Numbers in Scripture

by Karen Thompson
Second in a Four-Part Series

“The Number Two”

This is the second installment of our series on the significance of numbers in Scripture. In this post, we’re going to talk about the number two. The number two, for me, is the most fun number to talk about. But before we can talk about the number two, we need to first talk about the number one. E.W. Bullinger, author of the book, Number in Scripture, says as a primary number, one is a symbol of unity. He said, “Unity being indivisible, and not made up of other numbers, is therefore independent of all others, and is the source of all others. So with the Deity. The great First Cause is independent of all. All stand in need of Him, and He needs no assistance from any.”

Let’s now look at the spiritual significance of the number two. One excludes all difference, whereas two affirms there is a difference. Bullinger says the number two affirms there is another, while one affirms there is no other. The number two says there is a difference in the other, but one says there is no difference. One speaks of uniqueness. Two speaks of difference.

The difference in the “other” of the two could be good or evil. Two is the first number that can be divided, therefore, “we may trace this fundamental idea of division or difference.” Bullinger gives a very long list of pairs of things that denote difference, contrast, or division. And he said his list was small in comparison to how many examples that are available. Let’s look at a few.

The Two Foundations

In Matthew 7:26–27, we read about the two foundations. Jesus said whoever heard His sayings and did them, He likened him to the wise man that built his house upon a rock that the rain, floods, and winds could not damage. The man who heard His words but didn’t do them is likened to the foolish man who built his house on sand and the rains, the floods, and the winds destroyed it. Here we see the contract of the two: one is wise whereas the other is foolish.

The Two Masters

In Matthew 6:24, we read about the two masters: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Not only do we have two masters—God and mammon—but we have two reactions to the two masters. He will either hate the one or love the other, or he will be loyal to one but despise the other.

The Two Praying Men

In Luke 18:10–13, we see two men approaching God in prayer: one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The difference is clearly seen in the two. The prayer the Pharisee prayed was one of pride; whereas the prayer the publican prayed was one of humility.

The Two Sons of Abraham

In Galatians 4:22–23, we see the two sons of Abraham. The difference between the two sons is two-fold: “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.” The first difference is in their mothers: one was a servant while the other was not. The second difference is that one was born after the flesh while the other was born of promise.

The Two Brothers

In Genesis 4, we see the difference between the two brothers, Cain and Abel. Abel’s offering to the Lord was acceptable, whereas Cain’s offering was not. Out of jealousy, Cain killed his brother, Abel. Cain and Able are opposite brothers.

Other Opposite Brothers

Did you know there are real-life examples of “Opposite Brothers” like Cain and Able? Over the years, I have discovered them through various mediums like books, documentaries, and the like. I’m fascinated by their stories. I’ve kept them in a special file in my mind hoping that one day I would be able to use them. Well, today I’m putting their stories to use!

Opposite Brothers William and Jon O’Hair

The first Opposite Brothers are the sons of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, America’s most well-known atheist. She is the founder of the organization called American Atheists and was its president from 1963 to 1986. She is most known for the lawsuit which led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling that ended prayer and Bible reading in public schools in 1963.

She had two sons: the firstborn was William and her second was Jon. She raised her sons to be ardent atheists. They both worked for her in her atheist organization. But as William got older, he began to harbor doubts about his mother’s position about God. As an adult, he became an alcoholic and his life fell apart. He started attending Alcoholics Anonymous. It was a turning point for him. He said, “I saw some miraculous things people were able to accomplish with faith,” he says, “and I couldn’t help comparing all that with atheism.” He began to believe in God. But because of who he was, he kept it like it was a deep, dark secret. In 1980, at 33 years of age, he became a Christian. His life began to flourish when He accepted the Lord. William eventually became a Baptist pastor. He began to live his life in such a way as to undo the effects of his mother’s atheism. You can read his testimony of conversion here and here.

His brother, Jon, on the other hand, continued working with his mother in her organization. In 1995, Jon and his mother, Madalyn, were kidnapped, murdered, and mutilated by a man named Waters, who was the office manager in their atheist organization.

One brother worked with his atheist mother in the pursuit of removing God from the public’s consciousness. The other brother denounced the work of this atheist mother, became a Christian pastor, and dedicated his life in the pursuit of educating people in the salvation of God, and in the process, reversing the efforts of his brother and mother.

Opposite Brothers Hermann and Albert Goering

Another set of Opposite Brothers is Hermann and Albert Goering. Most people have heard about Hermann Goering; he was a Nazi and Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man. He was instrumental in creating the concentration camps and was the architect and leader in the final solution, the murder of six million Jews. He became wealthy by stealing possessions and artwork from Jews sent to the concentration camps. He ended his life by taking poison so he wouldn’t be hung on the gallows for his war crimes.

His younger brother, Albert, hated Nazism. He saw it as inhumane. He risked his career, fortune, and life trying to save Jews from prison and death. He discovered his last name of Goering opened many doors. He would create needed documents and sign his last name on them, pretending to be his brother. He rescued so many people that he lost count. For his acts, he was arrested four times by the Gestapo and all four times he was released by the help of his brother, Hermann. Everyone knew what Albert was doing to release the Jews from prison, but because his brother was Hermann Goering, no one would do anything about it. Though Hermann and Albert held the opposite views of life, they were close and loved each other dearly. Before Hermann killed himself with poison, he first secured Albert’s promise that he would take care of his wife and children. If you would like to read more about Albert Goering, click here.

