Want to rile the Almighty up big time? Try quoting numbers at Him. Up-to-the-minute Infection and Death watch counts, complete with statistical analysis and endless ‘expert’ opinion projecting into the future seems our current menu. It’s a maelstrom of perfidious facts and figures, ripe for the moment God bursts through with the final word. And He will.
Put this in your metaphorical pipe and smoke it. The Lord doesn’t give a rip about statistics. Digits, decimals and data are putty in His hands. With the crooking of His little finger, circumstances, environments, ecosystems, cultures and even time itself bends to His will. He doesn’t require man’s opinion, interpretation or intervention, much He might listen with gentle indulgence. It’s not that He isn’t moved by the very real distress people are experiencing as their idols come crashing down around them, but the problem of plague itself is so passé. Don’t look now, but I think that was a polite yawn.
Historically, The Lord has not responded well to anyone flinging ‘realistic’ dimensions at Him, whether they be the limits of time, talent, age, sex or any other calculable virtue. When you “uphold the universe with the Word of your power” (Hebrews 1:3), numbers mean nothing. Remember when He sent out Moses as virtually a one-man army against Egypt to deliver three million Hebrews with nothing more than a shepherd’s staff? Gideon, the most unwilling warrior ever, was reduced down from a healthy army of ten-thousand men to a mere three-hundred so that God, and not man, would get the glory for the victory. Abraham rescued Lot against impossible odds. Jonathan and his armor-bearer took on a whole garrison because they had the revelation that “He is able to save by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6). Give God a limit, and He will certainly defy it!
David, apple of God’s eye and His golden boy, had one major blunder, and it occurred when he got curious about the numbers. For a real eye-opener, read the story of 1 Chronicles 21. For whatever reason, David called for a military census. Bad move. The Lord was so offended at this gross retrogression of faith that a choice of three punishments (interestingly, famine, war or plague) were offered. In the end, seventy thousand of Israel fell that day because of David’s folly. After everything the Lord had taken him through, He was expected to know better. So are we. The moral of this story? Live by the numbers, die by the numbers. Be careful what you focus on.
Nothing provokes me more than when I’m at a Christian gathering, drooling for fresh spiritual meat, and the speaker starts quoting statistics. I used to fall prey to the counterfeit seriousness and subtle discouragement masquerading as wisdom this always produces, but I’ve learned better. Guess what? These numbers didn’t come from God!! Despite the erudite façade, quoting statistics indicates fear of man and honoring worldly systems over the mind of Christ. This is the wisdom of the natural, not the spiritual.
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NKJV
Whether its in the form of Scripture taken out of context, or numbers gleaned from census, “the letter kills.” When words fill you with hopelessness instead of faith, love and power, this is the wolf, decked in a sheepskin, coming to kill, steal and destroy. To present it as meat for the soul is a totally wrong spirit, and a ministration of death. We’ve got to master the fine art of separating Facts from Truth. Get mesmerized by the fascination of numbers, and we commit the same folly David did. Listen instead, for the voice of Jesus, the Great Shepherd.
There is imagery in Hebrews 12 that seems appropriate to our times. These are not the days to be standing outside the smoking mountain, terrified and overwhelmed by the ferocity of circumstances. Of course, we’re out of our depth, but all of this is still for redemption. Recently, this verse leaped out at me:
...But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels…
We stand in the day of Grace. Innumerable angels accompany us, even in the peril of these times. Whatever statistics are against us, God’s has already crunched the numbers.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15:55
Please note: In keeping with the anointing of this season, I will be taking a blogging rest in May. Enjoy the 'back-issues'!
cb Image by Bing