Math is from the devil

I was always pretty good at math. That is, until my freshman year of High School. It was a tough year for me when it came to math. I had always got A’s in math, but this year would be different. I stayed after school almost every day to get help with the homework and I barely squeaked out a B-.  My confidence was shot and I started to question my ability to succeed in this area.

The subject was geometry. No longer could I relish in the concrete solutions for the letter x. Now I had to memorize theorems and postulates. I had to figure out areas and angles. It was like math mixed with art… and I was pretty sure it was from the devil. Math is supposed to be black and white. Math is a fact, not a theory. What is this geometry? Get behind me, Satan!

1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

See! I told you math was from the devil! Do you know what a census is? It is counting people by groups and then adding them together. And here in 1 Chronicles 21, Satan made David do math. Okay, I’ll admit it – that’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe math isn’t really from the devil. So why was this census such a bad idea? Why did God explicitly instruct David NOT to take a census?

The problem with the census was that it would cause David to put his confidence in his resources rather than in his God. David wanted to know how many fighting men he had in case he was attacked. He wanted to calculate his odds at winning a battle. Even though God had consistently fought his battles for him, David still had this need to discover if what he had was enough. Unfortunately, this math experiment turned into a giant disaster for him. Math did him in.

Don’t we do the same thing that David did? We let anxiety and worry lead us to our calculators. We fret over all the possible alternatives and the inevitable outcomes. We lose sleep over the fact that no matter how hard we have thought about it, 2+2 simply does not equal 8.  We are short on resources and it looks like we are gonna lose this one.

God isn’t intimidated by math. He doesn’t worry about geometry. Not enough resources? No problem. Having a hard time getting all that you can gather to add up to 8? He doesn’t need 4+4. He can make W+S=8 if He wants to. You just bring the W and He will bring the S and it will all work out. What is the W you ask? It’s your weakness. The S is HIS strength.

Your God has all the resources you will ever need. You don’t need to put your trust in math. You can simply put your trust in Him. He has always been the one to fight the battles. He has always been the God who provides. He will not let you down. In the words of Proverbs 3:5-6,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Trust me, you need less

Judges 7:1-3 1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 

Here’s the scene: you’ve got 32,000 Israelite warriors ready to square off against a large number of Midianites.  By large number, I mean there were too many to count.  They were described as locusts and the number of camels was likened to sand on a seashore.  That’s a lot of bad guys!  So how in the world were 32,000 Israelite warriors supposed to defeat this massive force?  Well, they weren’t.  There were too many of them.  Too many Israelites, that is.  Now you might be thinking the same thing that I am: how in the world are there too many Israelites?  They are already outnumbered.  But when God says there are too many, you just go with it.

So Gideon releases 22,000 of them to go home, leaving them with 10,000.  God’s still thinks that is too easy of a victory, so He whittled this mighty army down to 300.  “Okay now Gideon, you and 300 guys are going to go and fight the massive population of Midian.”  The thing is, God knew what He was doing.  He even gives the reason that He wanted fewer soldiers – He wanted them to give Him the glory.  He wanted to make sure that they knew it was His victory, not theirs.  He didn’t want them taking credit for something He was about to pull off.  So He asked them to lay down their wealth of resources so that He could pull off a miracle. He wanted them to put their trust in Him, not in the greatness of their army.

Nothing much has changed, really since the days of Gideon.  We live our lives trying to build an army of 32,000 and never understand that 300 would be plenty for God.  We say, “but God, I don’t have enough money.”  He says that we have too much confidence in that money.   We say, “but God, I don’t have the abilities to take that on.”  He says that He has equipped us for everything He has called us too.  We look at our 10,000 and say it isn’t enough, but He wants to show His power to us with just 300.  This is the God we serve.  We must not have so much confidence in our army of resources that we take His miraculous power out of the picture.  If He is able to hand the victory to 300 Israelites, He is certainly able to take our lack and hand us the victory, too.  So what are we trusting in today?  Will we trust in our resources or His?  When you put all your trust in Him, He will get the glory and you will get the victory.