Summary: There are three numbers that offer more hope, a lasting hope, an eternal hope than any combination of numbers on a lottery ticket, and they will take you further than any number on a passport, driving license or travel pass, they will give more security t
Whether we like it or not, numbers influence our lives more than anything else in the modern world. When we are born, we are given a national health number, when we go to school; we are given a number that can identify us on the education database, when we leave school, we are given a national insurance number. When we enter the workplace, we are given a clock card number or an employee number (sometimes both). If we want to travel further than our native shores, we have to apply for a passport, which again has a number. If we want to get around faster than on foot, we need a driver number, even if we don’t drive our bus or train tickets, or travel passes are all numbered. We put our money in numbered bank accounts, on utility bills, we are identified by our customer numbers, we set appointments by the numbers on a clock and calendar. The list goes on; many wait anxiously on various nights of the week, placing their hopes in the right combination of six numbers on a lottery ticket. There are three numbers however, that offer more hope, a lasting hope, an eternal hope than any combination of numbers on a lottery ticket, and they will take you further than any number on a passport, driving license or travel pass, they will give more security than money in a numbered bank account. These three numbers are Three, One and Six.
These three numbers when used in the right combination give reference to twenty six words that form possibly the most famous and most quoted verse in the New Testament. In the Gideon’s Bible, found in most hotels in this country, I say most because I was disappointed to discover that it wasn’t available in the Holiday Inn Express at Stansted, but where it is found, this verse alone is translated into more than 25 different languages. I’m referring of cause to the words of John 3: 16, over the next ten minutes or so let’s take a closer look at this short but very important verse.
For God so loved the world
We live on what could be described in cosmological terms, a small insignificant pin prick in the universe. The planet we call home, orbits a yellow star, which is one of between two hundred and four hundred billion in the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is estimated to be one hundred thousand light years in diameter and a thousand light years thick at its deepest point. The nearest star to us, besides the Sun is called Proxima Centauri, which is four point two light years away. To put this in perspective, if we were to get on a specially adapted plane, and flew toward it at the average speed most passenger airliners travel at, about six hundred miles per hour, it would take One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ten Million, Eight Hundred and Twenty Eight Thousand years to reach it. The Milky Way is only one of billions of galaxies in the universe. Even if humankind had the ability to see all these galaxies using a very powerful telescope, take into account that each of these billions of galaxies contains billions of stars, it would be impossible for humans to count them, let alone name them. Yet in Genesis 1:16 we read “....he also made the stars...” Such a casual remark, “he also made the stars” In Psalm 147: 4 we read “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” In cosmological terms, this world we live on is like comparing the smallest living bacteria to a Blue Whale, and yet we read “For God so loved the world....” Just as God named all the stars in the universe, he knows each one of us by name, and he loves every one of us. God loves us even when we harden our hearts against him and place our trust in other things. It is nothing new; three thousand years ago the Israelites did the same. They had been led out of slavery in Egypt, they had seen God’s power part the waves of the Red Sea, so they could escape their pursuers and witnessed as the waves crashed down and destroyed their former slave-masters. They had been fed on Manna in the morning and Quail in the evening, surely God had done enough to give them a trust in him, but what happened? When Moses had gone to the summit of Sinai to meet with God and receive the Commandments they grew restless.
In Exodus 32: 1 we read “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’” They turned away from God and looked to a cow made of gold for direction and guidance. You could say they were Udderly foolish! Their hearts had become as hard as the metal idol they now worshiped. The history of the Israelites that followed was a catalogue of disobedience and rebellion against God, did he stop loving them? No God’s love is eternal; it is not based on the whimsies of emotion as our use of the word is, God’s love endures all our faults, all our rebellion, God’s love is such that he paid the full price for our disobedience.