All About The Numbers
Can you find the significance of this number pattern: 8, 18, 20, 7, 18, 40? Puzzles and patterns are fun to figure out. We like to solve problems and mysteries. The significance of this sequence of numbers is more important than a mental exercise, it underscores the nature of the human condition.
As a child there was a particular activity that I enjoyed doing, even though I had been instructed on several occasions to forgo my participation, but I liked it. I would lie about what I was doing and where I was going. When I got caught there was punishment. The first time I was caught an apologize came quickly, but when my parents were tired of keeping an eye on me I snuck out again. Each infraction bore an increase in discipline, and with each punishment a prideful determination to endure. The cycle continued until I grew up and lost interest in the activity.
And so it has been for thousands of years. After Joshua's and the elders' deaths the Israelites fell into a cycle of sin, punishment, crying out to the Lord, and deliverance. What caught my eye this morning was the number sequence. The first time Israel was punished it took 8 years for them to finally realize that life under their enemies wasn't a good thing. With each transgression it took longer for them to repent, 8,18,20. Then there was a revival and a generation recommitted themselves, but then the cycle started again, 7,18,40. They had to learn the lesson the hard way.
Why does it take so long for us to come to our senses? Why do we wallow in our sin and rebellion? Because sin, the Bible says, is enjoyable for a while. The prodigal son lived it up without restraint or conscience. There was something exciting about living on the edge. And when it came crashing down, when everyone abandoned him, the prodigal was too proud to ask for help. Finally, when the bottom was too much to bear he went crawling home.
I would like to think that I am smarter, less prideful, more in tune with God, but the temptation to run naked in the streets is alluring. Then, when I see myself for who I am and unbridled freedom isn't all that the world promises, my pride and self-determination keep me from turning to God. I am embarrassed, why would God take me back, maybe when I can do better then I will call on God. The bottom is a hard place to be, but it is the only place from which a stubborn heart will cry out to God.
When your rebellious heart abandons God, even in the little things, and he disciplines you, how long will it take you to turn and cry out to the Lord? If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. There is now no condemnation for this who are in Christ. Not a bad deal, I'm just saying.