Thoroughly Equipped: Holy Numbers

Okay, we are three days in.  If you can be diligent for 18 more days, then you will have established a habit. Or so the experts say! For the first couple of weeks, I will post more often, then I am sure life will set in and once a week posting will become the norm.  In these early chapters, we can find so many basic truths, threads of God’s goodness, introductions of the language He uses to speak and repeat and remind us of His truth woven throughout the whole Bible.

Today’s reading includes Genesis 5:1-7:24, Matthew 3:7-4:11, Psalm 3:1-8, and Proverbs 1:10-19.  To begin I want to remind you of a few things.  First of all, God is all about words.  He formed the universe—all of heaven and earth, sun, moon, and stars, every creature great and small, and the entire human race—with words.  He spoke it and it came to be.  Words are very important to Him.  And His words are very, very powerful.  They have the power to transform.  So, know that every word in the Bible is true and important.  Often, God repeats Himself.  Not because He forgets what He says, but because we forget what He says.  After you study the Bible for a while, you learn to see the recurring themes throughout.  One of the ways God uses the recurring themes is through numbers. There are many references in the Bible to certain numbers that keep popping up everywhere.  I call them “holy numbers”.  Some of the most common are three, seven, 12, and 40.  The number three can be classified as holy perfection like the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The number seven indicates completion and perfection—like the seven days of creation. The number 12 often encompasses the family of God, representing all God’s people, and reminds us of the covenant or unending promise of relationship between God and his people—like the 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 disciples. The number 40 is often a number of cleansing and preparation for the extraordinary—like the flood in the days of Noah which lasted 40 days and 40 nights, or when Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness before He began His ministry.  Both of these events were in our reading today. Keep those numbers in mind as you read through the Bible.  You may want to circle those numbers when you see them.  Sometimes you may see a series of numbers.  Often, if you take the time to add them up, you will discover that they add up to one of these holy numbers.  Not always, but often.

To me, when you see these holy numbers, it is like God is signaling for us to pay attention and look for the additional meaning in the story, the underlying spiritual meaning in the midst of the Bible story.  Tomorrow we will study more of the story of Noah and we will see some of the repetitive symbolism discussed today.  But today, let’s begin our look at Noah.  We find that his influence is in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The threads of the story of Noah go deeper and farther than a mere Sunday School story.  The elements in the story of Noah are crucial for a clear understanding of the entire Bible.

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes from faith.”

Hebrews 11:7

When I read this verse years ago, I felt that I saw the tip of an iceberg of truth, but there was much more to it than I saw.  I still feel that way.  But as I wrestled with this seemingly insignificant passage, I did see deeper truth than I had originally grasped.  You know the story of Noah, who lived in a time where sin was the norm and righteousness was rare.  It was so rare, in fact, that only Noah was found to be righteous.  How did he stay faithful when the tides of a sinful culture sent constant waves of temptation wherever he went?  I think the secret is found in Genesis 6:9:  “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”

Noah walked with God.  He did not run ahead of God or lag behind Him.  He consistently walked with God step by step, day after day.  We can learn from that.  Sometimes in a winter season of life it is almost easier to walk with God than when everything in life is bright and beautiful.  It is because the winter seasons of life reveal our deep need for God—a reality in every season, but one that shouts loud and clear in the winter season.  This side of heaven we will not see all the benefits of walking with God.  Our earthly eyes cannot comprehend the blessings that automatically come from walking with God.  We must trust that God always sees through a wide-angle lens.  He sees what we can’t see or accomplish.  And just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean that it is not happening.  These truths can be discerned from the simple passage of Hebrews 11:7: “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes from faith.”

Noah obeyed God, believed God, was faithful to God, but he did it for his little family.  But God had a much bigger plan in store.  Noah only saw and understood a small piece of the puzzle.  But God uses imperfect people to bring about His perfect will. God uses the ordinary to bring about the extraordinary. Noah’s obedience affects us now.  But he didn’t see that.  And we don’t see God’s huge, multi-faceted plan in our lives either.  We don’t see the big picture that what we are doing today affects generations to come.  We need to remember that we don’t see the big picture.  But we need to think about our legacy and make the most of every opportunity.

We see in the story of Noah that our God is very specific about His plan of salvation for His people. The 40 days are symbolic of the cleansing our world needed.But in the midst of the cleansing, He is faithful to His own.

As our reading today in Psalm 3 indicates, He is a shield for those who choose to walk with Him, to quietly trust Him day in and day out, during the days of sunshine and the storms of life.

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”              Psalm 3:3


A final note on the New Testament reading today.  We find Jesus in an intimate moment with His father.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”

Matthew 3:16-17

God the Father graciously assured Jesus of who He was and whose He was before He was sent into the wilderness to face the tempter. Using scripture as his defense against Satan’s tactics, Jesus could go into the wilderness knowing who He was.  This gives courage and strength.  He was the beloved Son and God was pleased with Him.  Why?  Because God knew Him, knew His heart.  This was before Jesus had performed any miracles.  The pleasure God the Father expressed was complete and unconditional.  It was not based on good works but on the identity of being a child of God.

As you go through the day today, remember that God loves you unconditionally.  He loves you because you are His child, not because of good works.  Rest in His complete love for you, then go out equipped with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

What have you learned this week?

4 Comments Thoroughly Equipped: Holy Numbers

  1. JRoy

    Thank you Sara for encouraging the journey to read God’s Word in a year! It is so simple, yet I get so distracted. Committing to a routine. Loved today’s commentary on Gen. 7:16 about the round-up of every kind of animal (Can you imagine?!) But: “There seemed to be no problem… God took care of those details while Noah faithfully built the boat.” Sometimes looking back & seeing God take care of details is amazing. We serve a HUGE GOD. Cool to see the numbers as you mentioned & what they represent too. See you tomorrow

    1. Avatar photoSara Berry

      Hey, Kathy! I will so try to! I follow the One Year Bible. You can get one of those or the app for the One Year Bible is on the YouVersion Bible app. With that said, I will try to give a weekly list!! So glad you are joining me!


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