Which would have sunk a world to hell;
He bore it for a chosen race
And thus became their hiding-place.
Have you found a refuge in Him? If you are still living under the wrath of God, cease from all effort to save yourself (which can only result in bitter disappointment in the end). Flee to Jesus while He still extends the peace-giving invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”
— Henry Ironside
Christ is King—Locusts
The locusts have no king, Yet they all advance in ranks;
— Proverbs 30:27
To those who have found a refuge in Christ the locusts furnish an example of that subjection one to another and to our unseen head in Heaven . . . To the world and the world-church, the body of Christ must seem like a heterogeneous, miscellaneous company, with no leader and no bond of union. But the same Jesus who died for His people’s sins is now seated in highest glory; God has made Him the head of all who have been redeemed by His precious blood. The Holy Spirit, sent down from Heaven upon His ascension there as man, is now indwelling every believer; this binds all together in one great company, every one “members one of another . . . The locusts all work together and this declares their wisdom. So it should be with the body of Christ. Divisions and schisms are plainly declared to be sinful and works of the flesh
The spider (Ironside says gecko) skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings’ palaces.
— Proverbs 30:24-28
. . . should speak to us of the power of faith. This is indeed the hand by which the believing sinner takes hold of the precious truth of God and enters into His blessings. Faith allows us to be at home in the King’s palace and ensures an eternal abode in the Father’s house.
— Henry Ironside
The Gecko—In My Father's House
The spider (Ironside says gecko) skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings’ palaces.
— Proverbs 30:24-28
. . . should speak to us of the power of faith. This is indeed the hand by which the believing sinner takes hold of the precious truth of God and enters into His blessings. Faith allows us to be at home in the King’s palace and ensures an eternal abode in the Father’s house.
— Henry Ironside
Bullinger also notes a four-fold witness showing natures inability to find wisdom
- The fowl,
- The vulture's eye,
- The lion's whelps,
- and The fierce lion.
The Cross—The Heart of the Gospel
John, the fourth Gospel's account of Christ's human and earthly death on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, is in keeping with the categorization of four. Death is exclusive to created material things.
The second of the four laws of thermodynamics, one of the governing laws of the universe, is the "law of entropy" or "law of disorder," which states . . .
". . . nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems."
The creation apart from the governance of its creator breaks down and dies. When Jesus died on the cross, He became one of us. He died an earthly death that He might grant us an opportunity to be resurrected to a life eternal, spiritually speaking, governed by God who now could reside in us because of it.
"Jesus has transformed death from a dreary cavern into a passage leading to glory."
— Charles Spurgeon
This portion of Scripture categorically arranges into four parts, some of which will be included and explained shortly.
- The Crucifixion and the title on the cross (17–22).
- The four enemies and the four friends (23–27).
- The two words, ‘I thirst,’ ‘It is finished’ (28–30).
- The hostile and the friendly petitions (31–42).
— Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
In John chapter 19, verses 25, we are shown four friends present with Jesus at the crucifixion.
- His mother
- His mother's sister
- Mary, the wife of Colpas
- and Mary Magdalene
Notably, they were all women. Also, there were four women in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
- and Uriah the Hittites wife
Eve, the mother of all those living on the earth (Genesis 3:20), is mentioned four times in the Bible. There were four women on the ark that began a new generation of people, and Jacob's four wives who began the tribes of Israel. there were four women prophets in the Old Testament
- and Noadiah as well
And there were Phillips four virgin daughters who prophesied in the New Testament. (Acts 21:9)
Back to our subject of Christ's crucifixion; In verses 23 and 24, we are shown a squadron (four) soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross and parted His four outer garments between them. This particular of the four garments are exclusive to John. Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges notes that
"The four pieces to be divided would be,
- the head-gear,
- the sandals,
- the girdle,
- and the tallith or square outer garment with fringes.
— Vincent Word Studies
The Fourth Word on the Cross
In verse 24 of John 19, there was also a seamless tunic and could not be divided, so they cast lots for it. John Dummelow makes the following observation relevant to number four.
"There remained the seamless inner garment. For this they cast lots, fulfilling Psalms 22:18, a Davidic psalm, from which the fourth 'Word' of seven, on the cross (My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me") was taken." (In Aramaic this amounted to four words; eli eli lama sabachtani)
Psalm 22 verses 1 and 18
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? . . . They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
Jesus bore our sin and separation from God. He experienced the nakedness of humanity fully without God that we might be united with Him once again.
The completion of this work fulfilled four things according to Henry Mahan's commentary on John 19:17
"When Christ received the vinegar, he cried, ‘It is finished,’ bowed his head, and died. What was finished?
1. The whole will of God in regard to redemption (Hebrews 10:7).
2. The whole work his Father had given him to do (1 Timothy 1:15).
3. The Levitical law and all types and ceremonies (Hebrews 10:9-14).
4. The righteousness of God performed, perfected, and imputed to believers (Romans 3:19-24; Romans 10:4; 2 Corinthians 5:21)."
It is worth mention as well that Christ come to this created realm in created form 4000 years into its history.
My entire theology can be condensed into four words: 'Jesus died for me.'"
— C. H. Spurgeon
The fourth Gospel of John also records in its fifth chapter a fourfold witness of Jesus as Messiah, as observed by C.I. Scofield in his section divisions. The first one is John the Baptist.
You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.
— John 5:33
The second witness is His works.
But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
— John 5:36
The third witness is the Father.
. . . the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.
— John 5:37-38
The fourth witness is the Scriptures
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
— John 5:39
The Fourth Miracle
The fourth miracle in the book of John is the feeding of the five thousand, which occurs in all four Gospels. In this narrative, Jesus reveals Himself to be the bread of life. Alexander McClaren makes this note referring to the perplexity the disciples experienced at Jesus' suggestion that they should feed and provide for such a large crowd.
"He puts problems before us, too, to settle; takes us, as it were, into His confidence with interrogations that try us, whether we can rise above the level of the material and visible, or whether all our conceptions of possibilities are bounded by these . . . Learn that the audacity of a faith that expects great things, though there be nothing visible upon which to build, is wiser and more prudent than the creeping common-sense that adheres to facts which are shadows, and forgets that the chief fact is that we have an Almighty Helper and Friend at our sides . . . notice what a lovely glimpse we get there into the quick-rising sympathy of the Savior with all forms of human necessity.
Maclaren takes two lessons from this event that is relative to this study.
I believe, a revelation of the law of the universe, of Christ as being through all the ages the Sustainer of the physical life of men . . . The reason why anything is, and the reason why all things change, is the energy there and then of the indwelling God who is in all His works, and who is the only Will and Power in the physical world . . . Our Christ is Creator, our Christ is Sustainer, our Christ moves the stars and feeds the sparrows. He was 'before all things, and in Him all things consist.' He opens His hand—and there is the print of a nail in it—and 'satisfies the desire of every living thing . . . And I see in it, second, a symbol of Christ as Himself the Bread of Life . . . the miracle is a sign . . . the one Food that gives life to will, affections, conscience, understanding, to the whole spirit of a man, is that great Sacrifice of the Incarnate Lord who gave upon the Cross His flesh, and on the Cross shed His blood, for the life of the world that was 'dead in trespasses and sins.' Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us, and we feed on the sacrifice. Let your conscience, your heart, your desires, your anticipations, your understanding, your will, your whole being feed on Him. He will be cleansing, He will be love, He will be fruition, He will be hope, He will be truth, He will be righteousness, He will be all. Feed upon Him by that faith which is the true eating of the true Bread, and your souls shall live.
The Fourth Temptation
There are a total of five temptations that Jesus experienced throughout the course of His life. Three of these are specifically noted in Matthew, chapter four. It should be noted about the theme of four that the scene takes place in the wilderness and that forty days is the time period.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said,
- “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
- Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
- Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
The third temptation contains a key phrase about rebuking "Satan" that links us to the fourth temptation.
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying,“Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
— Matthew 16:21-23
In the first three temptations, Jesus was being tempted by a spirit being. Things of that are spirit are categorized by the number three. In the fourth temptation, Jesus is tempted by a physical being. Both of the tempters try to talk Him out of the suffering part of His mission by taking the easy way out, and in both cases, Jesus rebukes Satan.
The fifth temptation is less obvious and occurs in the Garden of Gethsamane. This scene is noted in all four of the Gospels. Jesus is about to fulfill His mission of suffering and death at the hands of humanity. Notice the text centers, once again, around the theme of temptation.
Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place (Garden of Gethsamane accoriding to Matthew), He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. hen He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
— Luke 22:39-46
The number five in Scripture categorizes the theme of grace. We see in this account that Jesus prays to choose God's will rather than His own in the face of this great trial and temptation. Grace is granted Him in the form of an Angel who appears and strengthens Him to continue in this monumental journey of suffering. In that great suffering, great grace was also granted to us.
Events That Occur In All Four Gospels
There are 12 (4x3) events that occur in all four Gospels and can be categorized into three sections of four. Three is the number of God's Spirit and the dimension of the Spirit. Four is the number of creation and the processes thereof. We will see how God enters the created realm and to establish His kingdom on the earth once again.
The first four events include these.
- the baptism of John
- the feeding of the 5000
- Peter's profession
- and Christ anointed by Mary.
All of the above involve Christ's ministry and relationship with people. It also reveals the development of the purpose of His coming, and that was to show us the way of baptism into Him (John baptized Him). He also is revealed as the Good Shepherd, who finds and feeds His lost sheep (feeding 5000). Finally, He is shown as the Messiah and Savior (Peter's confession) and appointed to die for our sins (Mary's anointing).
The second group of four.
- the triumphal entry
- the last supper
- and the trials
These four follow a similar pattern of development,
- The establishment of His Kingship and Lordship (triumphal entry),
- feeding with His followers (the last supper),
- counting the cost of His Messiahship (Gethsemane),
- and the establishment of His sinless appointment to die (the trials)
The eight together all concern events that occur in Christ's last week with humankind.
The final group of four are His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection, The Gospel in a nutshell.
All twelve, taken together, reveal the life of Christ. They show His development and establishment of the Kingdom of God in the earth, from Baptism to Resurrection.
Acts Chapter Four
The book of Acts begins with the "new creations," namely the church produced by the imparting of the Holy Spirit to those who would come to Christ and receive Him as the sufficient sacrificial payment for their sins and their only way to God the Father. Acts chapter 1 records that Jesus the Messiah.
. . . presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them (new creations) during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
— Acts 1:3
Scofield notes in chapter two discusses the Holy Spirit's role in this transformation process of forming a body of believers with four things He does.
The Spirit forms the church Matthew 16:18 by (1) baptizing all believers into the body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:13 (2) imparts gifts for service to every member of that body 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 1 Corinthians 12:27 1 Corinthians 12:30 (3) guide the members in their service ; Luke 2:27 ; 4:1 ; Acts 16:6 Acts 16:7and (4) is Himself the power of that service ; Acts 1:8 ; 2:4 ; 1 Corinthians 2:4 .
By chapter four, these early spreaders of the Gospel were encountering much resistance by religious rulers of the time after healing a lame man. It is noted in verses 21 and 22 that this was acknowledged as a miraculous work of God, considering the man was over 40 (4x10) years old.
Modern science has discovered that after age 40 that the body begins to decline, and DNA degenerates. The growth hormone that helps us grow, maintain, and heal and is produced by the pituitary gland becomes significantly reduced. Our body's ability to heal begins to diminish.
The four in this equation tell us that it was physically naturally impossible for this man to have been healed, and therefore, there was no question that God had done this.
Back to the resistance, Peter, John, and fellow believers pray a prayer concerning this opposition. Psalm chapter 2 is quoted and references four peoples that are against the Lord and His "Anointed."
- ‘Why did the nations rage,
- And the people plot vain things?
- The kings of the earth took their stand,
- And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.
— Acts 4:25-26 (Psalm 2)
The prayer continues to show how the ancient Psalm prophetically spoke of how all of humankind was responsible for the death of Christ and names four to express the gamut of peoples.
- Herod and
- Pontius Pilate,
- with the Gentiles
- and the people of Israel,
were gathered together.
Theudas and His 400 Men—The Egyptians 4000 men—40 Who Conspired
In Acts chapter five, an event is recorded concerning Peter's spread of the Gospel when the apostles were on trial after being imprisoned for it. When the council discusses what they are to do with them, Gamaliel, a Pharisee in the bunch, advises
“Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing . . . now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”
— Acts 5:35-39
On this occasion, the 400 men tell us, as Gamaliel already suspected, that the work of Theudas was a work of men and not from God. It was an earthly endeavor, unlike Peter's and the Apostles.
Acts 21:38 records a similar incident when Paul is arrested and bound with chains. The captain in charge of him doesn't sincerely understand what is going on and thinks that Paul is another man who has caused trouble.
Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”
— Acts 21:38
This same theme follows in chapter 23 of Acts when some Jews conspire to kill Paul.
Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.
— Acts 23:13
Its chiastic parallel is found in verse 21 and adds a few more details.
The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him.
— Acts 23:20-21
Like Theudas and his 400, the Egyptian and his 4000, these 40 Jews conspiracy was a work of men.
Stephens Speech to the Religious Rulers
Acts chapter seven records four, fours in terms of its multiples as signals of transition while Stephen is recounting to the top religious council of the time, the history of the Jews and the Messiah, who was foretold would come forth from them. He reminds them of
- the four hundred year bondage in Egypt in verse 6,
- how Moses was forty years old when he went in his human attempt to deliver them in verse 23,
- as well as the next forty years when God appears to him in a burning bush in verse 30, then there was
- the forty-year wilderness wandering, and this event is mentioned twice in verses 36 and 42
Acts chapter nine records the conversion and complete transformation of Paul after an encounter with Christ Himself. A quote from a "Rapture Ready" article titled "Isaiah 17 Destruction of Damascus" sums this event up well in terms of transformation.
"Paul was on the road to Damascus when Christ first appeared to Him, an event that transformed not only his life, but the course of human history."
He was once a persecutor of Christians. Through this visitation, he became a preacher of the Gospel of salvation and wrote several of the New Testament books that were mainly letters to the newly formed Christian church.
This event took place in Damascus.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
— Acts 9:3
In Hebrew, Damascus has a gematria of 444 and is used 56 (4x14) times in the Bible total. The Old Testament is used 40 (4x10) times and in the New 16 (4x4) times.
When Paul stands before King Agrippa, later in Acts 26, giving his testimony to him, he reports four places and peoples that he was sent by Christ to preach the Gospel to.
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in
- Damascus and in
- and throughout all the region of Judea,
- and then to the Gentiles,
that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
— Acts 21:19-20
We could pair up in theme Damascus and Gentiles as an outer frame with the center being Jerusalem and Judea. This arrangement points to the pattern of the Gospel itself. The preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles would begin in Damascus. It would also end in Damascus as the prophet Isaiah foretold as a signal of the end.
“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
And it will be a ruinous heap.
— Isaiah 17:1
Scofield notes in chapter nine observe that Paul visits Jerusalem four times after his conversion. This Gospel that has gone out to the whole world has its center and beginning in Jerusalem/Judea.
Four Relating to Damascus
In II Kings chapter eight, King Ben-Hadad (Hadad the name of Canaanite deity), an enemy of Israel, who had conquered a good portion of it, sent 40 (4x10) camel loads of goods as a gift to the prophet Elisha for some inside info about his future. He was ill and wanted to know if he was going to live.
Elisha informs Hazael, the messenger, and deliverer of the goods, that the king will not live, and he watches as Elisha weeps concerning four horrible things that Hazael will do when the king dies.
And Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?”
He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel:
- Their strongholds you will set on fire,
- and their young men you will kill with the sword;
- and you will dash their children,
- and rip open their women with child.”
— II Kings 8:12
This scene marks a transitional period in Israel's history. According to "The Expositors Bible Commentary" by Frank E. Gaebelein.
"it closes the the wars with Ben-Hadad II and initiates the critical circumstances that will culminate in the crucial events of...a dynastic change in Damascus and in Samaria."
Spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles
Acts chapter ten records the experience of including the Gentiles into the plan of salvation. The preaching of the Gospel to them begins with a Gentile centurion by the name of Cornelius who
. . . feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
— Acts 10:2
Cornelius is visited by an angel in a vision who explains that God has noticed his alms and prayers and that he should send for Peter. As soon as these men are dispatched, Peter went up to pray and had a vision as well.
. . . and (Peter) saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of
- four-footed animals of the earth,
- wild beasts,
- creeping things,
- and birds of the air
— Acts 10:11-12
Peter is instructed to eat, but he refuses because they are all considered to be unclean varieties of animals and forbidden by Old Testament law to eat. The heavenly messenger replies.
“What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
— Acts 10:15
Peter isn't exactly sure what this all means until he is visited by the centurion's servants, who explain their mission of inviting him to come to the centurions' house and speak with Cornelius. Peter went with the servants, and when Peter arrived, Cornelius dropped to his knees. Peter helped him up and said
I myself am also a man . . . “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”
So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour, I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God . . .
— Acts 10:26-31
Cornelius continues to explain the messenger's instruction to send for Peter. It is at this point that Peter understands the purpose of his vision completely.
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation (four corners—earth—sheet) whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all
— Acts 10:34-36
The four days indicate that something dramatic is about to change, and it does. Peter preaches to the gentiles, and they become filled with the Holy Spirit.
And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
— Acts 10:45
The vision was all-inclusive and universal in its list of four types in the sheet that represented every sphere of humankind.
This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
— Acts 10:16
This vision caps off with the above statement. Three is the number of the Spirit, His power, and of resurrection.
We can see the all-inclusive universal plan to save men of all kinds and resurrect their lives from the dead.
He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
— Matthew 24:31
Can you see the sheet bound by four corners from Peter's vision in this gathering together from the four winds of heaven?
This portion of Scripture is wrapped up in the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Gentile believers, beginning with verse 44, which Scofield notes to be one of the pivotal points of Scripture.
Four Squadron of Soldiers
Acts chapter 12 records the imprisonment of Peter, who was guarded by four squads of soldiers for the preaching of the Gospel. The church prayed for Peter continually, which resulted in
. . . behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands.
— Acts 12:7
Peter, of course, is freed by the Angel sent from God. The four squadrons (a squadron is four soldiers. therefore, 16 soldiers) were guarding Peter. This numeric piece tells us that everything earthly, naturally, and physically (4x4) possible was done to keep him from escaping, including four things.
Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers.
— Acts 12:6
Peter proclaims and confirms the supernaturalness of his deliverance.
Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me.
— Acts 12:11
Philips Four Daughters and Four Men Who Take a Vow
In Acts chapter 21, a transition takes place in verse 4. Paul is determined to go to Jerusalem for his fourth and, what ends up being, his final visit after his missionary journeying in other places, which Luke records just before this.
And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.
— Acts 21:4
Significant changes are about to begin and culminate in these verses—a chiastic parallel found in verse 27.
Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him.
— Acts 21:27
In between these two verses, Paul continues to Jerusalem, despite the warning.
So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem.
— Acts 21:14-15
They stopped at Philip's house, in Caesarea, along the way.
Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
— Acts 21:9
Let me first note that the use of the word virgin in the description of Philip's daughters is not to inform us of their sexual status. This provided detail connects us with its chiastic parallel verse concerning four men, describing some of the trouble Paul got into in going to Jerusalem, concerning Jews. They thought Paul was doing away with the Law of Moses altogether.
Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow.
— Acts 21:23
The four prophet daughters have set themselves apart in service to the Lord and are explained by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.
There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
— I Corinthians 7:34-35
So we can see that Philips four daughters, like the four men, had dedicated themselves to the Lord for something. The cross over occurs with Jew and Gentile in these parallels. Caesarea, where Paul is, in verse nine, was where Peter first took the Gospel to the Gentiles. The four men who took a vow were Jews at Jerusalem. We see the new creations and the Son's of Abraham represented by four on each side.
It is after Paul's second warning not to go to Jerusalem that he decides to go anyway. It is in Jerusalem that he will experience what he said he was willing to do for the sake of His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
— Acts 21:13
This does appear to be a noble declaration, but considering it is in the 13th verse, is there an element of rebellion to this, perhaps? Especially considering he was expressly told not to go twice.
Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
— Genesis 14:4
Are the fours here indicating that Paul is relying on natural desires rather than the Spirit?
The Spread of the Gospel—Paul's Four Prison Epistles
The spread of the Gospel that transforms lives continued with the ministry of Paul when he writes what is known as the four prison epistles,
- and Philemon.
According to "Got Questions.org in an article titled "What are the Prison Epistles," the author writes about Paul's "earthly" position in light of his heavenly mission;
While the prison epistles reflect Paul’s earthly position as a prisoner of Rome, he makes it clear that his captivity was first and foremost to Christ Paul’s time in prison was for the purpose of the spreading of the gospel in the Gentile capital of Rome.
Paul lists in II Timothy four things that the Word of God is profitable for in living a productive and useful life on this planet.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
- for doctrine,
- for reproof,
- for correction,
- for instruction in righteousness.
— II Timothy 3:16
Acts chapter 27 offers us an illustration of the futility of hoping for a salvation that is secure in this world. Paul is on his way to Rome by ship after appealing to Caesar. He stood before Agrippa and Festus concerning the alleged legal accusations brought against him by the religious Jews who were against him at the time.
The journey was by ship loaded with other prisoners with the same destination. They had a change of boats along the way, possibly because of the contrary winds they encountered at Myra in Lycia. They, therefore, switched to a seemingly more seaworthy Alexandrian ship. Alexandrian ships hauled grain for trade and business from Egypt to Rome. It was named after the chief city Alexandria of Egypt, which Alexander the Great built, whose empire was divided into four when he died. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia online.
They (Alexandrian ships) are described as containing large receptacles for drinking-water for long voyages . . . Alexandrian Ships engaged in the grain-trade.
We know then that this was a hearty ship by design. It was 140 (4x35) feet long and 36 (4x9) feet wide. It had one mast with a square (four corners four sides) sail.
After being tossed around by a storm for fourteen days, it was evident that this stately vessel in which they had placed their confidence was not doing well. The fourteen days reminds me of the Passover on the fourteenth day that mirrored our Savior Jesus Lamb of God who died for us and offered salvation of which there was no hope for in this storm-tossed no help for salvation world. (see more on 14 and Passover in part three of this series)
They attempted to under-gird the ship in an attempt to hold it together. Those who were on board the vessel also tossed the tackle overboard to no avail. This scene illustrates for us how we need to come to the end of ourselves and exhaust all our other earthly human resources, ideas, programs, and procedures before we genuinely trust in Christ's salvation alone.
A.B. Simpson writes concerning this
"It is only when you are at the end of all earthly help and hope that you find God and learn real faith."
Luke records the following words concerning the spirit of those in the ship.
". . . all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned."
— Acts 27:20
Paul informs them that the ship will be destroyed, but he is confident that God's plan and purpose for him will prevail. Paul next instructs them that if they want to live, they should follow his directions. So it is with all of creation. It will one day pass away. Therefore, our confidence ought not to be secured in this natural physical realm. As we watch the world rage in storming furies that will inevitably end in destruction, we must follow the purposes, promises, and instructions of God closely to see us through to our spiritual destination.
The fourth attempt at saving themselves was to let down four anchors to prevent the ship from running aground on the rocks, which eventually would give way too. What once seemed like a reliable, trustworthy vehicle was about to be dashed in pieces.
