Today is December 12, 2012 (12-12-12). I’m excited about that because it’s my anniversary. But everyone else is excited because today’s date is a really interesting series of numbers—three twelves. We’ve enjoyed a date like that each year for the last twelve years, but we won’t have another opportunity like this for a little while. The next time the numbers will line up in this way will be January 1, 3001.
We all love numbers to some degree. Mathematicians can make a living using them. Preachers love them when they’re good. To musicians, they put rhythm to music. To bankers and investors, numbers mean wealth. For gamblers, numbers can be an addiction. Numbers mean different things to different people.
God is interested in numbers too. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have named a book of the Bible after them. The Psalmist says he determines the number of the stars and give them their names” (Ps. 147:4). He’s even numbered the hairs of your head (Matt. 10:30).
But like so many other things, God’s view of numbers is different than ours. What kind of numbers does he want us to count?
1. He wants us to number our days. Moses wrote, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). It’s foolish to think and live as if our lives will last forever. It is wise to number our days. This doesn’t mean developing a morbid obsession, just being aware of life’s uncertainty and preparing to meet the Lord when our time comes.
2. He wants us to mark the Lord’s Day. Sunday is a special day of worship. Under the old covenant, the Jews had to keep up with many days and many feasts, but Christians have only one feast to remember—the Lord’s Supper, which is to be taken every first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
3. He wants us to make disciples. This isn’t because he sizes churches up in terms of the number of people in the pews. No, a big church is not necessarily a healthy church. But we do find a lot of counts in the inspired book of Acts. On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 were added to the Lord (Acts 2:41). Later the number of the disciples came to 5,000, not including the women (Acts 4:4). Luke wasn’t always able to give an exact number. Sometimes he would just say that the church grew by a great number (Acts 11:21; 6:7; 16:5). Counting disciples helps us see something about our growth. More disciples added to the Lord means more conversions, more good works that can be done, and more souls that have escaped eternal condemnation.
4. He wants us to remember his deeds on our behalf. David says, “I will recount all of your wonderful deeds” (Ps. 9:1). In another Psalm, the author vows to tell, literally “count,” to the coming generation “the glorious deeds of the Lord” (Ps. 78:4). Another psalm reminds us to “forget not all his benefits” (Ps. 103:2). God has been good to you. Take time to recount all the things he has done.
5. He wants us to count our blessings. Paul says, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:18). We take too much for granted. Christians ought to be thankful people. Count your blessings.
Numbers are important, but we can get distracted. Too often, we’re counting the wrong things. Learn God’s math, and you will be able to stay on track.
Father, teach us to number our days, mark the Lord’s Day, make disciples, remember your benefits, and count our blessings. Give us focus to keep up with the important numbers and forget all the rest. We thank you for knowing us, even knowing the number of hairs on our heads. In Jesus’ name, Amen.