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Teach Us To Number

Forgive me if you are a math guru, but if you have ever had to ask yourself, ‘how did I even pass Maths in school?’, then you might relate better when you hear someone say they just hate numbers. Their reasons are certainly beyond count of our fingers. And you ask how I knew, I have been there. The least of such reasons is that maths just make some dizzy, such the cover page of this edition might have even put some off already. If you ask a few others, it’s some unpleasant experiences they have had with some mystic numbers. Yet for many, it matters not if they have lucky numbers that work for them, there is just no reason whatsoever. In fact, they would rather opt to write ‘one’ in words than in figures. Whereas, you would be shocked how some believe that the only string holding this fragile world together now is counting and accounting.

Wherever you found yourself, have you ever thought of how rowdy your day might be, perhaps your week, months and years, and ultimately your life without having to do with numbers! Should we begin with your having to dial your loved ones, and go to your pin codes that protects your bank accounts or make mention of you keeping to time on your next schedule?

We all do maths in one way or the other. Numbers cannot be wished away. It‘s a gift. Which is why there’s little need appealing more to maths lovers here. Pythagoras, the erudite said, “number is the within of all things.” Plato went ahead later in the years to say, “numbers are the highest degree of knowledge. It is knowledge itself.” Then you wouldn’t wonder why Tobias Dantzig concluded, “mathematics is the supreme judge; from its decision there is no appeal.” From there, you may now begin to wonder if our being so worn into our universal numbering, which works anyway even far into the space have really make our calculations supreme indeed.

All things being equal, how would you take it to know that our universal maths is largely rooted on assumptions! We would be zeroing in on a few of the nonplussing loopholes that our proudly pitch perfect standards of arithmetic are raised upon. You are going to be amazed that nine times out of ten, we know numbers pretty well, but we don’t really know how to number.

That sounds like an assumption too. But let’s start from the fact that we don’t really know how to number our age.

I’m sorry if that seems like an insult! Just bear with me. Should someone come asking how old you are, the chances are you would answer approximating the number of your years from your date of birth, which is fairly correct. But a keener response would probably come from those counting their age in days, just as I used to know mine every day, until I got tired of numbering it. Or was that out of fatigue! But do you know that, any answer shy of the very moment your life actually began in the womb begs that question? If that sounds too extreme, let’s go to the age of the earth and see the reason perhaps we couldn’t throw the earth a birthday party like we do our nations.

It‘s no longer news that our pride of numberings is really what is making many become atheistic physicists, evolution magicians, dinosaur driven archaeologists. Who haven’t I mentioned? Oh the sci-fi educationalists and the diplomatic theologians - all at infinitive variance with dogmatic theologians on how old the earth is. Question is, do I know? Point blank answer to that would come from anyone who could brave God’s question to Job, “where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” Not even rationalizing biblical timelines or finding ease at equating one day to 1,000 years could help that puzzle. For it is true that one day before the Lord equals a thousand years, but the reverse is also true, so how do you know when to apply which?

Everyone is assuming, randomising and building on comparative permutations. Today, the in-thing is to tie the 6000 years-plus somewhere under your biblical tongue, and then put on the bogus incongruous yet unproven 4.543 billion years estimated from the supposedly limitless radiometric iron meteorite like a mathematical wig. Anyone can defend the big number by saying there was no creator unlike the former. Yet we know deep down that we are all light years from the very answer. We all know it. Of course, we needed somewhere to start the count for the sake of sanity, but I would rather we own up for once if we aren’t sure than boast as if we were there on day zero. Without guesses, the right answer to the age of the earth simply dates back from the time the creator stepped out of timelessness and said, if I may paraphrase, okay, for your understanding, you can start counting from here, the evening and the night, today is day one.

