Numbers are significant and can have symbolic meaning. The writers of Scripture list various numbers that appear to indicate greater meaning than the mere number counting of items. Most specifically, the number seven (7) is unique in representing a message from God’s Word.
The number 7 represents perfection and full completion. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, shows God creating the earth in six successive days, with God the Creator resting on the seventh day. God’s rest does not communicate a reality that He was tired but simply that He was finished with His good creation; He had completed all that was necessary. Later in the 10 Commandments is God’s command to honor the Sabbath (Exodus 20:9-10; 34:21; Deuteronomy 5:12-14).
Other examples of using the number 7 for completeness are animals able to be used for sacrifice only after seven days (Ex 22:30), Joshua marching around Jericho’s city walls for seven days and on the seventh day marching seven circles and having seven priests blow seven trumpets for the walls to fall down and march the nation into battle victory (Joshua 6). Another instance is cleansing and healing to take place after washing seven times (2Kings 5:10).
Series of sevens show up in numerous times: seven pairs of animals on the ark (Gen 7:2); seven lamps in the tabernacle (Ex 25:37); after six years was a seventh Sabbath year or after six years of succession of six years was the forty-ninth year for a year of jubilee to forgive debts, rest land and celebrate renewal. Isaiah the prophet indicates seven Spirits or features of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:2; cf. Revelation 1:4); and seven signs or miracles as well as seven “I Am” statements of Jesus in John’s Gospel; seven parables in Matthew 13; and seven woes by Jesus in Matthew 23.
Seven is featured in prophecy with the seventy years of exile of Judah and Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 29:10); and the seventy weeks and 490 years (7×7) in the book of Daniel 9:24; and God’s judgment reflected with a series of seven seals, seven trumpets, with seven angels and bowls of plagues of God’s wrath (Revelation 6-16). In the book of Revelation is Christ depicted with seven golden lampstands (1:12), seven stars (1:16), and speaking to the seven churches (Rev 2-3).
While numbers are significant and symbolic, they are not always meant to take on greater meaning than intended in Scripture. Sometimes a number is just a number. Genre, and most importantly context, is the key to understanding the importance of meaning for a number. In all, the principle of 7 often reflects fullness and divine operation.
Therefore, in an effort to further communicate our church’s mission and seek the fullness of what God desires for us, I would like to exhort us to apply a principle of seven in the monthly rhythm of life. This principle of seven can be expressed in 4-1-1-1.
- 4 Gatherings: Emphasize our Sunday gatherings, which essentially are 4x a month. I am encouraging our members to aim at prioritizing each week we gather as individuals and families in worship to sing, praise, pray, listen, learn, and love our God and Savior. My intention is not to be legalistic to signify or shame the number of Sundays a person attends. Our goal is to make corporate worship a priority. Some individuals or families who travel out of town may consider worshiping with another church family. This too can be a beautiful expression of our love of God in gathering with believers in different settings. And we should not limit our gatherings with other believers in worship to just “church buildings”, as the church is people and each church can be expressed uniquely. Hopefully, you understand my intention and heart behind this starting point.
- 1 “Love God”: Emphasize “Love God” in the way we grow in faith through study of His word. Therefore, I want to encourage people to be involved in some sort of Bible study group or mentoring relationship at least 1x a month (cf. John 15:7; 2Peter 3:17-18).
- 1 “Live Jesus”: Emphasize “Love Others” or “Live Jesus” in the way we grow in fellowship and friendship with others. Therefore, I want to encourage people to be involved in a specific and tangible effort to serve people whom intersect our life (cf. John 13:14-15, 34-35). The examples could be serving through the ministry teams of SPBC, or could be other areas where we discern opportunities to meet needs of others in Jesus’ name. Shouldn’t we live as Jesus on a daily basis? Again, my encouragement is at least 1x a month in this specific effort.
- 1 “Lead Generations”: Emphasize “Lead Generations” in the way we grow in mission. Therefore, I want to encourage people to be involved in efforts of evangelism and disciplemaking (cf. John 4:35; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2Cor 5:20). Examples of this action could be investing relationally with people through conversations, meals, and ultimately sharing the gospel and our faith testimony. I believe the Lord gives us multiple opportunities each week and the more we see and take advantage of following through in sharing our faith, God will honor His Word not to return void.
Let’s make it a goal in 2017 that “each one reach one”. What if each member of SPBC was part of a relational process that at least one other person trusted Jesus as Savior from their sins and Lord of their life? That doesn’t mean you share your faith once and boom, a conversion experience happens. Sometimes you may share your faith multiple times along with several others and then that person grows in awareness by the power of the Holy Spirit of what it means to trust and follow Jesus. Nor does it mean that every new believer will join our church. Prayerfully many would! Nonetheless, our goal would be that each person, or even each family, reaches others with the gospel to see spiritual fruit and a harvest in His kingdom.
This principle of seven is one way to increase clarity to our mission of equipping and engaging people in our disciplemaking process. This principle is not the sole standard of measurement for spiritual health, but is a starting point to facilitate next steps of spiritual growth in each of our lives.
If you have questions or would like to discuss these further I would be glad to pray and brainstorm ways we can better look and live like Jesus. Supremely, I am blessed to serve as pastor of a church who shares the desire and devotion of growing godly generations.