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. 


2 Peter (Part 2)

2 Peter (Part 2)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of II Peter 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. 

Message is Credible

Family, you have to make sure you’re in a good place when it comes to your relationship with Jesus. If you’re practicing all those qualities we just talked about, you’ll be ok. You’ll make it to eternal life. You know this stuff already, but it’s always a good idea to remind you. You’re already in a good place, but as long as I’m alive, I’ll keep reminding you. I’m going to die soon. Jesus made that clear to me. Because of this, I want to make sure you’ll remember everything I taught you. What we taught you originally is still valid. Jesus is powerful and he’s coming back to us. We weren’t duped into believing an intricate lie. We were firsthand witnesses to his superior nature! One time, the ultimate power – God – validated this by saying, “This is my son. I love him and I think very highly of him.” He said that right in front of us while we were with Jesus on a mountain. His voice came from the sky. This made us confident that we have the right message. Since we’re confident in this message, you should be, too! Focus on what we’ve told you like you’d focus on a light source in a dark room. Hang onto this until the end, when everything will be light and darkness won’t exist. It’s very important that you understand something: we don’t get to decide what a prophecy means. No human has ever produced a legitimate prophecy. Those came from men who were influenced by God’s spirit. 

Did God Command The Israelites To Kill Babies?

Did God Command The Israelites To Kill Babies?

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

Quite possibly one of the most difficult passages to read is 1 Samuel 15:3. In this verse God commands the Israelites to kill the Amalekites and He specifically says, “kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” This verse is used by many to discredit the Bible and mock those that believe in a “God that murders babies.” 

At first glance, this verse appears to be morally wrong. Did God really command the Israelites to commit infanticide? If He did, why would we serve a God like that? Why take the time to pursue a relationship with God knowing that He shed innocent blood? Doesn’t Proverbs 6:17 say that God “hates hands that shed innocent blood?” Maybe God’s a hypocrite and there’s a double standard. Maybe God doesn’t really love His creation. Maybe we serve a God that isn’t as pure and holy as He claims to be. Or maybe there’s a reason why God gave this command. 

1 Samuel 15:3 can be better understood if we recognize several important facts. 

The Context. In order to properly handle God’s Word, we can’t just pick a verse and read it at face value. So it is important that we read the context. Verse two shows us that the Amalekites attacked Israel on their journey out of Egypt. In return God promised to one day utterly destroy the nation (Deut. 25:17-19). From the moment the Amalekites chose to fight the nation of Israel, their fate was sealed…but not immediately. Exodus 17:8-16 records the events that took place and God says, “the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” 1 Samuel 15:3 is God keeping His word. 

Biblical and secular history. The Amalekites were recorded as being ruthless and cruel. They would actively search for pregnant women and kill their babies before killing the mother. In raids they would kill women, children, and everything else. They killed for sport and they raided places for fun. They didn’t fight other nations trying to protect themselves or their land, they just enjoyed slaughtering people and taking their stuff. The Amalekites were known for their cruelty, but also their hate for the Israelites. History also reveals that the Amalekites required that any and every living offspring was to avenge any nation or people that attacked them. This is seen with the Israelites in scripture. For 300 years the people of Israel fought with them. “Generation after generation” experienced war with the Amalekites. 300 years God let the murdering of His own chosen people to happen. 

Why did God let them do this for so long? Well, why did God save Rahab? Or tell Noah to warn the sinful people about the flood? Why did God promise not to destroy a city if there were just ten righteous people in it? Why did God send prophet after prophet to warn the Israelites of their sin? Why did God allow His own creation to spit on, mock and crucify His only Son? Because God is a God of mercy and second chances. The Amalekites were given 300 years to repent, but 1 Samuel 15:3 is the result of their lack of repentance. God warned them what would happen, and there had to be punishment for sin. 

But what about the innocent children and babies? Do you think God knew their future and what they would eventually become? God would never destroy a person that wanted to be saved. God wants everyone to come to repentance. 300 years of children and not a single one came to God and asked for repentance. God knows a whole lot more than we do. He has a perfect knowledge of the past, present and future. Since the culture of the Amalekites demanded that their offspring continue to murder and raid, the killing of the Israelites never ceased. If only a select group were killed, the problem would persist in the future as it had in the past. 

God cannot sin, and in His infinite knowledge He gave a command that was without sin. A sinful nation that refused to acknowledge God had to face the consequences. On the judgement day there will be many people who are punished because of their sin. God in His mercy has given us a way to be saved, but it is up to each individual to make the decision that will ultimately lead to either torment or salvation. God is patient and loving, but He is also holy and righteous in His judgment. 

Hosea and the Harlot

Hosea and the Harlot

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

The book of Hosea is like no other book in the Bible. It even stands out from the other books of prophecy in the Old Testament. Hosea was commanded to prophecy to the nation of Israel just like other men during this time period, but unlike other prophets Hosea’s message was directly tied to his personal life. He spoke to Israel and was motivated by the personal experiences that were happening to him in his life. 

Hosea was commanded by God to marry the harlot Gomer (1:2). Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea served as an example of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. As the account unfolds, Hosea and Gomer have three children whose names are used to send Israel a very specific message. While this book may seem harsh and almost cruel, let’s notice the main idea of Hosea. 

Hosea reveals to us the depth of God’s unending love for His children, a love that is never failing but also a love that tolerates no rivals. The people that God has chosen as His own must recognize that His love must come first above anyone and everything else. This fact is seen in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. In chapter 1:2-11, we are introduced to Hosea’s family. He has a wife and three kids, but Gomer doesn’t stick around long. She leaves Hosea and goes back to her life of harlotry. There’s a symbolic message that Hosea uses in his prophecy. He compares Israel’s actions to what his wife did to him. They left their union with God to live a life of sin. 

While most of us would find it hard to love someone if they did these things to us, God still continued to love Israel. Hosea 3:1 says, “And the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” God’s love is truly unending towards His children. The book of Hosea clearly illustrates this point. 

By reading this book we can know that God’s forgiveness is available to everyone at any point. Not only do we get a glimpse of God’s attitude towards those who have left Him, we also see a personal example of how much God is willing to do in order to restore His relationship with us. 

Hosea truly is a unique book. The prophet married a woman that he knew would eventually betray his trust. He knew the pain and heartache that would come from her unfaithfulness to him, but it was all done so that we could better understand God’s love and dedication towards imperfect and sinful man.