The Design of Scripture
The Number Four - Creation and the World
All of the numbers used in scripture have some variety in their meaning. However, every number has a common theme that runs through each one. The number 'four' is no exception. This number is overwhelmingly seen in the material creation and the expression of God's purpose in the world or on the earth. We first see this in the 4th word in the beginning, the aleph-tav. The fourth word in the book of B'reshith is not translated into the English. In the Hebrew it is simply the first and last letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet. It appears hundreds of times in the Tenakh as a grammatical form called the sign of the direct object. But when it is used as a distinct part of Hebrew grammar it is seen followed by a maqqef, or what would be called a hyphen in the English. It is only seen a hand full of times as standing alone. At any rate, it still points to the creation as being the direct object of the Creator, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. The fourth word speaks of the creation and the Creator who accomplished this by His Word. All that was needed to restore the creation in the next 20 verses was created in the first verse. This is why there is no mention of creating from verse one through verse twenty-one.
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. Man can now look out his window from the four walls of his house and see the divine stamp of four in most of what he sees. He sees his day divided into morning, afternoon, evening and night. He sees four directions on his compass, four elements in his world: earth, air, fire, and water. He experiences four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter, unless he lives in Miami or Phoenix. At night, he sees four phases of the moon. He reads all manner of literature testifying of the four winds and the four corners of the earth, and from the garden of Eden he sees four rivers encompassing the earth. We read in the beginning that there are lights in the firmament to be for signs, seasons, days, and years for the earth. This is to be God's calendar that man cannot manipulate or conveniently place into dispensations. After the flood, we learn that the population of the world will be accomplished by four men: Noach, Shem, Ham and Yapheth, with a little help from four wives. As we count the years we see that the Word of God made flesh was to come in the 4th millenium.
The first command to the creation was to multiply or increase. Here we begin to see the root meaning of the Hebrew word for four, 'areva'ah. It's verbal root is rava', which means to breed or increase. Coincidence? One of it's major cognates is ravah, which means 'much' or to multiply. Can you see YHVH's handiwork in all this? Ravah is where we get the word 'Rabbi'. A rabbi is one who is a teacher of 'much' skill and 'increased' learning. So, from the beginning we see the stamp of four ('areva'ah) in the first commands to His creation.
The Hebrew letter that is represented by the number four is dalet, with it's root being dalah. Dalet means a door, or the way to enter. We are told by Messiah, in context with the 'new birth' or the 'new creature', that heavenly things are comprehended by trusting in the earthly things. Through the creation and God's commands to His creation we are given pictures of heavenly, eternal realities. Mankind from the beginning could not be redeemed outside of the Messiah, for He is the only way, the only door (dalet). This is pictured in the kinsman-redeemer. The deliverer had to come into the world and take upon flesh. The holy ones of the Tenakh had been waiting in sheol until the death of the testator, in order to receive their inheritance. Believers today share that same inheritance.
"And for this cause He is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
Our inheritance with the saints could only be accomplished when that which was heavenly took upon flesh (became part of the creation) to redeem His creation. The number four or dalet, the door, is seen in the Messiah, who came into the WORLD as part of the CREATION, in order to redeem His creation.
Below is a small sample of the use of the number four in scripture.
- 4 gospels record the events of the Messiah on the earth.
- Each gospel pictures the Messiah from Yechezk'el's 4 living creatures with 4 faces and 4 wings
- The children of Israel were camped around the Tabernacle in 4 camps
- The book of Dani'el records 4 kingdoms to rule the world: Babylon, Persian, Greece and Rome, represented by 4 beasts
- The human creation is called kindreds, tongues, peoples, and nations: Hitgalut 5:9, 7:9, 10:11, 17:15; B'reshith 10:5,20,31.
- 4 judgments on the world: war, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes: Mattityahu 24:6-7
- Nebuchadnezzars image of gold, silver, bronze, iron - iron/clay
- 4 horsemen bring terror and death to the world: Hitgalut 6:1-8
- 4 soils of the world: Mattityahu 13:3-8
- Elect to be gathered from the 4 winds: Mattityahu 24:31
- 4 sides of the brazen altar with 4 horns: Sh'mot 27:1-2
- 4 outer coverings of the Tabernacle: fine linen, goat's hair, ram's skin, and badger skins: Sh'mot 26:1-6
- 4 rows of stones in the breastplate of the high priest: Sh'mot 28:17-21
- 4 pillars with 4 sockets in the entrance to the Tabernacle gate: Sh'mot 27:16
- 3 metals plus wood in the making of the Tabernacle: Sh'mot 25:3
- 4 sore judgments of Yechezk'el 14:21
- 4 kinds of flesh: 1 Corinthians 15:39
- 4 kinds of glories: 1 Corinthians 15:40-41
- Iyov's 4 comforters
- There were actually 4 in the fiery furnace in Dani'el
- The gematria of the world's oldest city Damascus is 444
- 4 animals for sacrifice: bullock, goat, lamb, and turtledoves
- New Jerusalem is to be 4 square: Hitgalut 21:6
- 4 principle names of Lucifer cast down to earth: Dragon, the old serpent, devil, and satan
- 4 women of Yahshua's genealogy: Tamar, Rahav, Ruth and the wife of Uriah (Bathsheba)
And of course we must mention that the most revealing use of the number four is in the moronic, WORLDLY game of golf, in which too many of God's CREATURES, just before popping the golfer ahead of them in the head, yell 'FORE!'