Numbers Matter

Most of us remember Count von Count from “Sesame Street.” He counted anything and everything. We chuckled at his obsession, but our God is also concerned with numbers.

In fact, the fourth book of the Old Testament is named Numbers. An important aspect of the book is Moses’ taking a census of the people in the beginning and also near the end (chapter 26). In Psalm 90:10, the psalmist writes that our life span will be between 70 and 80 years. God took seven days for creation. The Israelites wandered 40 years in the wilderness. Jesus chose twelve apostles. John addressed the seven churches of Asia and 3,000 were baptized on the day of Pentecost. The list goes on and on. God even counted the stars (Psalm 147:4).

One of the most significant uses of numbers in the Bible is a part of the conversation between Peter and Jesus about forgiveness. Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone, and, being generous, he thought, he suggested seven times. Jesus responded with seventy times seven (Mathew 18:20-22). He meant there is no limit to the number of times we forgive someone. There is no limit to the number of times God will forgive us (I John 1:7-9). Our God gives us second chances and third chances. His grace is limitless when we seek forgiveness.

We can’t become despondent about our sins, because we all falter and give in to temptation (Romans 3:23). We just move on in our Christian walk. We stumble and God picks us up again. A decent major league ball player will get a hit about 25 times out of a hundred. When he goes 0 for 4 a couple of games in a row, he doesn’t give up. He just moves on to the next opportunity to get a hit. Paul makes a similar point when he talks about his own sins. “I forget what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me… (Philippians 4:12).

Each time we fall short of what God wants us to be, we just keep adding numbers. As one salesman told me in handling rejection, you just simply say “next” and move on to your next call. When we fail in our Christian walk, each new day gives us another chance. Numbers count to God, but for us, in the end, praise God that he doesn’t keep score of our sins. Praise God for his mercy and grace!

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