There were 276 people saved, which is divisible by four.
Paul himself had four anchors that he clung to in fulfilling his earthly mission. All the other ship occupants were on a mission of self-preservation.
First, and foremost he knew whose he was and whom he served.
. . . there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve.
— Acts 27:23
Secondly, he had faith in God's mission for him.
. . . you must be brought before Caesar.
— Acts 27:24
Thirdly, he was anchored in the promise that accompanied that.
I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.
— Acts 27:25
Fourthly, a successful outcome depended upon following God's instructions carefully.
“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”
— Acts 27:31
Paul offers us a final observation from this event.
Paul implored them all to take food.
— Acts 27:33
Paul had everyone eat, which was an act of faith in the sense that eating would give them the strength they would need to get to shore. Paul's instruction is reminiscent of a verse spoken by Jesus, instructing those who desired to follow Him.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
— Mark 26:26
To receive and remember what Christ has done and to feast on this reality is what will get us safely to the shore.
In Acts chapter 5, the imprisoned apostles were brought before the council to see what action should be taken against them for preaching, healing, and delivering in the name of Jesus. Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, is concerned that they could be fighting God himself should they prevent them. He examples a man named Theudas who had four hundred followers and whose false worldly teaching came to nothing and failed. The four gives a clue that there was nothing spiritual about it and would therefore fail. Similarly, in Acts Chapter 21, Paul is mistaken for an Egyptian who led four hundred assassins. Paul was not of the worldly political ways of resolving the conflict.
The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Chaplains" or the "Dorchester Chaplains" were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship USAT Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
Dalet—Door—The Way to a TransFOURmed Heart
The fourth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is a "dalet." This letter gives us a picture of the way of transformation. It pictographically represents a door and illustrates an entrance to a path.
Jesus, the creator of all, revealed Himself as "the door" in John (The fourth Gospel) chapter ten, referring to Himself as being the point of entrance, the only real way to a transformed heart and eternal life.
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me,
- he will be saved,
- and will go in
- and out
- and find pasture.
— John 10:9
In John chapter ten, the word "door" is used four times to describe Himself as the Good Shepherd.
The Hebrew word for "door" is "dalet" and has an interesting and confirming word pictograph, consisting of the three letters that spell it. These three letters are "dalet" (door), "lamed" (shepherd staff), and "tav" (a cross - sign of a covenant).
If we view the letters in order, we can say that the door is the shepherd of the covenant. Or if we consider it chiastically like a sandwich with the meat in the middle, we could say that the shepherd is the door of the covenant. If we look at the first and last letters, "dalet" and "tav" (dat) together, this spells the Hebrew word for religion, which could reveal to us that the shepherd is at the center of true religion.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13:20-21
The door is the entrance into God's house/kingdom, which is the Spiritual Eternal Kingdom. The entire Bible is based upon this reality and exhibited in seven parables in Matthew.
The seven parables of Matthew 13 are divided into four and three; and while the three are spoken inside the house (v 36) to the disciples, and reveal esoteric (or inner explanatory) truth, the four relate to exoteric (doctrine intended for the general public) truth, and concern the outward aspect of things in relation to the world, and hence were spoken outside the house (v 1).
— E.W. Bullinger
May it be concluded that the number four in both creation and God's Word is referencing the material created world and universe with all its laws, principles, and functions and speaks to us of God's creative and transFOURming wisdom and power.
The first use of the word door is found in Genesis chapter four and describes the sin that was crouching at Cain's door if he chose not to accept the requirements of the only true sacrifice.
Passover and the Door and the Number 28 (4x7)
Once again, the Old Testament serves up a spectacular illustration of what Jesus means when He says
"I am the way (same as door in Hebrew concept) and the truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father Except through me."
— John 14:6-7
Recall from Exodus when the children of Israel were in bondage for 400 years and slaves of Pharoah. The four hundred years indicate that they were subject and bound to the things of the earth and their physical existence separate from God.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of (this) life - is not of the Father but is of the world.
— I John 2:16
Servitude to Pharoah is a picture of being a slave to our sinful flesh.
"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal (flesh) sold under sin."
— Romans 7:14
How will they and we be delivered? God's deliverance occurs through the door of a blood covenant sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world! (John 1:29)
On the night set apart for their deliverance from Pharaoh (Flesh), God's children were, first, instructed to sacrifice a lamb (picture of innocent Christ) and pour its blood into the basin of the door's threshold (altar of the home). Next, they were directed to strike the lintel (top) of the door frame, and the two side posts with the hyssop dipped in the sacrificial victim's blood from the basin. If you connect the dots of the four places, there was blood (basin, lintel, two side posts); it forms the shape of a cross.
Jesus' death on the cross was primarily to deal with the issue of our sin that separates us from God. Dealing with the issue of sin at the cross is a prerequisite to a restored relationship with Him or any benefit, including eternal life.
Back to the four men who brought their friend to Jesus, related to "the door"—a specific not is given in the story that the man's friends did not bring him through the door. They took him up to the top of the house and dug through the roof, which is the only way a thief or robber would have entered a house in those days. The door or threshold was considered sacred and subject to the God of that home.
"I am the door . . . He who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way is a thief and a robber."
— John 10:9, 10:1
The man was brought to Jesus with a single interest in healing. Jesus, the door, commends their faith and determination, but then He mercifully deals with the man's sin first. To correctly enter God's house and receive His benefits, He must deal with our issue of sin first.
Mark's text tells us that they used the roof because too many people crowded around the door, and they couldn't get in. Maybe it seems inconvenient or unnecessary for us to come through the door and deal with the sin issue, and all we can see is our immediate physical need. But Jesus shows in this story that His interest in us goes far beyond our physical need. More importantly, he is interested in our life eternal and therefore forgives the man, which results in our restoration both physically and spiritually.
The Passover is referenced 28 (4 -created realm x 7 - God's fulfillment) times in the New Testament. The phrase "I brought you out" from the Old Testament receives 28 mentions. Relatedly the Hebrew word for cross "talah" is used 28 times in the Old. All of these numerically linked phrases tie together the concept that God brought us out through the door of Christ's crucifixion, "our Passover Lamb," fulfilling the sin debt of the flesh that we could not pay.
A bonus revelation is illustrated in the pictograph of the Hebrew word for cross "talah," which is used in the story of Esther concerning the "gallows" Haman/flesh prepared for Mordecai/Messiah but ended up dying on himself (Gesenius defines this word as a crucifixion device)
The first letter, "tav," of the Hebrew word "talah," represents a cross and is known as the covenant sign. Its Gematria value is 400. Its second letter, "blamed," is a shepherd staff symbolizing authority, and "hey," the final letter, is a window illustrating revelation. The Old Testament uses this word to reveal the authority of the cross/covenant and the power of resurrection.
. . . concerning His Son, who was born according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.
— Romans 1:3-4
This concept gets depicted in the incident and use of the word "talah in the story of Joseph." The baker (sinful flesh) gets crucified, and the butler (wine-life) gets raised from prison and death to a new life.
Another word used 28 times, which brings our count to four, is the Hebrew word "pinnah." This word finds its use concerning the four corners of the altar of burnt offering, once again, imaging and shadowing Jesus and God's sacrifice. This particular word for "corners" is also used and interpreted as the corner tower or a cornerstone. Summing this all up once again, we can see that Christ, our Passover, is the cornerstone of salvation that brought us out through His crucifixion that satisfied our sin debt.
He shall bring the bull to the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, and he shall lay his hand on the head of the bull and slay the bull before the Lord.
— Leviticus 4:4
The first sentence (seven words) of the Bible contains 28 letters. At the center of those 28 letters is what is considered the fourth word, in Hebrew, of the Bible. That word is "et" and consists of two letters, "aleph" and "tav" The "aleph" is the first letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet and is imaged by an ox that is known for its strength and power. It can represent God Himself. The "tav," the last letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet, is represented by a cross. The icon of a cross was recognized as the sign of a covenant in the ancient near eastern world. This word picture gives us an illustration right in the center of this creation passage of a Passover through God on a cross.
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning.
— Isaiah 46:9-10
He told us from the beginning that it would begin with Him, and it would end in a cross. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
additional fours in the Passover (four cups of wine, four questions, four expressions of redemption - the four "I wills") four special Shabbats are preceding Passover
Altars and Doors
One of the very first altars occurs in Genesis chapter four, where Abel offers an acceptable offering.
Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering.
— Genesis 4:4
The writer of Hebrews expounds.
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.
— Hebrews 11:4
The cross was an altar on which Christ, the acceptable sacrifice, hung between heaven and earth to reunite the earthly man once again to his Spirit God.
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
— John 3:12-15
In temple structures, altars were at the door and the first order of business before entering God's house. This ancient practice is still in use today in some middle eastern countries, of passing through the bloodline of a threshold to be accepted into a home.
In the 1980's movie "Not Without My Daughter," a woman married a man from Iran. When she went to be accepted by the family, they were said to have sacrificed a bird, and a bloodline was drawn across the threshold of the door with the bird's blood. She was then required to cross over the bloodline to be accepted and invited in. This real-life depiction has been God's way since He made the garments of animal skin when Adam and Eve left the garden. No sacrifice, no salvation. We must come in through the door that God provided through His one and only Son, whose blood was on each post of that cross as it was at the first Passover.
In Ezekiel chapter 40, Ezekiel has a vision of the temple and describes the gates and entrances to the temple.
Four tables were on this side and four tables on that side, by the side of the gateway, eight tables on which they slaughtered the sacrifices.
— Ezekiel 40:41
In chapter 43, he gives the descriptions of the altar, which is laden with fours.
. . . from the base on the ground to the lower ledge, two cubits; the width of the ledge, one cubit; from the smaller ledge to the larger ledge, four cubits; and the width of the ledge, one cubit. The altar hearth is four cubits high, with four horns extending upward from the hearth. The altar hearth is twelve (4x3) cubits long, twelve (4X3) wide, square at its four corners; the ledge, fourteen cubits long and fourteen wide on its four sides, with a rim of half a cubit around it; its base, one cubit all around; and its steps face toward the east.
— Ezekiel 43:14-17
In chapter 45, the priest receives further instruction.
The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the gateposts of the gate of the inner court.
— Ezekiel 45:19
The outer court represents the outside world. In keeping with this theme, in Jesus' day, this court was referred to as the court of the Gentiles. The next portion of Scripture describes the court in fours. Ezekiel's description of the temple links the sacrifice required with this outer court.
Then he brought me out into the outer court and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and in fact, in every corner of the court there was another court. In the four corners of the court were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty wide; all four corners were the same size. There was a row of building stones all around in them, all around the four of them; and cooking hearths were made under the rows of stones all around. And he said to me, “These are the kitchens where the ministers of the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people.
— Ezekiel 46:21-23
Marie Antoinette: An Illustration of Transformation
Marie Antoinette's life involved a custom that transformed a foreign bride into a suitable member of the royal family of France. This transforming ritual can offer us a spectacular illustration of a transformation through a door.
Marriages during those times (the late 1700s) followed ancient tribal customs of uniting tribes or nations through the union of the daughter of one country to the King of another.
This ancient custom is recorded in Genesis 34 with the terrible occasion of Dinah, Jacob's daughter. Dina is raped by Shechem, son of Hamor, the Hivite prince of the country that Jacob and his family had settled near. Shechem decided that he wanted Dinah for a wife, and his father went to make a treaty with Jacob to do so. Hamor makes his appeal.
"Please give her to him as a wife. And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves. So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.”
— Genesis 34:8-10
The marriage of daughters to a tribe or nation was a political alliance in the ancient world. Rape was not typically a part of the custom.
As it concerned Marie Antoinette, the Archduchess of Austria, she was sent to France to be married to the crown prince, Louis Auguste, at the age of fourteen. Their marriage would be essentially the marriage of the two nations.
The custom of this transaction called the Remise (A legal transfer of surrender by deed), involved a ritual called a "handover." At this ritual, Marie Antionette was handed over to the heir to the throne of France. This event so eloquently describes a type of heavenly "handover."
He (God) has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.
— Colossians 1:13
Four days before the Remise, the Archduchess would renounce all of her rights to her former empire. The bride to be was accompanied by her attendants, leaving all possessions behind. Next, she was brought to an island situated in the middle of the Rhine river between Austria and France. This area was considered neutral territory, where the renunciation of her old life would occur.
A pavilion was constructed with a partition between two rooms. One side represented the Austrian side, and the other represented the French side.
"The whole creation is nothing but the visible curtain behind which radiates the exalted working of God's thinking.
— Abraham Kuyper
According to Jeanne-Louise-Henriette Campan in the service of Marie Antionette as a personal assistant in her book Memoirs of the Private Life of Marie Antoinette.
". . . the superb pavilion . . . consisted of a vast salon, connected with two apartments, one of which was assigned to the lords and ladies of the Court of Vienna, and the other to the suite of the Dauphiness, composed of the Comtesse de Noailles, her lady of honour; the Duchesse de Cosse, her dame d'atours; four ladies of the palace; the Comte de Saulx-Tavannes, chevalier d'honneur; the Comte de Tesse, first equerry; the Bishop of Chartres, first almoner; the officers of the Bodyguard, and the equerries."
The Archduchess was, initially, brought into the Austrian side, where she was stripped naked before the Austrian delegation. The delegation consisted of twelve governing officials and their ladies as witnesses. This scene depicted the relinquishing of all things Austrian to become French, taking absolutely nothing with her from her old life and releasing claim or right to any of it.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
— Philippians 3:8
She then was walked to a door, which opened to the French side, completely naked, where she was entirely transformed into all things that were French. She was also assigned an assistant to train her in all matters concerning customs and etiquette.
I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you . . . the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
— John 14:16-17, 26
when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. . . He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
— John 16:13
After the formal signing of documents, she was now officially the Dauphine of France. The official wedding ceremony began with her stepping through the ornamental gates of what was known as her apartment before being led to the royal chapel.
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
— Revelation 22:14
She produced four children.
A Note From Spurgeon
. . . back to our passage on Jesus the door
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me,
- he will be saved
- and will go in
- and out
- and find pasture.
— John 10:9
Charles Spurgeon in his devotional "Morning and Evening so eloquently observes, in relation to the topic of transFOURmation in this passage in terms of application;
Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true church, and the way of access to God himself. He gives to the man who comes to God by him four choice privileges.
1. He shall be saved. The fugitive manslayer passed the gate of the city of refuge, and was safe. Noah entered the door of the ark, and was secure. None can be lost who take Jesus as the door of faith to their souls. Entrance through Jesus into peace is the guarantee of entrance by the same door into heaven. Jesus is the only door, an open door, a wide door, a safe door; and blessed is he who rests all his hope of admission to glory upon the crucified Redeemer.
2. He shall go in. He shall be privileged to go in among the divine family, sharing the children’s bread, and participating in all their honours and enjoyments. He shall go in to the chambers of communion, to the banquets of love, to the treasures of the covenant, to the storehouses of the promises. He shall go in unto the King of kings in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the secret of the Lord shall be with him.
3. He shall go out. This blessing is much forgotten. We go out into the world to labour and suffer, but what a mercy to go in the name and power of Jesus! We are called to bear witness to the truth, to cheer the disconsolate, to warn the careless, to win souls, and to glorify God; and as the angel said to Gideon, “Go in this thy might,” even thus the Lord would have us proceed as his messengers in his name and strength.
4. He shall find pasture. He who knows Jesus shall never want. Going in and out shall be alike helpful to him: in fellowship with God he shall grow, and in watering others he shall be watered. Having made Jesus his all, he shall find all in Jesus. His soul shall be as a watered garden, and as a well of water whose waters fail not.
King Cyrus and Double Doors
In keeping with the theme of a door, four, creation, and transformation, and even restoration—There was a Persian king in the Bible named Cyrus, who was known as "the deliverer of the Jews." Although he is a pagan king, God uses him to release the captives in Babylon, taken 70 years prior, and commanded that the temple structure be restored in Jerusalem. King Cyrus presents to us a type and shadow of Christ, our door, and deliverer. Ezra 4:1-6
Isaiah 45 gives us the degree that God gave to Cyrus that declared Himself as creator and transformer. The first verse opens with double "doors" (two fours equal eight), a symbol of new beginnings, and open doors. (Noah - eight souls). Notice how many times the words earth, make, form, and establish are used in this portion of scripture that concerns the opening of these double doors, new beginnings, and restoration.
“Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.’
“Rain down, you heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
And let righteousness spring up together.
I, the Lord, have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with his Maker!
Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?
Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’
Or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?’”
Thus says the Lord,
The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
“Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.
I have made the earth,
And created man on it.
I—My hands—stretched out the heavens,
And all their host I have commanded.
I have raised him up in righteousness,
And I will direct all his ways;
He shall build My city
And let My exiles go free,
Not for price nor reward,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
...For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the Lord, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right . . .
. . . “Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other . . .
Psalm 24 (4x6) The Creator King Who Rules Over The Earth
This particular Psalm is self-explanatory in consideration or doors, development, and establishment. Four natural references are made; earth (they physical earth), the world (people who dwell in it), seas, and rivers. Gates and doors are referenced four times. It shows us that the point of entrance for the King of glory is through the loyal worship of those who seek Him, who have four things or qualities.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.
For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
- He who has clean hands
- and a pure heart,
- Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
- And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of those who seek Him
Who seek Your face—even Jacob. ]Selah.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah.
The Lord's prayer wonderfully exhibits this truth of His Kingship over both heaven and earth. The fourth clause of the Lord's Prayer is the first that mentions the earth.
- Our Father, which art in heaven,
- Hallowed be thy Name.
- Thy Kingdom come.
- Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven.
Four classical Understandings of the Kingdom of God.
- eschatological (at the end of history),
- mystical (within the hearts of believers) ,
- political (in a certain empire),
- Institutional (Church)
— Kenneth E. Bailey
Psalm 119—The Way
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, containing 176 (4x44) verses, with sections that are arranged alphabetically into four couplets each. Andrew Bonar, minister of the Free Church of Scotland, notes that
"It is a Psalm in which every verse speaks of God's revelation to man"
Jonathan Edwards seconds this motion when he writes that this Psalm is
"A grand expression and emanation of the holiness of God's nature, and prescription of holiness to the creature . . . "
This revelation predominantly concerns how God created man and all things to function properly and most happy when they are consistently harmonious and in balance with God's instructions, testimonies, statutes, ordinances, precepts, commandments, judgments, and the Word by which He made all things.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
— John 1:1-4
The Psalm points to Jesus, the one who created all things. He became a part of that creation and is instructing us to fall in line with how He created all things to function.
What makes Psalm 119 unique is the way that these requests are continually and explicitly grounded in the gift of the Torah and the psalmist's loyalty to it.
— Wikipedia on Psalm 119
God's covenant name YHVH, which has to do with His relationship, promise, and faithfulness to all that He has made, is used 24 (4x6) times and consists of four letters.
The Psalm has also been titled with four ways we can apply this understanding and appreciate His revelation to us.
"The ABC's of the praise, love, power, and use of the Word of God."
— Franz Delitzch 1871
Its fourth section of Psalm 119 is titled Daleth, meaning "door," and its central theme is about choosing "the faithful way."
Shut the Door
II Kings chapter four records four times repeated the phrase "shut the door" The first concerns a prophet's wife who had died and was about to lose her sons to a creditor. Elisha, the prophet, asks her what she has in the house, and she tells him that the only thing of value in the house is a little oil.
he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.
— II Kings 4:3-4
. . . she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out.
— II Kings 4:5
Once all the vessels had been used, the oil stopped. The prophet's wife was able to sell it to pay her debt and save her sons.
The second event records the next two and concerns a childless Shunammite woman who offers the prophet, Elisha, a place to stay in the area. He, in turn, prophecies that she will have a son the following year. She does indeed have the son, but he ends up dying from some unknown condition.
. . . she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.
— II Kings 4:21
The Shunammite woman then seeks Elisha to help her, and he returns with her to her house.
When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord.
— II Kings 4:32-33
These two events shadow salvation through the payment for sin and resurrection from the dead, giving us another image of a transforming Gospel.
An Image of Resurrection for the Newly Created, Transformed, Mind Renewed, Child of God
Another revelation and scriptural example of the number four related to the physical realm, and illustrates the spiritual in the transformation process, comes from John chapter 11 in the resurrection of Lazarus. This portion of Scripture records that Lazarus had been dead in the tomb for four days when Jesus raised him from the dead. We see in this demonstration of Lazarus's physical body raised from death to life, which imaged for all that Christ would do spiritually through His three-day death, burial, and spiritual resurrection. (the number three representing the concreteness and dimension of spiritual realities).
And finally, in Acts chapter one, the expression "taken up" appears four times concerning Christ's ascension. Criswell Study Bible notes make this observation relative to the created realm.
"The ascension removed Christ from the realm of time and space in which He brought redemption to man."
The Four Lepers—Spreading the Gospel Old Testament Style
II Kings chapter seven concerns a time when Syria besieged Samaria (Northern Kingdom of Israel). The section notes that there is a severe famine in the land as well.
In those days, cities were walled, and therefore, this besiegement trapped everyone inside without food, water, or a means to get them. Life was so bad that they were eating their children. King despaired and said
“Surely this calamity is from the Lord; why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”
— II Kings 6:33
Elisha the prophet then prophecies that the next day salvation and provision would come, but the King's righthand man expressed His doubt that even God could save them from such a ridiculous mess and when God's words come to pass, this man does not take part in the provision because he dies. We will see in a bit how this is all related.
How the "Good News" and the miracle of provision and distribution happens are through four men.
Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die?
— II Kings 7:3
The lepers were shut out of the city based on God's law.
He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
— Leviticus 13:46
From a spiritual application standpoint, leprosy is a picture of sin.
. . . leprosy generally begins with pain in certain areas of the body. Numbness follows. Soon the skin in such spots loses its original color. It gets to be thick, glossy, and scaly . . . As the sickness progresses, the thickened spots become dirty sores and ulcers due to poor blood supply. The skin, especially around the eyes and ears, begins to bunch, with deep furrows between the swellings, so that the face of the afflicted individual begins to resemble that of a lion. Fingers drop off or are absorbed; toes are affected similarly. His throat becomes hoarse, and you can now not only see, feel, and smell the leper, but you can hear his rasping voice. And if you stay with him for some time, you can even imagine a peculiar taste in your mouth, probably due to the odor.
— Alfred Edersheim
This puts all who were infected by it outside the camp.
Leprosy is a vivid and graphic physical picture of the spiritual defilement of sin. Sin is ugly, loathsome, incurable, and contaminating; it separates men from God and makes them outcasts.
— John Barnett
Humankind became nothing but the dirt they were made from after they were exiled from the garden.
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.
— Genesis 3:19
Even in His (heavenly) servants He puts no trust . . . How much more those who dwell in houses (bodies) of clay, whose foundations are in the dust . . .
— Job 4:18-19 (Amplified)
As it concerns the lepers, these four are telling us that there is no natural hope for their condition, and so it is with us and sin. J. Vernon McGee writes.
"The application for us is that before we came to Christ we were in a predicament equally as desperate. We were like lepers, sitting among the dead, having no hope and without God in the world."
The following commentary couldn't have given a better lesson to this portion of scripture as it concerns the spread of the Gospel to all of humanity.
