The infinite and humble…number Eight
Overwhelming attention given to the number seven in the bible has all but caused readers to overlook the significance of numeric symbols mentioned less often in scripture. But another among them shines throughout starting in Genesis, then further on as it relates to certain feast days, to King David (the 8th of eight sons) and to Christ Himself, finally culminating with its multiplied value in the book of Revelation. This number, like the more celebrated “7” isn’t magic nor is it numerology. Like its counterpart, it signifies a transition from one day to that of a new day (one without end), but there the similarity ends. The number seven embodied the time-bound covenant, its bold overwhelming presence in the Word is both steady and predictable. But the number eight when recognized in places throughout the Law & the Prophets, pulses intensely like a quasar for a fleeting moment, then just as suddenly, quietly settles back into the text, allowing the scripture to move on undisturbed, as though containing itself in whispers of “not yet.” The message of the number seven was and still is profound, but what is symbolized in the humble digit eight would forever change the course of mankind.
No sense can be made concerning the significance of the number eight except as it relates to other numbers. According to scripture days of creation in Genesis are very likely meant to be symbolic of greater periods of time, the length of which is indeterminate. Even so, it's logical that before there was an eighth-day man there had to have been a sixth-day man. Nothing in scripture tells us that all humans were of the sixth day creation. On the contrary, scripture notes that “God rested on the seventh day” and then created a man to tend the Garden (Eden) because there was no human assigned to that task. Note also that the woman was derived from this same man, versus being a separate creation or of another lineage. Apparently this select lineage was destined to result in the future Messiah of whose family tree one reads in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Significant too is that it wasn’t until these eighth day people (Adam & Eve) disobeyed that the clock started ticking. Eden's inhabitants were banished, assuming only the eighth day people were inhabiting it, only to join in the same dimension as the “sixth day” humans (our current mortal dimension). If any covenant was tied to flesh and therefore subject to schedules, it was doomed for much the same reason - the clock ultimately ran out.
So most of mankind was created on the sixth day and often in scripture you’ll see where the number six is attached to man, mans’ institutions and even to his person. Goliath was “six cubits and a span in height”, while his “spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron” 1 Sam 17:4,7. The number 666 signifies both man and mans' governments, economics and religions tied up in one number to be overseen by Satan and his minions. Six as in “six days shall you work” (Exo 20:9) is the number of labor; the number then being associated with slavery. Two stones bore the names of six tribes each of Israel as they sat on the shoulders of the High Priest, again signifying human tribes, so the number wasn’t always associated with evil, rather it can merely indicate the human condition. There are numerous examples throughout scripture, but for this discussion, one other incident bears mention: Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood Gen 7:6. He departed into the ark with seven others Gen 6:18, marking a sabbath lasting one solar year Gen 8:13. On disembarking, he received a new covenant (the bow in the sky), and a new beginning as “the eighth person”
2 Peter 2:5. It is in this episode where the first glimmer of the eighth-day man comes through. That Peter connected the numeral eight with this man is evidence that Peter’s generation and those before him understood a divine connection.
The number Eight was always in the background
Number eight in the context of a new beginning becomes clearer with Genesis chapters 12,15, 17 finally culminating in Isaac’s birth (chapter 21:4). This covenant, above all others, is unusual for consisting of three parts:
I. Genesis 12:1-3: The Lord blesses Abram, promises him many descendants and says that through him the families of the earth would be blessed. God gives his word, but no outward sign.
II. Genesis 15:1-21: The Lord reaffirms that Abram will have his own heir. The Lord produces tangible evidence in an oath when Abram arranges a sacrifice into eight pieces [goat, heifer, ram divided in halves to make six pieces along with one whole dove, one whole pigeon totalling eight pieces). Abram himself didn’t walk between the pieces - YHVH did. Therefore, the covenant was unconditional, since the Lord constituted both parties of the oath.
This third portion of the covenant is highly unusual - it could be broken on the human side, but the Lord was able to keep it eternal by transferring this covenant to Himself after getting His Son born into the flesh, thus Christ became the new eighth day man. So, just as the Lord walked between the divided animals, making Abraham a spectator instead of a partaker, the Lord would eventually become the covenant man, replacing Isaac. This effectively removed the seal from a fallible man and put the covenant firmly into the eternal realm. Recall too, all Hebrew males were circumcised - on the eighth day of life starting with Isaac.
Again, the number eight's significance becomes prominent later on: Seven steps lead to the millennial temple’s outer court, accessible to quite a few, but the inner court has eight steps leading into it, whereby only the Zadok (High Priests) are permitted Ezek 40:34-37. Seven is completion, but eight is a new dimension, beyond time and space (as we know it). At the top of that eighth step is the door to eternity. Lastly, there are twenty-four elders seated before the throne of God (24= 8 + 8 + 8) Rev 19:4.