We live in a numbers-oriented world, but can certain sacred numbers empower people or hold spiritual significance in their lives?

The Bible is loaded with some special numbers.

For example, references include, but are not limited to, these special numerical selections:

Two or three are significant numbers.

— "... That in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matthew 18:16)

—"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

— Peter, James and John made up the core group of Christ's disciples.

— Jonah was three nights and three days in the whale's belly.

— Christ rose from the tomb on the third day.

Seven also is significant in the Bible.

— Among other references, there were seven years of famine in the Book of Genesis; forgiveness is mentioned to take place for the same sins at least seven times; the seventh day was the Sabbath day in Moses' time; and there's mention of the seventh seal in the Book of Revelation.

Twelve is another important number.

— Both the Old and New Testaments contain many examples of 12. Elijah took 12 stones; there were 12 Tribes of Israel; Christ called 12 disciples.

Forty is another important biblical number.

— It rained upon the Earth for 40 days and 40 nights as the flood of Noah's time came.

— The children of Israel ate manna for 40 years and also wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

— Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

Seventy appears as a sacred number.

— There were 70 elders of Israel, and Christ appointed 70 special men.

The Rev. Neal Humphrey of Fruit Heights' Westminster Presbyterian Church said he understands that 40 days may or may not be the actual length of Christ's time in the wilderness or even of Noah and his family's time on the ark.

"It means a long time," he said of the 40 days, believing it to be more of a biblical expression — not a literal number.

Still, he feels that 40 days is a long enough period for someone to develop a new discipline in their life, so that is spiritually significant.

Other numbers: Jehovah's Witnesses consider 144,000 to be a sacred number.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses many special numbers. For example, there are three members in its First Presidency; 12 apostles in its Quorum of the Twelve and 12 men serve on a high council; it calls Seventies as general authorities; and there are three members in its bishoprics and stake presidencies.

Since the LDS Church and some other faiths believe in tithing, one-tenth is a special numerical representation, too.

• There are some undesirable numbers in the Bible, too. For example, 666 is said to be the mark of the beast in the Book of Revelation.

Even the numbers two and three have their negative side, too. Peter denied Christ three times before the cock could crow.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com