Well may all this be applied to our Lord’s work for us and to the provision of the gospel. He alone worked out the great salvation and provided all, that sinners dying and lost (represented by the lepers) may come to eat and drink, without money and without price. It was a day of good tidings. Such is the still lasting day of salvation, the day of grace. The lepers who had their fill first and had tasted God’s great salvation, could not hold their peace. Through them the whole city hears of the provision made. And the people went out to see how wonderfully the prediction of Elisha had been accomplished. All enjoyed it. But the unbelieving lord perished, a warning that he that believes not must die in his sins. The repetition at the close of this chapter of the words of the unbeliever recorded in the beginning of this story, is of solemn meaning. God is true to His Word, the Word which promises life to all who believe and which threatens eternal punishment to all who believe not. “He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believes not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
— Frank Gaebelein commentary
Four Name Changes
The New Testament presents four people whose names were changed. The first being Simon-Peter. Simon-Peter was transformed from average fisherman to a preacher of the Gospel and martyr for Christ.
. . . when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah You shall be called Cephas.” (which is translated, A Stone).
— John 1:42
John and James were called the "Son's of Thunder" by Jesus. James is the first of the disciples to be martyred, and John is the last. All three, Peter, James, and John, are known as Christ's inner circle of disciples.
Love is the method of transformation that God uses. In the book of first John, the word "love" and its relatives occur over 40 times.
This "Son of Thunder" was so transformed by Christ that he inherited a new nickname "The Apostle of Love."3
The fourth person in the New Testament to have his name changed was Saul, who became Paul.
. . . Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit.
— Acts 13:9
The Scriptures don't tell us why Saul's name got changed to Paul, but an obvious observation may be made. Saul is a Hebrew name, and Paul is a Gentile name. One of the greatest acts of transformation concerning the Gospel was the inclusion of the Gentiles into the promise of salvation through the Jewish Messiah. Paul became specifically a minister and preacher to the Gentiles, as Paul himself testifies.
He (The Lord) said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’”
— Acts 22:21
Noah and a New Creation
The following depictions will show several Old Testament developments involving the number four related to the things of this earth. This section will include the development of people in terms of kingdoms and generations. Everything in the New has its roots in the Old, as exhibited in four significant scriptural mounts.
Three New Testament mountains of God Mount of beatitudes, Mount of Transfiguration, the Mount of crucifixion look back to Mount Sinai.
— JoAnn Davidson "Toward a Theology of Beauty"
The Old Testament offers us so many vivid and tangible illustrations and examples of these timeless truths.
. . . whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
— Romans 15:4
There are Four divisions of the Old Testament;
- and sermons
God is, consistently throughout Scripture, in the business of creating "a people."
. . . you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
— Deuteronomy 7:6
Sometimes that meant starting over, as was with the family of Noah. Recall there were four men and four women on the Ark by which all the successive generations would be created. Consider as well that the sons of Noah are comprised in a fourfold description.
- and nations
The word "rainbow," a phenomenon that connects with God's promise in the earth, is recorded four times in Scripture. Its fourth and final mention is found in the book of Revelation.
God announces His great plan to destroy the old to produce a new with four things that He will destroy.
And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both
- and beast,
- and the creeping thing,
- and the fowls of the air;
for it greives me that I have made them.
— Genesis 6:7
Four divine speeches centered around the flood of judgment.
- Genesis 6:13-22 God's announcement to destroy the earth with a flood,
- Genesis 7:1-10 Get in the Ark,
- Genesis 8:15-19 get off the Ark,
- Genesis 9:1-17 Promise to never flood again and a blessed them
Noah, before the flood, was noted by four things.
- a just man
- and perfect in his generations,
- and Noah walked with God
- And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth
— Genesis 6:9-10
When God announces his plan to flood the earth, He makes a covenant with four that He will spare.
But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—
- your sons,
- your wife,
- and your sons’ wives with you.
— Genesis 6:18
The mention of forty days is referenced four times in the flood account.
And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
— Genesis 50:3
According to Rabbi David Fohrman's excerpt from The Exodus You Almost Passed Over, the author explains that, to the Egyptians, this idea of transition from one world to the next was the idea behind the forty-day embalming process.
"Forty days is a familiar time period for the reader of the Torah. Earlier in Genesis, rain fell for forty days in the Great Flood. Later Moses spends forty days atop Mount Sinai. It seems as if the lapse of forty days signifies something: transition, a passage to a new world.
When it rained forty days and forty nights, that was a bridge between one world and another. The old world was closing down, and a new one coming into being. When Moses spent forty days atop Mount Sinai, he too journeyed to a new world; He left the terrestrial sphere, and entered a transcendent one."
Four and the Development of Canaan
The story of Noah continues with a disturbing incident that occurs after leaving the Ark. This particular scene sets the stage for the development of the land that God would give to Abraham and his descendants. This development is characterized by the number four. Its themes run parallel to the initial creation and garden experience, which involves a reorganization after chaos. These parallels include a garden/vineyard, forbidden fruit/wine, a groundskeeper Adam/Noah, and a tremendous and tragic sin.
The incident begins with Noah planting a vineyard.
And Noah "began" to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard
— Genesis 9:20 (quotations mine)
The Hebrew text reads (right to left) וַיָּחֶל נֹחַ אִישׁ הָֽאֲדָמָה וַיִּטַּע כָּֽרֶם which would read in a literal rendering, "and he began (cleaved open and broke open), Noah, a man of the ground (ish/man adamah/ground), and he planted a vineyard.
This Hebrew word "hucal" translated "began" could introduce something not so good about to occur. Its occurrences often, but not always, introduce something not so great. It is translated "profane" alternatively in many places. It can be defined as; pierce, wound, or cleave open, break or give access to, profane or defile, or use for common use. This word's first occurrence is found in Genesis chapter four, right before the stage, and conditions for the flood are set.
And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos (fourth son of Seth): then began (hucal) men to call upon the name of the Lord.
— Genesis 4:26
In this first usage of the word "hucal," translated "began," it could imply that something not so good is about to be introduced, as in something possibly profane or common about men's worship. If this is the case, it will give us a greater understanding of the state and progression of the following generations that led up to the vile condition of humanity before the flood. The word "Hucal" finds its second occurrence just before that very event.
And it came to pass, when men began (hucal) to multilpy on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them. That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown . . . And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
— Genesis 6:1
This incident concerning the planting of a vineyard with Noah is its third occurrence.
Its fourth occurrence is after the vineyard incident, with the tower of Babel and Nimrod, whose name is rooted in the Hebrew word for rebellion.
And Cush begat Nimrod: he began (hucal) to be a mighty one in the earth.
— Genesis 10:8
There were four named cities of Nimrod.
- and Calneh
As we can see, this word often signals something that is not good and perhaps something profane, that has begun or is about to occur and break open onto the scene.
It's Strong's number is 2490 if you wish to do a further topic search on this. Being Berean like is always encouraged!
Back to our topic, recall that in Genesis chapter 6 before the flood.
Noah was a righteous man (ish/man tsadiq/righteous) and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
— Genesis 6:9
So we see in this account that Noah went from being an "ish tsadiq" (man of righteousness) walking with God to an "ish adamah" (man of the ground) planting a vineyard possibly for common and not holy use. He is still considered a man of faith according to the New Testament, but just as it was with King David and Solomon, something went awry at the end of their lives journey. These narratives testify that salvation is by God's grace alone.
None is righteous, no, not one . . . all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
— Romans 3:10, 23
Before this event, it is announced that four got off the Ark, and the text adds a special notation concerning Ham that will be significant to the developing scandal.
Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan.
— Genesis 9:18
Ham being the father of Canaan, will be the key considering that four verses later, Ham, the father of Canaan, "saw his father's nakedness." Canaan was Ham's fourth and youngest son.
Back to the vineyard, the story reports that Noah was drunk and uncovered. Could this be evidence of the common unholy use of a vineyard?
. . . he (Noah) drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered (galah) within his (her) tent.
— Genesis 9:21
The phrase "his tent" is in female form in the Hebrew text and indicates that the incident may have occurred in "her tent," or the tent's innermost private quarters, as in, his wife's tent or a portion of the tent, as was the custom of the ancient nomads. The woman's tent was the place of uncovered type relations between husband and wife.
Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her.
— Genesis 24:67
The "her tent" also occurs in another unfortunate incident . . .
And Israel (Jacob) journeyed, and spread his (her) tent beyond the tower of Edar. And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine.
— Genesis 35:22
Jacob, consequently, said the following to Reuben during the distribution of blessings.
Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, you shall not excel; because you went up to your father's bed; then defiled (hucal - same word as began) it: he went up to my couch.
— Genesis 49:3-4
There is much debate over this incident concerning Ham, but there are some clues that might give us some insight. Leviticus may be able to help us with this and may be similar to the incident with Israel and Reuben.
The nakedness (used 24 (4x6) times in ch.18) of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.
— Leviticus 18:7,8
The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered (galah) his father’s nakedness (used 8 (4x2) in chapter 20)
— Leviticus 20:11
Genesis also says that Ham "saw" his father's nakedness. This phrase can imply that sexual indecency occurred.
And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered (galah) his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.
— Leviticus 20:17
It is not clear if the uncovering of Noah's nakedness is something that begins with Noah himself and his wife, or if Ham seeing his father's nakedness indicates how the uncovering happened. We know that Noah passes out at some point, and his condition renders him unable to understand what has happened.
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness, and he told his two brothers outside about it.
— Genesis 9:22
There are two worthy observations: when the father got drunk, the vulnerable in his family became uncovered. The second is, Ham may very well have seized this opportunity to usurp his father's position by doing an unseemly deed as did Absalom with David when he slept with David's wives and concubines while trying to take over the kingdom. It was considered an act of possession to do such things, which may be why Ham announced what he had just done to his brothers. This possibility has been speculated similarly in the case of Reuben and Jacob.
And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
— Genesis 9:23
The above Scripture could also clarify why Shem and Japheth determined not to see. Perhaps it was their mother they covered.
After all, was said and done . . .
Noah awoke from his wine.
— Genesis 9
Noah is unaware of what has happened until he awakens from his drunkenness. We are not told what the evidence was. Still, it is strongly plausible that Ham was the perpetrator of a, more than likely, sexual incident involving Noah's wife (seeing and uncovering his father's nakedness). Some commentaries suggest that Noah's wife was the fourth woman named before the flood. Her name was Naamah, and she was the daughter of Lamech, and Canaan is the product of this union. We are also not told if this is Ham's mother or another wife of Noah.
This suggestion may also explain Noah's comment when
. . . he said, Cursed be Canaan.
— Genesis 9:25
Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
— Deuteronomy 27:20
Noah didn't say cursed be Ham. Canaan wasn't cursed because Noah said so. Noah was drawing a logical conclusion as to what the consequences were for such an occasion.
The remainder of Noah's speech about Canaan also says this concerning the possibility of Ham fathering Canaan via Noah's wife.
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brethren.
— Genesis 9:25
Who are Canaan's brothers?
The sons of Ham were
- and Canaan
— Genesis 10
Yet Noah goes on to say in chapter 9: 25,26 and refers to Canaan's brothers as being Shem and Japheth.
“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem,
And may Canaan be his servant.
May God enlarge Japheth,
And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his servant.”
— Genesis 9:25-26
Ham is bypassed as a brother to him because he is the father, and the only way he could be Shem and Japheth's brothers would be if they shared the same mother.
There are two other mentions in the Scripture of Ham and Canaan having to do with genealogies, which bring these mentions to four. Canaan means to humiliate. A fitting name for such a story as this, which establishes what is to take place in further Biblical developments.
Sexual immorality and idol worship become the key features of those descended from Canaan, Sodom, and Gomorrah as one example. The land that the Canaanites inhabit until it had reached its limit of sin later becomes the territory that God promises Abraham. God explains that Abraham's descendants will live for a time in captivity, 400 years in Egypt, but will return to conquer and dwell in this very land.
. . . in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites (descendants of Canaan - fourth mentioned in Genesis 10) is not yet complete.
— Genesis 15:16
This next verse is in concert with this event and explains the core issue of rebellion with these people.
. . . you shall not bow down to them (anything) nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children "to the third and fourth generations" (occurs four times in scripture) of those who hate Me.
— Exodus 20:5
Immediately following with Genesis 10, it begins, for the fourth time in Scripture, with "Now these are generations," showing the development of the earthly inhabitants from four people Noah and his three sons.
An endnote to this portion of Scripture; Noah had 16 (4x4) grandsons that repopulate the earth—listed in Chapter ten.
- and Tiras.
- and Canaan
- and Aram
The Genealogy in chapter 10 also includes a curious account.
Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber (fourth generation from Shem), the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.
— Genesis 10:21
In reading this, I began to wonder why Ham was not included in this portion about brothers and felt like the Lord said, "think Jews and Gentiles" sure enough, it is declared in Genesis 10:5 concerning Japheth . . .
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
And Shem is the father of the sons of Eber (the ones who crossed over from the other side—the Hebrews—Abraham's sons—The Jews)
Eber is the fourth generation from Shem.
We can see that from these three come Jew (Shem), Gentile (Japeth), and the world (Ham)
It is also foretold in Noah's words to his sons as noted earlier
God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
— Genesis 9:37
What could this mean? Perhaps the clue lies in another prophecy given by Zechariah.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
— Zechariah 8:23
More and more Christians/Japeth/Gentiles are hungering and thirsting to know God better by understanding His truth. Many of them are digging deeper into the roots of our Christian faith that are contained and explained in the Old Testament/Tanakh that has been so faithfully preserved by His very own covenant ones, the Jewish/Shem people. Christians/Japeth/Gentiles are desiring to dwell in the tents of Shem.
The Creation and Transformation of a Chosen Nation
There are four patriarchs in Genesis that created a nation of people through which our Savior could come.
The book of Genesis chapters 12-50 center on the lives of four men Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. All patriarchs of the nation God would form from them through covenant through which He would bring His one and only Son into the world.
— Rainbow Study Bible Commentary
Within these accounts between Abraham and Joseph, the phrase "after these things," referencing time, occurs four times, and the book ends with these formative events. Abraham is the topic of three of these instances, and Joseph is the fourth.
The combined words "mercy and truth," or "chesed" and "emet" in Hebrew, are used four times in the book of Genesis and sixteen (4x4) times total in the Old Testament.
The earth is full of the goodness (chesed) of the Lord.
— Psalm 33:5
"Chesed" is specifically being demonstrated through the four foundation patriarchs.
- and Joseph
Let us take a closer look at the development and process of creating and transforming this nation from whom He would come beginning with Abraham. E.W. Bullinger comments on this topic.
No sooner are mankind divided in Genesis 10, than Abraham is called out from them to walk with God (Gen 11, 12). But he soon finds it to be a world of strife and enmity, for Genesis 14 opens with the names of four kings, and "these made war" with five others which are named afterwards.
— E.W. Bullinger
Before we move on to the covenant aspect of God's development of His people and a land, I would like to look at an interesting event in Genesis chapter 14 involving four kings.
This event occurs after Abram and his family left Ur of the Chaldees and settled in Haran. God then speaks to Abram in what is known as the fourth dispensation of promise. This dispensation concerns both land and the development of a people that extended from Abraham's call to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
- I will make you a great nation
- I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
- I will bless those who bless you,
- And I will curse him who curses you
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
— Genesis 12
In faith, Abraham immediately packs up his stuff and heads toward Canaan as far as Shechem, where the Lord appears to Him and promises.
“To your descendants I will give this land.”
— Genesis 12:7
He then, in faith, continues through the land and pitches "her" tent between Bethel (House of God) and Ai (Heap of ruins). You may be wondering why I inserted "her" instead of "his tent." It is because the Hebrew text reads that way. It is the female version of the word tent" because of the additional letter "hey" at the end of it. Her tent would have been the tent where relations took place. The significance to this is that God is trying to show us that Abraham acted in faith on what he had heard God say when He issued the promise for land and descendants.
Abraham's nephew Lot tags along on this journey as Abraham continues his journey through the land heading south.
A bit of a detour takes place when there is a famine in the land. Abraham takes everyone in his clan down to Egypt to wait out the famine. The text does not tell us that God instructed Abraham to go there. Is it possible that he wasn't supposed to? It is here where Hagar was acquired. After the famine, Abraham returns the Bethel and Ai and picks up where he left off.
It is at this point that Lot and Abraham separate. Lot chooses to go east, which is always symbolic of a type of exile. Adam and Eve went east after the garden, Cain went east after he killed his brother, the children of Israel went east in the Babylonian captivity. In other words, Lot makes a poor choice based on some greener grass on the other side.
. . . it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord.
— Genesis 13:10
Lot liked city life, and this usually didn't fare well in Scripture either. Cain and Nimrod are just a couple of examples. Cities appear to be progressiveness in terms of human accomplishment and express a type of unity with others in remaining separate from God.
Back to our story—Abraham "the Hebrew" ( ivri—the one who crosses over from another place), as is noted in the actual account, is minding his own business renting land from some folks he covenanted with (covenant lords). He is visited by an escapee from a pack of invaders headed up by four kings, led by Chedorlaomer, mentioned four times in Scripture. Chedorlaomer had just pillaged Sodom and Gomorrah and took the people of these places and surrounding regions, including his nephew Lot, Lot's family, and all of their possessions. Abraham "poured out" (could refer to the unsheathing of a sword —think word of God) his trained and experienced disciples from his own household to rescue Lot. The four in this account reveals that these are merely kings of this world and how a worldly and physical battle is no match for one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Of course, Abraham and his men defeat the enemies and get back everything of Sodom and Gomorrah's people and possessions.
At this time, Melchizedek, whose name means "king of righteousness," who is a priest of the God Most High, appears on the scene with bread and wine. Bread and wine in New Testament language are about the victory through what Christ has done through His body and blood. Abraham pays a tenth from everything from the spoil to Melchizedek. And it is at this time that Melchizedek pronounces this blessing upon Abraham.
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
— Genesis 14:19
The king of Sodom wants to let Abraham have all the spoil for his great victory, but Abraham refuses because he wants everyone to know that God gave him the victory! Abraham knows that God owns it all when He says.
“I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing . . .
— Genesis 14:22-23
Frank E. Gaebelein writes in his Expository Commentary.
"Abraham's reward would not come from the kings of this world but from Yahweh, the Lord the possessor of heaven and earth".
Abraham's faith is so very commendable and exemplary. He already knew the protocol recorded in Deuteronomy, written at a much later date.
“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’
— Deuteronomy 20:1-4
After these things, Abraham is visited by three visitors who are "passing through," one of whom is named Yehovah and is identified as such four times (chapter 18 verses 1, 17, 22, and 33). They are on their way to execute judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, from which four had escaped.
- his wife,
- An older daughter
- and a younger daughter
This scene is very much reminiscent of the Exodus event when the angel of death passed through the land to execute judgment. Lot's choice is not turning out as he had fantasized about.
Lot requested to be dropped off in Zoar, a small town, rather than in the mountains. The angel relented and spared that city.
Zoar survived the destruction of the other cities of the plain, and Moses was able to see it from the top of Mount Nebo four hundred years later (Deuteronomy 34:1-3, see Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:34).
There are four angels mentioned in Scripture, two good (Gabriel and Michael), and two evil (Lucifer and Apollyon). Interesting that this celestial battle takes place on the earth's stage.
God's next discourse with Abraham is the fourth one and noted by Scofield to be pivotal in that this is where a significant "change" takes place and involves the foretelling of the 400 years of slavery that Abraham's descendants will experience beginning with the fourth-generation from him.
Abraham, Stars, and Sand
God made a covenant 4000 years ago with Abraham. It was the first of four God had made with, and in, the establishment of Israel.
- and Davidic
The Abrahamic covenant concerned the creation of a people that would come from him, and it was the fourth of eight covenant's in general that God made in total since creation.
- and Abrahamic
God promises infinite descendants to Abraham, using stars and sand as an illustration.
I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore.
— Genesis 22:17
Notice in the above verse, God uses created things to help Abraham conceptualize the promise. Counting stars and sand is next to impossible. Secular science uses these two created things to express seemingly infinite amounts, just as the Bible does.
I was most recently listening to a preacher who taught that the sand in this passage is about Abraham's physical descendants.
The religious rulers of the New Testament prided themselves that they were the physical descendants of Abraham, and even Jesus Himself acknowledges them to be such
“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants . . . "
— John 8:37
But Jesus, who comes into the created scene 4000 years into history, informs them that restoration of relationship with the creator of all was a spiritual transaction that could only be realized through a faith like Abraham's, of which Jesus reminds them they are to be an example by believing in Him.
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham".
— John 8:39
And what were the works of Abraham?
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
— John 6:29
. . . you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
— Galatians 3:26-29
In totality, "Abraham's life was marked by four great crises which involved a surrender of something naturally most dear," as noted by C.I. Scofield, more specifically.
- He must leave his country and kindred
- His nephew Lot
- His own plan for Ishmael
- Isaac, his one and only Son
Count the Stars
The stars represent the spiritual descendants that would be born from Abraham's faith in God through our faith in Christ.
. . . just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
— Galatians 3:6-9
God is always in the business of creating and developing a new people for Himself as we see imaged through a physical family in the Old Testament and realized in the New Testament through those who come to God by faith.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
— II Corinthians 5:17
The numerical values for the sum of the letters comprising the Hebrew word for sand, used in God's promise to Abraham, representing Abraham's physical children, is divisible by four; expressing material created things.
The numerical value for the sum of the Hebrew letters in the word for stars, God's spiritual children, as used in the promise, is divisible by three and is the number that expresses the spiritual dimension, realm, and realities.
It is here that we see God's entire creative plan of both Jew and Gentile believers in worship and service to the Holy God of all creation, as Paul reports in the book of Acts.
Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.
— Acts 26:22-23
These covenant promises, such as is with Abraham, in the Old Testament, always began with the establishment of territory, relating to the actual physical land, which is co. Abraham (the father) purchased a piece of the land of promise for 400 shekels (the price of the field/wages of sin is death) of silver (symbol of redemption) from the Hittite king Ephron in Genesis 23.
I will (the father/Abraham) pay the price of the field. (wages of sin/death)
— Genesis 23:13
He purchased the field to bury his wife, Sarah.
So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded.
— Genesis 23:17
The phrase "the field of Ephron" is used four times in Scripture. All of them are in Genesis. Whenever the Bible speaks of a field, a reference to "this world," it is in connection with the limitations of the created realm.
Kirjath-Arba—City of Four—Hebron
The field of Ephron, where this transaction for land takes place, is at the heart of the modern-day Hebron. Four foundational couples are thought to have been buried in this place. The field of Ephron was the seminal deed to the land and the object of promise. It was later named Kirjath Arba, meaning city of four, possibly because of its four separate quarters occupied by four confederate settlements built on four hills. The buried couples were
- Abraham and Sarah,
- Isaac and Rebekah,
- Jacob and Leah,
- and Adam and Eve
Later it became the home of four giants.
- Anak and his sons
- and Talmai
Talmai is also mentioned in Numbers (the fourth book of the Bible) 13:22, which also states
(Now Hebron (formerly Kirjath Arba) was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
— Numbers 13:22
Frank E. Gaebelein, in his commentary, the "Expositor's Bible Commentary" on this portion of Scripture, notes that this fact may have been about this.