Which bring me again to another issue with our maths. We don’t really know what time we are living in. I bet you would say you know what day of the week it is. But are you also aware that the enduring Gregorian calendar we are all using at the moment jumpstarted the count at random from a particular day using the lunar trend? Space will not allow us to expand this. Though Gregorian has to start from somewhere out of necessity like many popular calendars before it. And rightly so for the sake of universal dating. Yet the equation shattering truth is that the day we call Sunday nowadays may just be the Tuesday in the calendar of the creator. Setting the Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) unanimously at Royal Observatory at Greenwich, in Sussex was out of absolute international assumptions based on its navigational and astrological influence. Anywhere else could have been the centre of the world sphere. But the reality is that everyone who wanted to be relevant today in international trade just had to spread out east west from that point randomly picked as zero. Just never forget that it boils down to the superpower calculus. It needs no mention that, that has always swindle international standards. Lovers of history knows how much Daytime Saving Time impacted on world wars, and now on work and health. I would always say of changes, how long did it take the Roman figures to become the nowadays English alphabets, and perhaps for paper money to circle back into coins, even virtual! World time runs by whoever holds the hourglass in the middle!

You see, it’s all like you are attending a meeting which makes the earliest person to arrive define what lateness means to every other one coming after them. Do you know, just as each universal day begins when its midnight on the prime meridian UTC, that at that same moment in nature you and your folks are shouting this just gone-by ‘Happy New Year’, places further ahead of you might have shouted theirs half a day earlier? And that, at that very second, places behind your locus could be lagging by as much as twelve hours in yesteryear! So, our real time are fake. If you are still in doubts, you would be shocked how nations in history have had to compress time, literally turned the hand of their clock, jump days in real life at times just to align with the UTC. So, the next time its 8am by your wristwatch, it might actually be 3pm another year if it were counted from the creators first day. If you get that, then you begin to understand why it might be a vain venture arguing on Saturday-Sunday dichotomy among the religious. You also see why condemnations based on celebration of Christ born on 25th of December or not, and dating the correct day Jesus died and whatnot are not worth the division in body of Christ. If we wrap this up dear, my elementary job so far has been to show you how frail our assumptions can be. And to see how messed up the numbering we pattern our lives after is, when compared to a more accurate level of numbering we are often too proud to jettison.

You are welcome to Father’s Maths class. Here, the height of numbering is beyond our logics. It is not that God is acalculia or that His maths is always against ours, it‘s just that the father’s math works better even when our further maths fails us. For if God were against our numbers, a whole book of the Scriptures wouldn’t have survived been so named Book of Numbers.

The mathematician turned Pastor E A Adeboye who brought exponential growth to the body of Christ globally had this say, “Whenever I have to say something that I believe is very deep and I have to say it in a brief manner, I turn back to mathematics because it is the language of life and you can say a lot within a short period if you use mathematics.” Quite a fancier of numbers, so adept yet has learnt to find the height of mathematical application in the depth of God. Now, we are inching close. How I wished we could write this edition in figures. For it is in our humble knowledge that God is the math teacher whose logarithms - that is the power to which a fixed number is based - are not based on assumptions like ours but based on accuracies and certainties that will raise us to the power of infinitive possibilities. We said our days started from midnights, but right from the first, it wasn’t so. God counted everyday from the evening. Evening simply means evening. Sounds like sunset to sunset. Dust up your Genesis again like I have had to many times, little wonder He would visit Adam in the cool of the day, presupposing he started his days with God. But this inference isn’t now a religious prescription to form a parallel time movement that is anti-world, it’s just to make us see how God works.

He said, my ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts. But then He didn’t want to leave us our way. He wanted this His mind to be in us which is also in Christ. If you don’t mind, we can now start counting from God‘s minuses and zero. Ever thought of Jesus meant that from him who has none shall it be taken and be given to the one that has? When one says they are with nothing to give, Jesus says He will subtract from that which they are hiding or think they don’t have. In effect, reducing such a person to minus. And guess whom it goes to? One who says he has pluses to give. What then is the practical lesson here, you are never zero!

That said, can we talk of ONENESS. The oneness of God, which has plunged so many into arguments and division. That God is one can be seen as God expanding Himself to express His different views since we may not capture His wholeness at once. Think of it like algebra where you expand an equation just to explain it and then contract it back again. That God is one is His way of expressing Himself as a father. Now it will take humility to learn this number one. Because this oneness expressEs the father‘s wise-confounding split image of Himself manifested as His Son and expressed as the Holy Spirit, also called the Counsellor as Jesus later revealed. Isaiah was kindergarten clear in verse 6 of his ninth chapter, “for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father...” I wish you reckon that the same given Son is Called the Father and the Counsellor. This math of oneness should settle any lingering unbelief of what it means to say that God is One. Or would you rather take it as 1X1X1=1, and you have just believed, born again into life eternal! Paul meant it’s not enough to just say God is one with a religious form of Godliness and deny the power of God into salvation when he said the demons knows this that God is one and tremble. Yet this simplest of math is why many won’t stop rationalising that Jesus isn’t the Son of God or God in flesh or doubt that God is a Spirit. But you are edified! No wonder Jesus said, I and my father are One, believe that I am in the father and that the father is in me!

