In this blog I should like to shed some light on the topic of biblical gematria. This is not an exhaustive study, but a blog about some relevant information that pertains to the nearness of the Lord’s return. The Bible is God’s holy and inspired Word to humanity. It’s ‘His story,’ a road map for people to discover their Creator and receive His needed forgiveness for their sin within the short span of their life, however long it may be. The Bible is full of numbers, even the 4th book is called Numbers. In both the Greek and Hebrew language, each letter of the alphabet is assigned a number. Gematria is the practice of calculating the numerical equivalent of words and phrases by adding up the numbers associated with each letter. While we don’t know just when the Hebrew gematria was introduced, it would appear in happened around the time of the second temple in Jerusalem. Gematria is interesting, but like numerology, there is a lot of misinformation and garbage. However, there are many amazing examples of biblical gematria that defy belief and reveal the fact that the Bible is God’s holy Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit and a message of hope to humanity.
I should like to take a closer look at the biblical gematria for the number 22 in the Bible. The number 22 is one of a few key numbers within biblical gematria; mainly because it’s associated with Jesus. The Bible contains 66 books, 3 sets of 22 books, each set of 22 is led by Genesis, Song of Solomon, and Acts. There are 22 chapter 22’s in the Bible and the number 22 is the only chapter number in the Bible with the same number of chapters. There are 66 books total in both the OT and NT of scripture. If you divide 22 into 66 you get 3, the number for, among other things, the Trinity. The number 22 is the number of revelation in that there are 22 chapters in the book of Revelation. The number 22 unites the whole Bible and reflects the 22 foundational Hebrew letters. Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm of all 150 psalms. It’s place in the Bible is two psalms from the exact center of the Bible, which is Psalm 117. Psalm 119 has 22 verses of eight lines. The first word of each line of the 22 verses start with each of the 22 Hebrew letters, from Aleph through to Tav, the first and last of the 22 Hebrew letters. Psalm 119 is all about praising God, respecting His Word, and understanding that God’s Word really is ‘a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’
In Isaiah 22:22 it says, “The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open.” – Isaiah 22:22
- In this verse, the Prophet Isaiah is writing things concerning the house of David. In context, it is pertaining to Christ’ millennial kingdom. Jesus will rule the earth from the ‘throne of His father David.’ >>> See my blog on the Millennial Reign of Christ for more information.
When Jesus was dying on the cross He quoted from Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” – Psalm 22:1
- When you add up all of the ‘letters’ (aka epistles) in the New Testament, between the four Gospels and the Book of Revelation, there are 22 of them.
The number 22 is also the number of light.
In Exodus 25 we read, “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. 32 And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. 33 Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower—and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand. 34 On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower.” – Exodus 25:31-34
- In this passage we see how God gave Moses instructions on how to make the lampstand of pure gold for the tabernacle. This golden lampstand was to be placed inside of the holy place in the tabernacle; which was pitch-black inside.
The golden lampstand with its lamps give light for the interior of the tabernacle. We see that there are lamps, bowls, and almonds embroidered in this lampstand (aka menorah). According to this passage, we see 3 branches on each side of the lamp shaft, making a total of 6 branches. Each branch has 3 bowls, making a total of 18 bowls, and the center shaft has 4 bowls; 18 bowls + 4 bowls = 22 bowls.
Each of the almond bowls has ‘a knob and a flower,’ therefore there are 22 knobs and 22 flowers, which combined with the 22 bowls, makes a total of 66, in keeping with the 66 books of the Bible. The almond bowls are for containing the oil, which fuel the 7 lamps at the top of the lampstand. The lampstand illuminates the 12 loaves of showbread that are placed on a table in front of the lampstand. There are 6 loaves on one side of the table and 6 loaves on the other side; once again, giving us the number 66, the number of books in the Bible.
When we read the book of Revelation, we find seven golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12) which represent the seven churches mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus asked His disciples, “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” – Mark 8:19,20
- The type and shadow of the 7 and 12 in this passage reflect the 7 lampstands and the 12 loaves of showbread. Jesus is telling us that ‘He is the bread of life (12) and the light of the world (7).
Getting back to the tabernacle candelabra (menorah), we know that its purpose was to give light. It has 22 bowls serving the 7 lamps. In relation to this, Jesus said,
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16
- In this passage we see that the saved are ‘the light of the world.’ Paul referred to them as being ‘the children of the light’ (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
In the Gospel of John, the word ‘light’ is used 22 times and the 22nd time it’s used Jesus is speaking,
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” – John 12:46
The NT notes that Jesus quoted from the OT 22 times; Christ never quoted from the NT (lol). The creation account in Genesis 1 records that in the six days of creation, God created 22 different and specific things.
