Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spiritual Symbolism of the Cardinal Numbers*

Dear Reader, I have been “much pushed” on finishing my book and my blogging has suffered. Hence, I hope this little offering will be an encouraging touch at Christmas. Our Lord was a “Perfect 10”! He was born at a perfect time, in a perfect way, in a perfect place to become a Perfect Savior! No one would have guessed it so unless they possessed the Mind of the Father. May our Lord give you a wondrous Christ Christmas. Let us recognize that our greatest gift is to have more of the Mind of Christ. (I Cor. 2:15-16)

It is obvious that numbers … their use, value, symbolism, power and mystery … are rooted in the intensions of our Creator. They are used throughout Scripture, not only as signs of physical quantities, but, even more importantly, as symbols of spiritual reality. Understanding the symbolic message of “God’s numbers” is critical to the Disciple’s growth to most fully live out the meanings and mysteries of their Savior Lord’s revelation. There is a theological danger of making too much of “numbers,” but it is equally risky and arrogant to ignore them.

Books have been written on Biblical numerology and they are fascinating. I have several in my library. Secular numerology is the practice of foretelling the future and/or interpreting history by the study of supposedly meaningful numbers or their combinations based on special factors as determined by the “numerologist.” A Biblical numerologist believes that God has used numbers in His Scriptures and creation to forth-tell His purposes and wisdom!

Every Disciple, to some degree, should be a Biblical numerologist. This is necessary if he or she is to assess and calculate the numbers the Savior has put before us in His Scriptures and our experience of living. His symbols are numerous indeed, and eye-openers as to His wondrous purposes for our daily practical reality. Many are the discoveries that are ours through the numbers of science as they reveal His creative and prophetic intent to bless us! For starters, think of the “two wings” of a great eagle, forty-two months, 666, 144,000, the three angles of Revelation 12-14. What is the message of 14:20 where blood is as high as horse’s backs (around 5 feet) for a distance of 1,600 stadia (about 180 miles)? This is the approximate north-south length of Palestine!

Keeping certain “basic numbers” in mind is essential for the beginner. They will serve as a key which opens our minds to the vast implications of the Godhead’s use of numbers in His revelation of Himself as our Creator-Redeemer-Perfecter. This is no place to argue the pros and cons about number interpretation other than to say extremism and literalism must be guarded against. We should, however, take the numbers seriously and pray for that knowledge. The Lord God is One but expressed as Three is a good place to start our adventure of understanding Biblical numerology.

“He” is One: Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4, “The Lord our God … He is God alone … the only One.” David in Psalm 96:10, “… You alone are God.” Isaiah in 44:6, “I Am the first and the last! Apart from Me there is No God.”

“He” is more than One: In “partial” revelation Jesus “makes Them Two,” “The Father and I are One.” (John 10:30) In “fullest” revelation Jesus “makes Them Three,” “Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)

Welcome to the insightful world of Biblical numerology. The numbers below will not only get you started but carry you a long way toward seeing, enjoying and responding to His Mind for you through His numbers! They are outstanding and essential pointers on how Disciples relate to the realities set before them in the “gardens of earth” in which we are “placed.”

0 – Initialization – Zero is the number unknown. The Lord God made, began, initiated everything “from nothing” … “In the beginning God created…” (Gen. 1:1) As the philosophers put it… ex nihilo = out of nothing. (Heb. 11:1-3)

1– Ultimation – One is the number of God. The Lord our God is One … “I Am” (Deut. 6:4) He is supreme over everything and “… the Only God ….” (I Tim. 1:17)

2– Distribution – Two is the number of division, diversification, separation. He divides and distributes the elements of His creation: land/water, night/day, male/female, sun/moon, animal/mineral, etc. (Gen. 1:2-24)

3– Revelation – Three is the number of Triune intent communicated to man! Let Us make man and tell him what he is to think, be and do to exist in Our Image (Gen. 1:26-30) – Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19) “These three; faith, hope, love.” (I Cor. 13:13)

4– Application – There are four issues or options for every decision we face. Each should be recognized, comprehended, unified and then applied to our life reality. There are four directions, four seasons, four life stages, four time periods in each 24 hours … sunrise, day, sunset, night… etc. In political and personal decisions there are always the four positions of liberal, radical, conservative, passive.