Before we leave ONE, can we mention of how it applies to you and your family? It must be farfetched that two shall become one. That one plus one equals one toddler maths of all time is worth our ponder! I haven’t stopped learning from it. The lack of its power is the root cause of divorce which make people part in halves. Remember this power of one is what hold the oneness of God together, little wonder we are made in the image of God. And was Eve not made from Adam? Adam was only expanded into Eve to make him see the feminine side of him, and in oneness learn what completes him. If only couples knows that what each has belongs to the other! When that kingdom math of two becoming one is taken up and applied daily just as elementary as it appears, I bet nothing else would solve the matrix of marital breakdowns, spousal jealousies and the deconstructed family identity we now experience.

Many more of this wowing numbers that are real! It has to be father’s math that one shall chase a thousand and two shall chase ten thousand. All that God needed was where two or three are gathered in His name. To say that a day is like a thousand years and then that the reverse is correct was what took us to the bootcamp of God‘s calendar. Do your math, but know that Gods is superior. To say that many are called but few are chosen, and then employ a labourer at 6 a.m and pay them the same daily wage as those employed at 6 p.m; to give out a talent of five, two and one and be expecting the same fold of returns based on differential capital is no joke on pay slips.

Likewise your birthday, your age and timing is not a limitation to God. If He can restore years eaten by the cankerworm of time, how much less months, weeks and days! He care for you to the extent of not all even a strand of your hair to fall out without His permission, not even from your comb or hairdo. And He knows the number of hairs on your head to their heights and knew that your worries can’t add an inch to their heights. Look up to this math teacher who is able to tell the number of stars in the space, even if you don’t fancy astrology.

God may start to count for you just when you have given up on numbers. While Abraham was counting zero in the dimension of heirs, God was counting them in the bank of sands and passage of stars! At menopause, God just started numbers with Sarah. He can magnify your days. He can make a day count for you in thousands of years. That He beats our numbers made me began to understand why David would say a day in His court is more than a thousand elsewhere.

Are you pressed for time, resources and manpower? God is not restrained to deliver by many or by few. When Gideon was counting on 7,000 soldiers, God was counting 300. When Israeli was seeing old and average men take over the promise land, God was counting teenagers mostly. Where Elijah kept counting, “I only”, God was counting other 700 prophets who hadn’t bowed to the Baal idol besides him. It was math impossible when Gehaz was seeing two against hundreds of soldiers, yet Elisha was seeing the innumerable host of God. Same Elisha would later go to give a public prophesy of economical disproportion in the midst of a cannibalistic recession. His prophesy was price specific for a measure of finest flour and barley, and would even mention the trade location and time. This wasn’t a movie. You would have heard of the story. A lord in whose hand the King leaned - popularly the right hand of the king, possibly the economic minister - challenged the quantum leap math of God immediately in the open. He was so proud of the human arithmetic that he said, even if your God open the windows of heaven, it couldn’t happen. What became of him? His limited math ran him over in a stampede of reality.

In God’s first message to King Hezekiah, his days were numbered, in the second one, God was teaching him to number His days. Hezekiah just knew he couldn’t die by accident again. How certain and reassuring it was to know his death date! Fifteen more years, and it was left to see what he was going to make of it.

When the ushers were counting the widow’s mite who didn’t see herself as zero, Jesus counted it as the biggest offering of the day. When all that the disciples were able to count were the five fishes and two loaves of the unselfish boy, Jesus counted several thousands of men with woman, children and twelves baskets of leftovers. What a math! When they ask Jesus who would be the greatest, He said the smallest among you! Fathers math begins in kindergarten!

