Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
There are more than seven billion people in the world today. Let that sink in for a moment: seven billion. So the question comes up, does God really know everyone? Or maybe not just does he know of us, but how intimately does he know each person (if he knows them at all). Well, Paul makes an interesting comment while discussing love, maturity, and heaven. He says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” It appears that Paul is very confident that he is known by God- fully known no less and he’s sure that he’s heaven-bound. Some Abrahamic religions (specifically Jehovah’s Witnesses) claim that only a set number of people (and a small one at that) will be allowed into heaven. Surely if that is the case then God doesn’t really care about much of the world. And yet, Paul had a wonderful assurance about himself that the Lord knows about him completely. How can he have such confidence of his stance in God’s eyes?
The Holy Spirit showed me that we can learn about how God sees us by the great census that takes place way back in the beginning of the book of Numbers. Right away we read,
The Lord spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one (Numbers 1:1-2).
When the Lord set up the census, he didn’t tell Moses to just do a head count. Instead, he had everyone listed name by name. He had them listed in familial groups so that there was a record of who each person was connected to. And he had them listed by clan in order that each person’s history was documented. Now if God made Moses do this, surely he is keeping track of each of us, name by name, family by family, history by history. But there’s more, the Lord continues in Numbers 1:3, “You and Aaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army.” God also had Moses and Aaron take note of everyone who could work in the army of the Lord once they were of fighting age. How does this translate to us? Consider the army, not everyone does the same job in an army, rather each person is given a specific task. So, just like Moses and Aaron likely assigned tasks and duties to each person over twenty years old, so too God has a job lined up for you already. We read in 1 Corinthians 12:14, “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” So just like the body of an army, the civilian body of people also has many parts. Therefore each person must be assigned (or I suppose called) to their specific task in order for things to work right. That means that not only does God know your name, your connections, and your history; but he also has your career and future planned out. In fact, scripture records,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Even if you have no idea what you’re supposed to be doing with your life, God does. He’s got a great plan for you and he’s hoping you ask him about it. Notice that he says, “I have a plan, so call on me and you’ll find me.” So if you want to know what you’re plan is in life, ask God!
“Whoa, whoa; hold on here,” you say, “what about the Levites? Good call, in Numbers 1:47-49 it says,
The families of the tribe of Levi, however, were not counted along with the others. The Lord had said to Moses: “You must not count the tribe of Levi or include them in the census of the other Israelites.”
So what am I supposed to do with this? If God knows everyone, then why aren’t the Levites counted? Ah, for this one we have to check out Numbers 3:14-16,
The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, “Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.” So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.
Although the Levites were not counted in the general census, there was actually a special census in which they were counted. Notice too that instead of God putting emphasis on those who were twenty or older, he wants every Levite specially noted after they are over a month old. This is especially interesting because we find out that Levites don’t even start working until much later in life. Scripture records in Numbers 4:3, 23, 30 (they’re all basically the same); “Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work in [or at] the Tent of Meeting.” Through this we can learn that even though we probably won’t start working until we’re older (usually around high school age), God has a plan for each one of us even when we’re young. Keep in mind that the Levites were God’s special workers, and so they were specially set apart by God. However, today since Jesus died for your sins and mine, everyone is specially set apart by God because everyone has the opportunity to find salvation through Jesus Christ (despite what some religions may think). Jesus himself said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Therefore, not only are we all counted one by one and name by name, by God; we’re also given a very special life plan set up for us by the Lord from our infancy since we’re all eligible to be set apart by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on a cross.
Does God know you? Oh yes, my friend, he knows you very well. In fact, David wrote on how much we are known by God. He stated,
O Lord, you have searched me
And you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways (Psalms 139:1-3).
God watches everything we do, all seven-plus billion of us. Not only that, but before we even pray, God has set everything up for us (so that our prayer will be answered); for it is written,
Before a word is on my tongue
You know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in- behind and before;
You have laid your hand upon me (Psalms 139:4-5).
No matter where you are in life, God is there. Even if you’re the most holy person on earth, or the most sinful and far from God- he’s there. David wrote on this,
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there (Psalms 139:7-8).
I’d remember that last verse next time someone tries to tell you, “There’s no God here.” God is everywhere, no matter how messed up some places and activities may be- you can’t hide from him. Although the Levites were to be counted when they are about a month old God already knew you before that. The Lord knew you even when you were still inside of your mother’s body. As David records,
For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
When I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in your book
Before one of them came to be (Psalms 139:13-16).
As you can see, God keeps much better records than he ever expected of Moses in the desert. And while taking note of you even when you were just a few seemingly lifeless cells, the Lord already had your future planned out; with every opportunity mapped in. But God doesn’t just make note of you at birth, no, he keeps continual record of you every moment of your life. We can know this because Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:30, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” I don’t know about you, but I have hair growing and falling out all the time. If God’s keeping track of such a small bodily function constantly, think of how deeply he knows the rest of you!
Of course you are known by God! Hebrews 4:13 tells us “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” I’m not sure about your reaction to that, but when I first read that God sees everything, I was pretty nervous. I mean, I haven’t been too bad, but…I haven’t been too good either. If you’re coming from a background of sin, the Lord already knows. But thank God for the mercy of his Son, Jesus Christ! It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve been or what you’ve done- God already knew before you did it and while you were doing it (remember, the Lord isn’t contained by time like we are). But Jesus didn’t (and doesn’t) care what skeletons are in your closet; for the Word of God says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It’s no wonder why Paul was so confident in 1 Corinthians! He had actually persecuted Christians to their deaths before Jesus saved him, but Paul knew, like you now know, that Jesus is willing to wipe the slate clean and keep it clean no matter what kind of person you are. If you haven’t already, give your life to Jesus, trust him and let his forgiveness wash over you. Repent of your old ways and find new life and new opportunities that have literally been waiting for you. Rejoice in this life, my friend, and proudly proclaim, “MY GOD KNOWS ME AND LOVES ME!”