Numbers are part of the language of God. Mathematics underpins creation: it is “the handwriting on the human conciousness of the very Spirit of Life itself” (Claude Bragdon) and the basis of science. Generations have found numerology intriguing and there are many examples in Scripture of the prophetic mystery of numbers, eg Daniel’s ‘three and a half weeks’ and the 144,000 in Revelation.
The Creator is undoubtedly a mathematician, but numerology is not specifically Judeo-Christian. It is widely used by the occult – yet God invented numbers and order and He wants us to recognise and align with heaven’s times and seasons. To make agreement on this an integral part of our faith would be foolish, like saying we must sign up to all the teaching on leylines or the doctrine of trans-substantiation in order to be saved: it is more of a specialist subject, what my husband calls ‘A’ Level Christianity 😉 However, the Lord can certainly speak through numbers and dates, and as with anything else – dreams, visions, pictures, ‘sensings’, the line of a song on the radio – if we ask Him what the sign is saying and search the Scriptures, revelation can come. Isn’t it interesting too that prophetic things can have more than one meaning? Both in the Scriptures and when we get images or sounds or vague ideas to follow it is simply not as clear as speaking plain English in straightforward sentences! God is mysterious and dreams are symbolic, like the visions of the prophets recorded in the Bible – they require interpretation. Why does He make it hard for us to understand? ‘Why do you teach them in parables?’ We have to depend on the gifts of the Spirit and faith to have our eyes opened and the signs are there for those who have the faith to see them.
My spiritual journey has often been marked out by dates and numbers: the Lord will draw my attention to certain days and nudge me to count backwards or forwards. I discover a 70 day period, or 50, 21, 10 or very commonly, 40. I can then relate that to what God is saying to me, how He is leading me in that time-frame, knowing that in Scripture these numbers denote particular events or seasons. For instance, 40 in many passages speaks of a spiritual journey – the children of Israel in the wilderness, the rainfall in the time of Noah, Elijah travelling to Mount Horeb on angel food, Jesus fasting in the desert – times of testing, judgment, humbling, dependance and final breakthrough.
Or sometimes the Holy Spirit will highlight a number and continue to bring it up and relate various Scriptures to it. My best example of this was the Mercy Cry prayer journey and the number 52, which started with realising the catastrophic flooding in Boscastle in August 2004 had occured exactly 52 years to the day after the fatal flood in Lynmouth in 1952. No-one died in Boscastle and I interpretted the no as ‘5 is grace and 2 is witness/agreement = we are witnesses of His grace’. Then the following July, 52 people died in the London tube bombings… it could have been so much worse: ‘mercy triumphs over judgement.’ Over the 5 annual Mercy Cry meetings (and 2 Mother’s Cry!), God used Psalm 52, Isaiah 52, a picture of a pack of cards, exactly 52 people coming to the prayer day, the England team scoring in the 52nd minute and Nehemiah 6v15, among other things, to underline the point!
So this may not be a language you can speak, but let me interpret the things I see about today: 10.10.10. By the way, I find it interesting that it is also 10.10.10 in the US today, and in the other places that write their dates a different way round. Did you know that we had our own version of 9.11 (September 11th 2001) in Europe? It was 9th November 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down!
I always try to look at the context first. The word of the Lord always comes into a context of what God has already been doing in our lives, in our nation, on the earth. What has been happening up to now? Have we been paying attention and tracking with what He has already revealed? Last summer there was concerted prayer (see ‘2009 initiatives’ here for full details) focussed on the ending of a 3 year period from 6.6.6 – 9.9.9. This had been prophesied as ‘a time for hope’ in an atmosphere of hopelessness (interesting that the evangelistic ‘Year of Hope’ then happened in 2008). The parallel narrative was Jesus in darkness on the cross from the 6th to the 9th hour. The people of God were being called to grow up to maturity: 9 is the number of fruits and gifts of the Spirit, seen to denote completeness and fullness. So we saw 9.9.9 as a call to the emerging generation, who have been brought to maturity, the spiritual ’emergency services’ ready to respond to the urgent needs all around us – the start of a new era.
