They’re Not Gifts

They’re Not Gifts

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

In Romans 12:6-8, Paul lists some marvelous gifts that help us be living sacrifices that overcome this world (1-2) who don’t think too highly of self (3). These gifts include such beautiful attributes and actions as proclaiming the gospel (6), service (7), teaching (7), exhortation (8), giving (8), leading (8), and mercifulness (8). Who could fail to see the value of these gifts, on full display and at work in the body of Christ?

That being said, let’s be reminded that the following are not gifts:

  • Hypercriticism
  • Complaining
  • Gossip
  • Strife 
  • Drama
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Pride and boasting
  • Selfcenteredness 
  • Manipulation
  • Grudge-bearing

Too often, these drain the life of a congregation and are a drag on its attempted works. God is not glorified and the body is not edified. In Paul’s discussion about some specific gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14, the word edification repeatedly comes up as rationale for the exercise of those gifts (14:3-5,12,17, 26).  Gifts build up by design.

It’s proper and necessary for us to gauge our actions, to see if we are living as Paul urges the churches of Galatia: ” Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” (Gal. 5:24-26).

God desires us to find our gifts and place in the body and pursue using them for His glory. The “non-gifts,” He wants us to crucify! They take no talent, but they rob us of peace and joy.

Do You Want A Fireproof Life?

Do You Want A Fireproof Life?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

In Proverbs 6, Solomon offers five items of advice. These five protective measures encompass everything from financial decisions to sexual purity. 

In verses 1-5, Solomon advises his sons not to take on someone else’s debt. Please remember that this is not a reference to the compassion God expects from His people. This guidance isn’t even about assisting a family member in need. The crucial distinction occurs in the second verse. According to Solomon, this is an example of speaking before thinking. The victim fell into a trap he created with his own words. One can only speculate why someone would make such a hasty pledge. It could be for appearances or because you believe the other person will do something good for you in the future. 

This warning makes me think of what Paul told the young preacher Timothy. “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin”  (1 Timothy 5.22 NASB1995). We should remember that if we praise someone before we know what kind of person they are, they may hurt our reputation if they turn out to be less than good. “Guilt by association” is something that a lot of people think is true. Think about the damage that someone else’s debt can cause. If they don’t pay, you’ll be on the hook for a debt you never owed in the first place! The person who doesn’t do what he needs to do could ruin your finances. 

Solomon says to go immediately and ask the other party to remove you from the pledge. It would be best if you didn’t go to sleep until the other person lets you out of the promise. Solomon even says that if you have to, you should beg. Then, even though it’s unpleasant, you deliver yourself like a prey escaping the hunter. (This part of Proverbs 6 makes me want to talk about the “entitlement mentality” and how helping others isn’t always best for their personal growth, and how they should live within their means, but I’ll be good and stay on task.) 

In verses 6 through 11, we are told not to be lazy. In this passage, Solomon tells us to look at the ant. Solomon praises the ant’s tenacity in the absence of a leader. Even though ants have a queen and use pheromones to talk to each other, this doesn’t change Solomon’s point. If you’ve ever watched ants, you know that they don’t need taskmasters to watch over them all the time. The ants take charge. Whatever the queen tells them to do, they do it right away. The bigger ant doesn’t crack his whip to make the smaller ones work harder. Even the Greek Aesop noticed this, using an ant as the main character in one of his stories. The ant worked hard to prepare for winter, while the grasshopper (originally a cicada) preferred to play. When winter came, the ants were happy, but the grasshopper came to ask for food. (It’s important to note that the ant showed no kindness in the early versions of the story. The grasshopper, or cicada, got to “reap what he had sown.”) 

Again, the New Testament has a cousin to our text. Paul tells the people of Thessalonica that people who don’t work shouldn’t be allowed to eat (2 Thessalonians 3.10). Laziness creates poverty. Solomon says that if one is “twiddling his thumbs,” poverty appears as a “vagabond.” As an American, I prefer to use the term “hobo” rather than “vagabond” because it conjures a more familiar image for my fellow citizens. I don’t know if hobos still exist today, but there were many of them during the Great Depression. Trains took these (mostly) men all over the country. They would never “hit a straight lick with a crooked stick.” They even made a hieroglyphic language that they left for other hobos. These symbols told you which houses would give you food, which would share food in exchange for work, and which places would give you food if you talked about religion. (In some respects, I cannot help but compare this to the recent “Great Resignation. The hobos decided to take advantage of the economic downturn to abandon society. In some ways, the same is true of those who choose not to report to work after COVID-19 disruptions.) 

