I don't really like germs. I am also not a fan of messes. Just ask my family. Now, I suppose I could be much worse, but the kids think I am pretty fanatical.
As much as I like "clean," I also like quick and easy. I like things clean, but I don't necessary want to be knee-deep in elbow grease.
One of my favorite cleaning tools (maybe because it is just. so. easy!) is our toothbrush sanitizer. Stick the brushes in, close the door, plug it in, and boom. A minute or so later, that blue light has zapped away all those germs. Yeah!
As much as my house needs to be cleaned, so too does my body, especially the inside. The outside gets sweaty after I work out. I feel it as soon as I start cooling down. So, I'll jump into the shower as soon as possible. Showers are great - quick and easy. All clean.
The inside is a lot harder. Some of the sin in there has been building for a week, or even a month. It gets pretty stuck, as I am so stuck in my ways, and it requires a lot of elbow grease to remove it.
During a recent communion, I once again asked God to clean me out, to remove ALL the dross, even though I know it will come back again. That word was even the one I used in my prayer - dross.
What a great word, dross. You can actually picture something slimy, dripping, disgusting, and messy. Since there is nothing good about sin, I felt that was a perfect term to use.
But one thing about drossy messes - they don't clean very easily. Think about some of the best meals we make. They are often easy to eat, but sticky or messy to make. I hate washing dishes. The pans from those great meals are almost always the worst. Sometimes they take days to clean, because they need to sit an soak for a while and then scrubbed several times before they can be declared clean.
This was the message that hit me during my prayer. Sin is a lot like those dishes. It takes a lot of work to get rid of sin. There isn't a nice, easy "zap" to get rid of it.
We often think that's all there is to it. Say our prayer of confession, and all the sin "magically" goes away, like the tooth brush zapper. That's because it seems so easy to us. Just like how my family can enjoy a yummy meal without ever thinking about the dishes, we can have our sin forgiven without remembering how it was done in the first place. The riddance of sin took a huge amount of effort.
But it was effort we never had to put forth, because we couldn't. The work that was done wasn't ours. Every sin was removed on the cross, and the cross was messy. We can't wash those dishes. We would never be able to scrub hard enough, use enough elbow grease, to be declared clean.
Of course we don't want to send our kids to bed with nightmares about Christ's crucifixion. It's scary enough for adults to really think about. It must be acknowledged, though, so we don't forget that sin is not forgiven because we prayed. Sin is forgiven because Jesus sacrificed Himself.
We rarely see a drop of blood in pictures of the cross. We sing about being washed white as snow, but often forget to talk about how hard Jesus had to scrub to achieve that whiteness for us. When we started, we were black as coal.
Jesus's suffering was painful. I don't mean to dwell there, but I think if we overlook exactly how hard Jesus worked for us, we will take it for granted. He suffered a night of torment, and then in the morning agonized the torture of the cross. His body was a bloody mess - almost as drossy as our insides. But when that torn-up, stabbed, spit-soaked, dehydrated, bloody, broken body was finally at its end, our wretched, despicable, sin-stained souls could be declared clean. His scourging was our scrubbing.
After eating a delicious meal, may you always remember the dross inside you that was scrubbed away, and never look at those dishes the same again.
Numbers are a big deal to me. They represent organization, and I love organization. (Now, of course, I almost didn't use this picture, because the numbers are not in order. But that's not the point.)
There are some people - and I am one of them - who love to search the Bible for patterns and trends and special meanings attached to numbers. Many numbers have a meaning that has been universally accepted, and some of them are included here. (Some other meanings are simply ideas I have noticed.)
While I have followed biblical numerology, I have never before noticed that beyond the meaning of each number, one can see the story of God's relationship with man in the ORDER of the numbers. I love it; check it out:
1 - God (Deuteronomy 6:4)
In the Beginning, God. There was One God. No others. As a matter of fact, there was nothing else at all. Why am I not starting with zero? Because there was never time when there was nothing. God always was.
God is number one. He comes first, as He always should. The first commandment? Have NO OTHER gods before Me. Seek FIRST the kingdom of heaven. If we only could look to God first, without being distracted, our lives would be much less complicated.
*Here, our story begins. It all began with God, in His perfection.
