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The number 49 is written in Hebrew as mem and teth.
Mem (מ) is water, signifying a flow of history or time. Teth (ט) is a snake in Hebrew. It can also signify being surrounded, for the snake was often pictured in a circle swallowing its tail. The number 9 means “visitation,” which is a biblical term for an investigation by the court to gather evidence of guilt or innocence.
We know that 49 is 7 x 7, and in the case of the biblical calendar, it marks the final Sabbath before the end of the Jubilee cycle. We can see how each Sabbath in the seven cycles give us a progressive meaning.
7 is completion, spiritual perfection.
14 is deliverance, release.
21 is distress—or, in the case of time measures, it is the end of distress.
28 is the leading of the Spirit.
35 is vindication.
42 is arrival.
49 is rest.
Each of the above is an aspect of the Sabbath. Seven days completes the Sabbath cycle of rest.
The number 14 is deliverance and release, as we see in the case of Israel’s release from their labor in Egypt by the blood of the Passover lambs on the 14th day of the 1st month.
The number 21 is associated with the time of Jacob’s trouble, ending with his re-entry into the Promised Land, where he was able to cease from his labors.
The number 28 is the leading of the Spirit. Isaiah 58:13 and Hebrews 4:10 tell us that the true purpose of a Sabbath is to cease from one’s own labor, one’s own pleasure, and even from speaking one’s own words in order to honor God. We honor Him not by being idle but by following the leading of the Spirit and by speaking only what we hear our Father say.
The number 35 is vindication after the court has investigated the evidence. In the case of believers, we are justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
The number 42 means arrival, especially in the context of the arrival of a son. Sonship is one of the highest purposes of the Sabbath.
Finally, the number 49 means rest. Being the seventh Sabbath of the Jubilee cycle, it is a Sabbath of Sabbaths, the apex that prepares us for the great Year of Jubilee in the 50th year.
The 49th time that Abraham’s name appears in Scripture is found in Genesis 21:28,
28 Then Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
These seven ewes secured Abraham’s ownership of the well called Beersheba, “The well of the seven-fold oath.” Beer means “well,” and sheba means “oath.” Sheba is also the root of Shabbat, or Sabbath. The root word saba means “to swear an oath.” Hence, the underlying purpose of the Sabbath itself has to do with swearing an oath of allegiance to God. We see this in the great prophecy of universal reconciliation in Isaiah 45:23, 24,
23 I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance [saba]. 24 They will say of Me, “Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength….”
In essence, God swore an oath that every tongue will swear allegiance to Him. In Philippians 2:11, Paul adds, “to the glory of God the Father.” In other words, everyone will fulfill the purpose of the Sabbath. They will be delivered and released from the bondage of sin. Their time of trouble will end. They will be led by the Spirit, and speak only what they hear their Father say, because “no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Paul says in Romans 14:10, 11,
10 … For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
We see that this prophecy will be fulfilled at the judgment seat of God. There “every tongue shall give praise to God” by swearing allegiance to Him. And so all things will be subjected to Christ’s rule, having accepted fully His right to rule the earth (1 Corinthians 15:27, 28). So God’s oath will be fulfilled, and they will become Israelites indeed, bearing the testimony that “God rules.”
At that time, all will be vindicated by their faith in the blood of the Lamb, and they will then learn the ways of God (Isaiah 2:3). They will learn to be led by the Spirit until they speak only what they hear their Father say. Ultimately, they too will join the saints as sons of God and enter His rest, so that the Creation Jubilee may be proclaimed.
The 49th time that the name Israel is mentioned in Scripture is in Exodus 2:23, 24,
23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage; and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. 24 So God heard their groanings; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God then began to move to give the Israelites rest from their bondage.
By contrast, we also have a negative example in the case of Shimei. Shimei was the man who cursed David as he left Jerusalem to escape from Absalom. Later, Shimei was sentenced to remain in Jerusalem for the rest of his life. However, when one of his slaves escaped to the Philistine city of Gath, Shimei violated the court order, going to Gath to retrieve his slave.
So the 49th time that Jerusalem is mentioned is found in 1 Kings 2:41,
41 It was told Solomon that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and had returned.
Shimei was then executed for violating the court order. The curse which Shimei had placed upon David as he left Jerusalem came upon his own head when he left Jerusalem. The account suggests that Shimei had mistreated his slave but had not released him, as the law commanded in Exodus 21:26, 27). The law tells us in Deuteronomy 23:15, 16,
15 You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.
The principle of the Sabbath is to release men from labor and bondage. In this case, Shimei violated this Sabbath principle, and so he lost his own Sabbath rest.
The 49th time that Jesus’ name is mentioned in the gospel of Matthew is in Matthew 12:15,
15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all.
Healing is an aspect of entering into God’s rest, because one cannot fully rest when disease is present. For this reason, Isaiah 53:5 tells us, “By His scourging we are healed.” This is explained in 1 Peter 2:24, 25,
24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Isaiah says that we are all like sheep who go astray, thereby receiving spiritual and physical wounds. But when we return to our Shepherd (Jesus), we find healing. This was the experience of those whom Jesus healed in Matthew 12:15. Jesus is the greater Joshua who is able to lead us into God’s rest (Hebrews 4:8-10) and bring healing to all.
Again, the 49th time that Jesus’ name is mentioned in the gospel of Luke is in Luke 9:58,
58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
In other words, Jesus did not have a place to rest, because the Kingdom had not yet been established. He will not rest until all things have been put under His feet. He is on a mission until His heavenly Father’s oath is fulfilled, saying, “every knee will bow.”