“In the beginning God created the heavens (1) and the earth (2). 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (3). 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; (4) and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, (5) and the darkness He called Night. (6) So the evening and the morning were the first day. 6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament (expanse) in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, (7) and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. 9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear;” and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. (8) And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, (9) the herb that yields seed (10) according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, (11) whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day. 14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: (12,13) the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars (14) also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures (15) and every living thing that moves, (16) with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird (17) according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. 24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle (18) and creeping thing (19) and beast of the earth, (20) each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man (21) in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female (22) He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” – Genesis 1
While some may debate this division of created things, it’s becomes clear that God was very specific in His allocation of creation and the fact that He did it all in six, literal 24 hour days. That was quite a week.
If you take the number 22 and you rotate the 2 on the left ‘180 degrees’ (meaning ‘to repent and turn around’) and touch them together (meaning ‘to love’), you get the Greek word for omega, which means ‘last.’ This letter is in the shape of a love heart. This is interesting because love is the major theme of the Bible. God asks us to us to turn around from our sin and turn back to Him; to love Him. He asks us to stop sinning, turn from our selfish ways, and align ourselves with His will.
- In Numbers 22, the Moabites had enlisted the services of Balaam, a local sorcerer, to curse the Israelites who were camped along the Jordan river across from Jericho. Balaam was able to communicate with God and he spoke with the Lord regarding his desire to put a curse on the Israelites.
God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them (the Moabite officials); you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” – Numbers 22:12
Balaam, the rebel that he was, defied God’s instructions, and he went with the Moabite officials to curse Israel.
We then read, “Then God’s anger was aroused because he (Balaam) went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.” – Numbers 22:22
- The phrase, ‘the Angel of the Lord’ is most likely a pre-incarnate Christ. The term ‘the Angel of the Lord’ is referenced 56 times in the Old Testament. This clearly links Jesus with the number 22.
“Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. 24 Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. 25 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her again. 26 Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused (mocked) me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!” 30 So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed (accustomed) to do this to you?” And he said, “No.” – Numbers 22:23-30
- The Angel of the Lord is standing in the middle of the path to stop Balaam and get him to turn around. Balaam does not see this Angel initially, but his donkey does, and the donkey will not go forward. Balaam strikes his donkey three times and eventually the donkey speaks to him, explaining the situation, and then God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the Angel of the Lord.
“Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. 32 And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against (as an adversary) you, because your way is perverse (contrary) before Me. 33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.” 34 And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.” 35 Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.” – Numbers 22:31-35
- Here we can see how Balaam then understands, saying ‘I have sinned,’ and he turned around and went back. Later we would see how this exchange would provide the Israelites with a blessing at the very words spoken by Balaam.
Numbers 22 is a fascinating chapter and sums up the gospel message. Like with Isaiah, ‘all we like sheep have gone astray, each one of us has turned to his (or her) own way, and God has laid upon Him (Jesus), the iniquity of us all.’ (Isaiah 53:6). We are all being invited to turn around, to acknowledge our mistakes, and to get back on the straight and narrow path. The Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, is the only way where we may repent and turn back. This ‘turning around’ is the call from God for sinners to repent and come to faith in Him before they die.
Currently we are in the year Hebrew 5782 (2022). If you add 5 + 7 + 8 + 2 = 22 If you take the year 1948, when Israel became a nation again, and add those numbers, 1 + 9 + 4 + 8 = 22. While we associate the number 22 with, among other things, the person of the Christ, we can quickly see that it’s placement in scripture is prominent and sure. It also says something significant about both years, 2022 and 1948. My thinks that something is about to happen, this year! Perhaps even this month. This being said, if you see the number 22 a lot, be mindful that God is near and watching, are more importantly, He is coming soon.
The number 153 from the 153 fish in John 21 speaks of, among other things, the Church. The number 888 is another number that speaks of Jesus. Their have been 888 months between May 1948 and May 2022; come quickly Lord Jesus! While this is not an exhaustive study on biblical gematria, at least we can get a taste of this particular style of study. I am not a calculus professor or anything like that, but me thinks that we’re getting close.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Northwest Missouri. He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.