Is there a secret to the number twelve?
The Bible mentions the number twelve often. Can we know why? Or should we praise God for His wisdom not yet fully revealed?
These are those who were listed, whom Moses and Aaron listed with the help of the chiefs of Israel, twelve men, each representing his fathers’ house. Numbers 1:44
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. Mark 3:13-15
Twelve tribes, twelve representatives, twelve apostles. It is hard to miss the repetition of the number “12” in the Bible even when you are not reading simultaneously in the Old and New Testaments, as we are. There seems to be a certain kind of completeness in that number.
In our reading of Matthew, we saw this statement: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” Matthew 19:28
So there is a connection between the twelve tribes and the twelve disciples (later called apostles). Is this fully explained? I haven’t found it yet. I am okay with not knowing all of God’s reasons and purposes now or ever. We should not attempt to go beyond what God has made clear in His Word. He certainly lets us know all that we need to know for life and godliness. As the Apostle Peter wrote:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3
Peter went on to point out that the apostles did not follow cleverly devised myths when they preached the good news of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:16). Some have tried to make too much out of the secret meaning of numbers in the Bible. It sounds a lot like cleverly devised myths.
Think about it
Even though God does not always reveal to us His reasons for the things He decrees, we can understand all we need to know to come to life in Him. Perhaps when His kingdom comes fully we will know the reasons we do not yet understand. On that day, we will have even more reasons to praise Him for His infinite wisdom. Meanwhile, start now by faith praising Him for that wisdom.