Thursday, September 15, 2016

Go figure.

The Word for today:
1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1
mark this: 1 Chronicles 21:1-4
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, "Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number." But Joab said, "May the LORD add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord's servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?" But the king's word prevailed against Joab.
There are numerous books and seminars about numbers in the Bible.
3 has meaning, we're told; 7 has meaning; 12 has meaning...
666 (of course) has great significance. So we ponder its symbolic depths--until we find the footnote which tells us that 666 might be a mistranslation (1) of 616! So how should one presume?
I don't mean to make light of the subject. I am certain that some numbers do have symbolic significance in scripture, but I am also certain that we can miss the great truths about numbers in the Bible while we are pondering minor mystical meanings.
Here are a few of those great truths--forests, if you will--that we can overlook while counting individual trees:
1. You can count on statistics or you can count on God, but not both.
David was calculating the numerical might of his army. He was not depending on the wisdom and power of God. Scripture tells us that if we are going to count, let's count on the LORD:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight."
2. God's arithmetic is often upside down.
God will whittle down our statistical "advantage" until it becomes obvious that we can't win. He culled the army of Gideon (3) from 32,000 to 10,000 to 300 (armed with pitchers and lanterns) so that Gideon would learn that victory is "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the LORD Almighty (4).
Later in the Bible, in the greatest battle, God would pare the army of Israel down to just one:
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples left him and fled. (5)
3. With five loaves and two fish he fed 5000; twelve baskets of pieces were left over. (6)
Calculate that, if you will.
4. He accounts the righteousness of God to those who bring nothing more than faith to the equation:
He believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (7)
Go figure.
(1) see ESV and NASB text notes for Revelation 13:18; (2) Jeremiah 9:23-24; (3) Judges 7; (4) Zechariah 4:6; (5) Matthew 26:55-56; (6) Luke 9:12-17; (7) Genesis 15:6

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