"Their amazement at the size and fortification of the city that was so closely associated with the lives of their ancestors four centuries before this time". (Gen. 13:14-18, 14:13, 23:1, 25:9, 35:27-29, 50:13)
This history is related to Hebron/Kirijath Arba being the first place the spies of Israel explored for forty days when God was about to bring them in to conquer and obtain the land from its wicked inhabitants. Gabelein also points out that their big mistake was in not recalling the cave of the patriarchs of promise and the God who made the promise but instead focused on the structures and inhabitants who frightened them, which resulted in forty years of further wandering, aimlessly, in the desert. Four people grieved in response to the refusal of the people to enter, and they were
- and Joshua.
This city was also the site of the defeat of the four kings when Abraham rescued Lot and the place from where Jacob sent Joseph to seek His brothers.
It became a Levite city, of which there were four in each territory, of the priesthood and a city of refuge occupied by Kohath producing four families.
And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites.
— Numbers 3:27
The book of Joshua records that this territory was conquered and possessed by Caleb, who was an ancestor to four.
- and Shema.
— I Chronicles 2:43
This place is also mentioned in the Bible in association with four, namely
- and David.
And it was the place where David was anointed King and ruled from there for seven years.
Present Day Kirjath Arba—Hebron
rThe name of this community is later changed to Hebron, still named to this day. Its present location is in Palestinian territory, and according to Wikipedia, it consists of four neighborhoods.
- Kirya, Ashmoret Yitzhak, Ramat Mamre (also known as Givat Harsina), and Givat Avot (Givat Ha'avot). It is also known for four notable residents, Sarah Avraham
- Ashmoret Yitzhak
- Ramat Mamre (also known as Givat Harsina)
- and Givat Avot (Givat Ha'avot).
It is also known for four notable residents.
- Sarah Avraham (kickboxer)
- Dov Lior
- Baruch Goldstein (Cave of the Patriarchs massacre)
- Elayakim HaEtzani (a former lawyer and Knesset/legislature member)
"Hebron possesses four synagogues within the ghetto and four batte ha-midrash without."
— Jewish encylopedia
According to the fourth Geneva Convention, this territory is still in a dispute concerning Israeli settlements, which is one of four treaties on rules of war that consists of four parts.
Wikipedia also notes newsworthy events concerning this area.
"Between 1981 and 1986, four people from Kiryat Arba were shot and wounded in the Hebron marketplace"
On August 31, 2010, four residents, including a pregnant woman, were shot to death in their car by Hamas militants outside Kiryat Arba
Concluding the current status of this establishment
"Kiryat Arba, still linked to Hebron after four thousand years, is a distinctive community whose modern history as a pioneering settlement provides a bridge to the biblical past."5
The Rainbow Study Bible notes for Genesis make the following comment on this topic.
. . . the first 11 chapters concern the land from Eden to Ur. (representing the physical) Chapters 12-50 are from Canaan to Egypt concerning predominantly the promise of the land God chose for His name to dwell (representing the spiritual).
The Hebrew phrase "The earth," "haaretz" in Hebrew, has a numerical value of 296 and is divisible by four. The first sentence in the Bible, introducing God's creative work, comprises 28 Hebrew letters, which are also divisible by four. These very letters formed words that the Bible says created the world.
This revelation is in keeping with four's categorization of Biblical themes of the physical realm, the earth, and territories.
. . . worship Him who made
- and earth,
- the sea
- and springs of water.
— Revelation 14:7
It is also noteworthy that God informed Abraham in his dream that his descendants would live in slavery for 400 years, and four generations later, they would be delivered a created nation.
The fourth provision of the Abrahamic covenant includes a blessing to all the nations of the earth.
In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.
— Genesis 22:18
God characterized Abraham's life as one of obedience.
Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.
— Genesis 26:5
Four significant occasions depict this.
- The first occasion is in Genesis chapter 12, when God asks Abraham to leave his family and country.
- The second is in Genesis 13 when Lot and Abraham separate. Abraham is told to look and walk through the land of promise.
- The third occasion occurs after the defeat of the four kings. Abraham loyally chooses to pay a tithe to the priest, Melchizedek, honoring and acknowledging the Possessor of heaven and earth rather than receive the wealth of the worldly king of Sodom. The king of Sodom offered Abraham all that he recovered as a consolation prize for rescuing the people and possessions of Sodom.
- The fourth and final obedience was the most dramatic and noteworthy, and that was Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his one and only son of promise, Isaac.
“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
— Genesis 22:2
In her book Toward a Theology of Beauty, JoAnn Davidson notes that this is also the fourth time that God's commands involved Abraham's family ties.
The word's "Father" and "Son" are used four times in verses seven and eight of Genesis twenty-two, establishing this very significant relationship. This four times-mentioned relational phrase lays the foundation for our understanding and faith for what our Father in heaven did for us through the death of His one and only Son, who He sacrificed for us, and illustrates for us what this truly means.
Scofield makes a significant observation concluding this section on Abraham.
"The Spiritual experience of Abraham was marked by four great crises, each of which involved a surrender of something "naturally" most dear. Country and kindred, Lot and Ishmael"
As it refers to Genesis chapter twenty-two, the above-quoted verse, there is a reflection in Psalm 22 that corresponds to the demonstration of God sacrificing His One and Only Son.
Isaac and Four Wells
After Abraham dies, in Genesis chapter 25, there is a famine in the land. (Genesis 26) And Isaac Abraham's son went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar. He was strictly instructed not to go to Egypt like his father Abraham did. Instead, he was told to stay in the land if he wished to inherit the land God had promised to his father.
The text later mentions all the acquisitions of Isaac that provoked the Philistines to jealousy, so they stopped up all the wells that his father Abraham's servants had dug by filling them with "dust." Abimelech sends Isaac away in fear that Isaac and his clan are getting too big. So Isaac moves to the Wadi, where he digs new wells found by Abraham and stopped up after his death.
Isaacs servants discover a "be'er mayim chayim," a fresh wellspring or fountain of living water to which the men of Gerar protest and claim it as theirs. The well was named "contention" because of the dispute. Naming something in the Bible assumes ownership and dominion. Therefore, although disputed, the well belongs to Isaac.
The second well is visited with similar events and is named "sitnah" and is the root word for satan, which means "adversary" or "accusation."
There was no quarreling with the third well, and it was named "Rehoboth," meaning wide open spaces. It symbolized God, finally granting them space to increase the land.
An event occurs between the third well and the fourth and final well. Isaac went up to Beer Sheva, where God reiterates His promise to Isaac on account of Abraham. There were four things that Isaac did.
- built an altar,
- called on the name of YHVH (covenant Lord God),
- pitched his tent
- and his servants began digging a well.
Abimelech appears once again. Isaac is surprised at his visit and wonders what he wants after Abimelech told Isaac to get away from him. Abimelech explains.
We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you.
— Genesis 26:28
It was an "if you can't beat them, join them" proposition that inspired Abimelech to make a treaty with Isaac. Isaac agrees. The Hebrew text alludes to the idea that they became blood brothers.
Before I continue with the wells, it might be considered that if the modern Palestinians are the Old Testament Philistines, could this explain the conflict that Israel is having with these people? Is it possible that the covenant Isaac made with these people is God honored and still stands? This idea relates similarity with Ishmael (some modern Arab nations) who are blessed because they are the blessed seed of Abraham ("And I will make him a great people too" ). Could we consider that today's world conflicts are not political by any stretch of the imagination but are rooted in ancient covenant bonds that the Sovereign God of all creation and covenant honors and upholds? God will utilize all of these matters to bring about His plan and purpose.
The very day that the covenant is made, and Abimelech had left, Isaac's servants come to declare excitedly to him about a well they had dug and discovered water. Therefore Issac named it Beer Sheva, meaning "Well of the oath" or "seven."
Is this the same well that Abraham contested Abimelech earlier for and gave him seven sheep as payment and testimony for proof of ownership, and where they had covenanted together as well?
At the center of these parallel occurrences framing Abraham's first purchase of the land (the cave at Machpelah) and a wife found for Issac, the establishment and continuance of the promise of both land and descendants are made.
This event paints a practical lesson that can be gleaned and concerns the concepts of water (spiritual power and provision) and dust (flesh). Consider that Abraham, a picture of the father, dug the first wells that ended up getting filled with dust. Isaac, the son, comes along to continue the father's work and mission and re-digs these wells.
Before the fall, Genesis records that finding water was effortless.
. . . a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
— Genesis 2:6
This example illustrates for us that in an unhindered relationship with God, the power of the Holy Spirit was present and without toil. Immediately following this description, we are told that.
. . . the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
— Genesis 2:7
By this, we understand that man's flesh is nothing but dust, and the only thing that gives him life is the breath of God in him. When sin and separation occurred, all that was left was
. . . dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.
— Genesis 3:19
The dust of our flesh is a big part of our contention, beginning with the first well. According to Paul, in his letter to the Romans.
. . . flesh, sold into bondage to sin . . . waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin.
— Romans 7:14
The works of the flesh are these.
. . . immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing,
— Galations 5:19-21
These wells demonstrate what is hindering us from accessing the living water. Recall the first well was described as being a "beer mayim chayim" or a well of living water. Jesus, the Chosen Son of promise, like Isaac, appears at an ancient well and invites a woman living a dirty, dusty life to come and drink.
. . . whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
— John 4:14
Our second enemy, represented by the second well event, appears as our adversary accuser Satan to whom his only rightful access to us is through our flesh.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
— I Peter 5
Jesus undug this well for us too.
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
— I John 3:8
The third well is not contested and is a picture of Christ's complete conquering of the final enemy of death.
. . . our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
— II Timothy 1:10
This great salvation has placed us in a broad place (Rehoboth) of grace eloquently expressed in the following Psalm.
I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
For You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul in adversities,
And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a wide place.
— Psalm 31:7-8
The fourth and final well that the servants of Issac dug and came to declare to their master illustrate for us the servants of Christ who share in the victory.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
— Ephesians 2:5-6
Taken all together
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’”
Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
— Isaiah 12
A Closer Look At Jacob
Moving along with the Formation of a nation, Jacob, Abraham's grandson, according to an epigenetic promise from God, produced twelve (a divisible by four number) sons by four women. Jacob's sons became twelve tribes that eventually transformed into a nation. Just a bonus note parallel that there are also four women in Matthew's genealogy of Christ, along with forty men.
A little story break, relevant to Jacob and the number four before we continue; One year, my husband and I volunteered at a local church that annually hosts a drive-thru nativity scene. It was a bit random, in that we had never done it before, although the event has been around for as long as we can remember. We were both assigned the roles of shepherds—the set included animals, even a camel. I had no idea camels didn't mind Minnesota cold. Did I mention there was also a donkey with a cross on his back and that he was the most unruly of all the animals present?
As we watched our flocks by night, I noticed that our penned sheep were spotted and had four horns. I seriously had never seen such a thing. A friend mentioned that these types of sheep are called "Jacob" sheep and named as such from the events that took place in Genesis chapters 30 and 31.
This portion of scripture involves a deal between Jacob and Laban whereby Jacob was to be paid his wages before obtaining the speckled, spotted, streaked, and brown goats and sheep produced by Laban's flocks. Jacob successfully miraculously acquired quite a large flock. Jacob was secretly planning to return to the promised land with his parting gifts.
Four types of the flock were removed from the mating pool to guarantee the physical impossibility of reproducing the speckled, spotted, striped, or brown herds which Laban agreed to give to Jacob. This arrangement was a sweet deal to Laban, who thought Jacob would leave with nothing. God ends up blessing Jacob despite Laban's underhanded deal.
So the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted . . . Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks.
— Genesis 30:39,43
Can we see God's creative transforming processes in both the sheep and His people? And just a bonus bit, the Jacob sheep fleece typically weighs four pounds at a length of about four inches.
Jacob Sheep Return to the Holy Land
Times of Israel published an article written by Melanie Lidman on June 21, 2016, titled On Wings of El Al, Biblical Sheep to End 3000 Year Exile, about a Canadian couple who raise Jacob sheep. The couple sent 113 of them to Israel. In researching the number 113 in Biblical Gematria, I discovered that the Hebrew phrase "and your goats" equals this number. In the Jacob narrative, this phrase is used when Jacob secretly departed from Laban with his rightful spotted and speckled flocks of sheep and goats. The value of this phrase is 113. (Genesis 31:38)
In the Gematria search, it is also discovered that the words/phrases equaling 113 before this are "to divide," "separate," "go out," and "take out." All of these are describing what happened with this incident with Jacob and Laban.
Jacob sheep resemble goats in body form, and in the Ancient Near East, the breeds of both sheep and goats were very similar and sometimes difficult to tell apart. I couldn't help but think of the portion of Scripture that speaks of the end times.
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
— Matthew 25:32
The Canadian couple who raise the Jacob sheep began with four sheep, by the way.
Sheep and goats are known as ruminants, meaning they have a four-compartment stomach as a part of their digestive system.
- the rumen
- and abomasum
The first two chambers separate the liquid and fibrous material. The fibrous material is then regurgitated back up for further breakdown and then swallowed again where it digests further by four things;
- and yeast
These were considered the "clean" animals that the Israelites could eat according to the law.
Surprisingly, Jacob sheep can have a rare genetic condition called Tay-Sachs Disease that can also occur in humans. It is predominantly found but not limited to Ashkenazi Jews and some French Canadians and Cajuns. Tay-Sachs disease is an autosomal recessive condition, meaning the weakness in the genetic material is present in both mother and father.
This particular condition causes a degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spine that eventually leads to death by age four. Tay-Sachs chromosomal address is at g444r in Jacob sheep and is known as a Hexa gene. Its main responsibility is to produce an enzyme that regulates the gangliosides that build upon the nerve cells. It is thought that there is a change in the nucleotide at Exxon 11, where splicing occurs before the genetic information can be transcribed. Jacob sheep, who have remarkably similar DNA with this condition, are currently being used for research and testing to help people with this condition.10
Jacob's Four Pillars
There are four pillars mentioned in the account of Jacob's life. Each of them is like landmarks memorializing the transitions in Jacobs's life from the time he left the promised land unto his return.
The first event occurs when Jacob is on his way to his mother's family of origin to find a wife and to flee from the wrath of his brother Esau, from whom he had taken both birthright and blessing. He laid down for the night, using a stone for a pillow.
Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.
— Genesis 28:12-15
Jacob awoke and remembered the vision and the promise.
Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it.
— Genesis 28:18
The second occurrence is when Jacob sneaks off from Laban, and Laban catches up with him to confront him. God has strictly instructed Laban not to harm Jacob in any way, so he instead decides to make a treaty with Jacob, securing his future well-being, and they make a covenant between them.
So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.
— Genesis 31:45
The third event is a second appearance from the Lord when Jacob returned to Bethel, where God initially appeared to him when he left.
And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him. So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it.
— Genesis 35:10-14
As Jacob returned to his homeland, His brother Esau, a man of the flesh, met Jacob with 400 men in his company, displaying his earthly military might.
The fourth and final pillar occurs when his wife Rachael dies on the way to Bethlehem while giving birth to Benjamin.
And Jacob set a pillar on her grave.
— Genesis 35:20
Benjamin becomes the last son of Jacob, establishing the twelve tribes of Israel that would go on to become a nation.
Twelve (4x3) Tribes
The birth order of the twelve tribes appears in sets of four. The first four are Leah's sons, the second set of four are sons of Rachel's and Leah's maidservants, the third set of four is both Leah and Rachel.
Some commentaries connect Leah and Rachel with the typology of Jew and Gentile. Once again, this links us with God's promise to Abraham of descendants likened to sand and stars.
I (Paul) kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
— Acts 20:20-21
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
— I Corinthians 12:13
Scofield Note on Romans 11 as it Relates to Jacob
Summary: Israel, so named from the grandson (Jacob) of Abraham, was chosen for a fourfold mission:
- To witness to the unity of God in the midst of universal idolatry Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10 Isaiah 43:12
- to illustrate to the nations the blessedness of serving the true God Deuteronomy 33:26-29; 1 Chronicles 17:20 1 Chronicles 17:21; Psalms 144:15.
- to receive, preserve, and transmit the Scripture Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Romans 3:1 Romans 3:2.
- to produce, as to His humanity, the Messiah Genesis 3:15 ; 12:3 ; 22:18 ; 28:10-14 ; 49:10 ;2 Samuel 7:12-16 ; Isaiah 7:14 ; 9:6 ; Matthew 1:1 ; Romans 1:3 . According to the prophets, Israel, regathered from all nations, restored to her own land and converted, is yet to have her greatest earthly exaltation and glory.
Jacob in Egypt
Jacob's sons sold their brother Joseph the fourth and final patriarch of Genesis, to some Ishmaelite traders, and famine struck the land. They heard that there was food in Egypt and reunited with their brother Joseph who had gone from being a slave to a ruler in Egypt. They end up staying there for some four hundred years.
The number four is exhibited with this fourth patriarch. After Jacob's descendants develop and multiply in Egypt, they are delivered through the birth canal of the red sea by God's mighty outstretched arm. The twelve tribes created through Jacob had now formed into a nation of people ripe and ready for delivery.
Four notable women give birth to two sons. The youngest always replaces the oldest, representing flesh (oldest) and spirit (youngest)
- Rebekah – Esau, and Jacob
- Rachel – Joseph and Benjamin
- Asenath – Manasseh and Ephraim
- Tamar – Zerah and Perez
. . . the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual . . .
— I Corinthians 15:46
While in Egypt, the sons of Jacob have developed into an entire nation. The due date for delivery has arrived after 400 years of development (human gestation is 40 weeks) when God raises up Moses to lead the people through the birth canal of the red sea. God identifies Himself to Moses and His people.
“I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
— Exodus 3:6
He does this a total of four times. (Exodus 3;6,15,16, and 4:5)
The fourth plague of the Exodus account records a change. The previous plagues affected the children of Israel, but the fourth one does not. God sets apart and distinguishes his people at this point of the plague development.
The text also records the first of four compromises that Pharaoh makes, which illustrate the same compromise that human flesh proposes when attempting to leave our own Egypt, a metaphor for our worldly lives.
- “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.” (Exodus 8:25)
- “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.” (Exodus 8:28)
- Go now, you who are men (but not the little ones as requested) (Exodus 10:8-11)
- “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.” (Exodus 10:24)
1444 (4x361) BC (25 April) is the date given in the Hebrew Bible for The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
Fourth Plague and the Sun God Ra
This fourth plague is translated into English as flies but is more likely the deeply revered scarab beetle. This beetle was sacred to the sun god Ra. Recall that it was the sun that was made on the fourth day.
The Egyptian scarab amulet above is inscribed with praise to the goddess Maat who was believed to be the goddess who regulated the stars and seasons (fourth-day events) and who brought order from the chaos at creation.
— Wikipedia (parentheses mine)
It was also these things that God's children were commanded not to worship in both the Old and New Testament.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
— Exodus 20:4
We, the created, are to worship the creator and not the creation.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
— Romans 1:24-25
If we count the events that occur during the Exodus showdown with Pharaoh, including the casting down of the rod, the fourth event to occur involves the dust of the earth.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.’They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth the gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was ]hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
— Exodus 8:16-19
X Marks the Spot
Before moving on from Exodus, the next section will be examined through its literary structure.
There are several different types of literary structures in the Bible. One of them is known as Chiasm, and its name comes from the Greek letter chi, which is in the form of an X. This letter displays two lines that intersect and cross over each other in the middle. The concepts portrayed in the scriptures many times follow this same pattern. In this particular layout of a biblical text, the most important idea is placed in the middle of its section and is surrounded on each side by parallel supporting details. You could say "X," where the outside concepts meet, marks the spot.
We could also think of the top half of the X and the bottom half of the X pointing towards the middle, heart, or most central point of the discussion. It's much like the bullseye of an intended target. The word Torah meaning God's instruction and direction, is rooted in an archery term that has to do with hitting the bullseye.
Kenneth E. Bailey, the author of several books that examine the Bible's varied literary structures, recommends thinking of this literary structure as a sandwich where the meat is in the middle. The central theme is surrounded by parallel texts on each side that detail the main point. They give both sides of the central theme's story.
Another fascinating fact that concerns chiasmus is that our vision is structured in the same way. It is called "optic chiasm." and displayed in the image above. The diagram illustrates how our brain processes sighted information. What a wonder that the Bible is structured according to the same pattern as our vision is. This design enables us to have depth perception and enables us to focus properly. Without both sides of information, we lose depth and focus. This concept could apply on a larger scale to both the Old and New Testaments. One without the other leaves us with an unbalanced and shallow understanding.
. . . one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.
— John 9:25
Our hearing uses chiastic type processes as well, and when we only hear from one ear, we lose both volume and direction. The Word of God is more audible and directional when we hear the parallel from both sides in stereo that leads us to the center conclusion.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
— Romans 10:17
No wonder Jesus spent so much time healing those who were blind and deaf.
The Third Plague—The Fourth Contest
The portion of Scripture we will look at illustrating the following lesson is considered the third plague but is the fourth contest brought forth through Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh if we include the casting down of the rod turning into a snake or alligator. I'm guessing alligator based upon the Hebrew word used in this text.
The contest is participated in by four human subjects, Moses and Aaron, on behalf of God, and Jannes and Jambres, on behalf of Pharoah.
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
— II Timothy 3:8-9
This particular contest does not get announced like the others.
The Chiastic Parallels
A ) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.’”
Central axis) They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt.
A) The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast.
Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (Pharaoh's heart was hardened four times), and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said ["as the Lord had said is used four times in the contest account (7:13, 7:22, 8:15, 8:19) in the creative account God spoke and it was].
— Exodus 8:16-19
The chiasm shows the combining of the "land of Egypt" in the first "A" and with "man and beast" in the second "A." The middle verse or central axis contains both of these elements "land of Egypt, "man and beast," only in reverse order.
Also, note that "the "dust of the earth" sandwiches "man and beast" in the middle."
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
— Genesis 2:7
I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.
— Ecclesiastes 3:18-20
There is also a chiasm with Egypt at the center that helps us understand that Egypt represents this earthly, dusty, and worldly life. The phrase "Land of Egypt" in this portion of Scripture is surrounded on both sides with a "dust of the earth" statement.
Dust of the Earth, Man and Beast, Land of Egypt—"This World
What does "dust of the earth," "land of Egypt," "man and beast" reveal? Humankind, without the breath of God in him, is nothing but a mere beast or in his most decomposed state, like the dust of the earth. He is subject to the physical laws of this physical realm and totally dependent upon God for his deliverance. God is also laying the foundation for us to associate Egypt as a type of "this world" metaphor as it will be used throughout the entirety of scripture. Jesus said
. . . you are of this world, I am not of this world.
— John 8:23
Now judgment is upon this world.
— John 12:31
. . . and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
— John 16:11
Paul also comments on this topic.
. . . in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
— Ephesians 2:2
We see all of these New Testament elements in the plagues of Egypt.
The Spiritual Contest in the Physical Realm
Each plague was designed by God to challenge the gods that Egypt worshiped. This particular one was the god Set, and he was considered the god of the earth or desert. There is a spiritual component and a challenge to this.
They made Him jealous with strange gods;
With abominations they provoked Him to anger.
They sacrificed to demons who were not God.
— Deuteronomy 32:16-18
The contest playing out in the physical realm was technically a "behind the scenes" spiritual battle.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck makes another possible suggestion.
"It also may have been directed against the Egyptian priesthood. The priests prided themselves in their purity with their frequent washings and shavings, and their wearing of linen robes. Here the Lord polluted the religionists with pesky insects."