It had also been prophesied that 2009 was a year of Sabbath and the 4 years 2007-2010 could perhaps be seen alongside Jesus’ 4 days of crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. There was much that we as the church were being called to die to and many things coming to an end. Then out of the enforced rest of the grave (with Jesus battling the forces of hell in the deep places) the longed-for resurrection would come… but, like the disciples, we may not recognise Him.
So here is 2010 and where is that resurrection? Is there really something new emerging across our land after all the prophesies and prayers? Is it recognisable? Do we have eyes to see it? I believe 10.10.10 can help us with this.
10 is the number of testing. We have the 10 commandments that give us the law of God – His standard. There were 10 plagues in Egypt and in Revelation 2 the church in Smyrna is warned there will be 10 days of affliction. The early church had to wait in the upper room for 10 days before the Spirit fell. There were 10 virgins in Jesus’s parable: 5 passed the test, and 5 failed.
So, that makes 10.10.10 ‘threefold testing’, just like Jesus in the wilderness with the 3 temptations. Have you been through a time of testing lately? I have written before about the necessity of the wilderness times in our spiritual journey (Coming up out of the desert). Without the trials there can be no breakthrough, without the suffering we do not share His glory and it is in the wilderness the way of the Lord is prepared. So it is not surprising that there is a cost to this new time we are entering and deep levels of preparation have been necessary. Of course the enemy is also trying to stop us… but we don’t give any credit to him, because the Lord is using the hard times to make us stronger and teach us authority! ‘And the devil left him and angels came and ministered to Him’ (Matthew 4v11). Could 10.10.10 perhaps mark an end of triple testing, like metal refined repeatedly in a furnace?
There is still some of 2010 left to see some resurrection! It is worth putting down this marker. It is worth listening to what the Spirit may be saying to the churches, and even to the nations. Because I have been thinking about the 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus as well. Perhaps it is a time when 9 out of 10 of those healed are not going to be those who acknowledge Jesus, but just go on their way rejoicing in their good fortune. He ‘gives to all our common mercies’, as it says on the water fountain in Loughborough market place. Its bad grammar, but that is possibly what ‘healing on the streets’ will look like! Jesus is not stingy with His grace – He doesn’t keep it ‘in house’. Perhaps we are the priestly tithe who return to give Him thanks on behalf of all. I am particularly provoked about a young man I have heard of through his Christian sister, who after much prayer was healed of a brain tumour, but didn’t come to the Lord as a result. He is just getting on with his life! God loves the world.
10.10.10: God is into cubes. There is a cuboid temple at the end of Ezekiel and a cuboid New Jerusalem at the end of Revelation. The cube is symbolic of a shape that God wants to fill with Himself – ‘the fulness of Him who fills everything in every way’. We are to be filled with the length and breadth, height and depth of His love! So my three-dimensional cube in the calendar picture above is drawn as a symbol of that: 10x10x10.
My suggestion is that the height is the plumbline of God’s standards (10 commandments), the depth is the affliction that tests our hearts and faith (the plagues and Revelation 2v10) and the breadth is the waiting time as we are stretched in patience, perseverance and character (the upper room and the 10 virgins). It is time for a new wineskin – and perhaps it contains both suffering and glory at the same time. ‘Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed’. 1 Peter 4v12-13 Perhaps the character forged through suffering is what contains the glory and in the 3-dimensional, fully-formed character that He has been developing in us, as we have counted the cost and submitted to His ways, our faith can really shine out as gold. Through many hardships we inherit the kingdom of God and find the grace to hold all that He wants to pour out.
May we be found mature, ready and prepared, with plenty of oil when the time comes. May the Lord bring us into the fullness of the 11th day of the Spirit as we enter the new era in resurrection power and see the presence of God come. May we be filled with joy and love, that the world may see Jesus.
Thanks for reading!