The Number Thirty-eight in the Bible

 

Thirty-eight is mentioned five times in the Bible.  Well, 1 Chronicles is 38,000 but that still counts because it is 38 x 1000.  Notes on the verses are below.

If you do an internet search, it is obvious that there are many thoughts about this number.  The people who wrote about thirty-eight have done some impressive research.  I guess I am taking a slightly different thought toward it, so please add this post to the mix.  Numbers in the Bible are part of the Father’s creation and He uses them in His story (history)! I have always wanted to do that:)

So, please do not try and have numbers direct your life; His peace and righteousness is God’s gift for direction in your life.

I have grouped the thirty-eights into three groups – Deuteronomy/Numbers and John, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  Why!  Because this number, like many other numbers God uses, has several thoughts associated with it.

The best place to start is at its first mention/reference in Numbers 14.  Okay, anybody with a concordance knows that thirty-eight is not mentioned in Numbers.  But it was in God’s heart!   The number that is mentioned is forty (verses 33 + 34), but Deuteronomy 2: 14 explains how God carried out His plan.  There are four different viewpoints in Deuteronomy that need to be looked at:

Group 1

Deuteronomy

  1. The People – Predictably they rebelled, but they had already done that. (Remeber, they had tested God ten times.)   Now, there are two sets of people in this group.  The twenty an older group who were being held accountable and the nineteen and under who were going to suffer for the first group’s grumbling.  Knowing teenagers, they would have been in on the complaining, but God drew His line at nineteen years of age.  The thought of going back to Egypt dissolved when they thought about slavery and that they were not allowed to go into the Land.
  2. Joshua and Caleb – they were in the “right” and would still have to wait to get their promises from God. If anybody had the right to be mad it was these guys!  But since they had better spirits than the others I want to image they started working with the youngsters.
  3. Moses, Aaron, (Miriam) – Once again they fell to their knees, but you have to think they may have been annoyed with the people. The people had already tested God ten times and this refusal to go into the Land was serious.  The brothers stood in the middle of this scene and worked for the people.
  4. God – Mad, yes! Out of love for Abraham, He listened to Moses.  He said forty and gave them credit for the first two years.  Or, He cut it short for the sake of the spies.  40 – Joshua and Caleb = 38.  (Well, it makes sense if it was common core math.).   His viewpoint, there is mercy and cleansing in this number.

John –The man at the pool was there for thirty-eight years.  That number directed Jesus’ actions for him.  Like the people in the wilderness, he was “sick” and had a death sentence.  Verse fourteen is a warning that he “stop sinning”, which is pretty much what the nineteen and under group had to do.  I have mixed feelings about the fact he told on Jesus, was this bragging or trying to get favor? (See Psalm 95: 10.)

At the end of these thirty-eights, there were better times and promises ahead.

Group 2

1 Kings 16: 29 and 2 Kings 15: 8 have many similarities besides the number thirty-eight.  Both of these verses are timestamps of when kings of the northern tribes (Israel) came into power.  1 Kings tells of Ahab (Israel) becoming king in the thirty-eighth year of Asa (Judah). 2 Kings is the story of Zechariah (Israel) and Azariah (Judah).  Both of the kings of Judah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”.  These two kings had a severe illness at the end of their reigns.  Neither of the kings of Israel did what was “right” in eyes of the Lord.

Asa– His story is recorded in 1 Kings 15: 9-24 and 2 Chronicles 14: 2- 16: 14.  I will use the later reference for now.  Asa had everything going for him until he made a deal with Ben-Hadad of Aram.  God lifted His protective covering from Asa as a warning/lesson for later kings.  Asa contracted a disease in his feet (possibly gout).  His treaty with Aram probably took place in the thirty-eighth year of his reign, and he went from a good king to a bad king.  16: 12 says that is when he became ill and refused to seek God.  For thirty-eight years he was walking in blessings and then he shut God out!

Azariah/Uzziah– His story is in 2 Kings 15: 1-7 and 2 Chronicles 26.  2 Chronicles 26: 16 talks of pride and unfaithfulness in a king who had been doing right and was blessed.  He also had the Lord’s shield lifted from him and developed leprosy.  I have no clues to support this, but this could have happened in his thirty-eighth year.  The thirty-eight of Uzziah is for Zechariah of Israel, who is the fulfillment of the promise to Jehu.

