By Leonard Lauriault
This year has flown past and will soon come to an end – its days are numbered, a term often used to describe impending doom that comes at the end of the measured time (not that doom will come after New Year’s Eve this year). The Babylonian king, Belshazzar, a prideful man who hadn’t humbled himself before God, saw the handwriting on the wall (which has become another sign of impending doom) telling him in a language apparently unknown to him that his days (or the days of his reign) were numbered (Daniel, chapter 5). As it turned out, by the time he learned his days were numbered, it was his last day and he was slain that night.
When God gives a time frame for blessing, the promises are always fulfilled on time (Romans 5: 1-8; Ephesians 1: 3-10). When God gives a time frame with a warning, though, there’s usually an unspoken, “Unless you repent;” but, see Jeremiah 18: 7-10. Anyway for some examples, when God decided to flood the earth, he gave mankind 120 years to repent knowing it wouldn’t happen (but not preventing it: 2 Peter 3: 8, 9) and in 120 years the flood came (Genesis 6: 1-7; 7: 5-12). On the other hand, God’s message to Nineveh was, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned;” but, the Ninevites repented and the city wasn’t destroyed at that time (Jonah 3: 1-10). Still, God’s also put a time limit on his patience with all of mankind and at the designated time, will call on all of us to account for our actions (Acts 17: 30, 31; 2 Corinthians 5: 10).
God looks out for our best interests, hoping we’ll repent. He knows things about us we don’t even know – like the number of hairs on our head – because we mean so much more to him than anything else in the world (Jonah 4: 10, 11; Psalm 103: 13, 14; Matthew 10: 28-31). (Counting hairs is certainly much easier on some of us than others – see the photo accompanying this article to get the picture). This world also is very important to him – so much so that he feeds the birds, adorns the plants, and like an expectant grandmother, counts the months until animal babies are born (Matthew 6: 25-30; Job 39: 1, 2).
As much as God pays attention to some details, there’re some statistics for which he doesn’t keep an account, at least for those Christians who’re striving to maintain a right relationship with him through forgiveness. He counts our steps, but not our sins when we’ve been forgiven (Job 14: 16, 17; Isaiah 38: 17; 43: 25; Psalm 103; 11, 12).
While many things are numbered or are to be numbered – watched closely, kept track of – some things are without number. Like our hairs, our sins are so many we cannot count them (Psalm 40: 11, 12). Unforgiven sin causes a terrible burden of guilt; but, God will relieve that when we obediently seek his favor (Psalm 32: 1-11). If we number our days seeking God’s help, we’ll have the wisdom to avoid the inevitable harm that results from our sin (Psalm 90: 12; Romans 6: 23).
If God doesn’t count our sins against us, neither should we (John 8: 10, 11). The wisest thing we can do is get forgiveness (Acts 5: 32; Romans 8: 9; Acts 2: 38, 39; 6: 7; 22:16; Romans 10: 13; 1 Peter 1: 22, 23) and continue to seek forgiveness as Christians (1 John 1: 5-9; 5: 7). While we’re not to sin intentionally, continued forgiveness for Christians allows us to avoid God’s anger that will be meted out to the unforgiven (2 Corinthians 5: 17-19; 2 Thessalonians 1: 5-11).
Consequently, we’re encouraged to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6: 1-11; 8: 12-14; Colossians 3: 1-10). This is an act of humility God gladly acknowledges now and for eternity by including us among the numberless who’ll worship around his throne after Jesus returns (1 Peter 5: 5-7; Luke 15: 3-7; James 4: 7-10; Revelation 7: 9, 10).
This year’s days were numbered from its beginning. There’ll only be 365 days in 2007 and 366 in 2008. This world’s days also were numbered from the beginning although God only knows that number (Isaiah 51: 6; 2 Peter 3: 10-14; Matthew 24: 36-39). Our days aren’t numbered, however. Whatever happens to this world and our physical bodies, our souls will live for eternity, either among the numberless enjoying life in God’s presence or among the numberless bemoaning life in exile (Matthew 25: 46).
Where will you be? God would like for you to be with him (Psalm 116: 15; Philippians 2: 21-23).
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