“The devil is in the details.” I’ve often seen the validity of that phrase in politics. It makes perfect sense when reading the small print at the bottom of a contract, or if one is faced with a major decision and sometimes even in relationships.
I get the sentiment behind the statement, “the devil is in the details,” but Scripture presents another side of that coin. For without fail, God is even in the smallest details.
Recently I’ve noticed how often I skim through numbers when I read the Bible. Newly aware of it, I try to catch myself and back up for the re-read.
God Himself created numbers along with creation when he numbered his works. “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Gen. 1:5 NIV
For someone like me, who has found numbers necessary when counting children, pieces of chocolate and how much a new dress costs, digits in Scripture are sometimes overlooked.
God records numerical details with precision. Lots of them.
Did you know the Israelite army took 61,000 donkeys when they plundered Midian (Numbers 31:34) or that Enoch’s dad, Jared was 162 when he was born. (Genesis 5:18) Or did you know the number of fish in the disciples’ nets was 153? ( John 21:11)
We are told exact days, years, weights, geographical stats and people groups.
And indeed, the devil seemed to be rampant in many of the details. But yet, a righteous God remained in control.
Scripture reports exactly what God wants us to know but not always why, and for all you fellow number-slackers, when we skip-the-numbers we also disregard the absolute accuracy of God’s Word. For numbers in Scripture, both those approximates and the exacts, are one of the proofs of God’s Omniscience. They attest to the validity of what He has written.
We live in a world where numbers can be very important. But in the Old Testament story of Gideon, God demonstrates His ultimate control regardless of the numbers.
He shows us that especially when the devil seems to control the details, God still reigns in holiness.
In Judges 6, we find Gideon hiding wheat from the Midianites, he was not an eager go-to-battle-type of person. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, with the address of “mighty warrior,” Gideon seems to have done a double take.
He had a list of ready excuses, what must have appeared to him as the devil’s details in the affairs of His people.
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”
Where are all his wonders?
The Lord has abandoned us.
My clan is the weakest.
I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:13-15 NIV
And so, God subtracted the numbers of men in Gideon’s troops. God wanted Gideon outnumbered.
“The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” Judges 7: 2 ESV
God commanded Gideon to let any fearful and trembling warriors go.
“Still too many,” God said.
God culled out an army of only 300. The rest he sent home.
Perhaps Gideon had some hesitations about God’s mathematical calculations. Sometimes I do too.
“Lord, we are outnumbered here,” I think when I see the moral abominations flooding our world.
“Really God?” I wonder at injustice against what God counts as sacred.
“Could you ramp up the numbers of your followers with a few more likes?”
The numbers didn’t add well for Gideon. Enemy Midianites and Amalekits ,“lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance.” Judges 7:12 ESV
But, he was never encouraged to depend on the numbers, was he?
God doesn’t need big numbers to accomplish His purposes. He needs obedience.
Jesus followers face opposition in our world system.
For as much as we are distracted by the devil in the details, God’s story is always bigger than what we imagine or perceive.
Gideon’s little army of 300 with trumpets and jar torches demolished the multitudes of Midian and Amalekite armies.
The numbers didn’t really matter, and yet they mattered greatly.
For God Himself won the war exactly as He promised He would.
Sometimes I fall prey to the numbers game.
I feel like there aren’t enough true Jesus followers.
Or I feel there are too many against God and His followers.
And then I want to throw up my hands and cry, “It’s useless.”
But, like Gideon, God’s numbers add up exactly as He chooses for a purpose that belongs to Him.
He gets the credit. I obey.
God is in the details.
*Feature Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash
You might also be interested in my articles on:
- Why Ruth and Boaz’s Story Should Inspire All Christians, Single and Married
- Why does Jesus call Himself ‘The Door’?
- What is Hesed Love and What Does It Tell Us About God’s Love For Us?
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