For this week’s photo challenge on structure, I decided to look at numerical patterns in nature, and the number five in particular. My quest for patterns of five began when I saw stars in the rose bushes outside my chiropractor’s office.
But before I dive right into a study of the number five, I first would like to show you one example each of the smaller numbers in nature. You may click on the photos to make them larger.
Now back to the number five…. In the wild, roses only have five petals; but the hybrids, such as the knockout roses pictured below, have an abundance of petals. They still have only five sepals, however, and those are what form the “stars” that I saw when the petals died and fell off. To some, it’s just a bush much in need of pruning, but to me it was stunning. After that, I began to see stars in other places as well, although I didn’t always have my camera, unfortunately.
I took the liberty of looking up an article on the number five in nature, and I learned that 72.6% of all flower families have 3-6 petals. And more than half of those families have five petals. Here are just a few of them.
Flowers are not the only part of nature that exhibit the number five. Take a look at these leaf photos for some other examples. Sometimes we can see the number five demonstrated in the shape of the leaf, such as the number of lobes or points, and sometimes in the number of leaves in a grouping. And it’s merely coincidental–though cool–that the decaying branch happens to have five holes in it. It looks to me like a sort of forest flute.
We saw star patterns in the sepals of the roses and in the petals of the morning glories, but I also happen to have a couple photos of starfish and a sand dollar that my son found on the beach.
And just for the fun of it, I thought I’d throw in two group shots. This past summer I saw some deer and geese, both in groups of five. How convenient, right? I also saw five pelicans flying together, but I couldn’t get a good angle on them, so I only got four of them in the frame. For that reason they are not included here.
Now why would God call our attention to the number five in nature if He did not have some special purpose for it? something He wants us to learn? What is the significance of the number five in the Bible?
- The Law, or Pentateuch, consists of five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
- In the Law we are given the 10 Commandments, which are divided into two sets of five laws each. The first set relates to our relationship with God, and the second set to our relationship with our fellow man.
- The first five books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts) may be considered the “Pentateuch of the NT,” for they reveal Jesus’ teachings concerning the Law and the Prophets.
- The number five is the number of grace and is mentioned 318 times in Scripture.
- The pre-temple place of worship, the tabernacle, profoundly reflects God’s grace in its very construction: 5 pillars, 5 sockets, 5 curtains, 5 bars, an altar that was 5 cubits long and 5 cubits wide, and the height of the court was also 5 cubits. Even the proportion of spices used in preparing the oil was measured in multiples of 5.
There’s more—ever so much more, but this is just a sampling to whet your appetite. I hope you will want to dig deeper on your own. But at least now when you admire those five-petaled flowers, or spot a starfish washed ashore on the beach, or head out to prune the sepals off your rose bush, maybe you’ll think of an amazing five-letter word called grace.
John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
All the photos are my own and were taken in various places in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, between the years of 2011-2017.