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.

Light and Dark – Jonah


Jonah was in a fish! It was dark in there! Him being spit out put him back into light.  This signals the time Jesus would spend in the grave. The first mention of Jonah is in 2 Kings 14: 25 where he is credited with a prophesy that came true, the story of the Book of Jonah would have been after this.

The thing that leaves you hanging about Jonah is what happened to him?  Did he repent of the harsh attitude, did he go back to Israel, or did he just stay bitter?  

Peter was identified as “bar Jonah” or son of Jonah.  It would be a stretch to say they were related!  Matthew 16: 17 does not seem to imply that Jesus was being “funny”, so that probably was Peter’s name.  Peter may have had similar traits as Jonah (hard-headed, impulsive, teachable but slow to change), so we can hope that Jonah returned to God like Peter did.  

ThreeThree days and three nights is the most notable part of Jonah’s ordeal.  That is because it has three references in the New Testament – two different times in Matthew (12: 41 + 16: 4) and one repeat in Luke (11: 29).  Jesus offered it as the only sign from heaven that unbelieving Jews would get.  I noticed that there were three “God provided” after Jonah preached to Nineveh – the plant, the worm, and the wind.  There was also a three day walk across the city.

The study of Solomon, Jesus walking on water, and this one, all have connections to the festivals that happen in the seventh month”. (Jonah is read as an example of repenting and reaching out to a Gentile nation.)

End and Start – Jonah’s time in the fish ended his disobedience and started his journey to face his fear of being labeled a “false prophet” if Nineveh was not destroyed.  At this time in history, Assyria was oppressing Israel and would send a replacement population to occupy Samaria. So, Jonah had serious reasons, in his mind, why he was not going to do it (hatred of Assyria, fear of being a false prophet).  Even though other prophets had dealings with foreign nations this was the first prophet that was specifically sent to an enemy nation telling them to repent!

FURTHER THOUGHT – Have you done a “Jonah”? Have you ever tried to run from something that Jesus wanted you to do?  How did it end?http://clipart.christiansunite.com/Bible_Characters_Clipart/Jonah_Clipart/

Light and Dark- Saul Regaining His Sight


The story of Saul in Acts 9 has two instances of dark and light. Jesus had to end one case of darkness to ready him for the second.  Saul’s first darkness was in his thinking, it bound him in the Law.  Since he was an up-and-coming star in Judaism, it is probable that he had heard Jesus teach and was one of the many messengers sent to trick Jesus. It is also very likely that Saul was part of the council that sent Jesus to the cross.  The light to this darkness is in verse three, it knocked him to the ground.  You have to wonder just what he saw as he talked to Jesus?

Saul/Paul’s second dark and light cycle began when he got up from the ground.  He opened his eyes and “could see nothing”.  That is frightening! (I had that experience due to an eye infection. I just washed my eyes and could see again.) The last thing he saw, for three days, was Jesus in His glory. (TD Jakes has said that he (eyes) may have never recovered from this, but he now had spiritual vision.)  Saul went from spiritual and physical darkness to seeing the Light, or from no light to knowing the Light!

Three– Saul’s three was “three days”.  He did not eat or drink during this time and the answer to his prayers was – Ananias, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and baptism.

End and Start – Here are some of the things that ended and started.

  • Saul -> Paul
  • The Law went to Grace.  Yes, he stilled honored the traditions of his youth but was not bound to them.
  • The hunter became a herald.
  • Knowing the Law was replaced with knowing the Law-giver.

FURTHER THOUGHT– Since you have been saved, what is one thing that Jesus showed you that caused a change in how you lived.

http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/btbm-paul-conversion/

Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Ananias

Ananias – Jah has favored or covered.  I like to start studies by looking up the meanings of names of people and places.  Sometimes the name reflects what is happening in the story, this time it seems like a split decision on how well these three men fit the name.  This a variant of several Old Testament names.

Ananias the Liar Acts 5:1

Ananias and his wife Sapphira are only remembered for their creed and lying to the Holy Spirit.  The value of this passage is not that they dropped dead, but that attempting to deceive the Spirit will not get you where you want to go!  In the context of its position in the book you have to wonder why it happened. Certainly, people have and are doing acts similar or worse today.

It is very easy for me to believe that Ananias was attempting to become a leaderin this church.  It is easy to imagine that a great deal of resources was starting to be available to the church as it grew in numbers.  Luke sandwiches this story with Barnabas (4:37), mighty miracles, a showdown with the religious government, and then talks about a new level of leaders that would control a great amount of resources (6:1).

There are similarities between Ananias and Simon, the witch, in 8:9 – 25.  Simon was a threat to the work in Samaria because he saw the Baptism in the Spirit as a money maker.  If Simon could wield this gift people may be favorable to his needs and wants because once again he would be someone of importance.

