A meeting was recently been held for the East London Area Group on 13th July 2019 at Wanstead URC. Fourteen people attended from Wanstead, Gants Hill, Trinity Walthamstow, Grange Park and Vine. I provided the opening devotions, which was Psalm 1 speaking about choices.
There was a lot of news from each of the churches. Wanstead had an enjoyable visit to Engelskirchen by ten members together with some people from Christchurch. They are upgrading their windows and sound system.
Gants Hill's website has now attracted 316 visitors. Recent general maintenance work came to a total of £10,000. An initiative has been put forward to find the next of kin for members of the congregation so that if someone should be in distress, the minister and elders know with whom to speak.
Trinity Walthamstow has had an elders training day and is facilitating a food bank.
Grange Park is organising a trip to Bournemouth on 17th August. They also took part in the Circle the City initiative for Christian Aid. They have started a children's Saturday club and an application to Synod to fund a Children's Worker has now been sent.
Vine Church, Ilford is hosting a holiday club from 12th - 16th August for four and a half to 13-year-olds. They have also arranged a climate change conference.
Joe from Grange Park took part in a Synod initiative (cause for celebration) where he was able to network and attend various interesting workshops. Joe is beginning ministerial training at Westminster College and is equipping himself well by attending various events and getting a breadth of understanding about the URC.
Joe also advised us of recent youth events, such as a barbecue at Grange Park on the 12th May, which went really well.
The ELG special fund is proceeding and the account should be open with the Co-Op soon. A vacancy for two pastorates has been agreed and we now await profiles of potential ministers who wish to join us. The manse, which needs updating with a downstairs toilet and extension, is being processed but the anticipated cost is now £150,000.
Our convener Francis, in relation to the vacancy, posed the question "Are the churches in a good place to receive a minister?" Any potential candidate would want to know that the churches are full of enthusiasm and support. We were asked to ensure that any current issues within the churches were dealt with as soon as possible.
Pat from Vine wanted to know who could vote at the meetings and what people's roles were. After debate, it was considered that it was an open meeting, so anyone can attend from the churches and vote. It is up to the church secretaries or church representatives to report back to the individual churches.
There had been a suggestion of a supergroup being formed between Heath and Havering, Forest and ourselves, which Francis was not keen about. I proposed that the ELG remains as it is because we are still learning to work with one another. The proposal was seconded and passed unanimously.
The ELG mission statement, which was produced in order to expedite the bank account was considered something that could be adopted by all churches and the text of the statement can be found here.
The meeting closed and refreshments were provided by Wanstead.
Once again, I am combining two numbers in one post. There may not be many appearances of the numbers thirty-three and thirty-four in the Bible but it is worth looking at some of the theories and examples and judging for ourselves whether there is any correlation.
Thirty-three is the atomic number of arsenic. Water boils at thirty-three degrees on the Newton scale. The human spine is made up of thirty-three vertebrae.
In Islam, prayer beads are arranged in sets of thirty-three. In the Vedic religion, there are thirty-three deities. In Buddhism, the second level of heaven is called Trāyastrimśa, which means “of the thirty-three (gods)”.
In Christianity, it is believed that Jesus was thirty-three when he was crucified, although there is no direct acknowledgement of this in the Bible. The number thirty-three is only written six times:
The number thirty-three is sometimes linked to the promises of God. The thirty-third time that Noah’s name is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 9:8 in which He tells Noah and his sons that He wishes to establish a covenant with Noah, setting a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of His promise.
The thirty-third time that Abraham’s name is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 21:2 just after God had fulfilled his promise: Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. (NIV)
In Genesis 28, Jacob had a dream in which he saw a “stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (28:12 NIV) It is then that Jacob promises to God a tenth of all he owned. This was also the thirty-third time Jacob’s name was mentioned in the Bible.
Let’s have a look at our next number, thirty-four – the atomic number of selenium.
The number thirty-four only appears once in the Bible:
It has been calculated that the word “devil” appears thirty-four times in the Bible. Interestingly, some versions of the Bible translate the original word as “enchanter”.
Leah, Jacob’s first wife was mentioned thirty-four times in the Bible. Thirty-three of these instances were in the Book of Genesis, the other can be found in Ruth 4:11 (NIV): Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.”
Finally, the last thing I will mention is the Book of Deuteronomy. This is the eighth longest book of the Bible and contains a total of thirty-four chapters.
Numbers thirty-one and thirty-two are not as common in the Bible compared with the number thirty. Their meanings are also a little ambiguous. Therefore, I have combined both numbers into one article.