SO, TEACH US TO NUMBER is a yearning from the sonorous lyric of previously stammering Moses, a Learned Royale of the First Order Superpower Academy of Arithmetic in Egypt. Yet, with his tablets of humility, Moses was back in class tutorial with God. Teach Us to number is a submission to the creator to hold the chalk when things turns maths. It is the heart call of meekest man on earth to God that he couldn’t figure things out even when our calculations are diametrically opposed to His. It’s a surd between those whose days are numbered and those being taught to number their days. It is the difference between those who would be disfigured and those who would be transfigured on the ground of figures. Teach us to number is the professional kindergarten attended by those who have decided to be excluded from universal set of just having the knowledge of numbers to a subset of those applying the wisdom of numbers.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12

Dear, when God is the one teaching you to number your days, your past days which you don’t even know and your coming days are not numbered. How is that so? God numbers your days not only in quantity but also in quality. Life has taught us to count our days but it’s God that teaches us to make our days count. It appeared from record that Methuselah was just marking birthdays. To be fair, he was enjoying the grace that every single person he met in life died before he died. But Jesus was only 33 by Gregorian calendar and what a life that death couldn’t terminate, only three days feared lost to grave but he came back alive real in flesh and we are still fighting ourselves to celebrate His birthday.

Yes we celebrate God for the quantity of time which is why the thematic verse 12 of this Psalm 90 birthday gift is wrapped in the tidings that your age is simply a gift of time. Your birthdays are times to check the time. They are times to ask what you have used other times for, not to make you feel wasted but never again to be wasteful. Little wonder God throughout the scripture would rather deals in days to show us that He relates daily, and birthdays isn’t all about celebrating round figures. May your life be an example of miracle of numbers! May your age defile the arithmetic limitations of science.

Though your birthday is a day that came in a year but it is actually a year that came in a day. On one of such Yeardays of yours, I dare you to take some time out to arithmetically number your days in days. Believe me, it is not a vain exercise. You can pause this reading and do that now if you will, and you can do it later to have an idea of how long the Lord has kept your heart beating, unstopping perhaps in hours and submit the answer to the inestimable God in Math class of worship. That is how to start a birthday, being grateful! Not cursing the day you were born.

Your age is a gift many had died and are dying to have. So you can’t be ashamed of it like many are. Don’t get downcast or overjoyed by sizing up your age with peers milestones. Instead, compare it with the living season God expect of you right now. Think it is a time to count? Then count your blessing, name them one by one until you lose count. Then you‘d understand you are great not only when celebrating special birthdays. To not pick Teach us to number our days out of context would also mean to open us to the quality of our days. That our days are so few and fast, like seconds and yet wasted in sin and hardship, not fearing God the custodian of time because we haven’t seen His anger. So the psalmist, Moses in this case said, “Therefore,” or “so, Teach Us To Number Our Days,” to see the rapidity, the brevity of our years, the vapouring fraction of our lives in the decimal of eternity so that we can become circumspect, redeeming the time.

So, teach us to make the most of our days, so as to set store by time and spend the rest in joy. So, teach us to number our days that we can interface the head knowledge of human numbering with application of heart wisdom, early enough. So, teach us to number our days to see how fleetly our years are, so that we would value our time and not just end up ticking Gregorian calendar!

What a read this Psalm 90:12 would have been if sequentially tucked between Deuteronomy 31 verse 19 and 22! Both written by a man whose number of days God fulfilled in a 120 year people hardly reach today. Which showed how eager we should rather be to learn how to number our days in wisdom than always been solicitous on birthdays for the long life which God already promised to satisfy us with.

While we are not to fear the brevity of long life itself; its our fear of God for the brevity of life that is the beginning of this applied math called wisdom. If I may ask, how would you have lived from now on if you actually knew the number of your days? Please Lord, Teach us to number! Jesus at a time helped the disciple numbered their days when He asked if their clock was still saying it‘s four months to harvest but that the harvest was now. Instead of busy doing maths of the exact day Jesus will return, and winning arguments, let the reality signs spur you into wisdom of wise that win a soul. We have stuffs to learn from the sons of Issachar who have understandings of the times. Why must you understand the times only when the clock has stopped work?

Olusanya Olusola

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