In verses 12–15, Solomon tells us to look out for bad people. Solomon says you can find “tells” about these people if you look for them. Most of the time, we use the word “tell” in the context of poker. If someone gets a good hand, he might make a specific face. In the same way, other players know when he has a good hand. The same is true for his facial expressions or body language when he gets a bad hand. The wicked’s body language may show they want to do bad things. Their offensive language can also show who they are. As another implication, tells can also be used to talk to a partner. For example, a bad guy might communicate to a partner how to best ambush you. Solomon has already said we should avoid these situations at all costs.  

Now we get to the part of Proverbs 6 that most of us know: the seven things that God hates (6.16-19). These sins are interesting because they start in the heart and take over the sinner’s actions. A haughty expression means more than just arrogance. It means that a person thinks he or she is better than others. And if he is better than other people, his will comes first. Even his whims are more important than what you need. So, his pride, shown by his eyes, comes out in his lying tongue. People who lie do it to get the upper hand in a situation or avoid getting in trouble if caught. See how arrogance leads to lying! Because people often tell lies to save their necks, the sinner shows that he cares more about himself than his neighbors. So, if he has to shed the blood of innocent people to help his cause, he will.

Once a sinner gets to this point, he plans to do bad things and is willing to put in whatever effort is needed to make them happen. After that, he will tell any lie, even if it means lying about someone else. Lastly, this sinner is ready to ruin other people’s relationships to get what he wants. You’ve probably heard that all seven of these sins were done by those betraying Christ, giving Him to the Romans. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Can you think of Caiaphas? He said that Jesus should die instead of the entire nation of Israel (John 11.47-53; 18.14). Caiaphas, Judas, and the religious leaders of the Jews all do things that are on the list of seven things that God hates. It may take more thought to put the pieces together, but I’m sure other sins will follow the same pattern (e.g., abortion). 

The remainder of Proverbs 6 is devoted to sexual immorality. We’ve already said that young men like the thrill of new experiences that a “strange woman,” like a prostitute or an adulteress, can give them. Solomon spends some time here explaining why adultery is the more expensive of the two encounters. Although he does not condone illicit relationships with prostitutes, adultery is worse than those relationships. Adultery is a sin against God, the lawful spouse, the adulterous woman, and oneself. Prostitution is a sin against God, the prostitute, and oneself. (Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6.18-19 that sexual immorality is a sin against oneself. We don’t always think of ourselves as people who could be hurt.) “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” (6.27). Of course, this is not true. Any sexual sin will hurt him. 

But the young man pays a different price for his extramarital sex. Most English translations use awkward language in verse 26, making it hard to understand what Solomon meant. “…for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life,” says the English Standard Version. In other words, a meeting with a prostitute is a transaction, meaning one exchanges goods or money for “services.” Solomon says that the prostitute will only cost you a loaf of bread, by comparison. But how can you make things up to the man whose wife you slept with? Sadly, the answer is that you cannot. The Law said that if the young man stole property, he had to pay back the total amount. But he can’t compensate for what he stole by sleeping with another man’s wife. Maybe this is why God made adultery a crime punishable by death in the Law. 

In chapter seven, Solomon warns his sons about “Lady Folly.” We’ll look at this chapter again next time, Lord willing. 

Illustration from Aesop’s “Ant And The Grasshopper”
Loving The Lost (Introduction) pt. 1

Loving The Lost (Introduction) pt. 1

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

Over the next few blogs I want us to explore one of the Bible’s most powerful chapters, Luke 15. These parables spoken by Jesus transformed the lives of those who heard back then, and continue to do so today. 

I was six years old and had no idea where my parents were. Every time we went to Walmart, mom would tell us to stay by her side. But I saw the coolest toy dinosaur I had ever seen. So I went to go look at it, and got lost. I ran up and down aisles but I couldn’t find her. So I started crying and just stood there. Eventually mom found me, and apparently they had been announcing over the loud speaker that my mom was up at the front, but I never heard. 