Let’s start with the number thirty-one. It is a prime number and the atomic number of gallium – a soft, silvery-blue metal. In ice hockey, the goalkeeper or goaltender often wears the number thirty-one. January, March, May, July, August, October and December all have thirty-one days. There are thirty-one letters in the Macedonian alphabet. In France, there is a card game called Trente et Un, which translates as thirty-one. There are thirty-one flavours of ice cream sold by the American chain Baskin-Robbins. In Japan, the company is known as 31 Ice Cream.
The longest reigning pope was Pope Pius IX who served for thirty-one years between 16th June 1846 and 7th February 1878.
The number thirty-one appears only four times in the Bible. According to the psychoanalyst René Allendy (1889-1942), the meaning of the number can be derived from either combining the meanings of thirty and one (Jesus’ death and his relationship with God) or from three plus one, which equals four (creation).
Here are the four examples of the number thirty-one in scripture:
Since the verses in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles record the same situation, there are really only three different uses of the number thirty-one.
It has been calculated that the name Moses appears thirty-one times in the Bible as does Rebekah (or Rebecca), Isaac’s wife. The words “freedom” and “eagle” also appear thirty-one times.
Apparently, the Gospel of Luke references material from thirty-one books of the Old Testament.
Let’s move on to number thirty-two. It is the atomic number of germanium and the freezing point of water in degrees Fahrenheit. Ludwig van Beethoven wrote thirty-two piano sonatas. On a chessboard, there are thirty-two black squares and thirty-two white squares. An adult who has gone through the pain of growing wisdom teeth has a total of thirty-two teeth. There are thirty-two counties in Ireland. The average picture book and comic book have thirty-two pages.
The number thirty-two appears eleven times in the Bible. René Allendy wrote that the number represents the “differentiation appearing in the organised world.” Others have said it symbolises the totality of men on earth and some claim it represents truth. Pythagoras, on the other hand, believed the number was a symbol of justice.
Here are some of the examples of thirty-two in the Bible:
In the book Parole d’armourby the semi-anonymous Gemma, she claims that Jesus revealed that while he was on the cross, thirty-two of his bones were fractured.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used thirty-two times. Throughout the entire Bible, the word “liberate” appears thirty-two times. Finally, in the Hebrew Bible, “Elohim,” one of the words for God, is written thirty-two times.
Thirty: the minimum age for senators in the United States of America. Did you know a shape with thirty sides is called a tricontagon? I have looked it up online and at glance, a regular tricontagon could be mistaken for a circle. All its interior angles are 168°.
Written as -30-, this is a copy editor’s typographical notation indicating the end of a newspaper article. In years of marriage, a thirtieth wedding anniversary is represented with pearls. In tennis, the number thirty represents the second point gained in a game.
Thirty days has September, April, June and November. The Thirty Years War lasted, would you believe it, thirty years. The address of The Gherkin in London is 30 St Mary Axe.
In the Bible, it has been calculated that there are approximately eighty-seven instances of the number thirty. Scholars have interpreted the number’s meaning as a symbol of devotion to a particular task or calling. According to Numbers 4, Aaronic priests were allowed to serve from the age of thirty. It was believed that this was the age when a person reached both physical and mental maturity and, therefore, could be trusted with major responsibilities.
The link between maturity and responsibilities or callings continues throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament where we know from Luke 3:23 (NIV) that “Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.” It is also believed John the Baptist was thirty when he began to preach.
In Genesis, Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh (41:46). In 1 Samuel, we are told that Saul became king at the age of thirty (13:1), as did David (2 Samuel 5:4). Ezekiel was thirty years old when he received his first vision of God (Ezekiel 1:1).
The first book of the Bible also reveals three men who became fathers at the age of thirty:
The number thirty can also represent the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It is generally believed that Jesus was crucified in the year AD 30. Prior to his death, Judas had betrayed Jesus in return for thirty silver coins (Matthew 26:15), which Judas tried to return after he saw that he was condemned (27:3).
Judas’ betrayal for thirty pieces of silver had been alluded to in Zechariah 11:12:
It appears in the Old Testament that the period of mourning was thirty days long. Numbers 20:29 tells us that when the Israelites heard about Aaron’s death, they mourned for thirty days. In Deuteronomy 34:8, it is recorded that the Israelites grieved for Moses for thirty days “until the time of weeping and mourning was over.” (34:8)
In 2 Samuel 23, there is a list of names that make up King David’s mighty warriors. They are known as “The Thirty”.