5– Illumination – By the Holy Spirit and the light of truth to see all things with the eyes of God. Revelation (3) gives division (2) divine meaning so that together (3+2) we see the grace (5) of God’s initiatives. Many see but do not understand what they see without illumination. (Matt. 13:13-17)

6– Fragmentation – Six is the number of our enemy, Satan. He forces his multiplied lied (666) on everyone he can! (Rev. 13:16-18) The “evil” allowed by God will, in the long run, exalt His glory and vindicate His purposes. Satan’s area of power against us is most powerful (6) when we are ignorant of the reality of grace (5) and visionless about our union with the Godhead (7).

7– Redemption – Seven is the number of God (3) and mankind (4) together. All of us who are saved have positionally become One and will become experientially One with the Godhead. We are now a holy people made holy be the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

8– Completion – As there are 8 notes to the musical scale, the Lord’s progress always goes higher or lower with the same sound (notes) fulfilling their purpose for eternities’ score! Every “octave” of our living can be complete in itself (childhood, career, marriage, motherhood, retirement, etc.). When all the octaves are joined together … the bass notes of heaviness and the treble notes of lightness … the full sound of our music and our life are heard.

9– Multiplication – Triune blessing keeps repeating itself in richer fullness and purpose as man fulfills his role as a Triune Thinker. In Galatians 5:22-23 the Fruit of the Spirit is nine fold (3 x 3).

10– Perfection – The babies’ 10 fingers and 10 toes; a man’s full life or rule of 40 years … Saul, David, Solomon … The number of man (4) times God’s perfection (10)… 10x4=40… the perfection and completion of God’s purpose for their lives; 10+2=12, the perfection purpose of uniting creations and mankind’s divisions (2) with ultimate Divine intent (10) , 12 Tribes, 12 Disciples; and He shall rule 1000 years over mankind in a perfect government 10x10x10=1000 year kingdom – The divine mystery and wonder of perfection multiplied! Truly Jesus is Lord… Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. In these perfect (10) titles (4) – He answers mankind’s four greatest needs perfectly – Perception about all things, Power over all things, Patience with all things, and Peace above all things!

*By definition a Cardinal Number is any number used to count values or show quantity. For our purposes, Cardinal Numbers are limited to the whole numbers (integers) 0 through10. All other numbers are derived from these nine (1-9) plus 0 at the front also giving us 10 at the end. As we discuss Spiritual Symbolism, these basic numerals are always before us with both their physical (science, economics) and spiritual (revelation, wisdom) meanings.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’” Romans 11:33-34

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Path to Self-Strength and Self-Significance

I Samuel 30:1-31

I call my sermon on this passage “The Ziklag Zenith.” The lessons are many and life changing. So many of us miss David’s grasp of these simple yet radical truths. We can’t seem to digest the reality of them even if we have heard of them! Ziklag was a small town in southern Judah. Its location is unknown to us, but it matters not. The great issues of life are never determined by where you are or how you got there, but by what God is doing in your life that will change you that will last forever!

These were critical days in the life of David and of God’s people. Times were uncertain; enemies were everywhere; and political tensions were at the highest level. Momentous events were happening almost daily. Sound familiar? David’s band of followers and their families were concerned about King Saul as well as the other pagan tribes that would attack them. Providence had brought David to Ziklag, and it was there that disaster struck.

While David and his men were away, the town had been attacked by the Amalekites. They stole all the goods, took all the wives, women, children, young and old into captivity and burned everything down. When the men returned, they were devastated and emotionally destroyed! As is usual in leadership, David was blamed for this by his rather sorry bunch of followers. (See verse 22.) Their grief was so great they thought of stoning David! It was an impossible situation. Think about your own “upsets” in life … your own Ziklags! Be assured they will come with varying severity and at unexpected times!

