Wednesday, September 1, 2010
It's a Matter of Math
It's a Matter of Math
By Brenda Black
“The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.” ~S. Gudder
Take the passage in Luke 10:1-20 for example: “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“'When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“'When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God is near you.” But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.”...
“'He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.'
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.'
“He replied, '...do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'”
The God who spoke creation into existence did not haphazardly scatter whomever was handy to reach the world with his salvation story. He intentionally initiated a strategy steeped in perfect purpose and commissioned a specific number of recruits to get the news broadcast – 72 to be exact.
Think about this: The languages of the Holy Bible are Hebrew and Greek. The most prevalent language used in history for the spread of the Gospel is English. Hebrew has 22 letters. Greek has 24 characters. English has 26 letters. 22+24+26 = 72. You say that might just be a coincidence, but Christ did say to his disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved...”(Mark 16:15) Guess what, at the time of Christ’s death, there were 72 nations known to man.
Good old 72 shows up elsewhere in Scriptures. In Numbers 11:14-17, 70 elders were chosen to assist Moses. Add Moses and Aaron to the total count; guess what, 72. There were 72 ornaments on the Menorah in the Tabernacle. There were said to be 72 separate pieces of the veil in the Temple which separated the Holy place from the Most Holy Place. There were also 72 members of the Sanhedrin.
Additionally, the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, was said to have been translated by 72 Hebrew Scholars (six from each tribe) in 72 days.
Even with all of the intrigue surrounding 72, there's another number just as integral to Christ's commission. He sent them out two by two.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Still the most important number is that invisible component of the three-fold cord. The ONE Holy Spirit that accompanied sheep among wolves, provided food through the hospitality of others, filled their hearts with peace in unpredictable places, dominated demons and filled obedient disciples with joy and a safe return.
The Messiah didn't complicate matters with his specific plans. Instead, He solved the world's sin problem by dying on a cross. He sent out willing servants to tell the Good News. He simplified access to the Gospel by taking it to every being on the planet.
He still calls his believers to go out and share his love story. We are each commissioned and empowered to do such bidding and we never go alone. The Holy Spirit will always accompany the faithful who stick to the plan. It really is that simple.