It’s a terrible feeling to be lost. We’ve all experienced it before. There’s a very special chapter in the book of Luke. It’s called by many, “God’s Lost and Found Department.” Luke 15 contains three parables that convey God’s love for the lost. If we want to be a true child of God we must love what the Father loves. In this chapter we find three examples of the lost and God’s love for them. In this chapter, one of the things that stands out the most is God’s concern for sinners, but also His overflowing joy for their return. In this chapter we will understand better God’s love for mankind and the value of a soul. The true Christian will try to imitate this same love for the lost soul that is found here in this chapter. 

I encourage you to read Luke 15 with God’s powerful love in mind. See you next week.

Advocacy And Standards (1 John: Part Two)

Advocacy And Standards (1 John: Part Two)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an “essentially literal” translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

Advocacy & Standards

My children, I’m writing all of this to you to help you avoid sin. But when we do sin, we have someone who came from God and who advocates for us: Jesus Christ, the morally perfect one who gets rid of every one of our sins. He doesn’t just take care of our sins, he does the same thing for the whole world! 

We can know for sure that we know him if we do what he’s told us. Anyone who claims to know God but doesn’t do what he’s told us is a liar. The truth doesn’t exist in them. 

If we do what he’s told us to do, the truth is in us and God’s love is, too. That’s how we know we’re with him. If we claim to be with him, we’re obligated to live by the same standard Jesus lived by. 

A Quiet Assembly

A Quiet Assembly

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

It began with just a few men. They didn’t know exactly what kind of damage they were about to inflict on their own reputation, for all of eternity. The account is found in Acts 15 with “some men”  going down from Judea and teaching, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas debated them fearlessly, but the damage had been done. The argument had so successfully confused and stirred up the assembled group that it was decided to take matters up the command chain. They were off to meet with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. 

Paul and Barnabas hadn’t lost faith and in fact, they proclaimed what God had done for the Gentiles to all who would listen on their trip. The news of God’s grace to all races and nations brought the listeners a great joy. In Jerusalem, the apostles and elders had already gathered to deal with the fierce conflict. It didn’t take long for the group to separate into two teams each holding two different beliefs about God’s will for all. It was at this moment where Peter stands up and begins to speak. He explains that God knows the heart of all of us and He’s always known. 

The spirit had descended on the apostles to prove that there is no discrimination between Jews and Gentiles. The demand for proof is always in our hearts, and so the Spirit demonstrated miraculous powers to give credence. Peter would explain that under the Jewish law, even Moses and the greats couldn’t bear the load. It wasn’t sustainable, and it wasn’t meant to last. 

It’s verse twelve that gives one some additional insight. It says, “And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done though them among the Gentiles.” How do we solve our conflicting views that spring up in our midst? There’s only one effective way to do so and that’s to take our matters of division to the top. Not preachers, teachers, deacons, or elders, but to the very top.

If God is going to speak, we’ve got to be quiet. The assembly went silent. Everyone there, no matter what their belief was—decided to listen. Speaking over each other never solved a problem and this is true on a congregational level, as well as a personal one. How many times do we fall victim to the assembly of the thoughts and bias in our own minds when reading God’s word? It can be difficult to hush those voices, but it’s when we do that real change has a chance to take root. 

The Pressing Property Of The Power!

The Pressing Property Of The Power!

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

It has been a good year for tomatoes in our garden. We’ve eaten them, given them away, and preserved a lot of them. In addition to canning them, Kathy decided to use our dehydrator to save time and space in preserving them. A few days ago, she filled the machine with several rows of sliced tomatoes. She would set the temperature and time, then come back when it was done. The fruit would still be wet and tacky. After this happened a few times, she was concerned that our appliance was malfunctioning. It was then that she noticed she had not pressed the tiny start button on the far right side. She pushed it, and after eight hours she came back to perfectly dehydrated tomatoes. All the prep and planning were futile without the power.

How often do we conduct our lives that way? We meticulously make plans and we do our part to try to make them happen, but we neglect to access the power that makes it all work? Do we ever forget what Paul reminded Philippi, that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (2:13)? Paul also said that while we may have a variety of gifts, ministries, and effects, it is “the same God who works all things in all persons” (1 Cor. 12:4-6). We’re told that it is God who will “equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight…” (Heb. 13:21).