2 - Goodness and Evil
There are only these two polarities. Goodness is a one-point scale - it's all or nothing, no in-between.
All [men] have sinned. None are righteous, no not one. So basically, God is good, and anything that is not of God is evil. What's amazing here is that, even though you could count so much that is not of God, if you measure it against God, the balance is still in God's favor. His goodness far outweighs everything else.
2s that show this:
Darkness and Light
Cain and Abel
Heaven and Hell
Judgement and Mercy
Life and Death
* Part 2 of the story: Once man was created, he was good. Then he sinned, and he was no longer good. It's black and white, with no room for grey. God is good; man is not.
3 - Trinity (the number of Perfection)
Three is very common in the Bible and probably the most important number we see, due to our triune Godhead. I believe the founding fathers of the U.S. had the trinity in mind when they wrote the Constitution and created a government with three branches. (Which has served our country quite well.) Three is never random in the Bible, as God knew even before man was created that Jesus would rise from the dead after three days. The threes we see prior to Jesus's death are usually pointing to the resurrection in some way.
3s that show this:
Three items [entombed] in the Ark of the Covenant
Three sons of Noah [who gave new birth to mankind after the flood]
Three days in the whale (Jonah)
Three years of Jesus's ministry
Three denials from Peter (and then three affirmations to restore him)
Three days in the tomb (Jesus)
Also, have you noticed how often God's salvation message appears in the THIRD CHAPTER of a book of the bible? See:
-Matthew 3 and Luke 3: Jesus's Baptism
-John 3: Nicodemus & re-birth
-Romans 3: God's righteousness vs. our lack thereof
-Galatians 3: Faith over works
-Ephesians 3: The mystery of the Gospel
-Philippians 3: Righteousness through faith
-Colossians 3: Put away death, put on Christ
And that's just a sample from the New Testament!
* Part 3 of the story: Although the Trinity always was, now its necessity is evident. God already knows His Son will be sacrificed for the redemption of mankind, but now the play goes into action.
4 - Four Gospels/Accounts of the life of Christ on earth. (the number of the earth)
Jesus came to earth. God on earth to save mankind. Almost unimaginable. His story is repeated 4 times, from 4 perspectives. (Matthew, the tax collector, showed the story of the common man's relationship with Jesus. Mark, written by Peter, the impetuous disciple, was short and action-oriented. Luke, written by the physician, is full of details, and John, from the disciple whom Jesus loved [his words], a gospel based on love.)
4s that show this:
Four directions (north, south, east, west)
Four seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall)
Other thoughts on the number 4: evangelism!
According to Acts 1:8, the message of the gospel is to be spread to:
4. The ends of the earth.
The 4 corners of the world, perhaps? (Isaiah 11:12)
* Part 4 of the story: Jesus has come to earth. The Good has come for the evil.
5 - The number of grace
The number five is not as prominent as some of the others. But then again, we could easily miss God's grace if we are not looking for it.
5s that show this:
In the Old Testament, God showed his grace through acceptance of offerings, of which there where five types: burnt, sin, grain, trespass, and peace. (Leviticus 1-7)
In the New Testament, Jesus showed us that His grace was more than enough to cover all by using 5 loaves of bread to feed 5,000 men.
Romans 5 explains grace beautifully.
There are a few other instances of the number 5 in the Bible, but I personally did not see how they relate to grace.
* Part 5 of the story: While Jesus was here on earth, He showed man what grace looks like, both as an example of how to treat one another and also as a foreshadow of God's grace post-resurrection.
6 - The number of man
Six is the number of man, not of the devil, as some may think. People give the devil too much credit. It is, in fact, MAN'S SIN that separates us from God. Satan just gets in the way. Man would have sinned eventually, without prodding.
6s that show this:
Man was created on the 6th Day. (Genesis 1:26-31)
6 things, the Lord hates. (from Proverbs 6)
(Note, anytime something is repeated in the Bible, one should especially take notice. I do
not think that finding SIX things in Proverbs SIX is something that should overlooked.)
The 6th commandment, do not murder, is about death. (Man's death is the whole reason for salvation.)
6 pieces of armor man has to protect himself in spiritual battle. (Ephesians 6)
(Again, note the chapter number.)
