The Number 22
Cindy Jacobs visited Prague many years ago and John and I had the privilege of being invited to a dinner with her along with other leaders in the city. Cindy and her husband are the founders of a prophetic ministry called Generals International. She is one of the leading prophetic voices of this generation, as well an author and speaker. I’d heard her speak at a large international conference in Hannover, Germany and I’d read her book about women in ministry called Women of Destiny. She came to Prague in 2003. The date is memorable because this was the year we adopted our daughter, Ester Moriah. As we sat next to Cindy and showed her a picture of our baby girl whom we were waiting to bring home from the orphanage, she prophesied “This is an Esther. She will be a voice to her generation.”
Another comment from Cindy has stuck in my mind since her visit. She was excited to be in Prague, explaining that she kept seeing the number 22 everywhere; a prophetic sign regarding spiritual open doors, divine authority being given and the Kingdom of God coming in a powerful way. I was intrigued. She described taking the tram 22 to the meeting, staying in room number 22, etc. She then quoted Isaiah 22:22 which I looked up when I got home.
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David;
what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
Isaiah 22:22 NIV
Although the context for this verse relates to the Lord passing judgement on one leader and giving authority in Jerusalem to a new ruler, Eliakim son of Hilkiah, this verse is considered to be prophetic for Yeshua, Hebrew for Jesus.
Indeed, Revelation 3:7-8 NIV reads,
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.
What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
I know your deeds.
See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.
I know that you have little strength,
yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Then, Matthew records a conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter. Could it be that Jesus, holder of all spiritual keys , also gives His followers these keys as well?
Matthew 16:18-19 records, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Significance of Isaiah 22:22 for TODAY
You might be tempted to scoff at the idea of biblical numerology and assigning hidden meanings based on numbers. However, some biblical examples are impossible to ignore, especially those which occur frequently such as the numbers 7, 12, and 40.
For example, the number seven is used 735 times in the Holy Bible. In the Book of Revelation, seven is used 54 times. Interestingly, the words “twelve” and “twelfth” are used 212 times in the Bible. A large majority of these uses are connected to, and point to, the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel, which formed the 12 tribes of Israel. The 12 sons/tribes begins in Genesis, and these “reminders,” pointing back to them, continue all the way to Revelation. Mentioned 146 times in Scripture, the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation. During Moses’ life, he lived forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery. There are biblical references to important numbers such as 666, the “mark of the beast.”
It should be noted that both Hebrew and Greek letters and words also have numerical values. Not insignificantly, there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. There are countless websites and books devoted to decoding divine truths by deploying creative math in Bible verses. We must be careful in using numbers to decode messages in the Bible, yet God obviously uses mathematical values in His creation and Scripture reflects this attribute.
Returning to Isaiah 22:22, there are important elements of this verse to explore. For instance, to “place on his shoulder the keys of the House of David” speaks about authority, responsibility, power and opportunity. In Old Testament times, it’s believed that keys, which were only held by the wealthier and more powerful classes of the land, were placed in pouches and worn over the shoulder. The shoulders can represent many things including the weight of responsibility. The yoke of the plow is placed on the shoulders of oxen for this very hard work. Yet Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
The significance of the House of David lies in who David was and his relationship with God. He was royalty. He had absolute authority in his kingdom. Yet he was a man after God’s heart, and he maintained an intimate relationship with God despite his moral and ethical failings. Jesus’ lineage goes back to David’s house, and Jesus continues to pass on these keys to His Ecclesia (original meaning in Greek was “called out ones”)! Read again what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”
Keep Your Keys
You’ve probably felt the responsibility when being handed keys – house keys, car keys, office keys, etc. I hold an impressive key in my bag for a large city gate in Prague for the Franciscan Garden where the International House of Prayer meets. You may have also had to change the locks in your house or flat after your keys were stolen. We all know the stress we experience when we lose important keys.
Imagine, the God of the Universe, whose name is more holy and powerful than we can imagine, gave Jesus the key to the house of David (Rev. 3:7), and He in turn gives the key to us, His Church (Matthew 16:19)! This authority cannot be taken lightly. And like David, the power wielded is tempered with intimacy, humility, vulnerability and passion. These two must go together; authority and intimacy.
For me personally, like with Cindy Jacobs, I’ve witnessed a pattern. Whenever I begin to see the number 22 frequently, the Holy Spirit is saying, “Get ready. You are about to open spiritual doors in my Name. I will give also the keys needed to do this.” The keys He gives us can look different for every spiritual door. Perhaps the key is a person He’ll put in your path. It could be a skill you’ll learn, an academic course you’ll complete, a financial gift, a Bible verse to hold in your heart which will give you courage in the right moment or a prophetic word. He always supplies what is needed but the key is usually given in the moment of need and not too far in advance. In this way, He teaches us to trust Him, and we learn to pray and listen continually.
As we conclude 2021 and step into 2022, take some time to meditate on the verses mentioned in this article. And ask yourself these four questions.
- Do you hold the keys to your own spiritual doors which God has specifically given to YOU alone, or have you given them away to others passively?
- What door is God opening for you and what door is He closing?
- Do you see yourself as royalty (God’s own son or daughter) worthy of holding His keys and opening spiritual doors?
- How can PCF use the authority God has given us to expand the Kingdom of God in Prague and in the nations?
We are living in a new season and God is calling His Ecclesia to be called out from the world, to separate ourselves from the world, and at the same time, to live in radical love to win the world. This can only be done with understanding the authority and opportunity which has been given to us, represented by the doors and keys. But don’t forget that authority can only be rightly executed when coupled with an intimate relationship with our Creator God.
Be on the watch, for 2022 will be a year of double blessings, double open doors, and He wants to give us the keys. Amen!