Group 3

1 Chronicles 23: 3 is part of the preparation David made for the Temple that Solomon was to build.  Well, it is 38,000 but David requiring that the Levities once again take part in the worship of God is a major development.  In Judges, it seemed that only the sons of Aaron were working with the Ark and worship of God.

Reflections– People like definite answers for things – that will not work here!  Numbers frequently have more than one aspect to them and thirty-eight is no different. Having pondered this for a while the best idea, I have, is that thirty-eight signals A SHIFT! This may be to the better or for the worse. Group 1 and 2 easily show a shift. Group 1 went to a better state, while Group 2 declined.  Group 3 is a shift back to the way it was.

The nineteen-year-olds had thirty-eight years to THINK, listen to Joshua and Caleb, or the now regretful older generation.  Some believed Joshua and listened, looked, and learned, some did not.  But the new generation knew where the Promised Land was and that they would get back there.  They even got their own “Red Sea” experience – see Joshua’s Passover.

MY NOTES

Deuteronomy 2: 14 – This passage in Deuteronomy is a recounting of the journey to Promise Land. It was thirty-eight years from when the spies brought the bad report to them getting ready to enter the land.  The reason for the delay was the “fighting men” of the camp had to die off.  The number forty is associated with the wandering.  I feel God gave them credit for the two years of battle training, constructing the Ark, and seeing miracles when He handed out the sentence.

1 Chronicles 23: 3 – David was preparing for the Temple.  He counted 38, 000 Levites and divided them into working units – 24,000 for working on the Temple, 6,000 for officials and judges, 4,000 for gatekeepers, and 4,000 to praise the Lord. This was done while he was alive before any work began on the Temple.

1 Kings 16: 29 – In the thirty-eighth year of Asa, Ahab became king in the Northern Kingdom.  Asa was a king who did what was right and Ahab was not.  Ahab was the seventh king of Israel during the reign of Asa (Jeroboam to Ahab).

2 Kings 15: 8 – in the thirty-eighth year of Azariah, Zechariah became king of Israel.  He is the grandson of Jehu (2 Kings 9 to 10) and completes the prophecy in 2 Kings 10: 30. (See 2 Kings 15: 12). Azariah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord- 2 Kings 15: 3.

John 5: 5 – Jesus was at a Feast of the Jews (vs. 1).  He healed a man of the Sabbath, who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years.  Jesus told the man to take his mat and walk.  The man was caught and threatened by the Jews for breaking the Sabbath, carrying the mat was work.  Verses 14 and 15 end the story with the man being warned and then he tells the Jews who healed him.

Passover to Pentecost – Nicodemus

John records the story of Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3.  Jesus teaches us a truth starting in verse three about how to enter the Kingdom of God – be born of the water and the Spirit.  In this time period of the Counting of the Omer (Passover to Pentecost) Jesus ties the Old Testament shadows to the New Testament fulfillments. This maybe the second example of New Testament Passovers, the first one is in Luke when Jesus stayed behind to talk to the priest in the Temple.

In the first three chapters of John there are two different pictures of the Passover and the Counting of the Omer.  The first is Jesus’ baptism and His forty day trip into the wilderness and the second is John 3:5 + 6.  But we need to include chapter one and two in this second picture of Passover.

John 2:23 is one reference to a New Testament Passover.  Jesus after His baptism picked some disciples (due to the testimony of John the Baptist), told Mary, His mother, that His “time had not yet come” and still preformed a miracle, and cleared the Temple of commercial activity. How do these reflect the Passover to the Jew of Jesus’ day and to us?