We will see how both of these ideas will come together in a contest between Jesus and the religious rulers of His time when Jesus delivers a man from a demon by the finger of God.
The Finger of God
This portion of Scripture in Exodus chapter 8 caps off in verse 19 with the magicians who could not replicate the miracle as they had the others and declared to Pharaoh that
"This is the finger of God.”
— Exodus 8:19
"God showed these pagan people that He controlled the creation and could do with it as He wished".
— Forerunner commentary
The exact phrase "the finger of God" is used four times in Scripture. Three of them are in the Old Testament, and one of them is in the New. This forms a type of chiasm as well. The verse we are looking at is its very first occurrence and our first slice of bread.
The next two occurrences, which will be the meat of this revelation, are both related to the giving of the tablets of testimony (ten commandments)
When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.
— Exodus 31:8
The Lord gave me the two tablets of stone written by the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the Lord had spoken with you at the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.
— Deuteronomy 9:10
The fourth and final occurrence, the second slice of bread, is found in Luke chapter 11 when "people" identified as Pharisees, in Matthew, and further refined as scribes in Mark, accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebul. Jesus argues their ridiculous reasoning with some examples, and He concludes with
. . . if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
— Luke 11:19-20
The fact that they were Pharisee scribes would mean that they were very familiar with the Scriptures and most likely had them memorized. When Jesus uses this phrase "the finger of God," they knew that Jesus was pointing back to the first occasion of its use in Exodus when the Egyptian sorcerers had enough sense to recognize the work of God in their midst. Adam Clarke notes on this topic.
". . . they (Egyptian sorcerers) are convinced that no man could do these miracles which these holy men did, unless God were with him"
E. Woods, author of "The Finger of God," writes.
It follows that the final force of Jesus’ ‘finger of God’ statement would be that even the pagan Egyptian magicians had the good sense to finally recognize that this was the work of God in their midst, and not that of demons. (Acts 2.22)
Another chiastic parallel in Mark Chapter nine confirms this point.
A) Mar 9:11, Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first;
B) Mar 9:12a, He answered, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things;
central axis) Mar 9:12b, “And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?”
B) Mar 9:13, But Elijah has come + they did to him whatever they wished, as it is written;
A) Mar 9:14-16, When He came to the disciples, the scribes were disputing with them.
— Revealed chiasm "
— A Little Perspective by Christine Miller
We can see the two outer parallels represented by "A" include "scribes" and their responsibility to know "what is written" rather than argue as they were with Jesus.
Jesus' accusation points the finger at the possibility that they are false teachers and relying on some form of spiritual, witchcraft, and God-otherly magic to accomplish the same feat and not to glorify God but to bolster themselves. Timothy describes the many qualities of these false teachers and compares them to these very magicians.
. . . those holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power . . . their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
— II Timothy 3:9
Interestingly, this same scene in the book of Matthew connects "the finger of God" used in Luke with the Holy Spirit. This connection is why they get scolded for speaking against the work of the Holy Spirit. They should have known.
“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
— Matthew 12:31-32
Their own private political and religious self-promoting agendas skewed their reasonings. They were infuriated that the people were calling Him the "Son of David" and drawing attention away from their institution.
John's Gospel records another incident with a finger of Jesus, that may, once again, "point" to an accusation against these religious rulers, of not only false teaching and denial of His rightful Lordship but also adultery. The lesson begins when a woman gets brought before Jesus, who had just been caught in the very act of adultery. The scribes (experts in the law) and the Pharisees ask Jesus if they should stone her. Jesus understands that this is simply an attempt to entrap Him, but He has a more important lesson in mind for them.
Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience.
— John 8:6
Have you ever wondered what He wrote that so convicted their hearts? Jeremiah, the prophet, holds the key.
O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
“Those who depart from Me
Shall be written in the earth,
Because they have forsaken the Lord,
The fountain of living waters.
— Jeremiah 17:13
These were scribes and legal experts, and if Jesus was writing their names in the earth, as well as asking such a pointed question, they very well knew what He was trying to say. He was essentially accusing them of committing adultery against God. It was just before this, in chapter seven, that Jesus declared
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive
— John 7:37-39
This event occurs immediately after the rulers reject Jesus' authority and try to prevent others from believing in Him.
Recall that "the finger of God was used twice concerning the writing of the commandments by God. In between the writing of the two events, was God's delivered children turning from Him to another god by erecting the golden calf. Idolatry is adultery as far as God is concerned.
The man with whom she was committing adultery wasn't brought with her for the accusation. He was to be convicted as well, according to the law. This fact gives us an even more in-depth look into this lesson, in that they had excluded themselves from the equation.
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
— Matthew 7:5
The Central Point—The Ten Commandments
We see the outer parallels of "the finger of God" had to do with the contest between God and the evil forces exhibited in the arena of Egypt and played out between the faithful servants of God and the false magicians.
The New Testament enactment in Luke chapter eleven exhibits a common issue that Jesus regularly encounters with the Pharisees, and that is their challenge to His authority.
On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?”
— Luke 20:1-3
The Ten Commandments are the two center verses that attribute works to "the finger of God," as shown above in this phrase's four uses. It explains why Jesus was granted this authority, because He perfectly fulfilled them, which made Him the only one authorized to deliver and save.
Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, I find no guilt in this man.”
— Luke 23:4
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
— Hebrews 4:15
Of course, we see Him delegate this to His followers but only under His Lordship. He was the first man who had not transgressed the law which qualified Him to have dominion in the earth as Adam was supposed to do. Adam should have cast out that devil in the garden, and he would have had the authority to do so had he not sinned. After Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected, He appeared to His disciples saying.
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
— Matthew 28:18
There were four specifically named earthly representatives, called to go up to the mount Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu.
he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.
— Exodus 24:1
According to C.I. Scofield, in his commentary on Deuteronomy, the newly developed tribe of people under the Lordship of YHWH had four missions.
- To be a witness to the unity of God amid universal idolatry.
- To illustrate the greater blessedness of serving the one true God.
- To receive and preserve the divine revelation.
- To produce the Messiah, Earth's Savior, and Lord.
The Messiah/Christ was the
- Son of God
- Son of Man
- Son of Abraham
- Son of David
It was He who "brought us out," a phrase used 28 (4x7) times in scripture. Seven is the number of fulfillment. Our Messiah Savior came to the earth (4) and fulfilled (7) our obligation to the one who created us that we may live in a relationship with Him once again.
In the New Testament, Passover is mentioned 28 (4x7) times. The Passover Lamb types and shadows for us God's one and only Son who would bring us out by the shedding of His blood as the satisfactory payment for our sins. He brought us out by Jesus, our Passover Lamb.
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
— Acts 20:28
Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
— I Corinthians 5:7
The fingers of God is used in a Psalm to express the marvel with which God created the physical universe.
O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth . . .
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
— Psalm 8:1,3,4
The Territory of the Mind
This new creation of people descending from nomadic ancestors (a picture of our wandering state before Christ) was assured a permanent promised land (a view of eternal dwelling with God). Before their arrival, they received God's instructions and requirements, which included the task of taking possession of the land. Could it be that the "renewing of our mind," in our foundation verse, has to do with taking possession of the territory of our minds, as newly formed creations in Christ? There are four hemispheres of the brain (frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital), and we are to bring every sphere of it into submission to His Lordship?
. . . bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
— II Corinthians 10:4
God's original intention in the creation account was that man would be a vassal king under the Lordship of the King of Heaven. His purpose was to communicate and authorize the heavenly spiritual kingdom in the natural realm of the earth.
Charles Spurgeon keenly observes the four "gracious operations, through the desert of our nature" that occurs in those who make a straight path through repentance (meaning a change of mind) for the King to stake His claim on the territory of our souls.
- Every valley shall be filled
- And every mountain and hill brought low;
- The crooked places shall be made straight
- And the rough ways smooth;
— Luke 3:5
Considering that the brain consists of valleys and mountainous looking white matter that has been conformed to this world, isn't it a wonder that this is the language God uses. The visual He gives us in describing what He is going to do?
By what means does God make this transformation? God's life-changing attributes are revealed in the Bible's four descriptions of who God is in Scripture.
1. God is light.
— John 1:5
2. God is love.
— I John 4:8
3. God is Spirit.
— John 4:24
4. God is a consuming fire.
— Hebrews 12:29
We can note that each attribute has transforming qualities and purposes. God's nature changes our nature as we submit ourselves to Him and this work He wants to do in us.
. . . we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
— II Corinthians 3:18
The brain also has four ventricles that support the flow of our cerebral spinal fluids, which help the brain float. They consist of two lateral ventricles, the third ventricle, and the fourth ventricle.
The brain fully forms by the fourth week of preborn human development.
The four main criteria for identifying neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the brain:
- The chemical must be synthesized in the neuron or otherwise be present in it.
- When the neuron is active, the chemical must be released and produce a response in some target.
- The same response must be obtained when the chemical is experimentally placed on the target.
- A mechanism must exist for removing the chemical from its site of activation after its work is done.
— wikipedia online encyclopedia
The Fourth Book of the Bible—Numbers
The fourth book of the Bible in Hebrew is called B'Midbar (Gematria—248 or 4x62), which means "in the wilderness." Numbers, the English name was given to this book, chronicles the formative 40 (4x10) years from Egypt to the land of promise.
The wilderness in Scripture is a type and figure of life in this physical created realm. It depicts for us our formative years of our being transFOURmed from the time we accept Christ and His deliverance until our promised eternity with Him.
Christ, Himself was tested in the "earthly" wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, recorded in Luke chapter four, which is forty-four verses long. The children of Israel failed this test when they were in the wilderness without Moses for 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus passed the test on our behalf.
C.I. Scofield observes that God used four ways to develop and discipline his children in their wilderness journey to the promised land.
- the Red Sea,
- Marah (bitter waters),
- Elim (12 wells of water and 70 palms),
- and Sinai.
He also gives us the New Testament application to these four stations.
- the Red Sea relative to the cross,
- Marah turning our bitterness into a blessing,
- Elim God's power of rest and provision, and refreshment,
- and Sinai, the experience and practice of holiness.
In chapter 16 of this book, a rebellion concerning the priesthood arises involving Korah, a fourth-generation son from Levi.
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi.
— Numbers 16:1
This generational intro of the phrase, the"son of," spans 400 years. The iniquity of violence that occurred at Shechem is, at this time, visited upon this generation of his descendants. Consider that the vengeance exacted at Shechem for raping Levi's sister Dinah was usurping his father Jacob's authority and instruction, much like is occurring in this instance.
After two challenges of authority and rebellion against God, resulting in a bunch of folks being swallowed up, and others plagued, Frank E Gaebelein sums up this chapter with four "new" observations.
"at last, there will be no more offense. Surely now there is
- a new beginning for
- a new people
- a new generation
- a new day"
— The Expositor's Bible Commentary
This book establishes the positioning of the tribes around the tabernacle that is central to the layout. The tribal census counts, for each tribe, in both Numbers chapter one and Numbers 26, are all divisible by four except for the tribe of Gad in the first account and Reuben in the second. These two ended up being a 1/2 number when divided by four. Interesting that both Gad and Reuben settled on the other side of the Jordan. Eight (4x2) names of the tribal leaders include the word El which means God and is the first revealed name of God in Genesis relating to him creating all things.
Numbers also establishes the positioning and purposes of the four-part priesthood.
- Moses and Aaron—east
All the people were numbered and divisible by four, showing us the way to meet with and walk with the Holy God while we live on the earth. He, their creator, covenants to be with His people through the sacrificial system. It is also entirely noteworthy that this layout forms the shape of a cross with its four arms facing four directions.
In Numbers, chapter 9:23, God's covenant name is recited four times, referring to His establishing how He will lead His people on the earth. The account is a metaphor revealing that the only way to live our physical existence in any truly purposeful way is in obedience to the one who created us. We cooperate with His work by making Him and His indescribable gift and sacrifice of His one and only Son the central most important focus of our lives.
. . . by the command of Jehovah they encamp, and by the command of Jehovah they journey; the charge of Jehovah they have kept, by the command of Jehovah in the hand of Moses
— Numbers 9:23 (Young's Literal Translation)
It is also relevant to understand that the Abrahamic covenant underlies the writing of Numbers, which consisted of four main promises concerning its establishment.
- and nations.
According to the New IVP Bible Commentary, four types of writing within this narrative provides the framework of the book.
- and speeches
Fours in the Tabernacle and Wilderness
The wilderness Tabernacle was the earthly structure where, before Christ, man would meet with God.
There were four colors used in its construction; blue, white, purple, and scarlet. There were four bowls made like almond blossoms on the Menorah. There were four coverings to the tabernacle; woven linen, goats hair, ram's skins dyed red, and badger skins. There were also four materials of gold, silver, brass, and wood. Manna had a fourfold description; small, white, round, and sweet. There were four spices for incense and four spices for the oil.
Cities of Refuge
The "cities of Refuge" is brought up four times in the book of Numbers, the fourth book of the Bible.
These were cities set aside for the man who slew another without intent that the shedding of innocent blood would not defile the land which God had given them. The person who unintentionally killed someone could flee to one of these cities and live in safety within the boundaries, from the avenger of blood until the High Priest died, at which point he was allowed to live freely. This law illustrates for us Christ our city of refuge. When He died for our sins, He freed us and cleansed us of our guilt.
In her book "Jesus Christ the Number of His Name," Bonnie Gaunt makes this interesting observation concerning the dimensions of these cities.
"They were to be a square within a square. The inner square was the city, and the outer square surrounding it was the suburb used for pasturing their cattle and for gardens, etc. Each side of the suburbs measured 4000 cubits, giving a perimeter of 16,000 cubits, while the city had sides of 2000 cubits, making a perimeter of 8,000 cubits.
In Joshua chapter 21, the realization of this occurs after the taking possession of the land where "four cities," referring to the cities of refuge, occurs 8 (4x2) times.
Four hundred years later, Solomon built a temple based on the number four. The Most Holy Place is 20 (4x5) cubits square, and the Holy Place attached to it was 40 cubits in length and 20 cubits in width.
The Fourth Book of Psalms
Some further revelations from Numbers in Scripture, by E.W. Bullinger, reveals that the book of Psalms at the heart of the Bible affirms the number four and its connection with the created earth. The Book of Psalms is divided into five sections. The fourth one is from Psalm 90-106.
"In the fourth book of the Psalms (which corresponds with the fourth book of the Bible—Numbers) all its illustrations and metaphors are drawn from the earth."
This fourth section opens with "A prayer of Moses"—the man of the wilderness. Both Numbers and Psalms concern the wilderness experience, which is illustrative of our pilgrimage through the wilderness of life on the earth.
Bullinger also notes that this section of the Psalms reveals
"God's counsels and purposes are celebrated with regard to the earth, and the nations of the earth from ruin to glory . . . sin has come into the world, and ruined, not merely man, but the earth itself . . . it's figures are from this wilderness/world; as mountains, hills, floods, grass, pestilence, trees . . . Happiness for the world will be found only when He. "Whose right it is", shall come again to reign and "judge the world in righteousness". In Christ, the coming King, not only Israel, but all the nations of the earth, will be blessed. This is the theme of the book."
Once again, we see the themes of transformation, creation, destruction, and re-creation exhibited with the number four.
Bullinger categorized this book into three sections, which hints at the spiritual component to our experience as exhibited in terms of rest.
- "Rest for the Earth Desired" (Psalm 91-94),
- "Rest for the Earth Anticipated" (Psalm 95-100),
- "Rest for the Earth Celebrated" (Psalm 101-105)
The structure of this Psalm can be viewed online for free from several sources by a simple search of Bullinger Companion Bible PDF, that further detail and confirm this revelation. He also makes the following revelation concerning the progressive revelation of both the Books of Moses and the sections of the Psalms.
The book has to do with the earth and the nations, as the first book (1-41) had to do with MAN the second book (42-72) with Israel and the third book (73- 89) with the sanctuary.
Further notes on Psalms four and creation
"the First book of the Psalms, the fourth psalm has to do with the earth . . . The fourth Psalm of all the other books of Psalms tell of Dominion in the earth and they speak of the coming reign of earth's rightful King and Lord"
The Hebrew word aretz, translated "earth" in many cases and sometimes as the land, is used 44 times in this fourth book of Psalms. Recall that this Hebrew phrase "the land" has a gematria of 296, which is 4x74.
The Four Cornered Garment
The fourth book of the Bible Numbers also records a command that concerns the four corners of a man's garment.
The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves; tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.”
— Numbers 15:37-41
“You shall make yourself tassels (intertwined threads) on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.
These tassels, known as "tzitzit" in Hebrew, is mentioned four times in the Scriptures and is made with four strands. The root of this word means to produce a flower or blossom. God's commands should not seem loathsome but a pleasantry that flowers, blossoms, and produces.
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
— I John 5:1-4
John D. Garr, author of "The Hem of His Garment," explains the biblical history of this particular garment and alludes to the idea that it was this corner, fringe, or tassel for which the woman with the issue of blood was reaching.
He also alludes to how it was symbolic of the four corners of creation and the four directions as we looked at earlier in this study. He then explains that it was to raise a man's consciousness to consider the Creator and Lord of the Universe and man's expected loyalty to all that the King of Creation would command.
He quotes Psalm 24 (studied earlier in this article) about this. And I would like to, therefore, look at a chiasm found in this Psalm that confirms God's righteous requirement for loyalty through obedience in all spheres (four corners) of life. These enable us to have a relationship with God and live a productive life. These also testify to the four corners of the world His worthiness. The woman's faith in Jesus's righteousness is what makes this woman's touching of the tzitzit of Jesus so compelling. She believed that Jesus had been sinlessly obedient and therefore knew that He had the authority and power of heaven standing there in her midst.
The Psalm opens with
The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,The world, and those who dwell in it For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the rivers.
— Psalm 24:1
The following is a chiastic look at a few verses from Psalm 24.
A) Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?
central axis) He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
A) Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully He shall receive a blessing from the Lord.
— Psalm 24:2-5
We see that the central axis tells us that the only one qualified to commune with God and receive His blessing is the one with clean hands and a pure heart; one who perfectly "remembered" the commands of God and did them.
The woman who touched the hem or of Jesus garment was possibly a Gentile, representing the Gospel that would go forth into the whole world receiving God's blessing, not because of our own righteousness but reaching to the tzitzit (His righteousness) to deliver us from our "issue of blood"(sin).
This ties in with the four-cornered sheet that Peter saw come down from heaven that concerned the reception of the Gentiles. Was the sheet similar to this four-tasseled garment that was intended to cover all who would come to Him and be saved from their sin?
Assembly of the Four Tassles
The assembly of these four tassels consisted of four strands that passed through four holes and doubled over to appear as eight (4x2). A complex system of knots and windings, of which there are four sections, is made with these strands and results in knots and wrappings that hang down four inches.
The blue hearkens back to the original giving of the Ten Commandments and the very throne of God expressing God's desire to rule and reign in the earth through the hearts of men.
. . . they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire (used 12—4x3 times) stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity . . . Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written.
— Exodus 24:12
. . . there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
— Ezekiel 10:1
It is speculated that the above-mentioned stone tablets were possibly made of sapphire. The Hebrew root of the word "sapphire" means "to inscribe with letters" and is also used as an accounting term. We know that Hebrew letters were also used as a numbering system, so it all adds up.
Balaam's Four Oracles
The book of Numbers, the fourth book of the bible, records a transitional scene in Israel's history that occurred just before their entrance into the promised land.
At the end of forty years of wilderness wandering, Balak, the king of Moab, was deeply disturbed by the children of Israel's military victories as well as their growing population. He decided to hire the famous occult diviner, Balaam, who lived 400 miles away, to curse Israel for him.
Balaam makes three attempts to curse Israel. The first being
“Who can count the dust of Jacob,
Or number one-fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous,
And let my end be like his!”
— Numbers 23:10
Some translate "one-fourth" as the fourth part. Both interpretations include the idea of the entire sphere of Israel divided into four groups that canvas the four directions of the earth North, South, East, and West.
Balaam ends up blessing them instead because what God has blessed cannot be cursed. He finally speaks a fourth Oracle that contains the foretelling of their coming Messiah King to the earth out of them.
“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel . . . "
— Numbers 24:17
The "Liberty Bible Commentary of the Old and New Testament makes this note concerning this verse and how the number four explains something that will occur in the natural physical realm of great significance.
"Israel was to be exalted as a kingdom, It was not simply that Yahweh was their king, but that they were to have a human monarch"
— J. Barton Payne
In his fourth oracle, he properly prophecies that the Messiah King will visit the earth in a physical human form, and He will descend from them, specifically. It was also foretold that He would be heralded by a star, symbolizing a great king's birth and brightness.
An interesting note is that Balaam was considered a Magi who spoke of this star that would be sought out by the Magi from the east when Christ came. The star speaks of heaven's witness of who He is.
The "star" is a fourth-day creation.
The Fourth Tribe
Judah was the fourth son of Jacob and became the head of one of the twelve tribes that God used to develop into the nation of Israel. The first three sons of Jacob were disqualified from the status of firstborn rights and privileges. The tribe of Judah was positioned on the east side and entrance to the tabernacle. They were the first tribe to bring the first-day offerings upon the establishment and dedication of the wilderness tabernacle order of worship. They were also the first tribe to be dispatched for battle. And they were the first to receive their inheritance upon entering the land of promise. The Davidic kingdom arose from the tribe of Judah. It is the tribe from which the savior Lord Jesus would come.
Deuteronomy 28 Four Blessings and Four Curses
The book of Deuteronomy, meaning "the Words" in Hebrew, records the final instructions given to the children of Israel just before entering the land of promise.
The 28th chapter lists four categories of blessing in verses three through six, expressing the great consequence of a pleasant life in the land/earth to those who would be faithful to God and the covenant He made with them. Notice verse four contains four items concerning the development of fruit.
Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
Blessed shall be
- the fruit of thy body,
- and the fruit of thy ground,
- and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine,
- and the flocks of thy sheep.
Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
— Deuteronomy 28:3-6
Blessings are further detailed as the chapter moves along and precedes a matching set of four categories of curses that detail the consequence of setting foot outside the covenant agreement and committing adultery against God. Life in the land on the earth, as described, will become frightful and uncovered. Once again, a repetition of four fruitful items is mentioned.
1. Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
2. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
3. Cursed shall be
- the fruit of thy body, and
- the fruit of thy land,
- the increase of thy kine, and
- the flocks of thy sheep.
4. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
— Deuteronomy 29:16-19
We see how God is issuing the instructions that will either develop and establish them or destroy them.
The book of Joshua is the first of twelve (4x3) historical books. Joshua—Esther according to C.I. Scofield in his Bible commentary . . .
"The story of the Historical Books is the story of the rise and fall of the Commonwealth of Israel, while prophets foretell the future restoration and glory of that under King Messiah . . . The book of Joshua specifically records the consummation of the redemption of Israel out of Egypt"
Joshua falls into four parts:
- The conquest, 1-12.
- The partition of the inheritance, 13-21.
- The incipient discord, 22.
- Joshua's last counsels and death, 23,24.
In appointing cities for the Levites, 48 (4x12) in all, in Joshua chapter 21, "four cities" in each territory is the common theme, except for Judah/Simeon with nine and Naphtali with three.
Crossing the Jordan
Crossing over the Jordan into the promised land is the major theme of this book. The east side of the Jordan represents our physical earthly life, and the promised land on the "other side" of the Jordan represents our spiritual inheritance through Christ.
