What does the number 5 mean in the Bible?
The number 5 appears 318 times in the Bible. Both in the purification of the leper (Lev. 14: 1-32) and the consecration of the priest (Ex. 29), the blood is placed on three parts of man: which, together, manifest what he is: the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand and the big toe of the right foot. The blood in the ear separates it to receive the Word of God; in hand to do the assigned work; on foot, to walk in His blessed ways.
According to the acceptance that Christ has before God, man’s responsibility is total. Each of these parts is sealed with the number five: the tip of the right ear represents the five senses; the thumb, the five fingers of the hand; and the big toe, the toes. This indicates that man was separated to be held accountable before God. “Five” is, therefore, the number of responsibilities of man under the rule of God.
In the parable of the ten virgins (Mt. 25: 1-13), five of them are wise and five foolish. The five wise men always have the oil that provides the light. They feel the responsibility of staying permanently supplied by the Holy Spirit of God, and of submitting their lives to that Spirit.
The parable of the ten virgins does not show collective responsibility, but my responsibility for myself, for my own life. It is necessary that there be that fullness of the Spirit of God in the presence of each individual, which produces the brightness of the light and the burning of the flame.
Five are the books of Moses, collectively known as the Law, which speak of man’s responsibility in fulfilling the demands of the Law. Five are the offerings on the altar of Sacrifice, recorded in the first chapters of Leviticus. We find here a wonderful group of types that represent the work and the person of our Lord in various aspects.
They tell us how Christ assumed before God the responsibility of making provision for us. Five smooth stones were chosen by David when he went to meet the giant enemy of Israel (1 Sam. 17:40). They were a symbol of their perfect weakness supplemented by divine strength. And he was stronger in his weakness than if all of Saul’s armor had protected him.
David’s responsibility was to face the giant with the five stones, and God’s was to make David conquer the most powerful of all enemies, using only one of those stones.
Our Lord’s responsibility seemed to be to feed the five thousand people (John 6: 1-10), even if someone needed to take the responsibility of giving the “five loaves” to be consecrated by the Master’s hands. Based on those five loaves, our Lord began to bless and feed.
In John 1:14, Christ is shown as the antitype of the Tabernacle, for there, we are told how “that Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The Tabernacle had the “five” as its most representative number since almost all its measures were multiples of five.
Before mentioning these measures, we should note that to enjoy His presence and enter into sweet and uninterrupted communion with him, we have the responsibility of not allowing sin, or the flesh or the world to interpose.
The outer courtyard of the Tabernacle was 100 or 5 × 20 cubits, 50 or 5 × 10 cubits long. On both sides there were 20 or 5 × 4 pillars. The pillars that supported the curtains were five cubits apart and five cubits high. The building was 10 or 5 × 2 cubits high, and 30 or 5 × 6 cubits long. Five linen curtains hung on each side of the Tabernacle. The entrance veils were three.
The first was “the patio door,” 20 or 5 × four cubits long and five cubits high, suspended on five pillars. The second was “the door of the tabernacle,” 10 or 5 × two cubits long and 10 or 5 × two high, suspended, such as the patio door, on five pillars. The third was “the most beautiful veil,” which divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.
In Exodus 30: 23-25, we read that the oil of the holy anointing was composed of five parts: four were spices, and one was oil. The Holy Spirit is always responsible for the separation of man to God. In addition to that, there were also five ingredients in the incense (Ex. 30:34). The incense symbolized “the prayers of the saints” offered by Christ himself (Rev. 8: 3).
We are responsible for our prayers so that, as incense, they rise through the precious merits of Christ, as described in the type by those five ingredients.