The mystery here is the final outcome is not mentioned like it was with Ananias.  Grace has to let me think he turned out okay!  Unlike Ananias, Luke mentions that he believed and was baptized (8:13), was astonished by real miracles, and asked for forgiveness (24).  I want to think Simon saw his mistake and was not willing to mock the Spirit once his error was pointed out to him.  Sounds like the Gospel at work to me.

Ananias of Damascus  Acts – Chapter 9 and 22:12

This man may be the most underrated person in the Bible.  Yes, I have heard sermons about him but this study opened my eyes to his great qualities!  In 9:12 Jesus sent him because He knew he would go.  Ananias had to overcome come his fears to lay hands on Saul/Paul.  It is reasonable to believe that he was also Paul’s first tutor and mentor in the Way.  Ananias was important enough that Paul shared this story with Luke.  In 22:12 Paul again talks about Ananias and praises him for his faith in Jesus and his faithfulness to the traditions he had grown up with.  This is the second time that Luke records about him and Paul was bragging on him to a hostile crowd. This is what we know; now let us think of some possibilities.

Ananias may have gone to Damascus because of the persecution after Stephen’s death.  But it is possible that he just lived there. Damascus is close to Galilee so it is possible that he heard Jesus speak around the lake.  It is also possible that he was among the 3000 on the day of Pentecost.  He may have been a leader of the Way in Damascus.  At the very least people knew him and trusted him (Paul would have only been accepted because of someone like him).

Ananias the High Priest – Acts Chapter 23 – 26

As honorable as Ananias of Damascus was this one is not!  As a member of the High Priest family it is very probable that he was present for the death of Jesus, Pentecost, the trials of the Apostles, and the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of the Way!  He may have even been the one who gave Saul permission to go to Damascus. Control is the issueI see as the problem the Sadducees had with Jesus and His followers.  They had a good moneymaker in the Temple and they did not want anyone to disturb their income.

Among his questionable acts: ordering Paul struck, and agreeing to the killing of Paul (at least twice). He played loose and fast with the rules and it is probable that he could justified everything he did under some rule in the Law.

http://clipart.christiansunite.com/Bible_Characters_Clipart/Paul_the_Apostle_Clipart/index2.shtml

 

Josiah’s Prophets

The fruit of a righteous king was prophets and young people who stood for God at a time when not standing for Him would have been comfortable.  Female, male, young, old, with hateful country men, or with pagan kings these voices for God carried a common theme and spoke of things in the future.  They stayed true and spoke when it was not easy.

  • Huldah is the wife of the wardrobe keeper (Temple garments for the priest). That would make them both Levites.  She was sought out after Josiah was read the Law and he realized just how much his father and grandfather had sinned.  Her word in 2 Chronicles 34: 22 – 28 is good for Josiah, but God has no intention of letting up on Judah.  She tells of the destruction to come, the theme found in all of these prophets of God.
  • Jeremiah to me is special. He endured four evil kings, his own family doing him harm, the people rejecting his words from God, seeing the prophesies fulfilled, and finally to die in Egypt where he did not want to be.  As a young man God gave him a huge task, to test His people (6: 27 – 30).  Parts of Jeremiah are out of order, but I would think that his work during Josiah’s reign are from chapter 1 to 9/10.
  • Zephaniah – Chapter 1:1 clearly states the time of his ministry; 3:18 may indicate that he was serving before and during the eighteenth year of Josiah (it refers to “sorrows for the feast”). He may have influenced both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but the Lord definitely spoke the same words through him that He spoke through Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
  • Ezekiel is best known for the visions he received about the new Temple and the new Jerusalem. Chapter 1:1 gives his age and verse two timestamps him starting his ministry in Jehoiachin’s fifth year of exile.  His location is north of the city of Babylon by the Kebar River/Canal.
  • Daniel started his role of prophet in Babylon during the reign of Jehoiakim, but he would have been influenced by Josiah and the feast during the thirteen years the Passover was observed. Being a royal he may have also known Jeremiah, and had that influence as well. It could be possible that he met Ezekiel, but it is doubtful. Daniel’s locations are south of the one for Ezekiel.  Babylon, Susa, Ulai Canal, and the Tigris River are some of the locations mentioned in the Book of Daniel; it is noteworthy that two of his visions came when he was beside a river.  This custom survived into Paul’s time as seen in Acts 16: 13 when he found Lydia in Philippi.
  • Uriah (Jeremiah 26: 20 – 23) Actually, he is mentioned with King Jehoiakim but let’s put the start of his ministry during the time of Josiah. (The reasoning here is time, Jehoiakim was king for eleven years, so he should have been older than that!) He prophesied against Jerusalem, and was hunted down and killed by Jehoiakim. This passage does give a look at Jehoiakim and some of his poor conduct.
  • There are several false prophets listed in Jeremiah, but like Uriah we don’t know when they started. They are mentioned in the time period of Zedekiah. Both Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zephaniah have sections about false prophets: Jeremiah 23: 33, Ezekiel 13, Zephaniah 3: 4.

The Chronological Bible puts Habakkuk during Josiah’s reign.  That is as good as any place but he could have been with Isaiah and Micah.