  • We will start with the picking of some of His disciples – There is a pre-Passover fast where the firstborn males are recognized. When Jesus picked those disciples, He was doing a form of the Fast of the Firstborn.
  • The miracle of the wine at the wedding is a complex, in my thinking. It could represent the miracles that led up to the first Passover.  The fact that it was wine, a “yeast” made drink, is interesting because one of the “gods” that was humiliated was the Egyptian beer goddess.
  • Jesus clearing the Temple is a picture of cleaning your home of yeast before Passover.It is interesting that the Jews were more concerned about the authority to upset the selling tables than the “right or wrong” of Jesus doing it.  He did this again just before His last Passover.
  • Jesus’ command to be born of water and Spirit reflect the “baptism” at the Red Sea and meeting God at Mount Sinai. And what would happen on the Birthday of the Church, Pentecost.

Jesus’ response to Mary in John 2: 4 about the wine finally has been settled for me.  His “time” or start of His ministry was Passover! So, it was before His time!

Week Two Study for Passover to Pentecost

This is the continuation of the study that will go to Pentecost.

  1. Passover to Pentecost –Out of Egypt/ End of Passover
  2. Passover to Pentecost -Out of Egypt – Things You Might Recognize
  3. Passover to Pentecost –What Is Important
  4. Passover to Pentecost –Passover Number Two
  5. Passover to Pentecost –Joshua’s Passover and His Fifty Days
  6. Passover to Pentecost –Food
  7. Passover to Pentecost – Three Days

Passover to Pentecost – Moses and His Second Chance

Passover to Pentecost – Moses and His Second Chance    Week 5 Day 5

So now, go.  I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.  Exodus 3: 10 (NIV)

When I read the accolades of Moses in Deuteronomy 34: 10 + 11 I forget that he was not always like that.  He knew God face-to-face, he did miraculous signs and wonders, and he led a captive people out of their bondage.  But that is not the Moses you meet in Exodus 3 when he first talks to God at the burning bush.  When he left Egypt at the head of a million people he was a different man than when he left ahead of an execution squad.

Moses left Egypt the first time when he was forty so he may have lived in the palace or among the royals for thirty-five years.  He should have received a royal education and knew the Pharaoh who tried to kill him. Whatever his intent was he apparently had not forgotten the five or six years he spent with his family as a child.  Jochebed, his mother, surely told him of his miraculous beginning and told him that God had something important for him to do.

The next forty years of education/living must have been a shock for the “prince” of Egypt. Instead of leading people he was leading sheep.  But by the time he was eighty he had settled in; so when God called him he did not want to go.  He had left Egypt and the Hebrews and seemed to have made no plans to go back.  He was circumcised but had not performed the rite on his sons.

In Exodus 2: 14 a man asked Moses who made you ruler and judge over us, by chapter 5 Moses could say God did.  It truly was a second chance for Moses.  How do you go from Exodus 3 to Deuteronomy 34?  Every time Moses performed one of his signs, every plague started and stopped, every test and trial the Israelites did against God, and that cloud over his head day and night transformed him from fainthearted to fearless.

http://www.freebibleimages.org

Passover to Pentecost – Three Days

Passover to Pentecost – Three Days        Week 2 Day 7

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers.  Luke 2:46 (NIV)

I have done many number studies just because they are interesting.  This number related study came as a surprise; the term “three days” has been several places in connection with the Exodus and Counting the Omer.  The ones that caught my attention have been:

  1. “three days” to go to worship in the desert
  2. same time after each of the first two Passover’s, with no water or complaining about the food
  3. the story in Luke of Joseph and Mary looking for Jesus
  4. the plague where the sun was darkened for three days
  5. Joshua moving the people into the Promised Land, they had a three-day notice
  6. The three days Jesus spent in the tomb

Pre-Exodus stories include the sacking of Shechem by Jacob’s sons and Joseph with Pharaoh’s servants and their dreams.  Shechem is where Joshua read the blessings and curses to the people, and the dream helped get Joseph into the position to help his family.  Post-Exodus stories include Jonah in the whale which is a shadow for Jesus being in the tomb three days (Passover).

To help you study use https://www.biblegateway.com and search “three days.”

The number three maybe associated with God (triune).  But this “three-day” period seems to be a waiting period and frequently there is a test at the end of it.   In Exodus 15 (three days after the first Passover) God talks about testing the people, and in Numbers 10 (2nd Passover) God said they had tested Him ten times and it was over!  I view the story in Luke as a test for Mary and Joseph in their understanding of who Jesus really was.