Bible Readings and Devotion for December 10, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.
Devotion for December 10, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
Oftentimes, but not universally, numbers have significance in the Bible. Our reading from Revelation chapter 14 tells of a special saving work for 144,000 people. Often the use of numbers points to something about God or about our relationship with God. Sometimes the use of numbers tells of something being sinful or less than good. It is helpful to gain some understanding of the use of numbers in the Bible to then gain understanding of the message of various parts of scripture.
Here are some key numbers and combinations of numbers which point to truths about God and our connection with God.
3 – the number of things of God. For example, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
4 – the number of things of the earth. For example, the compass directions
3 + 4 = 7 – something joining heaven and earth. For example, God and people forgiving 7 and 70 times.
3 x 4 = 12 – something joining heaven and earth. For example, the 12 Apostles of Jesus.
Multiplying 12 or 7 by itself – 49, 144, serving to intensify the connection
Multiplying 12 or 7 or 49 or 144 by 10, 100, or more – serving to intensify the connection
Repetition of any Biblical number – intensifying. 77, 70 times 7
40 Days or 40 Years – A long time on earth. 40 days is more than a month. 40 years is a generation or so.
6 – something less than the perfection of 7 – something not good or something sinful. The use of 666 in Revelation was to note it being extra bad. Some interpret this to be the number of the Roman Emperor Nero. He was a cruel persecutor of Christians in the 60s AD. St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred under his actions of persecution of Christians.
13 – something imperfect compared to the perfection of 12 – something not good or something sinful. 11 could possibly be used this way. This may be why there was a new 12th Apostle appointed in Acts chapter 1 following the death of Judas Iscariot. Interestingly, there were no more Apostles appointed after this, even though they all eventually died. In part, the qualifications of an Apostle required that the man be one who was with Jesus and the others from the beginning. After a while there would be nobody left. St. Paul was an apostle in the sense that he was a missionary and proclaimer of the Gospel. Since he was not a follower of Jesus since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Paul would not qualify to be part of the 12 Apostles.
The most important use of numbers in the Bible and in our study of the Bible is that we are drawn into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and that we grow to love God and neighbor more. If we use numbers to put down others, to get obsessed with odd theories, or generally get distracted from our core calling as Christians, then this is a misuse of the numbers.
Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.