“now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then He charged them, saying, “take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Leaven of Herod.”
And they reasoned amongst themselves, saying. “it is because we have no bread.”
But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears. Do you not hear? And do you not remember? 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.”
Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragment did you take up?”
And they said, “Seven.”
So, He said to them, “How is it that you do not understand?” Mark 8: 13 – 21
When Jesus spoke these words, His disciples were in a huge place of transition, in their expectation, and their understanding, values and actions. They expected Jesus to bring in a new order for Israel, proclaim Himself king and to use force if necessary.
They had a concept of who He is, but it was only partial. They were at the beginning of a big process.
This episode highlights part of that process for them and just like many of Jesus’s parables, it can be received on many levels.
For those who have heard me share the vision for PFTN, part of that vision is to put in place in the Spiritual realm a framework for God’s purposes for the future for our nation. (Hebrews 11:3). Frameworks, plans, blueprints are mathematical designs, and I believe God is raising the profile of numbers in His word for that reason.
Against the background of Jesus speaking of the Yeasts of these groups of people, (the account in Matthew 16:6 adds that of the Sadducees) Jesus highlights some past events and in particular He emphasizes the numbers involved.
The three groups of people Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians were the ruling classes of their day.
- The Pharisees strong on law and tradition, also known for their intellectual skill;
- the Sadducees were the wealthy, ruling group, holding the largest share of the Sanhedrin
- the Herodians the political class.
Jesus said of them in Mark 10:42 you know those who are considered rulers over the gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.”
Although there are good people in all these groups, the structures lift the significance of those involved above the ordinary person, to the few. They show the control and domination of so many of the worlds systems, yet in our day, God is shaking these systems, and the ordinary public is kicking against them. The question is always what will they be replaced with?
In this passage, Jesus highlights two different systems, that of the world and that of heaven. On its simplest level, as the disciples transition from expecting an earthly kingdom to catching a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, Jesus is saying remember what I’ve already done for You, watch Me, allow who I am to touch You. Do not fear. Notice how My Kingdom releases miracles, and serves the people, instead of Lording it over people, I feed and nourish them. Much has been taught over the years in this area.
What follows is one of the most popular Sunday School stories ever, but I found myself asking, why did Jesus highlight the numbers? Why are they repeated in all four gospels? What would they have meant to His disciples? So often when we look at the significance of numbers, we use scripture references, often from Books of the Bible that would not have even existed in Jesus’ time. So, what would these numbers have meant to the disciples as they watched and listened?
I looked back to the scriptures the disciples would have been taught, and also to the Hebrew. Hebrew does not have numerical symbols, but each number is associated with a letter of the alphabet, is also represented by a pictograph and therefore each number has a meaning as well as a value. For example, the number 5 is the fifth Hebrew letter, hey. The word five is Chamesh and there is also a pictograph.
Five loaves fed 5000 with 12 baskets left over;
The Meaning of the Numbers
The number 5 is the number of grace, but it also carries the meaning – ‘behold, look, wake up’. David used 5 stones against Goliath, grace to overcome. The letter Hey which corresponds to the number 5 has to be breathed out, so it connects with the power of words, of His word. As many will know, this letter when placed in the middle of the name Abram changes it to Abraham – personal transformation.
But I love this, because both incense and anointing oil have 5 ingredients and there are 5 books of the Torah (the Word) it speaks of us being empowered by the Word and the Spirit.
A thousand is the Biblical number of multiplication brought about by appointed leadership as in Deuteronomy 1:11, but the pictograph describes the connecting of the upper realm of heaven with the earth.
The number 12 is well understood; twelve disciples; 12 gates of Jerusalem;12 precious stones in the new Jerusalem. Jacob had 12 sons who became the foundation of Israel. This number speaks of God’s Government; perfection in rule. There were also 12 cakes of unleavened bread in the Temple, replaced every week – the need for fresh bread, fresh revelation.
Conclusion: God’s Kingdom depends upon grace for all things, that as the freshness of His Word and Spirit come together it releases true personal transformation, food for others, then as we increasingly walk bringing the revelation and truth of heaven into our world, even the Lordship of Jesus, we see multiplication and the release of true authority, true Kingdom Government.
Similarly, 7 Loaves fed 4000, with 7 baskets left over.
The number 7 in Hebrew speaks of fullness, completeness and perfection think of the 7 days of creation, 7 spirits of God, 7 colours of the rainbow – covenant. The pictograph is of a man “crowned” with glory and honour. The word for 7 means weapon or sword but derives from the word nourishment. Interestingly the number 7 is also very connected to time.
The number 4 in Hebrew is very connected to creation, the fabric of the universe was completed on the 4th day. There are 4 seasons, 4 winds, north, south, east and west.
The root of the word means humility, yet Judah was the 4th son, the tribe which was called to rule.
Again, multiplication by 1000 brings the increase of Godly rule, leaving this time 7 baskets.
I love this, the Mesopotamian region at the time of Jesus, believed there were 7 regions in the earth, and there are of course 7 continents. What a picture of this season, as the church moves in the fullness of the revelation God has restored over the centuries, it will have world impact.
To me it also speaks of the release of Romans 8 season, where the Sons of God are revealed, and the power of the miraculous on a different level.
“for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Romans 8: 18
None of this is intended as a theology, but all of it can be backed up by scripture in other places. To me it is a wonderful picture of the difference between the worlds systems and His Kingdom, but as so often Jesus hides the deepest revelation for those who will seek it out.
No longer a kingdom that will seek to dominate or control, where significance comes through rules, power, intellect or money. But this beautiful kingdom, where everything is by grace, empowered by the word and Spirit. Where God’s rule is established in humility, releasing authentic growth and world impact.
Blessings to you all!
Passion for the Nation