The book of Deuteronomy, the fourth book, records God's words and instructions to the children of Israel just before their crossing over to the promised land. The Hebrew word "avar," meaning "to cross over" or "pass-through," is used 44 times in this book and receives four mentions in the fourth chapter. This fourth chapter also mentions four things created on the fourth day, referring to things that we ought not to worship.
take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see
- the sun,
- the moon,
- and the stars,
- all the host of heaven.
— Deuteronomy 4:19
The Jordan river's upper four sources:
- Hasbani (Snir in Hebrew),
- The Dan,
- and The Banias
The lower four tributaries are The
- Yarmouk River,
- Zarqa (Jabbok in Hebrew) River,
- and Jabesh.
These rivers' names are significant concerning the Jordan being filled with the things that we must cross over to get to the other side.
- Ayun means ruin
- "Snir" means a noisy clattering and clanking.
- Dan means to judge and is rooted in a word meaning strive and contend.
- "Banais" means son of mischief and hurt.
- Yarmuk means a high place could allude to pride.
- Jabbok means "empty" and reaches the Jordan river at Adam.
- Jalud meaning born, a
- and Jabesh means dryness and confusion.
There is no particular order to this list. Still, I think each word captures an element of being born and beginning at a lowly state in Adam into a prideful empty dry existence, leading to a ruinous, noisy, contentious, mischief bearing life.
Joshua, in this case, is a picture of Jesus, the same name, by the way, leading the way through this, impossible without Him, river.
The Book of Judges
hThe book of Judges takes place with the generations following Joshua. This period is said to span a time of about 400 years. Four times in this book, it is noted that
In those days there was no king in Israel.
— Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19;1 21:25
The first and last of these four, add this clause to the observation.
. . . and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
— Judges 17:6, 21:25
We could view this as a chiasm. The two outer occurrences of the four "there was no king in Israel" includes the phrase "everyone did what was right in their own eyes." They bookend an incident involving the Danites. This particular tribe could not conquer their allotted land and subsequently viciously attacked a harmless group of folks to the far north. These people were quiet and causing no harm, and they were not in treaty with anyone that could help them. The two outer additional phrase inclusion informs the reader that this was not with God's approval. The four total "king" phrases express that they were leaning solely on tangible reasoning and not being Spirit-led.
The Danites had hired a fickle priest who was abducted by Micah, a man who lived in the territory of Ephraim. In the process, the Danites stole four idolatrous things used by Micah and his priest as consultants. These actions indicated the worldliness of the people and the priesthood of this time.
- and teraphim,
- and a graven image,
- and a molten image
— Judges 18:14
A little background note, In chapter 17, we read that it is Micah's mother who makes the graven and molten images for him after he had stolen her money.
"Micah's mother makes and idol: and Micah expects the blessing of Jehovah because he has linked his idolatry to the ancient levitical order"
— C.I. Scofield
Micah reaped what he had sown while living by the dictates of the flesh nature and yet serving the Lord.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
— Galations 6:7-8
The second and middle event of our chiasm concerning "there was no king in Israel" clauses is the gruesome account of a Levitical priest who had a concubine who "played the whore" and went home to her father's house for four months. After these four months, her husband "arose and went after her." He abode with his father-in-law for three days. A transition occurs on the "fourth day." The Levitical priest arose to leave, but the father talked him into staying one more day. The following day, the father-in-law tries to convince him to stay and pleads with him until evening (the time of the day for pitching tents for the night). It is at this time he decides to leave for home. The servant who is with him tries to talk him into staying in a town named Jebus occupied by Jebusites, but the priest refuses and insists on going to Gibeah (mentioned 24/4x6 times in Judges). Gibeah was an Israelite city that was four miles beyond Jebus. Both cities belonged to Benjamin.
A note concerning patterns before we move along; Benjamin is the tribe that Israel's first fleshly king Saul will come from, and he establishes his capital in Gibeah.
When the priest, his concubine, and his servant get to Gibeah hoping to take shelter for the night, they go to the city square because no one would take them in for the night. Travelers of this time were entirely dependent upon the hospitality of strangers. An older man, an Ephraimite who was temporarily lodging in this community, came in from working in the field invites them in. He asks them, "Where do you come from, and where are you going"? "Where are you going" is used four times in the Old Testament (Gen 16:8/Hagar, Gen 32:17/Esau, Judges 19:17/Levitical priest, Zechariah 2:2/Zechariah in the measuring of the city). The priest replies that he is coming from Bethlehem, meaning house of bread, and returning to Ephraim, meaning fruits.
Frank E. Gaebelein in his Expositors Bible Commentary notes . . .
"This Ephraimite was residing in Gibeah on a temporary basis, somewhat as Lot had been living in Sodom (Gen 19:9) Like Lot, the old man did not share the morals of the towns people."
What happens next is deplorable. The townspeople, Benjamite men, come beating on the door and demanding that the older man send out the Levitical priest so that they can rape him. Once again, this is reminiscent of the Sodom and Gomorrah account. Things had deteriorated in this tribe to that degree. Ancient laws of hospitality dictated, a horrifying to the modern mind, solution.
lo, my daughter, the virgin, and his concubine, let me bring them out, I pray you, and humble ye them, and do to them that which is good in your eyes, and to this man do not this foolish thing.'
— Judges 19:24
Recall that this was the same solution Lot came concocted. Nothing gets mentioned about the offered virgin, but the concubine gets tossed out to the wicked men, and she is abused all night by them. She is discovered in the morning, dead, and clinging to the threshold of the door. Recall four's association with "door."
The Levitical priest decides to cut up the woman's body into twelve (4x3) pieces. He sends each tribe a portion with the intention of stirring up indignation, causing the situation to be dealt with militarily. Again we see this repeated with Saul at Gibeah when he cuts up an ox and sends its parts throughout Israel to muster up an army against an enemy.
Initially, they confronted Benjamin's tribe by requiring them to give up the men who did this, but they refused.
Four hundred thousand men of Israel drew a sword from the eleven tribes to go up against Benjamin, and forty thousand of them died in the first two battles. With the first two attempts, they asked the Lord if they should do this, and God said, "yes." So why weren't they successful the first two times, but they were victorious on the third? After two failed attempts, they decide to do something different.
Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
— Judges 20:26
They had forgotten the sacrifice on the other two occasions. Therefore, they were going into battle in their own human, natural, physical strength, and that is why they were defeated. Recall when the children of Israel went up to defeat Ai and could not overcome them because of Achan's sin? They also placed their confidence in the size of their army, and the smallness of the opposing tribe became defeated. Recall the "I brought you out" phrases 28 (4x7) times in Scripture. And remember Christ's command "Do this in remembrance of me" (remembrance in Greek New Testament used four times; Luke 22:19, I Cor.11:24-25 Heb 10:3)
. . . beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out (this phrase used 28 - 4x7 times) of the land of Egypt , from the house of bondage.
— Deuteronomy 6:12
Forgetting God and recalling where our real victory comes from, Jesus Christ alone is our only path to victory in this world.
Benjamin is defeated, and 600 men escape. They dwelt in the Rock Rimmon (site of the former city of Ai) for four months. These men would be the remnant that would redevelop the tribe. The wives for this rebuilding would be 400 virgins from Jabesh Gilead, the one city that did not go up and help fight. Israel sent 12,000 (4x3000) men to destroy these inhabitants to obtain the brides for the subsequent development.
Jabesh Gilead, a town east of the Jordan, meaning the dry and rocky place, is mentioned in four books of the Bible (Judges, I Samuel, II Samuel, and I Chronicles). Jabesh alone is used 24 (4x6) times and in combination with Gilead 12 (4x3) times.
We can see that the two outer occurrences of "there was no King in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes" clauses sandwich two cases of gross idolatry and the vile results thereof.
When trouble visited the children of Israel, most generally as a result of not following God's ways and worshiping false idols, they would cry out to the Lord, and He would mercifully appoint a judge or leader, similar to the chief of a tribe, who would raise up a force to defeat their oppressors.
The book of Judges chapter eleven records an event that revolves around a son of Gilead named Jephthah. His mother was a harlot, and he was rejected by the other sons of Gilead, who were from his legitimate wife. Jephthah moves away and becomes a strong warrior. Once again, when Israel begins to be oppressed by their enemies, the sons of Gilead run to Jephthah and ask him to lead up the army. Jephthah makes mention of the fact that they, earlier, had rejected him but accepted the challenge.
His first order of business was to confront the king of Ammon by messenger and recounting that the accusations and justifications for making war with Israel are unfounded. In this account, the Hebrew word "avar," meaning "to cross over," is used four times to describe the process by which they crossed over to the territory God had given them.
Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying,
- “Please let me (avar) pass through your land.” But the king of Edom would not heed. And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent.
- So Israel remained in Kadesh.And they went along through the wilderness and by passed the land of Edom and the land of Moab, came to the east side of the land of Moab, and encamped on the other side (avar) of the Arnon. But they did not enter the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him,
- “Please let us pass through (avar) your land into our place.”
- But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through (avar) his territory.
So Sihon gathered all his people together, encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.
— Judges 11:17-20
Ammon's king did not care, and this theme of crossing over is used four times once again about Jephthah's advancement towards the Ammonites through Gilead.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah,
- and he passed through (avar) Gilead and Manasseh,
- and passed through (avar) Mizpah of Gilead;
- and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced (avar) toward the people of Ammon. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
- So Jephthah advanced (avar) toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the Lord delivered them into his hands.
And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith—twenty cities—and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
— Judges 11:29-32
You might notice a little disturbing vow that Jephthah makes to God to secure his victory in offering as a burnt offering whatever comes out of his doors, upon his return home, to meet him. Ken Bailey, who was raised in the Middle East, explains that in an ancient Middle Eastern home, the animals were brought into a section of the house for the night and let out in the morning. Therefore, Jephthah would be expecting an animal to be coming out of the doors of his home.
This explanation also applies to Christ's birth with the thought that Jesus most likely was born in a home and not what we would think of like a barn. The manger was generally located at the end of the living area of the house where the animals, on a slightly lower level, could eat. The verse that records that there was no room at the "inn" is most likely not referring to a hotel but a guest room that most homes had to accommodate the stringent rules concerning hospitality. The verse is telling us why Jesus was placed in the manger of this family home. It was because the guest room was already occupied.
Back to our story, upon Jephthah's return, an animal does not come out of the doors of his home, but instead, much to his regret, it is his daughter. His daughter encourages him to do as he has promised the Lord but asks that she may, first, go and mourn her virginity with her friends for two months.
And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man.
And it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite
— Judges 11:39-40
There were twelve (4x3) total judges and eight (4x2) mentioned specifically as such, recorded in this book.
Frank E. Gaebelein writes in his "Expositors Bible Commentary" . . .
"The purpose of the book of Judges is to show that Israel's spiritual condition determined its political and material situation. When the nation turned to God in obedience, God graciously sent deliverers to rescue the people from oppression. When they disregarded Joshua's warnings and worshiped the gods of Canaan, the nation came under tyrants and invaders"
This situation in Judges is so very consistent with our understanding of four and physically created things that are subject to change for good or bad.
There is also a fourfold "forty-year" sin cycle in the book of judges that follows with
- doing evil in the sight of the Lord
- judgment in the form of enemy oppression
- They would repent and cry out to the Lord
- then God would send a deliverer.
In chapter nine of Judges, beginning with verse seven, there is an incident with Gideon's son Abimelech who took it upon himself to make himself a ruler. He killed 70 of his brothers in the process of establishing himself as a ruler. One brother escaped whose name was Jotham. The men of Shechem declare Abimelech as king, and when Jotham hears about this, he tells them a parable about four trees in hopes that they will see the ridiculousness of their decision.
Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted his voice and cried out. And he said to them: “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, That God may listen to you! “The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them.
- And they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I cease giving my oil, With which they honor God and men, And go to sway over trees?’
- “Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us!’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit, And go to sway over trees?’
- Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us!’ But the vine said to them, ‘Should I cease my new wine, Which cheers both God and men, And go to sway over trees?’
- “Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us!’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you, Then come and take shelter in my shade; But if not, let fire come out of the bramble And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’
— Judges 9:7-15
Trees in Scripture can represent leaders and kingdoms, which are also consistent with what four are revealing. Here we see a parable that very much fits the culture we see today where "everyone does what is right in his own eyes" The leaders we choose are those we seem to think will best accommodate our idolatrous wishes.
Judges Chapter Four
Judges chapters four and five records the account of Deborah, Israel's fourth and only female judge. She was also a wife, counselor, and warrior. Recall that during this time was when "Israel had no king, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes," mentioned four times in the book altogether. Her announcement to the recording of her service is in verse four.
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.
— Judges 4:4
At this time, Israel was in its fourth cycle of a four-step process of worshiping idols, suffering the consequence, crying out to the Lord, and the Lord rescuing by raising up a leader to help them.
God gives them the victory over their enemies, and the scriptures record that they had rest for forty years after this.
In Judges, chapter five records a victory song about the event depicting the cause, result, and rescue.
Four earthly manifestations of God's power is demonstrated in this song.
- The earth trembled and
- The heavens poured,
- The clouds also poured water;
- The mountains gushed before the Lord
This Sinai, before the Lord God of Israel.
— Judges 5: 4-5
Verse eight of this song says that the Israelites were utterly defenseless in terms of their human ability and if it had not been for the Lord on their side.
They chose new gods;
Then there was war in the gates;
Not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.
— Judges 5:8
Forty thousand without weapons is indicating that their victory would not be a natural one.
Awake is used four times in the song and expresses the prophetic office that Deborah held. Her name means bee and is derived from the Hebrew word for "Word" with the idea of bringing order. She was the wife of Lapidoth, meaning fiery torch. Her prophecy was the "fiery" word that scattered the chaos and brought order back into Israel's camps. The idea of light bringing order is similar to the Genesis "beginning" narrative. It depicted in the earlier verses of four and five ( a thought borrowed from "Grace in the Torah.com)
- awake, Deborah!
- awake, sing a song!
— Judges 5:12
The word "fought" is also used four times in this song depicting an earthly battle fought on a heavenly front.
“The kings came and fought,
Then the kings of Canaan fought . . .
— Judges 5:19
They fought from the heavens;
The stars (fourth day creation) from their courses fought against Sisera.
— Judges 5:20
The fighting theme tells us that there is a heavenly spiritual war being waged on the earth and through the created realm.
In verse fifteen of Deborah's song, Issachar, mentioned four times in Genesis, who began his tribe with four sons, and received the fourth allotment of land, along with sixteen (4x4) towns, is mentioned in terms of assisting in the victory.
The princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
Issachar was with Barak.
— Judges 5:15
In the record of David's army at Hebron (formerly Kiriath Arba meaning a city of four), Issachar is also acknowledged for four things.
of the sons of Issachar who
- had understanding of the times (fourth day objects of measuring time created)
- to know what Israel ought to do
- their chiefs were two hundred
- and all their brethren were at their command.
— I Chronicles 12:32
He is also thought to have been born on the fourth of Av, according to Rabbinical literature.
The Book of Ruth
The book of Ruth is four chapters long and images the gentile bride of Christ. The narrative begins with four Israelites from the promised land who turn to their enemy neighbors Moab for relief during a famine in their homeland. These four were Naomi, Elimelech, and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion.
The storyline develops as Noami's husband and two sons died while in Moab. Her sons had married gentile brides from the region, and one, namely Ruth, was faithful to travel back to Naomi's homeland of Israel with her. Upon their return, Ruth meets and marries Boaz, who redeems her husband's land and marrying her.
". . . and she gave birth to a son"
— Ruth 4:13
The above phrase is used four times in Scripture with the birth of Seth, Obed (Ruth and Boaz's son), Samuel, and Solomon.
The story then concludes with a family of four, just like it began.
- and Obed (son of Boaz and Ruth - King David's grandfather)
King David was the fourth generation from Boaz.
God Calls Samuel four Times
The book follows the book of Ruth is the book of First Samuel. It is here where having judges rule transitions to having a king takes place.
At the end of his life, Samuel acknowledges four Judges before there was a king in Israel, that the Lord sent to deliver His people. Samuel is the last of those Judges, and then comes the Kingdom.
. . . the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety.
— I Samuel 12:11
His call from the Lord is repeated four times and begins in verse four, and it is the fourth call that a transition or change takes place. God calls his name twice in that instance, and Samuel responds to the Lord's voice.
- the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
- The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.”Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him.
- So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy. And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
- Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
— I Samuel 3:4-10
This transition in chapter four begins with a battle with the Philistines in which four thousand Israelite men are killed, and the ark becomes captured. Eli, the priest of the time who had been chief for forty years, and his sons, all die as was foretold. They went to battle in their own natural physical strength and power. The Spirit of God was not with them.
Four Slain Giants
Second Samuel records the history of King David and his military exploits.
The beginning of David's military career begins with him defeating the giant Goliath some 400 years after the defeat of Og by Israel, another giant.
The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) has the height of Goliath at four cubits. The only Hebrew text of I Sam 17:4 found among the Dead Sea Scrolls also reads “four,” and the Jewish historian Josephus describes Goliath as, “a man of vast bulk, for he was of four cubits and a span in tallness.6”.
This account notes that four of Jesse's sons go down to the battle with the Philistines and Goliath. Three to fight full time, and one went back and forth from serving the King and tending the sheep.
The three oldest sons of Jesse had gone to follow Saul to the battle. The names of his three sons who went to the battle were . . .
- Eliab the firstborn, next to him
- Abinadab, and the third
- David was the youngest.
And the three oldest followed Saul. But David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
— I Samuel 17:13-15
David, the youngest and fourth of those who went down, ends up fighting the battle. David is the type and shadow of the Messiah King in this account. He images how He both serves "The King" Father God and tends the sheep yet ultimately defeats all of our formidable foes!
By the end of II Samuel, David's life is wrapping up, and there is another battle involving giants. There were a total of four of them possibly related to Goliath.
These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.
— II Samuel 22:22
An interesting description is given for one of them that appears to be unnamed.
And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.
— II Samuel 21:20
So this giant had 24 (4x6) fingers and toes.
Another notable giant in Scripture is recorded in Deuteronomy, whose bed was four cubits wide.
“For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.”
— Deuteronomy 3:11
One more giant.
Arba (four), the father of Anak
he was the father of Anak who was the father of that giant race called the Anakim. (See Josh. 15:13; Josh. 21:11). Josh. 14:15 adds:
“And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba (city of four); which Arba was a great man among the Anakims ….”
— "Answers in Genesis
David's name occurs a total of 1076 (4x269) times in the Old Testament
Saul is the Fourth to Prophesy
In I Samuel chapter 19, Saul is in hot pursuit of David, in a jealous rage over David's military victories. He knows the kingdom has been torn from him, as Samuel had prophesied, and he is doing everything in his power to prevent it. He sent messengers three times to get David, but his plan unravels when each group runs into some prophesying prophets, then he begins prophesying himself.
Then Saul sent messengers to take David. And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. And when Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. Then Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. Then he also went to Ramah, and came to the great well that is at Sechu. So he asked, and said, “Where are Samuel and David?”
And someone said, “Indeed they are at Naioth in Ramah.” So he went there to Naioth in Ramah. Then the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on and prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah.
— I Samuel 17:20-23
Saul is fourth and final to arrive, and he ends up prophesying too. God's plan will prevail despite any natural human effort. The Amplified translates this truth well.
There is no [human] wisdom or understanding or counsel [that can prevail] against the Lord.
— Proverbs 21:30
Saul was king of Israel for 40 years.
David's 400 Men
In I Samuel chapter 22, David is on the run from Saul and hiding out in the cave of Adullam. Four types of people come to him there, which amount to about 400 men.
David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his . . .
- brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.
- And every one that was in distress, and
- every one that was in debt, and
- every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him;
. . . and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
— I Samuel 22:1-2
These four show us the development and establishment of Davids' rule that included his family, along with a worldly bunch, the distressed, in debt, and discontent. Sounds like those to whom the Gospel was invitational to—all the "whosoever's."
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
— Romans 10:13
This particular event is the beginning of the fourth of four divisions and is the book's transition point.
- The story of Samuel to the death of Eli, 1:1-4:22.
- From the taking of the ark to the demand for a king, 5:1-8:22.
- The reign of Saul to the call of David, 9:1-15:35.
- From the call of David to the death of Saul, 16:1-31:13.
— Scofield's notes
After Saul dies, the kingdom of David becomes established.
J. Vernon McGee makes an interesting observation that concerns this development and our number four and its connection with the earth in his Thru the Bible commentary.
"David is going to be schooled and trained in the caves of the earth . . . He is forced to hide in the forests to escape the king's wrath"
Additionally, David makes four fowl references in describing his situation.
- "I am hunted like a partridge" (I Samuel 26:20)
- "I am like a pelican in the wilderness" (Psalm 102:6)
- "I am like an owl of the desert" (Psalm 102:6)
- "I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop (Psalm 102:6)
"400 men" is mentioned four times in I Samuel (I Samuel 22:2, 25:13, 30:10, 30:17)
The Davidic Covenant and the Messianic Kingdom
The fourfold Davidic Covenant found in II Samuel chapter 7 foreshadows the establishment of God's Kingdom on the earth, David being a type of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords that the Messiah will be. It is also the fourth Covenant after the fall that God makes with man.
Psalm 89, referring to this Covenant, recites four created things that are in God's possession.
- The heavens are Yours,
- the earth also is Yours
- The world
- and all it contains
You have founded them.
— Psalm 89:11
Scofield notes, in relationship to the Davidic Covenant, that it establishes four things.
- a house
- a throne
- a kingdom
- and perpetuity.
Walter Kaiser suggests at least four significant moments in biblical history that supply for progressive revelation.
- the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12, 15, 17;
- the promise declared to David in 2 Samuel 7;
- the promise outlined in the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31,
- and the day when many of these promises found initial realization in the death and resurrection of Christ.
— Michael A. Grisanti Associate Professor of Old Testament
The phrase "I will be his Father" is stated four times in the Old Testament concerning the development and establishment of the Davidic Kingdom and Covenant.
Psalm 89—Davidic Covenant
Psalms 89:10-12 is the Psalm of the Davidic covenant discusses four possessions of God's creation along with an expression of directional entirety.
Thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.
- The heavens are thine,
- the earth also is thine:
- as for the world
- and the fullness thereof,
thou hast founded them.
1. The north
2. and the south
thou hast created them:
4. and Hermon
shall rejoice in thy name.
Oh, what a blessed spirit the spirit of true devotion is! There is such life in it that it seems to quicken all inanimate creation and make the rocks and mountains to sing, and the trees of the wood to clap their hands, and the waves of the sea to praise the great Creator. So the whole world is like a great organ, and man, guided by God’s Spirit, puts his fingers on the keys and wakes the whole to the thunder of adoration and praise. Oh to be taught of God to have a praiseful heart, for then all around us will be more likely also to praise Jehovah.
— Charles Spurgeon
Psalm 89 is divided into four parts and is once again connected with this covenant and lists four things God does to build and establish.
- “I have made a covenant with My chosen;
- I have sworn to David My servant,
- I will establish your seed forever
- And build up your throne to all generations.”
— Psalm 89:3-4
The word covenant is used four times in this Psalm. God making a covenant with His Chosen is at the heart of this Psalm, the Gospel, and any hope whatsoever of transformation.
