What is numerology?

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By BibleAsk Team


Numerology is the belief in the mystical significance of numbers and their influence on human life. It is an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years and has been part of various cultures and belief systems. Numerologists assert that numbers have inherent meanings and that they can reveal insights about a person’s character, destiny, and life’s purpose. This essay explores the origins of numerology and Bible numbers integrating references from the Bible to provide a biblical perspective on the subject.

Origins and History of Numerology

Numerology’s roots can be traced back to several ancient civilizations, including Egypt, Babylon, China, Greece, and India. Each of these cultures developed their own systems of interpreting numbers.

One of the most influential figures in the history of numerology was the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who lived in the 6th century BCE. Pythagoras is often credited with developing a systematic approach to numerology. He believed that numbers were the fundamental building blocks of the universe and that they held spiritual and mystical significance.

Principles of Numerology

Numerology operates on the principle that everything in the universe can be reduced to a numerical value and that these values carry specific meanings. The basic concepts include:

  1. Life Path Number: Calculated from a person’s birth date, this number is believed to reveal their life’s purpose and the challenges they will face.
  2. Expression Number: Derived from a person’s full name at birth, this number represents their natural talents and abilities.
  3. Soul Urge Number: Also known as the Heart’s Desire Number, this is calculated from the vowels in a person’s name and reflects their inner desires and motivations.
  4. Personality Number: Based on the consonants in a person’s name, this number indicates how others perceive them.

Types of Numerology

There are several types of numerology, each with its own methods and interpretations. The most common types include:

  1. Pythagorean Numerology: Based on the teachings of Pythagoras, this system assigns numbers to letters in the alphabet and uses them to analyze names and dates.
  2. Chaldean Numerology: Originating in ancient Babylon, this system also assigns numbers to letters but in a different order than the Pythagorean system. It is considered more mystical and complex.
  3. Kabbalistic Numerology: Rooted in Jewish mysticism, this type of numerology interprets numbers based on their spiritual meanings in the Kabbalah.
  4. Chinese Numerology: Incorporates the principles of yin and yang and the five elements (water, wood, fire, earth, and metal) to analyze numbers.

Numbers in the Bible

Numbers do play a significant role in biblical texts. Certain numbers appear frequently and are often associated with specific meanings. Here are a few examples:

  1. The Number Seven: This number is often associated with completeness and perfection in the Bible. In Genesis, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:2-3 NKJV). The Book of Revelation features numerous references to the number seven, including seven churches, seven seals, and seven trumpets (Revelation 1:4, 5:1, 8:6 NKJV).
    • Genesis 2:2-3 NKJV: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
    • Revelation 1:4 NKJV: “John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: 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.”
  2. The Number Twelve: This number often signifies perfection and authority. There were twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:28 NKJV) and twelve apostles chosen by Jesus (Matthew 10:2-4 NKJV).
    • Genesis 49:28 NKJV: “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.”
    • Matthew 10:2-4 NKJV: “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.”
  3. The Number Forty: This number often represents periods of trial and testing. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years (Numbers 14:33-34 NKJV), and Jesus fasted in the desert for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:1-2 NKJV).
    • Numbers 14:33-34 NKJV: “And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.”
    • Matthew 4:1-2 NKJV: “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.”

A Biblical Perspective on Numbers

There is a difference between Bible numbers and numerology. Christians see the significance of numbers in the Bible as evidence that God uses numbers to convey spiritual truths and that studying these patterns can enhance their understanding of God’s word. In contrast, numerology assigns mystical or predictive powers to numbers, as this can lead to superstition, paganism, and distract from the core message of the Bible.

The term numerologist refers to those who put their faith in numerical patterns and draw pseudo-scientific implications from them, even if they do not themselves exercise traditional numerology. Numerology is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts. These Occult practices are strongly condemned in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God strictly warned the Israelites against being involved with the occult:

“And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people” (Leviticus 20:6, NKJV).

“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the [a]abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass[b] through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are [c]an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, NKJV).

And in the New Testament, believers were also warned that the occult will be one of the signs of the end. “Now the Spirit [a]expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1, NKJV).

Therefore, Christians today are exhorted to “Be [a]sober, be [b]vigilant; [c]because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV). They are to put on the “the whole armor of God” to reject all occult practices and be holy people (Ephesians 6:10–18, NKJV).

Conclusion

Numerology is a fascinating field that offers insights into the potential meanings and influences of numbers in human life. While it has historical roots and various systems of interpretation, its application and validity remain subjects of debate. From a biblical perspective, while numbers do hold significance and are used symbolically in the Scriptures, caution is advised against practices that could lead to superstition or divination. Ultimately, the Christian faith encourages seeking wisdom and guidance from God rather than relying on mystical interpretations of numbers.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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