As we look at the inspired record we notice several numbers used in specific ways, as a quantity or as a placement.
- An artist paints a bouquet of 16 flowers. But someone notices there are only 4 varieties. Someone else notices there are only 4 colors of flowers used. Still another observes that each of the flowers has 4 leaves on the stem and there are only 4 different heights of the stem. Eventually, some astute observer would think, What’s going on?
- If someone tells you he ran a race and came in second, that placement would have an entirely different meaning if there were only two runners or 20,000. But if that person ALWAYS came in second, no matter how many were in the race, or what kind of race it was, we would begin to wonder, What’s going on?
What significance, for example, does 3, 7, or 40 have as a quantity? And what importance is implied when 3 is used as a placement amongst a larger number (third)? What characteristics does it have? To get our answers we must go to the written Word. The left brain looks for all the times these numbers are used and what were the circumstances around that use. This data will then be fed into the right brain where it can consider the information in more creative and imaginative ways.
In Breaking The Giant Code I had to do this when considering the meaning of Ishbibenob’s spear, which associated 300 with its weight. In the original language units of weight were not defined, which indicated to me what was important was the 300, not the actual weight. Remember, the whole Bible is inspired of God to give us direction and help (see 2Timothy 3:16-17). So I went in pursuit of 300 in the Bible. Here are most of the instances where it was used as a total quantity.
- Genesis 5:22 Enoch walked with God for 300 years after Methuselah’s birth, and then was translated.
- Genesis 6:15 One of the dimensions of Noah’s ark.
- Genesis 45:22 To show special favor to his youngest brother, Joseph gave him 300 pieces of silver, but gave none to his older brothers.
- Judges 7:6 Before God could use Gideon and his army to defeat the Midianites He reduced the army of 32,000 men to 300.
- 2Samuel 23:18 Abishai, the one who killed the Philistine giant Ishbibenob, also had his own 300. In this verse it was the number of enemies he killed with a single spear.
- Esther 9:15 The number of enemies slain in Shushan (where the palace was) by the Jews on the day of their deliverance.
- John 12:5 The value of Mary’s ointment she used on Christ before His crucifixion (nearly a year’s wages).
Now we use right brain processing and look at the total picture. What is common among all these instances?
- A positive experience
But Ishbibenob’s spear was a weapon intended to be used to kill Israel’s king! What is that telling us? It is not likely Abishai knew the weight of the spear before the confrontation, so he couldn’t have been encouraged that God would deliver the giant into his hands. But to us, to whom the Word is given, it describes an enemy that presents himself as a worldly deliverer, one favored by the gods, one capable of giving us a positive experience. As we put together other clues given about this enemy we see that he is presented as PROSPERITY, and lures the intelligent with new things, to draw them close to himself. But his prosperity is the kind intended to take down even the greatest leader. And the devil knew what David’s weakness was. See what David says.
Psa 73:3-7 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
But then God took him to the sanctuary where he came to his senses.
Psa 73:16-17 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
As we study the sanctuary we have another counterpart system to give witness to what kind of riches God can use to prosper us. And so it goes throughout the Bible. Numbers as counterparts takes us to the Word, where we find other counterpart systems to enhance our study. One system helps another. Remember, chaos arises out of order, so the closer we get to God through His word, the less and less disorder we shall see and the more truth and rightness and harmony we shall discover.