Sunday, March 29, 2020

My 100

The number 100 appears frequently in the Bible. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21). The courtyard of the temple was 100 cubits on the north/south side (Exodus 17). The Israelite army would be able to fight 100 men with only five if obedient to God (Leviticus 26). The penalty for slandering a woman after marrying her was 100 shekels and the inability to divorce her... #awkward (Deuteronomy 22). Jacob bought a burial property for 100 shekels, and Joseph was eventually buried there (Joshua 24). Saul requested a dowry of 100 foreskins from David, and was paid two hundred... #superawkward (1 Samuel). Obadiah hid 100 of God's prophets in caves to protect them (1 Kings 18). The unnamed man's offering feeds 100 people (2 Kings 4). There were 100 gold sprinkling bowls in the temple (2 Chronicles 4).

Jesus also used the number in His parables. Jesus says the Word is a like a seed that will produce a crop 100, sixty, or thirty fold (Mark 4). Jesus says that He, like a man who owns 100 sheep, would leave ninety-nine to fine one that is lost (Luke 15). Jesus compares human forgiveness to a servant whose master forgave his debt of ten thousand bags of gold but would not forgive his co-worker who owed him 100 silver coins (Matthew 18).

There's another 100 that doesn't get the same glory some of these other verses get. It's easy for me to read about Abraham receiving his blessing at 100 or even laugh about David's dowry payment, and I love to read Jesus' parables as both spiritual wisdom and well crafted literature. However, I don't often turn to Revelation when I open the Bible.

I took a New Testament class my second semester in college. As we approached Revelation, Professor Bob Smith told us that we would be reading the book in its entirety during class.  Instead of sitting at the desks of our basement level class, we would be lounging in the cafeteria to read it one sitting.  The other lectures all blur together; that one stands out.

In chapter sixteen, the seven bowls of God's wrath are poured out on earth. Terrible things happen, but the people refuse to repent and glorify God. It reminds me of the Egyptian plagues on steroids. If I'm being honest, I really struggle with this passage. I'm pretty stubborn, and I'm not sure that festering sores would make me worship God. I guess that's the problem: I don't allow difficulties to draw me to God the way they should.

The seven bowls are poured out, the kings meet together at Armageddon (after the sixth bowl, to be accurate), and a voice comes from the temple saying "It is done!" Don't get this confused with Christ's proclamation on the cross "It is finished!" This voice in Revelation is more like how we might say "well, that happened." Then come the lightning, thunder, an earthquake, and (are you ready for it?) 100 pound hailstones. Not a 100 pound hailstone - hailstones, plural. Not only did the people refuse to bless God because of these hailstones, they actually caused the people to curse Him.

I don't know if any of the difficult things going on in our lives are mini-bowls of wrath (shot glasses of wrath?). I don't know why things happen or why God operates the way He does. However, I know that every day is an opportunity to repent, to glorify God, and to seek His will in my life.

So on this, my 100th blog post, let me say: Don't wait for 100 pound hailstones.

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