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Paris, 15 June 2016

Bon soir!

Warm greetings from Paris! Wet, water-logged Paris. Last week the Seine rose 6m (20 ft) over its usual level. Back in 1910, in the Great Flood of Paris, the high-water mark towered a staggering 8.6m (over 28 ft) above normal levels! I suppose one person's prayer for sunshine may be undone by another person's prayer for rain.

Speaking of records and statistics... It's time for the next to last installment in our series Numbers in the Bible. Access previous installments at newsletters.
Biblical Numbers Series:  77 – 1000 – 1000 – 12 – 40 – 12 – 7 – 6 – 3
Today we consider the number 7, the number of fullness or perfection. Here are just a few out of the dozens of biblical examples:
  • Universality, as in the 7 churches of Revelation. The 7 represent all the congregations. There were far more than 7 churches in Asia (Rev 1:11), for example the congregations in nearby Colosse and Hierapolis. The message was for a broad readership (1:3).
  • Sufficiency, as in Prov 24:16; 26:16; 26:25 (multiple falls, advisers, and abominations) and Ruth 4:15 (a complete and sufficient family).
  • Perfection, as in Zech 4:10 (the Lord's perfect vision) and Psalm 12:6 (the purity of God's word). See also Isa 30:26 (perfect blessing) and many other poetic or apocalyptic passages.
The broken 7
Just as 7 represents fullness and perfection, so the broken 7 conveys the incomplete and the imperfect. The "3.5" is an incomplete period of time (Rev 11:9, 11). Other instances in the book of Revelation are 42 months, 1260 days (based on a 360-day year), and "time, times, and half a time" (presumably years -- Rev 11:2; 11:3; 12:14; see Dan 7:25; 12:7). Another (possible) occurrence, indicating fractured time (everyone is waiting), is the drought in association with Elijah (Luke 4:25; Jas 5:17).

As we see, the conventions of biblical numerology are not all that difficult to learn. Often a number bears only its literal meaning, as in Gen 29:20 (Jacob serving 7 years for Rachel). Yet other times there is a purely figurative meaning. Finally, some numbers have a double meaning, as in Jesus' selecting 12 apostles -- corresponding to the 12 patriarchs -- or the 7 churches, where the 7 is both literal and symbolic, pointing us to various universal truths (the church are God's people, and he wishes to communicate to all of us, and so forth.

The biblical meaning of 6 directly depends on the meaning of 7. Do you know what it is? Come back next week and find out.

Paris & Brussels

Last week I returned from an archaeological tour in Turkey. (Old news, esp. as last week's bulletin was loaded with photos.) On Sunday my wife and I spoke before the congregation, including lots of faith-building material from Turkey plus a sermon on Phil 1:12-14. You can watch both talks (34 minutes) HERE.

This weekend I'm preaching in Paris (Sunday morning) and Brussels (Sunday evening). As you know, both cities have been rocked by terrorism. Yet it's the atheism that's more concerning. Pray for my trip to make a real impact. After all, the principal purpose of the International Bible Teaching Ministry is to make people question: for unbelievers to come to faith, and for believers to keep thinking. To all who believe in this ministry, I owe you a debt of thanks. -- DAJ

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