- I have made a covenant with My chosen. (Psalm 89:3)
- . . . My covenant shall be confirmed to him. (Psalm 89:28)
- My covenant I will not violate (Psalm 89:34)
- . . . You have spurned the covenant of Your servant (Psalm 89:39)
The phrase "I will not lie" is used four times.
Later in this same Psalm, God does four things that exhibit His rule and reign in the earth.
O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You
- You rule the swelling of the sea;
- When its waves rise, You still them.
- You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain;
- You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.
— Psalm 89:8-10
The fulfillment of the Messiah/Kingship is displayed in the New Testament Christ.
Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
— Matthew 8:23-27
The New Testament, "Son of David," is fulfilled in Christ the Messiah, as He is referred to as such, twenty (4x5) times in it. The book of Matthew, which portrays Christ as King, uses the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" 32 (4x8) times.
According to C.I. Scofield
". . . the kingdom of heaven is Messianic, mediatorial, and Davidic and has for its object the establishment of the kingdom of God in the earth . . . the kingdom of heaven is the earthly sphere of the universal kingdom of God"
". . . His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven"
John Brown in "The Self Interpreting Bible" comments on this.
"The faithful in the church believe that God has established a spiritual "Kingdom of Heaven" through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, and the benefits of the kingdom have been freely offered to all. That kingdom is represented in parables, which present it in different aspects: first, concerning the entrance to the kingdom; second, on the privileges and duties of the kingdom; third, showing the relation of the kingdom to the world; and fourth, those which refer to the future world of spirits."
The dynasty of David, a theocracy between God and His people, lasted 400 years and was foretold in Ruth chapter four. David was from the line of Judah, which was the fourth son of Jacob.
The Four Transitional Parts of II Samuel in the Establishment of David's Kingdom
II Samuel falls into four parts as did I Samuel building up to the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom.
- From the death of Saul to the anointing of David over Judah in Hebron,
- from the anointing in Hebron to the establishment of David over Israel
- From the conquest of Jerusalem to the rebellion of Absalom,
- from Absalom to the purchase of the temple site.
— Scofield notes
Psalm 107, written by David, is a thanksgiving Psalm relative to our study. The discussion begins with four lands, where God's people are scattered.
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
— Psalm 107:2-3
Verse four expounds.
1. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way
— Psalm 107:4
Their wanderings illustrate the futility of this physical life on the earth with all its limitations. These wanderers are the first of four peoples and scenarios or calamities that man finds himself subject to in this Psalm, ranging from natural circumstances such as hunger and thirst to one's own sinful choices.
2. Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Bound in affliction and irons—
Because they rebelled against the words of God,
And despised the counsel of the Most High.
— Psalm 107:10-11
3. Fools, because of their transgression,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
4. Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
— Psalm 107:23
Verses 17-22 are located in the fourth section of this Psalm. On all four occasions, they cry out to the Lord, and He delivers.
They cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
— Psalm 107:6,13,19,29
This four-times mentioned statement accompanies their rescue from the Lord.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
— Psalm 107:8,15,21,31
The four examples give us metaphors for how God can deliver us in any sphere of calamity from the desert wilderness to the sea that we may find ourselves. When we cry out to Him, He can deliver and save us.
Frank E. Gaebelein observes that in verses 33-42, the psalmist ascribes to the Lord the power to "change" things and notes that His authority is limitless and can reverse the condition of anything.
He turns rivers into a wilderness,
And the water springs into dry ground;
A fruitful land into barrenness,
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into water springs.
There He makes the hungry dwell,
That they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
And sow fields and plant vineyards,
That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly;
And He does not let their cattle decrease.
When they are diminished and brought low
Through oppression, affliction, and sorrow,
He pours contempt on princes,
And causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction,
And makes their families like a flock.
The righteous see it and rejoice,
And all iniquity stops its mouth.
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah record the return of the remnant of exiles from their 70-year Babylonian captivity. Artaxerxes signed the decree to do so in 444 BC. The people begin to rebuild and repair the temple. Upon their return, they stayed in Jerusalem for three days, and on the fourth day, a transition takes place.
Now on the fourth day the silver and the gold and the articles were weighed in the house of our God by the hand of . . .
- Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest, and with him was
- Eleazar the son of Phinehas; with them the Levites,
- Jozabad the son of Jeshua and
- Noadiah the son of Binnui,
. . . with the number and weight of everything. All the weight was written down at that time.
The children of those who had been carried away captive, who had come from the captivity, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel:
- twelve bulls for all Israel
- ninety-six rams
- seventy-seven lambs
- and twelve male goats
as a sin offering. All this was a burnt offering to the Lord.
And they delivered the king’s orders to the king’s satraps and the governors in the region beyond the River. So they gave support to the people and the house of God.
— Ezra 8:33-36
In the first event, as it concerned weighing the articles, we see four of the priesthood mentioned. The children of Israel offer four types of animal offerings. In this transition, we see the establishment of worship before beginning the rebuilding project.
In Chapter six, Nehemiah was sent a message four times by his conspirators before they appeared to him in person.
Hezekiah and Sennacherib
Isaiah, chapter 37, records the events just before the 70-year Babylonian captivity. King Hezekiah King of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) witnessed the Assyrian takeover of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was well known for his repentant reform of the Kingdom in light of this.
As the reformation began, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to confront Hezekiah and frighten him and the people into surrender and submission by recounting his previous worldly self-reliant victories over all the other "gods" and nations.
He names four Kingdoms.
Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed,
- and Haran
- and Rezeph,
- and the people of Eden who were in Telassar?
— Isaiah 37:11-12
In this case, the four reveals that this king was only relying on his own natural physical strength and ability that seemed to be successful when confronting other physical natural targets. But he was no match for the God of the Hebrews who delivered the children of Israel from the threat and harm that Sennacherib had plotted, and they didn't have to do a thing.
Hezekiah's prayer, when he spreads the situation out before the Lord, sums this up well.
". . . Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone.”
Herbert Lockyer, in his devotional commentary titled "Psalms," observes that at this time of judgment and captivity . . .
"four kings of Judea reigned but a short time, and either died by the sword or in captivity.
- Jehoahaz - reigned only three months, and died a captive in Egypt
- Jehoikim - reigned only eleven years, was delivered to the Chaldeans who put him to death and flung his body into a common sewer
- Jehoikin - reigned three months and ten days, and became a captive in Babylon. Latterly released he was never invested with power.
- Zedekiah - reigned only eleven years, when his eyes were put out, and loaded with chains, he was carried to Babylon."
This section begins with Scofield's notes about the book of Daniel
"Daniel is in four broad divisions:
- Introduction. The personal history of Daniel from the conquest of Jerusalem to the second year of Nebuchadnezzar, 1:1-21.
- The visions of Nebuchadnezzar and their results, 2:1-4:37.
- The personal history of Daniel under Belshazzar and Darius, 5:1-6:28.
- The visions of Daniel, 7:1-12:13."
There are four central men of God in these narratives that God will use in the Gentile kingdom of Babylon to begin the preparations for their return to their homeland after seventy years of captivity:
- and Azariah
whose names are changed to
- and Abednego.
The decree to return was signed in 444 BC by Artaxerxes.
God gave these four young men four things.
- Knowledge and
- understanding in every kind of literature
- and wisdom.
- Daniel also understood the visions and dreams of every kind.
— Daniel 1:17
In Chapter two of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing dream that he wanted to be interpreted. He threatens to kill his counselors because they can't tell him what the dream was, let alone its meaning. Daniel gets wind of the situation, understanding that he and the other three men of God are also in danger, and he, therefore, seeks God for the answer. God does indeed give him the interpretation. When Daniel appears before the king, He asks the king about his four incompetent earthly sources of wisdom.
Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the (1)
- wise men
- the astrologers
- the magicians
- the soothsayers
shew unto the king;
— Daniel 2:27
Daniel insisted that the king understand that the wisdom and interpretation he was about to give did not come from a limited worldly source, as would the king's own four sources of counsel.
The vision the king had was that of a statue that consisted of four layers the top being gold,
- the top being gold,
- the arms and chest of silver,
- the belly and thighs of brass,
- and the calves and feet of clay and iron
This foretold a transition of kingdoms that were Gentile world powers.
- and Roman
Rome was the fourth empire and the one that would rule during the Messiah's first coming.
There is also an incident concerning Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Chapter three of Daniel. They were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow to the golden image that the king had built. When they are thrown into the fire, it is observed that there are four men in the furnace rather than three.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
— Daniel 3:25
In this passage, the word for Son is not the common word for "son," which is "ben," but it is instead the word bar meaning chosen Son. He is none other than the Messiah Himself with them.
In verse 27 of this account, four natural things are also observed by four worldly kings worldly counselors concerning this supernatural event.
- and captains,
- and the king's counsellors,
being gathered together, saw these men,
- bodies the fire had no power,
- nor was an hair of their head singed,
- neither were their coats changed,
- nor the smell of fire had passed on them
— Daniel 4:27
It was on the fourth day that the sun, the moon, and stars were created. These heavenly bodies served the purpose of measuring times and signaling times. Daniel chapter four names four things that God does on the earth, beginning with 'signs."
How great are his signs!
and how mighty are his wonders!
his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion is from generation to generation.
— Daniel 4:3
Daniel four then continues with a significant change that will occur with the king, and he will become like a beast because he pridefully exalts himself rather than acknowledges God. He becomes transformed back to himself once he humbles himself and acknowledges this.
The Handwriting on the Wall
Daniel chapter five records the event of King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar's son, who had decided to party hearty with sacred temple objects taken from Jerusalem. This scene possibly demonstrates another culture and time that would complacently take the things of God and use them for personal exaltation, lust, or gain. A four-word warning and prophecy appear in "the writing on the wall."
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
— Daniel 5:25
. . . the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
— Daniel 5:26-28
The phrase "did not repent" is used four times in Revelation, chapters nine and sixteen, concerning this very observation.
Ishmael's genealogy is the ninth one in Genesis and could be a clue to an ancient foretelling of future events.
Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
— Isaiah 46:9-10
In this warning, Daniel reminds Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, who established the first of four world kingdoms, that It was God who gave his father four things in his rule and reign in the earth.
O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father
- a kingdom
- and majesty,
- and honor
— Daniel 5:18
The second mention of this observation is that this phrase occurs four times in concert with God's sovereignty over all that He has made.
. . . the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses."
— Daniel 5:21
This recitation is the fourth and final occurrence before the written judgment on the wall.
Daniel chapter seven records a vision that Daniel has in which he saw "the four winds of heaven that strove upon the great sea" and "four great beasts came up from the sea . . ." The fourth beast was noted as a terrible one. The great beasts later get interpreted as four kings.
Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.
— Daniel 7:17
This fourth kingdom changes the fourth-day creation purposes of the sun, moon, and stars that signaled time and event. Four things are listed that this Anti-Christ kingdom will do four things according to this next verse. "Time" receives four mentions as well in this portion of text.
- He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
- Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
- And shall intend to change times and law.
- Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time
— Daniel 7:25
This fourth kingdom is developed from one of four kingdoms that Greece was divided into after Alexander the Great died. Which was the Roman empire, and its leader will honor a no-god with four things.
But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor
- with gold
- and silver
- with precious stones
- and pleasant things
— Daniel 11:38
Sandwiched between the vision and the interpretation of Daniel's vision is a description of the Messiah. At the end of all things, He opens the books of judgment. Four features are described.
“I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
- His garment was white as snow,
- And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
- His throne was a fiery flame,
- Its wheels a burning fire.
— Daniel 7:9
Scofield notes a historical order of four in chapter seven of Daniel.
- The investiture of the Son of Man with the kingdom Daniel 7:13 Daniel 7:14; Revelation 5:6-10
- the "vexing" of Psalms 2:5, fully described in Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:22 Re 6.-18.
- The return of the Son of Man in glory to deliver the "smiting" blow of Daniel 2:45; 7:9-11Revelation 19:11-21.
- The judgment of the nations and the setting up of the kingdom Daniel 7:10 Daniel 7:26 Daniel 7:27; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:1-6.
The Messiah being God is stamped with the number four, considering that He came to the created earth and became one of us.
When Daniel sets himself to pray, in chapter 9, he makes a confession of four things, which looks like it could be a progression of where sin leads us in its spiral downward.
- and committed iniquity
- we have done wickedly
- and rebelled
even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.
— Daniel 9:5
He then names the four people groups God tried to reach through His prophets.
Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name
- to our kings
- and our princes,
- to our fathers
- and all the people of the land.
— Daniel 9:6
Shame is then attributed to four who refused to hear and repent
O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—
- to the men of Judah
- to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel
- those near
- and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them
. . . because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
— Daniel 9:7
Elijah and the Four Water Pots
Elijah was a prophet when King Ahab ruled the Northern Kingdom of Israel, along with his evil wife, Jezebel. The worship of Baal was trending at that time, which included drunkenness, bestiality, mutilations, incest, and included child sacrifice.
God sent Elijah to Ahab, requesting that he bring all the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a contest to see whose God is real. The challenge included the same type of sacrifice for each party to see which God would come down and consume the sacrifice with fire.
. . . 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah who are supported by Queen Jezebel.
— I Kings 18
The prophets of Baal called on their god for a day and a half with crying, begging, dancing around, and even cutting themselves trying to get their god's attention to no avail. Elijah then mocks them and asks if their god is busy, away, relieving himself, or sleeping.
Elijah then gathers his opponents to observe his sacrifice to his God. Elijah does something different with his sacrifice. He dug a trench around it and requested that it be filled with four pots of water.
“Fill four water pots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.”
Alice E. Luce confirms this when she writes, in her book "Pictures of Pentecost."
"The whole saturated with water . . . to make double sure to the assembled crowds that the fire had no earthly origin but miraculously fell from heaven."
The four waterpots tell us that consuming this sacrifice with fire would be physically and humanly impossible. Elijah has them do this three times that come with another related theme. Three is the number of spiritual things.
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
— Zechariah 4:6
Ahab's 400 Prophets
One more event concerning King Ahab that is referenced in I Kings 22, Jehoshaphat, the Southern King in Judah, went to visit Ahab in the Northern Kingdom. During his visit, Ahab invites Jehoshaphat to join him in battling Ramoth Gilead that was in Syrian possession at the time. Jehoshaphat suggested that maybe they should consult the Lord about this.
Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?”
— I Kings 22:6
The four hundred men tell us that these are worldly prophets only concerned with earthly matters and are only capable of human reasoning in this situation. These are not divinely inspired prophets of God, and the rest of the story reveals that it was poor advice and not from God at all. The phrase "four hundred prophets" is used four times in scripture, by the way.
Jehoshaphat knew this and requested a different prophet.
“Is there not still a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of Him?”
— I Kings 22:7
One prophet is sent for, reluctantly, by Ahab. He hates Micaiah because he always prophesies things the king doesn't want to hear. Ahab has no concern for what is true as long as it seems pleasing to himself.
Micaiah reveals the truth and shows himself to be a true prophet when he declares to Ahab what he does not want to hear. The worldly deceived prophets will tell the king only what they know he wants to hear.
The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you.
— I Kings 22:23
It is a good lesson for us not to become worldly-minded and "this life" pleasure and comfort-oriented.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
— Colossians 3:2
In the end, these motives will lead to deception as well as destruction.
. . . take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
— Luke 21:34-35
The book of Esther recorded a time in Israel's history (fourth century BC) after they had spent 70 years captive to the Babylonians, and some of those in exile were released to return and rebuild in Jerusalem. Some remained in what had now become a kingdom ruled by the Medo-Persians.
An evil anti-Christ type figure arises in this story, who attempts to destroy the Jews. He is identified as the wicked Haman, whose name receives 52 (4x13) mentions. A pretty significant number of mentions in such a small book consisting of only ten short chapters.
Esther's name gets mentioned 56 (4x14) times. Fascinating considering that 13, the multiple in Haman's mentions, is the number of rebellion, and 14, as with Esther's name, is associated with Passover and the concept of sacrifice and connected with deliverance. These themes sincerely express the events and topics of this story.
The Median king in this biblical account is mentioned 192 (4x4x4x3) times.
It is four years after Esther is crowned queen that the Haman incident occurs.
Silver, as studied previously, symbolized the price of redemption in the Bible.
The story began with a king and kingdom of people celebrating the beauty and majesty of this kingdom. The feast for the nobles lasted 180 (4x45) days, as recorded in chapter one of the book of Esther, signaling a change of events.
Next, a seven-day feast was held for the rest who were present in Shushan in the garden court, containing the first two mentions of silver in a detailed description of its decor.
There were white and blue linen curtains fastened with cords of fine linen and purple on silver rods and marble pillars; and the couches were of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of alabaster, turquoise, and white and black marble.
— Esther 1:6
In this particular story, it was with silver that their destruction was purchased.
If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand (4x2500) talents (about 100 pounds) of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries. So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. And the king said to Haman, “The silver and the people are given to you, to do with them as seems good to you."
— Esther 3:9-11
Esther reveals this transaction to the king at a specified moment to reverse an obnoxious decree against them.
Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favor in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:
For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.
— Esther 7:3-4
Esther appeals to the king for help considering there is no other help or hope. The king cannot reverse his original decree but grants them the right to issue new decrees to protect and ultimately save them. When we view this through the lens of Jesus, our Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, so it is with us. We became sold into the slavery of sin for a price that we cannot afford, and it is to Jesus that we make our appeal for salvation.
They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceases for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.
— Psalm 49:6-9
The "Pur" used for casting lots was quadrangular prisms with four numbers on each side. The numbers were 1,2,5 and 6.
God's Name Hidden in Esther Four Times
The following is borrowed from the elaborate numeric and literary studies of E.W. Bullinger, which identify God's four-letter name (yod, hey, vav, hey) hidden in this book four times. He includes many intricacies of this revelation as it concerns our study. It is so detailed that I have chosen to copy his writing, which is also available online copyright free. As you will notice, Bullinger mentions five hidden names, but the fifth occurrence is "I am that I am," uses different letters.
Companion Bible Appendix #60
60. THE NAME OF JEHOVAH IN THE BOOK OF ESTHER.
It has been observed by many that no Divine Name or Title is found in the book of Esther.
This is the more remarkable, since, in this short book of only 167 verses, the Median King is mentioned 192 (4x192) times, his kingdom is referred to 26 times, and his name "Ahasuerus" is given 29 times.
Jehovah had declared (Deut. 31:16-18) , that if His People forsook Him, He would hide His face from them. Though the book reveals Him as overruling all, His Name is hidden. It is there for His People to see, not for His enemies to see or hear.
Satan was at work, using Haman to blot out the Nation, as once before he had used Pharaoh for the same purpose. Jehovah's counsel must stand. His promise of Messiah, the coming "Seed" of the woman (Gen. 3:15), must not fail. Therefore He must overrule all for the preservation of His People, and of the line by which that "Seed" was to come into the world.
His working was secret and hidden : hence, the name of "JEHOVAH" is hidden secretly four times in this book, and the name "EHYEH" (I am that I am) once. The Massorah has a rubric calling attention to the former fact; and (at least) three ancient manuscripts are known in which the Acrostic letters in all five cases are written Majuscular (or, larger than the others) so that they stand out boldly and prominently, showing the four consonant letters of the mane JeHoVaH. In Hebrew y, h,w, h, or, as written in Hebrew from right to left, h, w, h, y. In English, L, O, R, D. Also the five letters of the fifth Acrostic, "EHYH".
THE FOUR ACROSTICS.
The following phenomena are noticed in examining the four Acrostics which form the name "Jehovah" :
1. In each case the four words forming the Acrostic are consecutive.
2. In each case (except the first) the form a sentence complete in itself.
3. There are no other such Acrostics in the whole book, except the fifth Acrostic at the end; though there is one other, forming another Divine Title, in Ps. 96:11.
4. In their construction there are not two alike, but each one is arranged in a manner quite different from the other three.
5. Each is uttered by a different speaker. The first by Memucan (1:20); the second by Esther (5:4); the third by Haman (5:13); the fourth by the inspired writer (7:7).
6. The first two Acrostics are a pair, having the name formed by the Initial letters of the four words.
7. The last two are a pair, having the name formed by the Final letters of the four words.
8. The first and third Acrostics are a pair, having the name spelt backward.
9. The second and fourth are a pair, having the name spelt forward. They thus form an alternation :
10. The first and third (in which the name is formed backward) are a pair, being spoken by Gentiles.
11. The second and fourth (in which the name is spelt forward) are a pair, being spoken by Israelites. They thus form an Alternation :--
C Spoken by a Gentile (Memucan).
D Spoken by an Israelite (Esther).
C Spoken by a Gentile (Haman).
D Spoken by and Israelite (the inspired writer).
12. The first and second form a pair, being connected with Queens and Banquets.
13. The third and fourth are a pair, being connected with Haman.
14. The first and fourth are a pair, being spoken concerning the Queen (Vashti) and Haman respectively.
15. The second and third are a pair, being spoken by the Queen (Esther) and Haman respectively. They thus form and Introversion :--
E Words concerning a Queen.
F Words spoken by a Queen.
E Words spoken by Haman.
F Words concerning Haman.
16. It is remarkable also that, in the two cases where the name is formed by the initial letters, the facts recorded are initial also, and are spoken of an even in which Jehovah's overruling was initiated; while in the two cases where the name is formed by the final letters, the events are final also, and lead rapidly up to the end toward which Jehovah was working.
Thus in the two cases where the name is spelt backward , Jehovah is seen overruling the counsels of Gentiles for the accomplishment of His own; and where the name is spelt forward , He is ruling directly in the interests of His own People unknown to themselves.
THE FIRST ACROSTIC (1:26).
is formed by the initial letters, for the even was initial; and the name is spelt backward because Jehovah was turning back and overruling the counsels of man. The whole clause reads as follows; the words forming the Acrostic being put in italic type :--
"And when the king's decree which he shall make, shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honor, both to great and small." The four words we give, 1st, in the Hebrew type (with the Majuscular letters at the beginning of each word); 2nd, with the Transliteration; and 3rd, in English paraphrase, reproducing the sentence in the word LORD with the initial letters backward it and-all the-wives shall-give
"Due Respect Our Ladies
shall give to their husbands, both to great and small."
THE SECOND ACROSTIC (5:4).
is formed, as before, by the initial letters, for Jehovah is initiating His action; but the name is spelt forward because He is rulingand causing Esther to act; and take the first step, which was to lead up to so great an end.
The four words are :
let-come the-king and-Haman this-day
"Let Our Royal Dinner
this day be graced by the king and Haman."
The name of Jehovah is read in the invitation, intimating that there would be a fourth at that banquet.
THE THIRD ACROSTIC (5:13).
is the beginning of the end; for Haman had gone forth from that banquet "joyful and with a glad heart" (5:9) "that day." Yet it was to be his last. Hence the third Acrostic is formed with the final letters, for the end was approaching; and the name is spelt backward, for Jehovah was overruling Haman's gladness, and turning back Haman's counsel.
this availeth nothing to-me
The English may be freely rendered "Yet am I
is all this to me."
