Life, as complicated as it can be, is also, at some level, as simple as 123. As simple as step 1, 2 and 3, Yes, but also as simple as the step the number 1 says someone should take followed by the step number 2 indicates and so on and so forth. If that then as simple also as growing from one thing to a number of things or from one factor to consider on to two factors then further on to three factors. Whatever the case, as natural to life as a number can be is as much as any spiritual meaning should not be too far to look for. Surely it is as what Paul was about when he insisted that what may be known about God is revealed in what he has made and that the invisible things are hidden in the visible.
The number 1 is the number for SELF or PERSONALITY or UNITY. Everybody has probably heard the common expression “looking out for number one” without taking note that it means selfishness or self-interest. When somebody asks “Who took my pen?” and gets the reply “I am the one” or “He is the one” the idea is “myself” or “himself”. It is putting a face on something that is, until then, abstract; therefore personifying it or making it personal or a personality – making something someone. Statements like “one can never know what one will find when one is not minding about one’s safety” reinforce that. In math the number one is called unity which makes sense elsewhere why unity is called “being one” or in one accord. Being one is actually many being as if one person – the leader or the so-called “number one man” – just as when Jesus says it is enough for the servant to be like his master; so that many servants of one master are many like one. Matt. 10:25. The group has become one self with a face or a recognizable personality. Many someones are now one someone that can be figured out.
The number 2 is the number for LOVE. If “looking out for number one” is self-interest then looking out for two is other-interest or being aware that there is more than one person around. Jesus calls that love. Matt. 19:19. Phil. 2:3,4. For this cause a man leaves his father and mother to be joined to his wife and the TWO become one flesh. Matt. 19:5. Hence newlyweds are told they are from now on going to be thinking for two, planning for two, accommodating two, living for two and so on. Two are better than one, according to Solomon, because then they have a good reward for their labour. For, if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow but woe to him that is alone when he falleth for he has not another to help him up. And again, if two lie together, then they have heat but how can one be warm alone? Eccles. 4:9.
The number 3 is the number for BEAUTY or things NEAT. Beauty is neatness which more often than not is symmetry or sides balancing and sides balancing indicates a middle or a mirror. Even the Trinity shows it in Father and Spirit centred in the Son. This means that it is evenness being achieved not by an even number but an odd number. Two eyes are good but two eyes with a nose in-between are beauty. A body is quite the thing to behold not because of two legs but two legs with a torso between them. Likewise it sits right with the reader to make out of those two halves in each hand that this is a book given how it is bound in a neat little bow called a spine. In any case, all odd numbers come down to a three: for example seven houses are two sides of three houses each and a middle of one house or two sides of two each and a middle of three.
The number 4 is the number for FORM, STRUCTURE and STABILITY. Frequently people will say that a particular thing they are talking about stands on “four corners” which they will then present. It is understood because it gives an impression of a house; of a form and a structure and being intact, as opposed to collapse or indefiniteness or not having its act together. Almost the way Stu Weber refers to the “four pillars of a man’s heart.” Going beyond the “four walls” of a church or a home or whatever else is the accustomed order is going beyond the institution or outside the box or matrix, if one can use a fancy word, of a controlled space and predictable conditions.
The number 5 is the number for FAVOUR. In informal settings, a “five” is often heard being thrown around as a “fiver” which almost is the pronunciation of favour. And it just so happens that Bible scholars have for years been agreed that five is the number for grace which, gladly, is only another word for favour.
The number 6 is the number for SEEKING or CIRCLES. Six seeks and six is a circus or going in circles. Definitely one who seeks goes in circles. “Early will I seek thee” sounds like it is saying “at six will I seek thee…” But again also “around the clock” will I seek. Like clockwork. Like going in circles. Seekers keep going around and around the same thing trying to get a way in. Over and over, again and again. Even when already in, they want in for real – the deeper things. So six seeks to be in the inner circles by going in circles. Psa. 63:1.
The number 7 is the number for what is SOVEREIGN. What is done by Him who answers to nobody yet is answered to by all. Him who does not necessarily follow rules but may do anything, anytime, anyhow without consultation. God’s creation of the world in seven days being what follows the opening statement of the Bible that “in the beginning” there was first of all “God” or the maker or the all in all is an example. Every other sovereign act in the Bible tends to follow this seven principle, at least on that Bible scholars also agree.
The number 8 is the number for the IT to EAT. Eight surely sounds like it ate something, hallelujah. That “it” which those who are “making it” or who “have it made” in life EAT when they “eat big” in business or politics or career in general. The “it” which makes those who do not have it to not be a “made-man” or a “made-woman”. The “it” which those who eat the good of the land eat since that is not only food being talked about but the eating of that it which is considered as what is worthwhile in life. Good home, good food, good clothes, good transport, good services. Isa. 1:19.
The number 9 is the number for DENIAL. The German word for No is nein which is the same sound as the English nine. Where it gets amusing is when, as it happens in the slang of some languages, a girl saying No to a boy is referred to as her giving or more like slamming him a nine. And it just so happens that it is what gets him down from the feeling of being on “Cloud 9” where he has denied himself any expectation of rejection. Thus nines for a believer represent him either being denied something by the Lord or him living in denial and needing to stop or him being warned that he is going to be denied access in a place where he is headed.
The number 10 is the number for EXCELLENCE. Daniel and his three friends, while in Babylon, were tested on herbs for ten days and were found ten times wiser than their peers on a seemingly better diet. That wisdom is what was labelled elsewhere as “an excellent spirit” or therefore excellence. Dan. 1:15,20; 5:12; 6:3. Prov. 17:27. No wonder the most usual way of rating performance is to think of it as something “out of ten.” People will ask “on a scale of one to ten, where would you place the government’s follow-up of its healthcare promises?”