This is the 204th entry in this Disciplehood web log, and I have to say I’m a little proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.
And every bit as interesting, too, Baldy. 😉
Touche. But regardless of what anyone might say about the quality of the blog, I’m pretty happy about the quantity. When I embarked on this journey in September 2010, it was with such gusto and glee that I wondered if it would be sustainable.
What do you say, Magic 8-ball?
Therefore, It was with a bit of joy and satisfaction that I arrived at this milestone last weekend.
To mark the occasion, I decided to explore how this number is used in the Bible. According to BibleStudy.org and Examiner.com, twenty is the number of expectancy, and when 200 is used, that expectancy is tenfold. But at the same time, both of these studies point out that the Roman numeral CC is associated with insufficiency.
So with these concepts in mind, let’s look at a few passages that contain the number 200:
- ‘So after he returned the silver to his mother, she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who used them to make the idol. And it was put in Micah’s house.’ – Judges 17:4
- ‘David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.’ – 1 Samuel 18:27
- ‘Whenever he (Absalom) cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard.’ – 2 Samuel 14:26
- ‘King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield.’ – 1 Kings 10:16 (and also 2 Chronicles 9:15, nearly verbatim)
- ‘… besides their male and female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; and they had two hundred men and women singers.’ – Ezra 2:65
- ‘For the dedication of this house of God they offered a hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred male lambs and, as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, one for each of the tribes of Israel.’ – Ezra 6:17
‘Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”’ – John 6:6 (NKJV)
- ‘Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”’ – Acts 23:23-24
- ‘Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.’ – Revelation 9:16
Idols. An abundance of luscious hair. A buttload of valuables. Soldiers upon soldiers. A feedlot full of sacrificed livestock. The might and ruthlessness to kill and posthumously circumcise a battalion of Philistines. (Eew.)
What connects all of these verses for me is human tendency to put our faith in human strength, beauty and earthly wealth. And as we follow these stories in the verses, chapters and books to come, this faith is usually proven inadequate in the long term. Put another way, I don’t see a lot of expectancy in there, but there’s no shortage of insufficiency.
Do the lines between those two concepts ever blur for you? They do for me, I’m afraid. Often, the hopes and prayers I categorize as heavenly expectancy are actually more like earthly dissatisfaction (which is a manifestation of perceived insufficiency) in disguise.
Earthly expectancy feels a lot like entitlement, and that’s utterly incompatible with true, heavenly expectancy. But man, it’s a fine line and it’s tough to know – without the benefit of Hindsight – when I’m on the wrong side of it.
Based on verses like Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 7:7-8, and John 10:10, I think we’re called to audaciously expect God to act in the world, and specifically in our own lives. He ‘can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine’, after all. (Ephesians 3:20)
I know God wants to bless me, and like most of us, I expect God to bless me in the way I want to be blessed. When He presumes to have different ideas about what this should look like, I become dissatisfied about what I see as the insufficiency of God’s provision, and react by praying harder and expecting all the more – repeating the process, only moreso.
This is a tough habit to break, and verses like Matthew 6:25-34 don’t help a lot. For me, the key to containing this phenomenon to a mere vicious circle, rather than a spiralling vortex of bitterness, is 2 Cornthians 12:9a: ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”‘
That verse reminds me that God isn’t in the Rob-pleasing business, He’s in the Rob-redeeming business. His priority for me is my character, not my comfort.
I also remember Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane – ‘”Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”‘ – Luke 22:42 – and see that it’s OK to ask God for what we want, as long as we’re ready to accept something less palatable if it’s His will for us.
Therefore, I think maybe the key to staying on the right side of the heavenly/earthly expectancy line is to remember that specificity is perfectly OK when you’re praying, but when it comes to expectancy, the Devil’s in the details!
Be expectant that God will bless you, therefore, but don’t confine your expectancy to your own expectations of what that should look like.
I suspect it’ll take me more than another 200 blogs to figure out how to do that consistently. But if I do, I’ll let you know.
Peace be with you.
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