Oops! Accidentally scheduled this for Tuesday instead of Monday — my apologies for being five hours late!
Therefore, we pray you, Lord, forgive; so when our wanderings here shall cease, we may with you for ever live, in love and unity and peace. (Gregory the Great, from The Hymnal 1982)
At that time some of the legal experts and the Pharisees requested of Jesus, “Teacher, we would like to see a sign from you.” But [Jesus] replied, “An evil and unfaithful generation searches for a sign, but it won’t receive any sign except Jonah’s sign. Just as Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days and three nights, so the Human One will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The citizens of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it as guilty, because they changed their hearts and lives in response to Jonah’s preaching. And look, someone greater than Jonah is here.” (Matthew 12:38-41; context)
This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “N” is for numbers. Numbers play an important role in the Bible (and I’m not talking about the Book of Numbers, though that’s important, too). I’m talking about good, old-fashioned numbers like one, three, seven, twelve, and forty.
When you read the books of the Bible, be on the lookout for numbers. Most of the time, if a number is attached to something, then the number is central to understand what the writer is trying to get across. If the number weren’t vital, the writer would just say “a couple” or “some” or “a lot.” Numbers, on the other hand, most often signal a link back to an earlier story.
Let’s quickly take the use of numbers in the New Testament as an example.
3 – number of days Jesus was dead links back to number of days Jonah was in the belly of the great fish.
12 – number disciples in Christ’s inner circle links to the number of tribes of Israel.
40 – number of days Jesus is in the wilderness following his baptism links back to the number of days of the flood and the number of years the people of God were journeying in the wilderness.
The list goes on. Take note of when the writers of the Bible choose to make note of specific numbers. Nearly every time, they will somehow link to another part of the great story that weaves through time, the story of the One God. What other numbers can you think of that can help us interpret the Bible?
Dear God, you count every member of your creation as special in your sight. Help me to love you with my whole being, so that I may not be divided, but may give myself fully to your service. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, counting myself blessed that you would choose to make me the person I am and love me into the person I am becoming.