Sunday, May 5, 2013
And he came, 1 of the angels, the 1 having the 7 bowls, the 1 full of the 7 plagues of the end, and he spoke with me saying, "Follow, I will show to you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he took me up in the Spirit upon a mountain, great and high, and he showed to me the city, the holy one, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its light like a precious stone, as a stone of crystalline jasper, having a wall, great and high, having 12 gates, and upon the gates 12 angels, and names inscribed which is the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel. From the east, 3 gates, from the north 3 gates, from the south 3 gates, and from the west 3 gates. And the wall of the city having 12 foundations, and upon them 12 names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. And the 12 gates–12 pearls; again each one of the gates was out of one pearl; and the street of the city purified gold as clear glass. And a sanctuary I did not see in it, for the Lord, the God of all might is its sanctuary, and the Lamb. And the city has no necessity for the sun nor the moon in order to shine upon it, for the glory of God enlightens it, and its lamp–the Lamb. And the nations will walk through its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it...
Honestly, most of us didn't *love* math class. But there was some arithmetic we all needed to get by in this life to budget, pay our bills, and not get ripped off. There's also some bible mathematics which you need to comprehend God's word. Some of you, from bible classes here or elsewhere understand God's math. Others ought to have learned this already. So for the sake of all, bible math class begins:
We start with the number three. Even without any training, you could guess that #3 is God's number. We call on Father, Son and Holy Spirit each and every Sunday to be with us in worship. With the angels we sing three "holies" to God, and receive a three-fold blessing from the Lord at the closing benediction. God is a three. He is a Trinity. He even blesses us with three means of grace in the Divine Service, salvation from Baptism, forgiveness from Communion, and eternal life proclaimed in Jesus' gospel from His cross.
But there's another problematic number. The #4. Like the four directions of the compass, the #4 is the number of this world. It is a sinful world in which you live. It has been corrupted to its core by the fall of Adam into sin. Planet earth's days are numbered, and it will one day be destroyed and replaced. You live within this sin-sick world, tempted daily to follow the deadly ways of the world which could lead to your own destruction. Wherever you look, east, south, north or west, the world's seductions abound.
But you heard good news about this world in Jesus message to His 12 apostles. "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world!" This world's wicked ways have been defeated by Jesus, for your sake! The 4-nication of this world Jesus has conquered by the 4-giveness of your sins at the cross. Though the wages of sin in this world is death, Jesus died your death at Calvary, destroying death for you and for this entire world, and rising to new life and new hope 4 you.
So God does a strange mathematical thing. He doesn't subtract the world from Himself, for taking 4 from 3 would leave -1. No, God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son into the world. He didn't just add Himself to the world, but God multiplied His everlasting life in the world through Jesus. So God, # 3, enters the world, # 4, by multiplication. 4x3 equals 12! 12 becomes the number of God's church in this world.12 Old testament tribes of Israel, or 12 New Testament apostles, the number of God's people is 12.
So it is not at all surprising to see the number 12 associated with the bride of Christ which is His church. Whenever God (3) relates to His people in the world (4) the result of His multiplied love in Christ Jesus is always a 12. Even when it comes to entering the pearly gates, you might be surprised to find out that there is not one set of gates to the New Jerusalem, but actually 12 gates. Wherever you live in north, south, east, or west in this world, there is an entrance to paradise prepared for you!
In that day of Christ's coming, there won't be any need to ask Jesus any more questions, for He the Lamb will be the Lamp which enlightens us all in our New Jerusalem home! He will be our Sanctuary there, the very Holy of Holies of the Temple where the mercy seat of God's love is found! But here and now, as you await that day with all earnestness of hoping, you still have questions, and you have many requests for help from Jesus scattered far from heaven, remaining in this world of tribulation.
But you aren't discouraged, for Jesus overcame the world for you, multiplying His love to you to make you of the 12, by baptizing you into His one, holy, catholic and apostolic church-the New Jerusalem.
Hymns from LSB:
#869 With the Lord Begin Thy Task
#556 Dear Christians One and All Rejoice (Luther Hymn) music stanzas
#474 Alleluia! Jesus is Risen!