Is it just another number, or is there a mystical connection with destiny? A fascinating look is offered by the author of The Ninth Generation.
Nine out of ten diners open their fortune cookies. Some people read their horoscopes. And more than a few look to tarot cards in hopes of gaining hidden knowledge about the future. As numbers go, nine is reportedly held in great reverence by all who study the occult sciences - I am not one of those, nor do I make any prophetic claims of my own (not wanting to be stoned by those still following Mosaic rules). But for the serious inquirer as well as the simply curious, I offer some findings that I hope will be not only revealing but helpful in the year 2009 and beyond.
So, what qualifies me to write on such a topic as number nine and the future? A fair question. It is not the traditional schooling, which may have helped. But I believe that it is the bent I have taken as a historic novelist, and the five years of research and writing required for a story set in the ancient earth, The Ninth Generation. Granted, a book does not make an expert in a field, but it does usually suggest some investigation into the subject. And in this case, the past sheds light on the future. Fortunately the way has been blazed by Ethelbert W. Bullinger in his classic 1894 reference, Number in Scripture. To him I am indebted for much of this material.
Let us begin with the fascinating properties of the last of the digits – nine. Mathematically, its uniqueness is found in no other number. The sum of the digits which form its multiples are themselves always a multiple of nine; e.g., 2 x 9 = 18 (1 + 8 = 9); 3 x 9 = 27 (2 + 7 = 9); 4 x 9 = 36 (3 + 6 = 9); Etc. And even so with larger numbers: 52843 x 9 = 475587 (4 + 7 + 5 + 5 + 8 + 7 = 36 (and 3 + 6 = 9).
Some scholars have attached numerical values to the letters of the Hebrew and Greek alphabet, a science known as Gematria. In analyzing the ancient books of Moses (The Torah), they have discovered that verses pertaining to judgment – as the judgment of Sodom – are characterized by values that are multiples of nine. The sieges of Jerusalem also happen to number twenty-seven (9 x 3). According to Bullinger, it is the number signifying finality or judgment. For those wishing to study this in more detail, Bullinger’s work is recommended.
Within the field of Biblical Hermeneutics (the study of Scriptural interpretation) there is a rule called “the law of first mention”. It is the principle that requires one to go to that place in the Scriptures where a specific term or doctrine in found for the very first time, and to study that first occurrence in order to obtain the fundamental inherent meaning. The word “nine” is first mentioned in Genesis 5:5 – “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” To the casual reader, 930 years may seem a glorious longevity depicting a grandiose era. But in the context of Genesis history, death of man had been a tragic revelation. The thousand-year mark was never reached, based upon the genealogical records. And at one point, in the beginning, there had been at least a possibility that man might have lived indefinitely. So, in this occurrence, the number nine is associated with the short-fall of man and resulting judgment – separation and death.
The subhead of the recently published novel, The Ninth Generation: Conquering the Giants, speaks of a race of beings described in ancient history who were ultimately destroyed. I will leave the method of destruction up to the reader’s imagination. But the fact of their once fearful size is strongly supported by the manuscript evidence of Deuteronomy 3:11 – “For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? Nine cubits was the length thereof…” Based on the length of a cubit, Og must have stood at least thirteen feet high. Was the recorded length of the ancient giant’s bed – nine cubits –a Scriptural connection with judgment? That I am not sure, but they were ultimately removed from this earth. Whether they will ever reappear is the subject of other novels on the Nephilim.
Bullinger states that nine… “marks the end and issue of all things as to man – the judgment of man and all his works.” If one ventures to the top of any major mountain range on earth, they can find evidence of fossilized sea life. The legends of every race also testify to that ancient universal judgment. Of course there will be those who deny that this world was ever completely covered with water. Such people were predicted long ago by the same Scriptures that record the flood: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers…ignorant of…the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished…” (2 Peter 3:3-6). The consideration of such a truth is so unsettling that many are driven to concoct theories to explain away the obvious worldwide evidence. And even fewer care to think about the following verses which speak of the earth that now exists... “being kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (vs. 7). It is interesting that verse nine gives the reason that we are still living in our present condition: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (vs. 9). Bullinger concludes, “the significance of the number nine is judgment, especially divine judgment.” A God with the power and will to judge is a scary thought, especially when the cross (man’s only God-given escape) is ignored.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be…”(Luke 17: 26) Sobering words delivered by Jesus concerning the condition of the last generation just prior to his final spectacular return. Can we glean anything from those who were alive in the days of Noah – the generation that existed just before the watery judgment? In my research for the novel, The Ninth Generation, I discovered that the ninth patriarch in Seth’s lineage from Adam was Lameck, Noah’s father. Biblical names conveyed meanings and his meant “conqueror” according to some sources. This was of special interest that such a title would be conferred on the eve of judgment and plays a prominent part in the story leading up to the ark. I believe that it also has a meaning for the church in the last days.
Nine is also most noticeably a transitional number, being the last of the digits. Prophetically, as such, it may mark the end of an era. It is of interest that in the popular and political news today that so much of what we hear has to do with change. And I agree that change is needed, but I doubt that we will see the types of changes that will be truly beneficial to mankind without a change in heart toward the God who created us.
In the Gospel of Luke (17:11-19), there is an account of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. They had all cried out for mercy, but only one turned back to worship Him – giving Him thanks and glory to God. “Where are the nine?” asks Jesus. Does this nine represent the multitudes who continue through the “wide gate” to destruction? (Matthew 7:13) Those who think they are well? (Matthew 9:12-13) In the last days, just before the revealing of the ultimate “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the Scriptures predict a massive “falling away” with “great deception” (vs. 9). With worsening economic conditions, the faith of many will be sorely tested. The love of many will grow cold and evil will continue to increase (Matthew 24:12). However there is a positive aspect to the number nine.
Nine is the square of three. And three represents Divine perfection – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The manifestation of God through His Spirit is expressed in the quantity of nine: The gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) are 1-The word of wisdom, 2-The word of knowledge, 3-Faith, 4-Healing, 5-The working of miracles, 6-Prophecy, 7-Discerning of spirits, 8-Divers kinds of tongues, 9-The interpretation of tongues. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are 1-Love, 2-Joy, 3-Peace, 4- Longsuffering, 5-Gentleness, 6-Goodness, 7-Faith, 8-Meekness, 9-Temperance. Both the gifts and the fruit are nine in number, a great blessing to be imparted through the believers.
In Genesis, Chapter Nine, Verse Nine, God speaks: “And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.” – this covenant is based upon the greatest judgment in all of history. In the New Testament the meaning is given – All those who trust in Jesus Christ’s death as payment for their sins will also be raised to eternal life. The plan that God had for man from the beginning is now realized and made perfect through His Son. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)
Like the number nine, this world is not in its place of rest. It is like a woman with birth pangs. It is painful and at times agonizing. But based upon a Book whose prophecies have never failed, we can look ahead to a new creation. And that is far better than a fortune cookie. It is a Scriptural promise found in Revelation 21 [the Divine (3) times the Perfect (7)].
In conclusion, I think we can all agree that change is coming. But the best change for now is the new creation that takes place inside the believer from the moment that he places his faith in Jesus Christ – “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) This is the only place of hope for the coming year(s).