David’s answer to it all came from God. He did what true followers of the Master always do. He used truth’s conjunction: “But … David strengthened himself (found strength) in the Lord his God!” (I Sam. 30:6)

There are many directions before us for our own empowerment in the principles David demonstrated. They parallel Paul’s thoughts and actions in Philippians 4:10-13. Here are a few of David’s responses whether he was aware of them all or not.

I. David knew where to “find strength,” not in God in general, but in the Lord his God! He had a personal and vital relationship with Jahweh! With the Lord, David could handle the issue “on his own!” And so can we!

II. David practiced the process of “spiritual finding”:

A. He sought authority (30:7)

B. He inquired of authority (30:8a)

C. He listened to authority (30:8b)

D. He obeyed authority (30:9)

… and continued in the process of “spiritual enduring”

E. He persevered under authority (30:10)

F. He was guided by authority (30:11-16)

G. He risked because of authority (30:17)

H. He was rewarded by authority (30:18-20)

I. He possessed the grace of authority (30:21-24)

J. He left a heritage of authority (30:25)

K. He was generous in his authority (30:26-31)

III. David found his destiny “as a king” when he trusted the authority of God’s truth. The will of God is first a Person to seek and love before it is a duty or commandment to understand and do. “I Am” (love Me) the Lord thy God (obey Me) ….” (Ex. 20:2)

God’s Strength Means Being Significant for God’s Purposes

David soon became King of Israel (his place and time) and ruled in life while leaving one of the greatest heritages of any man who ever walked the earth. His significance for God far outweighed his sins as a man. Don’t make “the disciples biggest mistake” – seeing your sins as greater than the Savior’s sacrifice! Don’t allow your grief with your sin struggle to eclipse your gratitude for the Savior’s sacrificial salvation! The Lord has done far more for you (forgiveness) in the past than you have done against yourself (sinfulness). When you sin, and you will ‘till the day you die, use those sins as pointers to Christ’s Satisfaction for your sin. David was guilty of three of mankind’s greatest sins – adultery, murder and idolatry! (II Sam. 11; I Chron. 21)

The Lord knew all these things would happen in David’s life but chose him anyway as the future king! Amazing and fantastic! He knew the same about each of us but chose us anyway! Truly, a wondrous mystery! Only dense Disciples are more occupied with what they have done than with what the Lord has done! Think of David. He certainly suffered for his part in existing in a fallen world of mankind’s rebellion, but at the same time, he “found the strength” to see the truth and yield to it. He was a great Christ follower, not because he didn’t sin, but because he knew what to do about his sin! (Ps. 51)

Even though he was one of the Scriptures greatest sinners, be was the first one who the Lord called “a man after His own heart”! (I Sam. 13:14) The Disciple who “finds” the authority to see and experience this towering and splendid truth will live with the spiritual energy that overcomes the world! (John 16:33) One’s ultimate strength on earth is to find and possess the mind and heart of our Living Lord about and toward all things!

Wise is the Disciple who will learn David’s heart in the Psalms. Powerful is the Disciple who knows … really knows … that Christ Jesus is his God! These are the Disciples who will “reign in life” because they know how to “find their strength” in their Lord’s grace and righteousness. (Rom. 5:17)

Remember This Quick Triune Formula

We empower ourselves when we:

One Recognize Authority – Only truth is in charge! Seek it! Find it! Yearn for it! “Father, if You think it’s possible …”

Two Consult Authority – Only truth has your answers! Listen to it! Hear it! Yoke with it! “Let this cup pass from me …”

Three — Obey Authority – Only truth will deliver you! Do it! Faith it! Yield to it! “Nevertheless, Your will be done …”

(Matthew 26:39)

God’s Truth = Ultimate Authority

Truth works wonders as it changes you into a person who is adequate to handle every situation, issue or circumstance.