The Meaning of Numbers: The Number 99
The possible meaning of the number 99 is derived entirely from events and writings delineated in Scripture.
Abraham, at age 86, produces Ishmael through Sarah's servant Hagar (Genesis 16:16). Thirteen years later, when Abraham is 99 years old (Genesis 17:1), God promises to multiply his descendants, through Sarah, as the sand of the sea. Additionally, the outpouring of the Lord's blessings upon his progeny will ultimately lead to benefiting the entire world (Genesis 12:2 - 3)!
The unique covenant of Genesis 17 requires that Abraham, an old man of 99, circumcise not only himself but also carry out the painful act on Ishmael (who is thirteen) and all the males within his large household.
And Abraham took his son Ishmael, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his silver - every male among the men of Abraham’s house - and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins in the same day, even as God said to him. And Abraham was ninety-nine (99) years old . . . (Genesis 17:23 - 24).
Appearances of the number ninety-nine
Psalm 99 was written between 1010 and 970 B.C. by priests who served under King David. It is part of a group, from Psalm 90 to 106, which centers around the Millennial reign of Jesus and the regathering of Israel. This song joyously proclaims that the Lord will reign over the earth and calls upon all humans to worship him.
The Lord reigns; let the people tremble. He sits between the cherubim; let the earth quake. The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the people. Let them praise Your name as great and awesome; holy is He (verses 1 - 3).
God's mercy and number 99
One of the most encouraging and heartwarming parables Jesus gave contrasts ninety-nine safely kept sheep with one that becomes lost. The meaning of this parable, given in late 29 A.D., symbolizes Christ as the Good Shepherd whose love moves him to joy when he restores someone who has went astray.
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine (99) on the mountains and search for the one that went astray? . . . Likewise, it is not the will of your Father Who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:12 - 14).
Jesus gives a strikingly similar parable several weeks later in early 30 A.D. In this instance, it is directed toward self-righteous religious leaders who criticize him for befriending those they feel are hopeless sinners unworthy of attention (Luke 15:2).
This version of the lost sheep (Good Shepherd) parable focuses on the Lord's willingness to do whatever it takes to find and restore someone who has lost their way. It is a testament to God's fervent desire to have all humans choose his way of life and live forever.
Which man of you who has a hundred sheep, and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine (99) in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost . . . And when he finds it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing; . . . I tell you that likewise, there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, more than over ninety-nine (99) righteous ones who have no need of repentance (Luke 15:4 - 5, 7).
Additional info on Biblical Meaning of 99
The Apostle John is exiled to the island of Patmos by Emperor Domitian around 95 A.D. He soon writes the book of Revelation based on several visions he received from God. Freed from prison likely in late 96 A.D., the last living apostle travels to Ephesus. From 96 to about 99 he finalizes a complete version of Scripture (one which contains both Old and New Testaments). John dies, from natural causes, around 100 A.D.
According to the book "The Bible in 100 Numbers," there are ninety-nine different animals and birds listed in Scripture.
The only King James writing with at least 99 chapters is the book of Psalms. Psalm 119 is the only chapter in the KJV translation which contains more than ninety-nine verses. At 176 verses, it is almost double the second largest chapter, Numbers 7, which lists 89 verses!