One brother, a Nazi, had no regard for human life and was responsible for the destruction of the Jewish people and enriched himself by plundering their wealth. The other brother, an anti-Nazi, had high regard for human life and was responsible for saving many lives and spent his considerable wealth on whatever means necessary to save as many as he could.

Opposite Symbols

The Bible is filled with symbols that are used for both good and bad. Here is a list of just a few of them.

The Lion

In Revelation 5:5, the lion is used as a symbol for Christ in the phrase “lion of the tribe of Judah.”

But in 1st Peter 5:8, the lion is used as a symbol for Satan in the phrase Satan “as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”

Water

In Psalm 72:6, we see water used as a necessary ingredient to bring forth life: “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.”

In Isaiah 28:2, we see water used to bring forth destruction in the form of a flood: “Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.”

Fire

In 2 Peter 3:10–13, we’re told that the earth will be cleansed with fire: “…and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

In Revelation 18:8, we see fire is used to bring about destruction: “…and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”

Whirlwinds

In 2nd Kings 2:11, Elijah went up in whirlwind: “And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind…” and in Job 40:6, God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind: “Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind….”

In Proverbs 1:27, a whirlwind is used to symbolize destruction: “When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind….”

Money

In Luke 16:9, we are instructed to use money (mammon) to make friends: “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness….”

But in 1st Timothy 6:10, we are warned about how the love of money is the root of all evil: “For the love of money is the root of all evil….”

The Number Two in Revelation

My favorite Bible examples of two are found in Revelation. There are several “twos” that illustrate opposites.

Two Riders on White Horses

In Revelation 6:2, a rider on a white horse comes forth and does great harm to the Jewish people; he is Antichrist: “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”

In Revelation 19:11, a rider on a white horse comes forth to save the Jewish people from destruction; He is Messiah: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.”

Two Supper Invitations

In Revelation 19:9, an invitation is extended to come to the marriage supper of the Lamb: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

In Revelation 19:17–18, an invitation is given to the birds to come to a great supper of flesh: “And I saw an angel … and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.”

Two Harvests

In Revelation 14:14–16, the Son of man, who is Jesus, reaps the harvest of the earth. This harvest is the group of people He raptures to heaven who became born again during the tribulation. They are taken up before the bowl judgments are released: “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.

In Revelation 14:17–19, we see the grapes of wrath being harvested in the great wine press of God: “And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar … and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”

The Two Women

In Revelation 12:1, we see the sun-clothed woman who represents Jerusalem, the city of promise: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”

In Revelation 17:1–4, we see another woman sitting on a beast who also represents a city but is called a whore: “I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. … and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast….”

Opposite Brothers Al and Frank Capone

I saved my very favorite Opposite Brothers for last: Al Capone and his brother, Frank. Al Capone is one of America’s most famous gangsters. He rose to infamy as the leader of the crime syndicate known as the Chicago Outfit during the Prohibition era. He amassed a fortune running bootleg whiskey and other various criminal enterprises. His gang was responsible for a great deal of violence and mayhem in Chicago. Al Capone, a.k.a. Scarface, was responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. He sent four of his men to the garage that was the headquarters of their competition, bootlegger George “Bugs” Moran who was head of the North Side gang. Seven men were lined up against the wall and shot dead with the newly invented Thomson submachine guns. As a result of all his nefarious activities, Al Capone’s name was in the newspapers continually. He escaped conviction of his gang activities but was jailed for tax evasion.

Now let’s talk about his brother, Frank Capone. He was the oldest child in the Capone family. When he was a young man, he abandoned his family and moved to the Midwest. The family didn’t know what happened to him, if he was even dead or alive. A year later, he sent them a postcard saying he was fine. He changed his name to Richard Hart and became a marshal and prohibition agent in the Midwest. He even served as bodyguard for President Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and was once district commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America. In every way, he was a fine, upstanding citizen.

In the course of performing his duties as marshal, he was celebrated as the most effective marshal in the Midwest. He found and arrested bootleggers and broke up their stills. He was fearless, and actually, more violent than his criminal brother, Al. The newspapers continually printed stories about his heroics performed while carrying out his duties as lawman. He was known by the nickname of “two gun” Hart. In fact, he was so famous that a post office was able to deliver a letter to him that was addressed simply to “Hart” with a sketch of two revolvers on the envelope.

Throughout his life, he never revealed his true identity, not even when his brother, Al, became famous throughout America. He didn’t even tell his wife and children. It was the Depression that drove Frank to make contact with his notorious family. He came to them looking for financial assistance. Being family, of course, they were glad to help him. Numerous times. But at one point, they insisted he bring his family to meet everybody. Word got out who Al Capone’s brother was and the headlines of the newspapers went crazy. One headline said, “Frank, are you gonna arrest your brother?”

One brother was a criminal who sold bootleg whiskey and used violence to further his criminal enterprises. He became famous throughout the nation, with articles written about him in the newspapers for being a criminal who couldn’t be caught.

The other brother was a lawman who arrested bootleggers and used violence to put criminals out of business. He was famous all across the Midwest, with articles written about him in the newspapers for catching and arresting criminal bootleggers.

Did you enjoy hearing about the opposite brothers?


Ensign: “Captain, more people will read this email if we forward it along.” Jean Luc Picard: “Make it so!”

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