Let’s look at some other examples of the number thirty in the Bible. I won’t bore you by listing them all:
The number thirty has appeared in a number of visions during the past millennia. Of course, we cannot assume these are correct since there is no means of backing up these claims, however, they are interesting nonetheless.
Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-65) claimed that when the Virgin Mary reached the “perfect” (i.e. physically and mentally mature) age of thirty, she stopped ageing. The visions of Maria Valtorta (1897-1961), a Franciscan tertiary, revealed that Joseph was thirty when he married the then twelve-year-old Mary. Anne Catherine Emmerich’s (1774-1824) vision told her that Jesus was thirty-years-old when his (step) father Joseph passed away.
The little known Saint Epiphane began the tradition that Lazarus was thirty when he died and was subsequently resurrected by Jesus. Lazarus went on to live for an additional thirty years after this event.
I finish this article with one word that occurs thirty times in the Bible: empire. Whilst it appears twenty-seven times in the Old Testament, it only appears three times in the New Testament.
Twenty-nine, the tenth prime number, is, as we know, the number of days in February each leap year. It is the total number of years that Saturn takes to orbit the sun and is the rough number of days in a lunar month.
The atomic number of copper is twenty-nine. Did you know, 60% of our copper consumption is in the form of electrical wiring? Twenty per cent is used in plumbing and a further 15% in industrial machinery.
There are twenty-nine letters in the Turkish and Finnish alphabets and the Phoenicians had twenty-nine cuneiform signs. This was a form of primitive alphabet that relied on symbols rather than letters.
According to Raymond Abellio (1907-1986), a French writer, the number twenty-nine represents the “christico-terrestrial” life, i.e. Jesus’ life on Earth. It is also said to represent solidarity in conflict.
The number twenty-nine has been used eight times in scripture. They are as follows:
As you can see, none of these verses refers to Jesus; therefore, it is uncertain where Abellio got his idea!
Apparently, the number 3000 is used twenty-nine times in the Bible as is the word “universe”. The name Jacob is referenced in twenty-nine different books of the Bible. Finally, the word “Passover” is used twenty-nine times in the New Testament.
We were delighted to welcome Dr. Keith White as our worship leader on Sunday. His family have owned Mill Grove in South Woodford since 1899 when they opened their doors as a safe place for people to stay within a Christian community.
It was an excellent service and, therefore, we asked Keith to share his sermon notes with us, which were based on the Parable of the Lost Son. Whether or not you were there on Sunday, we hope you enjoy recapping on the famous reading.
Exclusion and Embrace
Luke 15: 11-32
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his propertybetween them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
The title of this sermon is taken from the harrowing experience of a Croat whose country and fellow-citizens were being attacked, raped, systematically murdered by Serbians. The burning question was put to him: “Can I, as a follower in Christ, embrace one who has done such evil to me and my people?” He wrestled with it in a book with exactly this title.
It is a question that is relevant to all of us all throughout our lives, but there are times when it becomes painfully acute. We are to love our neighour as ourselves. And that, according to Jesus, includes our enemies, Miroslav Volf turned to Jesus’ story of the Father with Two Sons, as the very heart of Christ’s calling and example. It is well known, but there is a feature that is little noticed: the father is never recorded as saying anything to the younger son, though he speaks to his servants and also the older son. Everything is conveyed in body language, actionsand instructions to others. And there is one action that so encapsulates the essence of the story that it has drawn people like Rembrandt and Henri Van Nouwen to it irresistably. It is the embrace. Here it is again: “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Let’s ponder that in order to understand two things afresh:
Opening the Arms
I long for you. I am not content with being merely myself, without you. You are already in my heart though you have been away from me. So I am making space for you. There is room for you in my heart and life. I am not so cluttered, or so full of myself that every part of me is already occupied. And I invite you to respond. The open arms are rather like an open door. There is no need to knock. You are welcome. And this is risky. The nature of grace is that it is always a gamble! (Volf: 147 quoting Smedes)
The abiding image or picture we have of Jesus is on the Cross with his arms wide open. This is what opening His arms means, and costs. And this is what he calls us to do.
Embrace is not a taking hold, arresting, invasive or a one-way initiative. It’s not even a caress. Before it can proceed it needs the arms of the other to open. By opening our arms we have conveyed a message, but we will not force our way. It is the very opposite of violence. If embrace starts with the initiative of one person, it can never reach its fulfilment without reciprocity, the movement and response of the other. And there may be all sorts of reasons, experiences, traumas, fears, that require patient waiting.
