Are you a big fan of numbers and patterns? Some people are exceptionally gifted with the ability to find sequences and patterns in order to solve a problem. I am not one of those people. It’s not that I’m bad at maths, I just don’t get excited about it – unless it’s in the Bible! God, unlike me, seems to enjoy maths as well. Only, God makes it simple enough for everyone to understand. You see, there are numerous times, particularly in the Old Testament, that God uses numbers to illustrate a point. One of my favourite occasions is in the book of Genesis in the flood narrative. In this section, God carefully places numbers in a sequence in order to create a kind of arrow that directs us to His main point.
The flood narrative goes like this: Noah is commanded to enter the ark (Genesis 7:1-3); 7 days he waits for the flood (7:4-5); 7 days waiting repeated (7:6-10); 40 days flooding and the waters increase (7:17-18); for 150 days the waters prevail. Then we find our main point which we’ll discuss in a moment. From here we read: 150 days the waters abate (8:1-5); 40 days (8:6); 7 days waiting for waters to subside (8:10-11); 7 days waiting for waters to subside repeated (8:12-14); finally, Noah is commanded to leave the ark (8:15-19). It’s easy to miss when you’re not looking for it, but in the flood narrative is a clear sequence: 7, 7, 40, 150, main point, 150, 40, 7, 7. Isn’t that interesting? Maybe not to some. But what this does is give the astute Bible reader absolutely clarity about what God is saying to us.
In a world where chaos seems to have been unleashed, with death and suffering all around, God chooses Noah and his family to rescue and begin again. When the ark begins to creak under the weight of the waters and the sea starts churning around them, when Noah and his family are the most fearful, we learn about the precious heart of God: “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1) – the main point at the very centre of the above number sequence. I want to encourage you if you feel like Noah this morning and are circling a maelstrom. You haven’t been forgotten, God remembers you. God says so Himself. He is in control. You don’t need to fear when God has chosen to save you. And when your final days come to their end, just like Noah, He will remember you. I hope you have a blessed week.