the NUMBER FIVE
Bible Students have long recognised the importance of numbers in Scripture. Each number seems to carry a particular significance, and the importance of this is illustrated in the naming of a particular Angel “Palmoni” or “wonderful Number” (see Daniel 8:13, marginal rendering). It would appear that this Angel is in some way involved with this numbering aspect of Scripture. Sometimes however, the difficulty in defining which number speaks of which aspect is not easy, leading some to conclude that numerology is by no means certain, and the meanings are arbitrarily decided with little evidence. The number 5 is an example of this: traditionally the number 5 is said to represent Grace. We believe however, that there are 2 independent lines of reasoning that support that position.
INCENSE AND SALT
Exodus chapter 30 describes the various components of Incense:
“Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanium: these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each there shall be a like weight” (Exod. 30:34).
Notice in this description, there are four ingredients:
- Pure frankinsence
However, there was an additional fifth ingredient, alluded to in the marginal rendering of the AV:
“thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary salted together, pure and holy” (Exod. 30:25).
Salt then, was used in mixing the ingredients together, and was therefore a fifth ingredient. Under the symbolism of the Mosaic Law, Incense is representative of prayer—hence the Psalmist wrote: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense” (Psa. 141:2). These things come together in Colossians chapter 4:
“let your speech be always with Grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6).
Notice these things: to speak with grace is to be seasoned with salt. Salt therefore, as the 5th ingredient represents grace in speech. Just as under the Law of Moses Incense ascended before the Father as representing the prayers of the nation, so in the New Covenant, all of our speech, not only those directed to Yahweh, must be seasoned with the salt of Grace.
THE LAMPSTANDS OF THE TEMPLE
Under the Temple arrangement of things, there were 10 lampstands that gave light for the ministering for the holy things. But the Spirit is careful to note a particular aspect of their arrangement:
“… he made ten lampstands of gold, according to their form, and set them in the temple, five on the right hand and five on the left” (2 Chron. 4:7).
Notice this, it is not simply the case that there were 10 lampstands, it is specifically stated that there were 5 on each side. This meant that when the priest entered into the Holy of Holies (each year), he would pass through the lampstands on each side of him, looking forward to entering into the place of Glory, and Yahweh’s dwelling among men.
This arrangement seems to be alluded to in the Apostle’s Epistle to the Romans:
“… therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2).
Notice this: whereas the High Priest stood with 5 lampstands on each side, even so we have access into the Holy of Holies by faith, “into this grace wherein we stand”. And whereas the High Priest looked forward to entering into the effulgence of Divine Glory, even so we rejoice in the hope of beholding the glory of God, as manifested in the age to come.
From the parallelisms described above where Grace and the number 5 are linked together, we can see that assigning meanings to numbers in Scripture need not be an arbitrary affair. Rather, in this case at least, it would seem that there are good Scriptural reasons why certain meanings can be ascribed to certain numbers.