Another abiding picture of Jesus is Holman Hunt’s picture The Light of the World. Jesus is knocking at the door of our hearts. And he has been standing outside and waiting for a long time…He is listening for a response.
Closing the Arms
This is where there is complete reciprocity. Each is holding the other; and each is held by the other. They are both active and both passive. It takes two pairs of arms for one embrace. In an embrace the host is a guest and the guest is a host. And this means a soft touch is necessary. Rembrandt gets this perfectly (worth looking at the picture again!). Not a bear-hug either way. An attuned response to each other, so that both feels comfortable, and understands that the other is comfortable too. And this requires the recognition that neither understands the other fully. There is an otherness about the person we close our arms around, a mystery. This is the beginning of a process of understanding and knowing that starts with the realisation that I do not fully know the other. In fact I have much I don’t know and much more to learn. This may be my enemy, but do I know her story?
Another picture of Jesus is as the Good Shepherd: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
Opening the Arms Again
We cannot live in permanent embrace. We have not become one. This is not about the welding two others, so that they have become indissolubly one and can never be free of each other. Each is still “I” and “You” in relationship, and neither has ceased to be as a person, each with their own agency. This is where the real dance is in the relationship: we are not the same person, we are different, but we are open to each other. And the truth is that none of us in an island entire of itself: our identity is actually made up of our experiences and relationships with others. If we are to be and to develop, we need to be open to others, to realise we are strangers among our family and community, at home with “others” who we thought were our enemies. In embracing an other, outside can become part of our inside. Home and away are re-imagined. This is a journey of adventure, and who knows the outcome?! If broken relationships are to be restored, then the identitites of each must be rethought and reshaped.
The last words of Jesus to His chosen disciples are apt here: “Go into all the world…and I will never leave you nor forsake you”. This is the genuine opening of the arms! Any parent or teacher is not wanting the child or pupil to remain forever tied to the apron strings, or sitting in the classroom. There is always the desire to see the other explore in her own way. We know that this is risky, and safety or success are never assured.
All this is in the story, and much more. Not least the chilling self-exclusion of the older son, who misses out on the whole embrace. A total stranger at home. The silence of his response is perhaps the most deafening in recorded history. “All I have is yours…Come and celebrate the return of your brother, who was lost and is found, who was dead, but is alive again.” These tender and loving words echo in the stony silence which forms the end of the story.
Reflecting on embrace helps me to understand what Mill Grove is all about.
And surely this is what church is about?
This is how it is for all of us who are rooted in, inspired by, and ultimately redeemed and embraced by Jesus Christ.
On my first Saturday as an undergraduate at Oxford University, I played the piano to accompany the singing of the hymn, Jesus, the name high over all. For some reason the predominantly male sound coupled with the occasion meant that the words have been indelibly imprinted on my heart. They include these:
Oh, that the world might taste and see, The riches of His grace!
The arms of love that compass me,
Would all mankind embrace.
Keith J. White
M.A. (Oxon.), M.Phil., PhD
Twenty-eight is the atomic number of nickel - a metal that can be found in a number of coins, including the 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. There are twenty-eight days in February (yes, there are twenty-eight days in all months!) except in Leap Years. There are twenty-eight letters in the Danish, Swedish, Arabic and Esperanto alphabets. There are approximately twenty-eight grams in an ounce.
In India, there is a trick-taking card game called Twenty-Eight, although, some people confusingly also call it Twenty-Nine! There are twenty-eight Domino tiles in a standard Domino set.
Apparently, twenty-eight is the age when a man finishes growing, and women will know that a menstrual cycle is roughly twenty-eight days. If you have been married for twenty-eight years (congratulations to you), you are celebrating your tourmaline-wedding anniversary.
In the Hebrew alphanumeric code Gematria, koakh, which means either “power” or “energy”, corresponds to the number twenty-eight. Whether or not this influences the use of the number twenty-eight in the Bible is undisclosed, so let’s look at a few examples and see if there is any link.
Twenty-eight known authors wrote the Old Testament:
The Gospel of Matthew and the book of Acts contain twenty-eight chapters, making them the longest in the New Testament – although, from previous articles, you will know that Luke is longer by word count.
According to the visions of Ann-Catherine Emmerich, twenty-eight armed Pharisees escorted Jesus whilst he carried his cross to Golgotha.
