As we approach 2022, many are wondering what the year ahead may bring.
While we can’t read too much into numerology, the number 22 associated with this year is a very significant prophetic number, carrying multiple layers of biblical meanings.
22 – Number of Completion and Fullness
The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters – from the first letter Aleph to the final letter Tav. The Hebrew Bible features many ‘acrostic’ passages, which are passages using all 22 letters of the alphabet in sequence, with each successive letter starting a new line. From a Hebraic mindset, passages that use the entire Hebrew alphabet in this way speak of perfection, fullness and completeness.
Here are some examples of acrostic passages in the Bible:
Prov. 31:10-31 – the perfect woman
Psalm 112 – the perfect man
Psalm 119 – the perfection of God’s law (each letter is used to make 8 successive lines)
22 – Number of Chaos and Judgement
There is also a correlation between the number 22 and the themes of chaos and judgment in the Bible. For example, three of Israel’s wicked kings were linked to the number 22:
- Jeroboam ruled for 22 years
- Ahab ruled for 22 years
- King Amon began his reign at age 22
Sadly, the wicked rulers of both Israel and Judah led the people away from the ways of God. God’s resulting judgment on Jerusalem is graphically portrayed in the book of Lamentations. This book is written with four acrostic chapters, as it is describing the perfect and complete devastation of the city.
A closer glance at these acrostic chapters, reveals a startingly find - the sequences of the 22 letters in these chapters are all partially jumbled. For Hebrew readers, this jumbling of letters would be painfully obvious (as it would be for us today if an author got their ABC’s mixed up). Is the jumbling of letters just a clerical mistake or does it carry a deeper meaning? The Rabbis affirm that this must have been a deliberate choice by the author to symbolise the jumbling of God’s divine order caused by sin, leading to both chaos and judgment.
The destruction of Jerusalem featured in the Book of Lamentations, is further linked to the number 22 through the associated annual fast days on the Jewish calendar. The two most prominent fast days are the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av which mark the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem, the end of sacrifices in the Temple as well as the destruction of the Temple itself (by the Babylonians as well as the Romans on the very same day some 600 years apart). The 22 days between these two significant fast days are to this day an annual period of national mourning on the Jewish calendar.
22 – Number of Hope and Restoration
The minor prophet Zechariah refers to the fasting days marking the destruction of Jerusalem and promises that they will ultimately turn to joy and gladness (Zec. 8:19). Since the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians, many other disasters have happened to the Jewish people – on the very same days – intensifying this annual mourning period. Yet the prophet declares that a day is coming when Israel will be comforted not only of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple but also of all the other calamities that have happened to them – and when this happens, the 22 days of mourning will truly turn to joy.
The number 22 being linked to joy and restoration is also found in the story of Joseph and His brothers. We all remember the story of Joseph’s agonising betrayal by his brothers, his years of slavery, his unjust imprisonment and how God raised him up to be second only to the Pharoah. It took a long 22 years before Joseph’s brothers finally stood before him, and a teary-eyed Joseph could finally reveal his true identity and embrace his brothers.
Many scholars see the story of Joseph as prophetic of Jesus’ separation from His Jewish brothers. Like Joseph, Jesus has been thought of as dead by His people and like Joseph, He has now a foreign name (i.e. Jesus instead of Yeshua). As Joseph wore foreign clothes and spoke a foreign language, so Jesus has been ‘dressed’ in foreign rituals and religious traditions that conceal His true Jewish identity. Yet one day, He will be restored to His long-lost brethren, and this restoration is linked to the End Times and the number 22.
22 – the End Time Hope
The Jewish calendar, instituted by God Himself in Leviticus chapter 23, features three Autumn Feasts. These Fall Feasts which take place annually over the course of 22 days, give a panoramic prophetic preview of End Time events.
- Feast of Trumpets – Repentance at the sounding of the great trumpet
- Day of Atonement – Restoration with Israel crying out to God as a Nation
- Feast of Tabernacles – Rejoicing as God finally dwells among His people again
In this context, it seems like no accident that the Bible’s most detailed book of End Time prophecy, the Book of Revelation, has 22 chapters.
22 – Chaos, Destruction, Restoration and Hope
We have seen in this article how the number 22 is biblically linked to both chaos and destruction as well as to hope and restoration. It is tied to the End Time sequence of events that ultimately point us to the promised restoration of Israel and the coming of the Messiah Himself.
While you and I may not (yet) be living in the final phases of End Time events, we have truly been through a few years of chaos and disorder caused by Covid. This challenging time has rocked many of our lives, whether it be financially, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. It has also rocked the very foundations of our societies, with great divisions, economic upheavals, and unrest in many nations.
In the midst of this chaos, let us remember that our God is a God of restoration and order. The message of the number 22 shows us that God can, and will, turn sorrow and chaos into order and joy as we turn to Him. Let us take hope for the year ahead and believe God for better things to come in 2022.