Jesus died for man's sins after 6 hours on the cross. (Mark 15)
* Part 6 of the story: This is the climax - the spotlight is on man. What will he do? Will he accept Jesus as God? Or will he crucify Him? Man will fail, because man cannot save himself.
7 - The number of perfection, the number of completion, the number of God.
Seven is one of the other most important numbers in the Bible (other than three.) However, while three deals mainly with man's relationship with God in salvation, seven deals more with God's completion of Creation.
7s that show this:
The 7th Day - when Creation was complete (Genesis 2:2)
70 times 7 - when forgiveness is complete (Matthew 18:22)
After 70 weeks - when the earth's time will be complete (Daniel 9)
7 years - when the tribulation will be complete (Rev. 19)
* Part 7 of the story: THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING PART! Notice how the number of God comes AFTER the number of man. Not in importance, but in timing. God had to come after man to fix what he had done. In the number 7, it is finished.
8 - New beginnings. (My favorite number.)
This is a tough one because we don't often see eights, and so it is difficult to make the connection. Eight as a number of new beginnings, though fairly widely accepted, is mostly logical. Once something has been completed (the sevens - 7 days, 7 weeks, etc.), something new can begin.
8s that show this:
Eight people survived the flood. (Genesis 7:13)
Eight days in the Feast of Tabernacles
Eight days after birth for circumcision (Gen. 17)
* Part 8 of the story: After God fixed what man had done, he has new life and can start again.
9 - The number of growth (although I have not seen it called this specifically anywhere.)
As rare as it is to see eights in the Bible, nines are even less frequent. Many other religions use nine as a special number, and conclusions can be drawn, but it doesn't appear that nine is super special in Christianity. Some make the case for instances of three threes, but I think that's pushing it a little. The only very special nine I see is listed below.
9s that show this:
9 fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5)
* Part 9 of the story: After man has been saved and can begin again, he can now grow in his life with God and bear fruit.
10 - The number of the law.
Of course, this refers to more to more biblical law than governmental (man's) law. Although man was given God's law shortly after man sinned, it was not a to-do list. Man was given the law to show him that he is inadequate and needs a Savior. So why does man need to follow God's law, even though Christ's sacrifice released us from the need to keep it? Man is still imperfect and needs the law to remind him of how desperately he needs Jesus's gift and God's grace.
10s that show this:
10% of giving in a tithe (Malachi 3)
10 Plagues (upon a reigning Pharaoh who did not listen)
10 Commandments (Exodus 20)
10 Kings under the anti-Christ (Daniel 2, 7)
* Part 10 of the story: God has saved man, and man is growing in faith. Even though the law cannot be kept 100% by any man, man can continue to work at growing and obeying His commands to please Him and give thanks for what He has done.
11 - Number of discord.
Eleven is also not seen often in the Bible, but where it is, it is prominent. Once Judas is removed from the group of Jesus's apostles, the group is seen distraught and disorganized until a replacement is found.
11s that show this:
The "Eleven" (group of Jesus's apostles after the suicide of Judas)
The 11th year of Zedekiah, the prophesy of when Jerusalem would fall
The 11th hour, when the last of the workers are hired in the vineyard (Jesus's parable, Matt. 20)
* Part 11 of the story: Not all will follow Jesus. Even those who show interest in Christ could possibly give up on Him. These are like the seed in the parable that grows quickly, but then withers. Some will fall away, like Judas.
12 - Another number of completeness, as it relates to man.
Whereas seven was God's number of completeness (Creation, forgiveness), twelve is more a number relating to a more earthly completeness.
12s that show this:
12 tribes of Israel, God's nation, unbroken (Genesis 49)
12 disciples, the followers needed to spread the Gospel to the world (Matthew 10)
Many of the dimensions in the New Jerusalem, our heavenly final resting place. (Revelation 21)
* The end of the story: Those who remain in Jesus complete their eternity in His company, in His glory. Don't you love a happy ending?
I hope this post wasn't overwhelming. It is simple when broken down into parts, just like God's grace is meant to be. Simple to obtain, impossible to understand. For those of you who enjoy number searching, maybe you have found something new.
Even if you have not, or you skipped the number part altogether to read the simple Gospel message, we are left with one simple, relief-filled message:
God's will always triumphs.
Passion Under Grace,