How do we hope to do God’s work without God’s help? We need His guidance, His wisdom and instruction, and His help. That necessitates skillfully laboring in His Word (2 Tim. 2:15), leaning on Him in fervent, faithful prayer (Phil. 4:6; 1 Th. 5:17), and relying on His providence in setting our direction (Rom. 8:28). It makes all the difference when we tap into God’s power. Let’s not overlook the one thing that is always essential in everything we undertake! 

The power button is just to the right of the frame of this picture.
You Should Drink From Your Own Well

You Should Drink From Your Own Well

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Proverbs 5 provides several insights. First and foremost, be prudent. In the first 14 verses, Solomon warns against satisfying base desires. The rest of the chapter is about lustful people and the trouble they get themselves into. Solomon warns young men to resist carnal desires as if they were his sons. Yes, it is about the seventh commandment, which is not to commit adultery. Adulterous women (referred to as “strange women” in the King James Version) may also facilitate spiritual infidelity to God. God portrays the broken covenant in the Old Testament as spiritual adultery. As a result, the adulteress can be a real woman or any other sin provocateur. Do you recall who misled Solomon? His spouses (1 Kings 11.4). 

 Men are especially vulnerable to women’s wiles. I believe Satan tempted Eve because he knew he could get Adam to sin through her rather than through a direct approach. But take note of Satan’s promise of reward in words as smooth as oil. Honey drips from the adulterer’s lips as well. (The KJV makes use of honeycomb.) Keil and Delitzsch define it as “virgin honey” from intact comb cells. This translation, I believe, should not be overlooked. A prostitute or a repeat adulteress is not virginal in the literal sense, but she is a new experience for the young man. And new experiences motivate men who seek the flesh. 

Of course, Satan never fulfills his promises. Instead, the seductress’ honey tastes like wormwood. Wormwood is a bitter shrub used to produce absinthe, a deworming medicine. Wormwood is used apocalyptically by John in Revelation to describe the sorrow that befalls the earth’s rivers and fountains. The seduction eventually kills. That is the price of indulgence. “Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay,” Ravi Zacharias says. We want to stay away from Hell’s Highway. Unlawful and promiscuous sex causes social, financial, moral, and physical devastation. This behavior harms society, family, the body, the church, and God. 

Solomon discusses the difficulties a young man’s lust can cause in verse ten. Strangers will fill themselves with their wealth, according to the KJV. In contrast to the NASB1995’s “strength,” this is worth considering. Consider a few scenarios in which sexual immorality can lead to financial ruin. First, there is the risk of blackmail from the person with whom you had an immoral relationship or a third party who discovered the tryst. What about having to make amends to the affected parties? For example, an adulterer in ancient Greece could face a hefty fine. (While this was preferable to execution or public humiliation, it was still expensive.) 

 However, sexual immorality causes physical harm (5.11). It is a sin that has resulted in terrible diseases both then and now. Many sexually transmitted diseases were fatal before the discovery of penicillin. Syphilis was particularly dreadful. In addition to blindness in infants and insanity in adults, it may occasionally attack a specific part of the body, such as the spine. Doctors call the latter condition tabes dorsalis. It effectively renders one unable to walk and move around without a wheelchair. The prevalence of tabes dorsalis is increasing among HIV-positive people.1

The issue with those young men who fall into this trap is not a lack of teachers but rather a dislike for instruction and correction. As a result, when their advisers warn them of the folly, the prodigal chooses to disregard their advice. Unfortunately, this vice appears to open the door to many other sins one desires to commit. Do you remember David, Solomon’s father? What did he do due to his adultery? (2 Samuel 11.1ff) When Bathsheba became pregnant, David attempted to conceal his sin by bringing her husband home from the war. He believed that Uriah the Hittite would undoubtedly “know” his wife while on leave. However, Uriah did not. As a result, David killed him by withdrawing his soldiers from Uriah, leaving him to fight alone on the battlefield. 