The name David appears in twenty-eight different books of the Bible. The phrase “the Lamb” in reference to Jesus Christ appears twenty-eight times as does the word “Hallelujah”. The words “discipline” and “celestial” are also used twenty-eight times.
I am going to gloss over the number twenty-six because there is only one mention in the Bible. Perhaps I could coin the phrase, “as rare as the number twenty-six in the Bible”? In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel, and he reigned in Tirzah two years.(1 Kings 16:18 NIV).
One more thing to mention, however, is there are twenty-six generations between Adam and Moses:
Moving on to twenty-seven, the atomic number of cobalt. (Twenty-six is the atomic number of iron if you are interested.) There are twenty-seven letters in the Spanish and Hebrew alphabet (as opposed to our twenty-six). There are twenty-seven bones in the human hand.
In recent years, the term “27 Club” has been formed, which is a list of popular musicians, actors and artists who have died at the age of twenty-seven. Although it has been disproved by science that stars are likely to die at that age, there is an awful lot of them who have. The list includes Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.
Now, we know there are twenty-seven books in the New Testament, but does the number appear anywhere else in the Bible? The answer is yes; there are six mentions of twenty-seven:
According to the visions of Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (1602-65), Jesus was twenty-seven years old when he knew how and when he would die. Whether or not this is true we will never know. One thing that has been disproven, however, is the French philosopher Nostradamus’ (1503-66) prediction that the war led by the Antichrist would begin in the year 1999 and last twenty-seven years. Unless we are in the middle of a war we know nothing about, it is safe to say Nostradamus was very, very wrong.
The twenty-seventh book of the New Testament is Revelation written by John. Saint John’s feast day is celebrated on 27th December.
Final fun fact, the word “candlestick” appears twenty-seven times in the Old Testament.
How many Bible verses do you know, either by heart or a close approximation? You may be surprised to hear that you know more than you think you do. Dozens of short phrases from the Bible have become common terms used in everyday language. How many of the following did you know?
Bite the Dust, a phrase that is famed for its appearance in a well-known Queensong comes from Psalms 72:9: “They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.” (KJV)
The Blind Leading the Blind, which describes a situation in which an inexperienced person is advised by an equally inexperienced person comes from Matthew 15:13-14: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
Have you ever escaped something By the Skin of Your Teeth? Well, that phrase can be found inJob 19:20. The Geneva Bible translation reads, “I have escaped with the skin of my teeth.”
I hope you have never had to suffer a Broken Heart but if you have, the Psalmist has written about you. Psalms 34:18: ” The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (KJV).
Can a Leopard Change his Spots? No, it can’t. Jeremiah 13:23 (KJV): “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
Jesus made Cast the First Stone famousin John 8:7: “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Drop in a Bucket is an idiom describing an effort or action that has very little influence in the grand scheme of things. In Isaiah 40:15, the phrase is used to declare God’s sovereignty and power over the nations, “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he takes up the isles as fine dust” (ESV).
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry appears in Ecclesiastes 8:15: “because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.”
Eye for Eye, Tooth for tooth or the law of retaliation comes from Matthew 5:38: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
Fall From Grace is an idiom referring to a loss of status or respect. In Christianity, Adam and Eve’s sin was seen as a fall from grace. The phrase is written inGalatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
Fly in the Ointment refers to something that spoils the success or enjoyment of something. The idea can be found in Ecclesiastes 10:1 (KJV): “”Dead flies cause the ointmentof the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.””
For Everything there is a Season became part of the title for a number one hit by The Byrdsin 1965. It is adapted from Ecclesiastes 3 (NIV): “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”
Forbidden Fruit obviously comes from the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:3 when they were commanded not to eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
To go the extra mile means to make an extra special effort to achieve something. This comes from Matthew 5:41: “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” (KJV).
Good Samaritan obviously stems from Luke 10:30-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. Those who live a violent life are more likely to die a violent death. This is Jesus’ warning in Matthew 26:52: “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
How the Mighty have Fallen mockingly remarks that someone of high status has done something demeaning. This comes from 2 Samuel 1:19: “The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!”
The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil or avarice gives rise to selfish or wicked action. This is from 1 Timothy 6:10 but has actually been slightly misquoted. The ESV translation says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Nothing but skin and bones, which means extremely thin or emaciated, comes from Job 19:19-20: “All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am nothing but skin and bones.”
The Powers that Be, i.e. the people in charge, comes from Romans 13:1 (KJV). Of course, in this case the “powers” come from God. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God:the powers that beare ordained of God.”