THE FOURTH ACROSTIC (7:7).
is formed, like the third, by the final letters, for Haman's end had come. But it is spelt forward like the first, for Jehovah was ruling and bringing about the end He had determined. Haman saw there was cause for fear. A fourth is there -- Jehovah Himself! And when Esther pleads for her life (7:3), the king asks "Who is he and where is he?" which brings in Jehovah's own ineffable name -- the Acrostic of the five final letters spelling in Hebrew "I am" (see the fifth Acrostic below). Esther replies : "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman." The king, filled with wrath, rises, and goes forth into the palace garden. Haman, filled with fear, rises, "to make request for his life to Esther the queen, for he saw
that evil was determined against him
by the king."
This was the climax, the end had come. Hence the name is spelt by the final letters :
that evil was-determined against-him
Translated, as before, the Acrostic appears in English thus : "For he saw that there was
against him by the king."
THE FIFTH ACROSTIC (7:5).
in this book does not form the name "Jehovah," but the remarkable name E H Y H which means
It is noted in some manuscripts by Majuscular letters, which have Massoretic authority
The Acrostic is formed by the final letters, and the name is spelt backward.
The king asks "Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?" : i.e. to sell for destruction Queen Esther and her People. In saying this he unconsciously gives the name of Him who came down to deliver His People out of the hand of Pharaoh, and had then come down to deliver them again out of the hand of Haman, "the Jews' enemy", who, like Pharaoh, sought to destroy the whole nation (cp. Exodus 2:23-25 with 3:14, 15). The great enemy of the Messiah -- the living Word -- was seeking to destroy all hope of His promised coming (Gen. 3:15), and make void the repeated promise of Jehovah.
Ahasuerus only pointed to human agency, but his words point us to the Satanic agency which was behind it. The Acrostic is in the final letters of his question "Who is he, and where is he?" Only the great "I am that I am" could know that, and could answer that question. Esther and Mordecai knew the human instrument, but none could know who was directing him but the One Who sees the end from the beginning.
The words forming the Acrostic are
[who is] he this [man] and where [is] this [man]
"who durst presume in his heart to do so" : i.e. to conspire
against the life of the Queen and her People.
We may English it thus :
"WhereE dwelletH the-enemY that-daretH
presume in his heart to do this thing?"
Thus was the name of the great "I AM" of Exodus 3:14 presented to the eye, to reveal the fact that He who said of E H Y H "this is My Name for ever, and this is My Memorial unto all generations" (v. 15), was there to remember His People. Here was a "generation" in Persia who experienced the truth and the power of this Name, as a former "generation" had done in Egypt.
The same "I AM" had indeed come down to deliver them from Haman; as He had from Pharaoh, and from the great "enmity" (of Gen. 3:15) which instigated both to accomplish the Satanic design of exterminating the Nation of Israel.
In these five Acrostics we have something far beyond a mere coincidence; we have design. When we read the denunciation in Deut. 31:16-18, and see it carried out in Persia, we learn that though God was not among His people there, He was for them. Though He was not acting as Jehovah, "that dwelleth between the Cherubim," He was "the God of Heaven, ruling and over-ruling all in the Heaven above and in the Earth beneath" for the fulfillment of His purposes, and in the deliverance of His People. Hence, though His name, as well as His presence, is HIDDEN, yet, it is there, in the Word; and so wonderfully interwoven that no enemy will ever know how to put it out.
Four and Current Events
The four blood moons occurring back to back on Jewish holidays in 2014 and 2015 were a pretty hot topic as it concerns prophetic events. The third of these four moons occurred on Passover happened on 4-4-2015 and lasted four minutes and 44 seconds. Historically, three of these previously rare tetrad events link with significant events concerning Israel and God's people. Might this be the fourth?
One of the previous three tetrads that occurred on Jewish holidays consecutively was in 1493-4. Just before that in 1492 was the Spanish inquisition when Queen Isabella gave the Jews four months to convert to Catholicism or leave the country.
A solar eclipse also marks the rarity of this event. This eclipse occurs in the middle of the four lunar eclipses (chiasm). The Hebrew word for blood "dam" consists of the Hebrew letters dalet (4) and mem (40), giving us a gematria value of 44. The sun and moon were created on the fourth day to signal signs and seasons.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
— Joel 2:31
Shortly before the fourth and final tetrad that occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles, it is significant to observe that the day of Rosh Hashana (September 14, 2015, or Tishrei 1, 5776 - 1444x4) on the Hebrew calendar), known as the Day of Judgement when the shofar blasts. It is thought that the books of reckoning open on this particular Biblical observance.,
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming,
For it is at hand,
— Joel 2
Earlier in chapter four, earth events are described that will occur, with the final two with things that were created on the fourth day.
- The earth quakes before them,
- The heavens tremble;
- The sun and the moon grow dark,
- And (4) the stars diminish their brightness
— Joel 2:10
Based on our observation of the number four, as has been exhaustively studied in God's Word and His creation, it is evident that God is about to change, establish, develop, or transform something on a grand scale of relevance and significance. Obama was our 44th president and used the word "change" as his 2008 campaign slogan. A significant change is coming, and It is certainly time to pay attention.
"Obama also won all four states that begin with "New" (New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York), but he lost all five that begin with a direction (North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia)."
— Charles M Blow "New York Times"
Luke notes four great signs at the end of the age for which we are told to look.
- “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
- And there will be great earthquakes in various places,
- and famines and pestilences;
- and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven"
— Luke 21:10-11
. . . yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.
— John 16:2
Concerning Israel, four consultants sponsored by the U.S. were hired by the "One Voice Movement" who also were campaign consultants for President Obama, campaigned in Israel for political change that promotes the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Its international headquarters, based in New York with field offices for this organization, is based in four cities:
- Tel Aviv,
- Gaza city,
- and London
and representing four countries
- The United States
Their campaign slogan was "change."
March 17, 2015, Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected for a fourth four-year term as prime minister of Israel.
These facts are not intended to rally political opinions of any kind. I present the fours in each event with this understanding presented in Daniel.
. . . the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses (This phrase is used four times in the Bible the first three in Daniel 4 the final in chapter 5)
— Daniel 4:17
The fours only confirm that God is at work behind the scenes in all of His creation, including time and event, and our job is to pay attention to what God would ask us to do in these times and places as ambassadors and children of His kingdom.
The Number Four and the Headlines
Some observations on a previous event from September 2011, four coordinated terrorist attacks using four airplanes were executed, killing 2996 (4x749) people. The fourth plane contained 44 people, and there were four hijackers aboard. Could four, therefore, not only signal creative processes but destructive ones as well? And could we say that things have changed dramatically since these events?
Would it be any surprise that the newly built "One World Trade Center' constructed to replace the "Twin Towers" is the fourth largest in the world, contains 104 (4x26) stories, and sits on a 16 (4x4) acre site? It is also 1776 (4x444) feet tall, 1776, also being the year of our nation's founding.
Bonnie Gaunt, the author of several books on biblical numerics, made a fascinating observation, based upon Biblical number connections and current world events. Some discredited her findings because she calculated a date for the possible return of the Messiah (never a good idea considering He told us we would not know the day nor the hour). However, I was a bit taken aback by the date she suggested 9-11-1999. We all know that Jesus the Messiah did not come back on this date, but the 9-11 part made me curious, understanding the significance of a very well known 9-11. I discovered that 9-11-1999 fell on Rosh Hashanah, signaling a period of Judgement of the nations that Rabbi's have been anticipating this date for the past 400 years. Just two years after the Trade Center attacks occur and terrorism has been the issue of the times since. This date was also observed as the 6000th anniversary of Adam's creation. Bonnie was wrong about her interpretation of those numbers, but she was not wrong about the numbers.
November 4th, 2015 Iranians rallied over the 36th (4x9) anniversary of taking over a U.S. embassy known as the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980 (4x495) were 52 (4x13) Americans were held hostage for 444 days.
Damascus, the capital of Syria, is currently the oldest continuously inhabited city globally and has a gematria of 444. Isaiah, the prophet, had this to report about it
“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
And it will be a ruinous heap.
— Isaiah 17:1
In 2015 Syria was in its fourth year of a civil war. One news reporter from Yahoo news used similar language, concerning this, in his report quoting a citizen of Damascus:
"We are trembling with fear, If the extremists get in there'll be fighting in the streets. Everything will be destroyed"
— Marbel merchant Mohammed Ayman
The prophet Jeremiah, this time prophecies;
Damascus has grown feeble;
She turns to flee (as of February 2016 over 6,000,000 have have fled or been displaced),
And fear has seized her.
Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor.
Why is the city of praise not deserted, the city of My joy?
Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets,
And all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,” says the Lord of hosts.
“I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus,
And it shall consume the palaces of Ben-Hadad.
— Jeremiah 49:23-27
As of June 8th, 2016, 4.8 million Syrians have fled from their country, and 6.5 million have been displaced within their own country.
The world scoffed concerning the Christian take on these signs and wonders in the sky concerning the blood moons and chant.
"Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."
— II Peter 3:4
Yet they misunderstand that we do not claim the end is yet, as Jesus foretold that it would only be the "signal" of the coming sorrows that would precede His coming.
. . . these things must come to pass but the end is not yet . . . All these are the beginning of sorrows.
— Matthew 24:6
Historically speaking, Jerusalem has been attacked 52 (4x13) times and recaptured 44 times.
The Paris (Capital of France except for a four-year interruption during WWII 1940-1944) attacks that occurred on November 13th, 2015, is said to have signaled a "change" in the strategies of terrorism, of which there were four suicide attacks at four locations, involving four gunmen and bombers. The one at the sports stadium resulted in four deaths. One hundred thirty lives were claimed in total.
According to Answers.com
WWII, was fought because of four immediate causes:
- Hitler invaded Poland bringing France and Great Britain into the war.
- Japan took over Manchuria bringing China into the war.
- Japan attacked the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor bringing the US into the war.
- Germany invaded the USSR bringing the Soviet Union into the war.
A War Unlike Any Other War In World History
According to Wikipedia, In 1944, Allied forces launched the first of four assaults on Monte Cassino that took four months and incurred 105,000 (4x26,250) casualties.
More modernly speaking, Isis began its campaign by attacking the ancient symbols and archaeological sites of idolatry that date back to Biblical times. Paris is well known to be the cultural center of the western world's idols in art, entertainment, fashion, and sports. According to a "Business Insider" report by Pamela Engel, it is "the capital of prostitution and vice."
The bombing of March 11th, 2004, four trains in Madrid, Spain, was the target of terrorist attacks.
Isis burns four Shiite fighters alive August 31st, 2015
Islamic State executed four people in central Libyan city on August 24th, 2015
On Monday, August 24th, 2015, the stock market, both U.S., and Europe, took a four day, four percent plunge, the largest in four years,
Pakistan hangs four suspected Taliban members over school massacre on December 2nd, 2014
Four young Arab teens planned a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on October 23rd, 2015
Four Syrian hospitals bombed since Russian airstrikes began in October 2015
Four people arrested in Syria-related counter-terrorism raids in October 2015
Syria activists say four civilians killed in intense airstrikes October 2015
Moscow's presence in the middle east has grown to four operating bases.
Four main trunk power lines running from Ukraine to Crimea blown up
Four Harvard buildings cleared after bomb threat November 16th, 2015
Beirut Isis attack kills 44
Gunman in Jordan kills four November 9th, 2015
Four female suicide bombers attacked the Chadian island of Koulfoua on Lake Chad, December 5th, 2015.
"In October, four suicide bombers detonated car bombs at a temporary Yemeni government headquarters and two Arab coalition outposts, killing more than a dozen people".
There have been four mass shootings (an incident in which a lone gunman kills at least four people) in the U.S. alone this year (2015)
December 2nd, 2015, husband and wife terrorists killed 14 people in California, shooting four guns. Obama addressed the nation concerning this four days after the fact. He addressed the nation from the Oval Office, which only occurs on special occasions and concerns of great gravity. The Oval office is located in the West Wing of the White House and used for four purposes; confers with heads of state, diplomats, staff, and other dignitaries. There are interestingly four doors in this office.
I think the "handwriting is on the wall."
Much of the information in this section is borrowed from Mark Blitz of El Shaddai Ministries.
2017 was host to some significant fours indicating signs, changes, and culminations. August 21st presented a solar eclipse that stretched across the entire United States from east to west. The last time this occurred was in 1918, which was also the year that a worldwide flu pandemic occurred that killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide. This event was also at the end of World War 1, which began in August of 1914 in which a total solar eclipse occurred over Europe and the Ottoman Empire. This area included the place that Jonah was said to have preached the message of repentance in Nineveh. This Biblical event was also highlighted with an eclipse before his arrival. It was known as the Burr-Sagale eclipse of 763 B.C.
Seven years from now, we are scheduled for another eclipse. This time it will run from north to south with a path that crosses over this one at the New Madrid fault line forming the shape of a cross.
A little phenomenon concerning eclipses. They are quite miraculous and exclusive to the earth. Size and distance are essential to create one. The sun is 400 times larger than the moon, and the moon is 400 times closer to the earth, which makes the moon fit perfectly into the circle of the sun from our viewpoint. Recall that the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day for signs and seasons. Also, the last letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet has a gematria value of 400. A cross symbolizes it.
This recent eclipse followed a path across the Atlantic landing on a developing hurricane named Harvey that slammed into Houston, Texas, as a category four just four days after the eclipse.
The eclipse also landed on the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul that is focused on repentance, and is forty days before the highest holy day of the Jewish year, which is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur also centers on the theme of repentance. Judaic observers believe that if offenses between God or others are not amended, that judgment will follow the up and coming year.
It is thought that the first of Elul was when Moses went up to Mount Sinai to make atonement for Israel after the "golden calf" event and when Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days and returned on Yom Kippur.
Mark Blitz makes some interesting observations concerning Hurricane Harvey and the eclipse and references a portion of scripture in Luke that connects the two events.
And there shall be signs in the sun (eclipse), and in the moon (last two years tetrads on Jewish holidays), and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring (hurricanes)
— Luke 21:25
If you notice the chapter and verse numbers, they mirror the dates on which each event occurred. The eclipse was on the 21st, and the hurricane landfall was four days later on the 25th.
A second Hurricane, Irma, made U.S. Landfall just a couple of weeks after Harvey and was another category four hurricane. It is the first time two category fours have ever hit the U.S. in one year. It became a category four on September 4th. It was this day also that the governor of Florida issued a state of emergency. Irma is also the fourth hurricane of the season and was 400 miles wide.
The 2017 hurricane season has already featured four Category 4 or stronger storms; this has only happened four previous years.
Harvey's name means blazing iron, and Irma's name means universal. Ancient Germanics worshiped Irma as a goddess of war.
Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
— Psalm 2
Speaking of counsels and rulers, the International Day of Peace" was observed on September 21st, 2017, which coincides with the Jewish Feast of Rosh Hashana, also known as the blowing of Trumpets. Interestingly this year's day of peace was titled "Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All."
For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
— I Thessalonians 5:3
However noble this may sound, it is indeed a fulfillment of prophecy. Jeremiah uses a double "peace" in describing sudden destruction from the north as well as Ezekiel.
They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
— Jeremiah 6:14
For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
— Jeremiah 8:11
Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar— say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down.
— Ezekiel 13:10-11
The symbol selected to represent this day is a dove with an olive branch.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
— Matthew 24:36-39
2016's motto for this event was "Building Blocks for Peace."
Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
— Genesis 11:1-4
Jonathan Cahn's book, The Mystery of the Shemitah, discusses a biblically prescribed cycle of an every seven-year rest cycle that allowed the land to rest. It was also considered a year of debt release. Both Agriculture and the Economy in ancient Israel were brought to a standstill every seven years. If the requirements were observed, Israel could expect an abundant blessing. If not, the exact opposite would occur.
"The Shemita brings about the transformation of the economic and financial realms."9
Mr. Cahn observes a pattern of significance in many fourth Shmita years (28-4x7 years) related to modern events. He notes that 1917, a Shmita year, marked the end of World War I. This particular war would involve the collapse of four empires, including Germany, Austria, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia.
"Each of the four collapses would dramatically change the course of modern history."9
Twenty-eight years later, 1945, a Shmita year, marked the end of World War II. He quotes both of these as being "turning points in American and world history."
The next fourth Shmita year was 1973 that included the significant events of legalized abortion and the U.S. withdrawal from the Vietnam war.
2001 followed this significant pattern with the events of 911.
The Mystery of the Shemitah also includes a section on Four significant blood moons occurring on Jewish Holidays that were considered omens of impending judgment that occurred from the spring of 2014 until autumn of 2015 which was a Shmita year.
What's Christopher Columbus Have To Do With It?
Concerning the discovery of our nation, from a historical perspective, Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of this landmass in 1492 [4x373 God's wisdom (373) and creative Word (4)] It was the first of four voyages, spanning 40 years.
In Columbus's writing "The Book of Prophecies," he attributes four God-given skills that assisted him in this task:
- His ability to draft maps
The ability to draft maps was listed in four forms: placing correctly
- the cities
- and ports.
His additional studies included four other subjects:
"There is no questions that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony from the 44 books of the Old Testament, from the four Gospels, and from the 23 Epistles of the blessed Apostles, encouraging me continually to press forward; and without ceasing for a moment they now encourage me to make haste."
— Christopher Columbus
A note on the above verse that there are currently 39 books in the Old Testament. Keep in mind that it was 1492, and the Bible available to him at that time may have been the 4th century Latin Vulgate which would have included some of the apocryphal books. Interesting that there were 44, though.
From the article "Bible in America" from Houston Bible University.
Interestingly, the first printed biography of Columbus also has Biblical connections. In 1516 Agostino Giustiniani published in Genoa a Psalter with parallel texts in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Chaldean (or Aramaic), with marginal notes in Latin. This Genoa Psalter was exquisitely printed with intricate woodcut borders and beautifully designed parallel columns of red and black print. In a note for Psalm 19:4, “and their words shall go to the ends of the earth,” Giustiniani’s Latin note comments that Christopher Columbus, a native son of Genoa, had explored more lands and seas than anyone else in the world and had discovered the “ends of the earth”, thus fulfilling the Scripture.7
Some have also considered that Christopher Columbus may have also been seeking a haven for the Jewish people. They were being persecuted in Europe and about to be expelled. It was the very day the decree was issued that the Jews were given four months to convert to Catholicism or be expelled, that Columbus set sail to the New World.8
The Fourth Planet
Mars is the fourth terrestrial planet of our solar system. It is approximately 4000 miles in diameter and is known as "the red planet," presumably because of iron oxide, which is essentially rust. Iron in the Bible is symbolic of rebellion and stubbornness and the decay that comes from it. It was named after the Roman god of war. Its Borealis basin covered 40 percent of the planet and was flown by Mariner four in 1965. After Mars, the four planets are gaseous, depicting flesh by the first four and spirit by the second four.
. . . the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.
— I Corinthians 15:46
May "His Kingdom come, and He will be done on the earth as it is in heaven."
Revelation Chapter One
The book of Revelation opens with "Things that are about to take place," signifying significant changes and transitions throughout. There is a message to each of seven churches. C.I. Scofield observes a fourfold application to them
The messages to the seven churches have a fourfold application:
- Local, to the churches actually addressed;
- admonitory, to all churches in all time as tests by which they may discern their true spiritual state in the sight of God;
- personal, in the exhortations to him "that hath an ear," and in the promise "to him that overcometh";
- prophetic, as disclosing seven phases of the spiritual history of the church from, say, A.D. 96 to the end
The fourth seal in the book of Revelation chapter six contains four elements:
- and a wild beast.
These four judgments concerning the earth are also listed in Ezekiel 14:21.
The fourth trumpet concerns the sun, moon, and stars, a fourth-day creation.
"Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars . . . "
— Revelation 8:12
According to Dr. Noah Hutchings, in his book "God the Master Mathematician," There are four angelic watchers over God's creation on the earth. (Rev 4:6-11)
In Revelation, 9:14-15, four angels will destroy one-third of the men in the world.
We can see that all of the creation is subject to God's judgment, which brings the further revelation that, just as seven reveals God's heavenly divine cycles, four displays the earth's natural cycles that include the concepts of judgment. Exodus gives us an example of this cycle.
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
— Exodus 34:6,7
Might we keep this in remembrance that, as we live our lives, what consequences may be visited our future generations? Sin is consequently epigenetic. We might view this as unfair or see it in God's mercy to reveal how things work. The latter will help us to be mindful of our choices.
Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know.
— Sara Groves "Generations"
The very first genealogy is given in Genesis chapter four, beginning with Cain's (servant of the ground) son Enoch and his four succeeding generations:
It was the beginning of the "begots."
The children of Lamech are next listed as four:
- and Naamah
Genesis chapter four begins, also, with the first bloodshed on the earth in the field.
A final example of this cycle of judgment identified by four occurs in the book of Amos, where God reveals to a sheepherder and fig farmer 8 (4x2) judgments that are about to happen in 8 nations.
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment . . .
— Amos 1:3
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment . . .
— Amos 1:6
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment . . .
— Amos 1;9
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Edom, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment
— Amos 1:9
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment
— Amos 1:13
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Moab, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment
— Amos 2:1
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Judah, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment
— Amos 2:4
Thus says the Lord:
“For three transgressions of Israel, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment
— Amos 2:6
The book of Amos divides into four sections of judgments
1. Judgments on the cities surrounding Palestine, Amos 1:1 to Amos 2:3.
2. Judgements on Judah and Israel, Amos 2:4-16.
3. Jehovah's controversy with "the whole family" of Jacob, Amos 3:1 to Amos 9:10.
4. The future glory of the Davidic kingdom, Amos 9:11-15.
— C.I. Scofield
Revelation chapter seven speaks of four angels granted the right to harm the earth, at the four corners of the planet holding four winds, but they were restrained until the marking of the 144,000 (4x36,000) who belonged to God. Then the scene shifts to the throne of God where all
- and tongues
are worshiping Him.
Bullinger makes a note of the number four and judgment as it concerns the rainbow with this writing.
The rainbow, which has special reference to the earth and its judgment, is mentioned four times,—twice in the Old Testament (Gen 9 and Eze 1:28) and twice in the New Testament (Rev 4:3, 10:1).
Seven Spirits of God in Revelation
There are four mentions of the Seven Spirits of God in the book of Revelation that are in the context of God's Kingdom rule in the earth and references the prophetic.
. . . to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.(prophetic)
— Revelation 1:1
Mentions of the earth frame the first occurrence.
. . . Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood (gematria of 44), and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,”who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
— Revelation 1:4-8
The second occurrence refers to the "dead" church and how it is functioning in the earth. Death recall is the transition of decomposition of earth dwellers.
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
— Revelation 3:1
The third mention occurs in chapter four of Revelation. It is surrounded not only by the numbers to support the motifs but also by the themes that go with the number four. The section begins with a door and later discusses a throne. The throne connects with the concept of a kingdom. And the entire text is a signal to all that will "come after this" (the prophetic).
a door (Jesus the way) standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this (prophetic).”
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow (four mentions in scripture symbol of promise in the earth) around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four (4x6) thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
— Revelation 4:1-5
The fourth and final mention of the "Seven Spirits of God" notes two connecting ideas. The first is that the seven Spirits of God are sent out into all the earth. Secondly, the Lamb of God slain is the only one worthy to open the scrolls. No one on heaven or earth could open them, only the one from heaven sent to the earth to redeem us by His blood.
. . . in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood (gematria of 44)
Out of every
- tribe and
- and people
- and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
— Revelation 5:6-10
The seven churches filled with the Spirit of God reveals that we are to be governed by His Spirit and authorizing His Kingdom in the earth.