 God gives us a proper way to satisfy our sexual desires. Marriage. Solomon praises and encourages young men to pursue conjugal love. Solomon discusses a fulfilling marriage in the Song of Solomon-like language. These verses are in direct contrast to the first. Solomon describes marital love as “exhilarating.” (Contrast this verse with those at the start of the chapter, where we noted that young men seek experiences for the thrill of novelty.) Indeed, God created sexuality for us to enjoy with our spouses, but He forbids sexual relations outside of the union of a man and a woman in holy matrimony. It is worth noting that God forbids adultery in both the Old and New Testaments. However, we also require consistency in this regard. Some may be quick to point out the illicit nature of a homosexual relationship and condemn it as sexual immorality. Still, they ignore heterosexuals who have marital relations outside of wedlock. God’s word forbids either type of relationship. 

 Solomon reminds his sons that God is keeping an eye on them. Ultimately, the issue is less about sex and more about a person’s love for God. We read about Joseph, the young man approached by Potiphar’s wife. She attempted to seduce Joseph. But Joseph maintained his integrity. As he turned down Potiphar’s wife’s advances, Joseph referred to Potiphar’s trust in him but said his decision was ultimately a matter of faith. “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he (Potiphar) has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God? (Genesis 39.9 NASB1995) 

So, let the young man drink from his cisterns and wells, not the polluted waters of the streets. 

Sources Cited 

1 “Tabes Dorsalis.” Brain&Life, American Academy of Neurology, www.brainandlife.org/disorders-a-z/disorders/tabes-dorsalis

Do You Have Three Pennies?

Do You Have Three Pennies?

Neal Pollard

Ravi Gandhi, the CFO of United Auto Credit Corporation, carries on an interesting routine every morning. When he gets to his desk at work, he puts three pennies on the left side of his computer. They are reminders for him to look for people to encourage, thank, and recognize. If he gets up from his desk, he puts the pennies in his left pocket. Each time he succeeds in blessing someone in these ways, he moves the penny from the left to the right side. Keeping up with the “three penny practice” reminds him that we live in a world filled with people deprived of encouragement, and it reminds him of what he can do to practically make a difference (Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 253-254).

Encouragement is an intentional rather than an accidental exercise. In other words, we have got to be looking for ways to do it. I am not sure that it comes naturally to everyone. I believe some have the gift of exhortation and encouragement (Rom. 12:8), but how many cannot be sure for lack of trying? It requires a certain amount of discipline and selflessness to look for people, often outside the spotlight, who are wearily struggling along life’s road.

The word translated “encourage” in the New Testament is, to me, one of the most beautiful words in the Bible. It literally carries the idea of coming alongside someone and putting your arm around them, “to ask to come and be present where the speaker is, call to one’s side” (BDAG, 764). Louw-Nida defines it as causing “someone to be encouraged or consoled, either by verbal or non-verbal means” (305).

Back to Mr. Gandhi’s mission, there are always people to encourage, thank, and recognize. What about the custodian, the office administrator, the intern, or the new hire? What about the person who delivers food? What about the introverted, hard worker who’s always prompt and dependable but apt to be “invisible”? There’s the lunchroom employees, the teacher’s aids, the bus drivers, teachers, administrators, and the security personnel at school.

This is a fantastic practice in our church life, too. Look for the new Christians, new members, those who are alone, the elderly, little kids, the socially awkward, the singles, the widows, and, of course, the visitors. Find a tangible way to express gratitude and recognition. Perhaps something like placing three pennies in your pocket or three rubber bands on the fingers of your left hand will keep this necessary work at the forefront of your mind.

Yes, the Scriptures command it: “Encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Th. 5:11), “encourage the fainthearted” (1 Th. 5:14), “encourage one another day after day” (Heb. 3:13), and “encourage one another” (Heb. 10:25). But, it may surprise us how rewarding and satisfying it is to bless people with some simple, sincere encouragement.

Do you have three pennies? Why not pocket them, then pursue people you can lift with a simple word of joyful cheer? Three such acts a day amounts to over a thousand acts of kindness a year. If we all did that, it would revolutionize our world! Three pennies might not buy much in the world, but they might change a life!

“Partnership” (1 John: Part One)

“Partnership” (1 John: Part One)

Wednesday’s Article: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an “essentially literal” translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

Partnership

It’s existed since the beginning. We’ve heard it ourselves and we’ve seen it with our own eyes. We’ve studied it and touched it with our own hands. This is the word of life, and this life was shown to us. Everything we’ve heard and witnessed and told you about is this eternal life. He came from the father and was revealed to us. We’ve told you everything we’ve seen and heard so you can partner with us. We have this partnership with the father, as well as with his son Jesus Christ. We’re writing this to you to make our joy complete.

The message that we’ve been hearing from him is the same one we’re giving you: God is made of light, and no darkness exists in him whatsoever. If we claim to be partners with him while our lives are defined by walking in darkness, we’re liars and can’t even practice the truth. But if our lives are defined by walking in light, we have partnership with each other. On top of that, the blood of God’s son Jesus gets rid of any and all sins we have!

If someone says they don’t have sin, they’re lying – no truth exists in them. If we admit that we have sin in our lives, he is consistent and morally pure, so he’ll forgive us and get rid of our moral impurity. If someone says they’ve never even sinned, they make God a liar. His word will have nothing to do with them. 

Secrets And Symbolism In Scripture

Secrets And Symbolism In Scripture

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

The Bible’s use of symbolic numbers carry with them a mystical tone. While some numerical usage is familiar to us such as the seven days of creation, other passages can leave one perplexed. A portion of Bible readers will choose to simply glaze over what they don’t understand– others will become frustrated toward an unfamiliar abstraction. The sixth-century philosopher Pythagoras believed that numbers carried a deeper meaning and could be used for more than mathematics. It’s interesting to note that the Greeks assigned a number to their alphabet in such a way that one could turn each word into a number and each number into a letter. Alpha was equal to one, beta would be two— and so on. With the intimidating mountain of confusion that’s associated with Biblical numerology, it would be helpful to create a list (though an incomplete one) of the most popular numbers found in scripture. 

COMMON BIBLICAL NUMBERS AND THEIR MEANING 

  666: The number of the beast in Revelation 13.18 could be the most widely feared  by the superstitious. It’s possible that much of the symbolism within Revelation is due to the ongoing persecution of the church since the masking of names  and places would add a layer of protection from a vicious government. In other words, it might have been written in a coded language in the same way that military intelligence would code their sensitive messages. 

12: It’s the number that represents power and authority. Jacob has twelve sons, who then fathered seven nations. The seed of Abraham will bring about the Messiah and His twelve followers. When the number twelve is used, we can be sure of an underlying importance. It’s likely to be in a section which is only part of a prominent Biblical thread. As the holy timeline unfolds, the number twelve is then understood and fully appreciated. 

7: Used many times in both the Old and New Testaments (over 600 times), the number seven is prominently found in the book of Revelation. There are seven churches, seven seals, seven angels, seven stars.,etc. It’s a representation of perfection or completeness and is regarded by the Hebrews and Greeks alike to be a number attributed to God. God is perfect and makes all things complete just as He completed all things in a seven day period, including His day of rest. 

40: Noah and his family endure forty days and nights of rain while on the ark, Jesus would fast for the same period of time, and for forty days Moses would stay on Sinai  to receive the holy law from God. There are other examples, but the number itself symbolizes a period of trial and testing. It’s interesting to note that several ancient cultures outside of Mesopotamia believed that it took twenty days to break a habit, and twenty days to form new ones. A total of forty days. Some psychologists even believe that in order to change a negative personality trait, you’ll need to supplement the negative with a positive for forty days, if the results are to be lasting. While the use of the number outside of scripture is speculative, God is clear in how He utilizes it. 

 1: A fascinating number that’s independent, yet it makes up all other numbers after it. It represents unity and is also attributed to God along with three and seven. 

 Though God is made up of three personalities, they are all unified. The significance of both three and one can be found in Ephesians 4.5-6 where Paul would say that there is only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. John 14.6 declares that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There’s power in the verified and absolute singularity of each use of one, especially when they appear in sets of three. This number brings a heavy humility. Our minds must come to focus on the finality of the Judgment. There will only be one Great Day, and it’s on that Day where each person will be responsible for how they lived their lives here. Every nation and tribe will be there but it will come to a head in a critical moment. A time will come where each one will stand before The One to receive our perfect and just sentence.