The well-known phrase pride comes before a fall is paraphrased from Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (KJV)
Put words in one’s mouth means to make someone say one thing when they really think something else. This can be found in 2 Samuel 14:3: “And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.”
Rise and shine: didn’t you hate hearing that first thing in the morning on a school day? Well, this comes from Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”
The Root of the Matter is the essential cause of a problem. This is quoted in Job 19:28 (KJV): “But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the Root of the matteris found in me?”
Traditionally, a Scapegoat is an animal that a chief priest has symbolically laid the sins of the people upon, which is then sent out into the wilderness. This appears in the laws of the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus 16:9-10: “Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.”
See eye to eye is a commonly used phrase from Biblical origin. It comes from Isaiah 52:8 (KJV), “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.”
Sign of the times – no, not the Harry Styles single – comes from Matthew 16:3 (KJV): “And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”
Strait and Narrow means honest and moral. This can be found, although worded slightly differently, inMatthew 7:14: “But small is the gate and narrow the roadthat leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Twinkling of an Eye from 1 Corinthians 15:52 means in an instant. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
There’s nothing new under the sun refers to the monotony of life. It comes from Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV): “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
To wash your hands of the matter means to stop being involved with something. Pilate symbolically washed his hands in Matthew 27:24 (KJV): “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his handsbefore the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.”
“Weighed in the balance” sang Johnny Cash in his song called Belshazzar. The phrase is written inJob 31:6, “Let me be weighed in an even balancethat God may know mine integrity.”
Have you ever told someone you were at your Wit’s End? Well, you were quotingPsalm 107:27 (KJV), “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.”
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing comes from one of Jesus’ sermons in which he warns people to be aware of false prophets. Matthew 7:15 (KJV): “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Writings on the Wall refers to the events in Daniel 5. Now a popular idiom for something bad is about to happen, it refers to the ghostly writing seen by King Belshazzar: mene, mene, tekel, parsin. This meant “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Twenty-four: the number of hours in a day; the atomic number of chromium; the number of carats in pure gold; the number of letters in the Greek alphabet; the maximum number of Knight Companions in the Order of the Garter; the number of blackbirds baked in a pie in the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence.
In Indian religions, the Ashoka Chakra, which represents the Dharma Chakra, has twenty-four spokes. This is the symbol shown in the centre of the Indian flag.
In the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, there are twenty-four books. In our Bible (protestant) there are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament but, despite being shorter, the Hebrew Bible manages to encompass the same material.
In the Bible, the number twenty-four takes its meaning from the number twelve. As we know, the number twelve is a perfect number representing God’s power and authority. The number twenty-four, therefore, is an even stronger demonstration of God’s strength.
The number is also associated with the priesthood, who oversee God’s work on Earth. This is due to the Divisions of Priests recorded in 1 Chronicles 24:1-19, also known as the descendants of Aaron. “With the help of Zadok a descendant of Eleazar and Ahimelek a descendant of Ithamar, David separated them into divisions for their appointed order of ministering.” (1 Chronicles 24:3, NIV) They are as follows:
The number twenty-four is written approximately twenty times in the Bible, depending on which translation you read. Many of these occur in the Book of Revelation. In Christian apocalyptic literature, the number twenty-four represents the church because it is the sum of the number of tribes of Israel (12) and the Apostles (12). Here are the examples of the number twenty-four in Revelation:
Other examples from the rest of the Bible include:
There are twenty-four chapters in the Book of Joshua, 2 Samuel and the Gospel of Luke. Although the Book of Acts has twenty-eight chapters, the Gospel of Luke contains more words, making it the longest book in the New Testament.
The Gospel of Mark, whilst being the shortest of the four gospels, contains references to twenty-four books of the Old Testament.
In my research, I have discovered a couple of examples of twenty-four that are not in the biblical canon. For example, Saint Ann, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was supposedly twenty-four years old when she was married to Saint Joachim, according to the visions of the Franciscan abbess Mary Ágreda. In the Gospel of Thomas, it is written that twenty-four prophets appeared in Israel before the arrival of Jesus.
The word “judges” is used twenty-four times in the New Testament.
The word “lamb” appears twenty-four times in the book of Revelation.
The words “water” and “spirit” both appear twenty- four times in the Gospel of John.
I’ll leave you with the weirdest fact about the number twenty-four. Whether or not this is true, the Ancient Egyptians apparently discovered that the monkey urinates regularly twenty-four times a day!
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon