Biblical Numerology: A New Discovery?

Christians familiar with the Bible know that it favors some numbers over others, such as three (representing “wholeness”), six (evil or imperfection), seven and it’s multiples 14 & 21 (perfection), and 12 (totality), among others.

One of those “others” is the number forty (40), which the Bible mentions 146 times (at least in my Bible), and includes Noah’s ark withstanding 40 days of rain, Israel wandering the desert for 40 years, Goliath taunting Israel’s army for 40 days before being felled by David, and Jesus preaching for 40 days on Earth between His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.

But, did you know that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) may have discovered a lost Biblical  reference to the number “40″? And, a timely one at that:

“There’s a principle as old as the Bible that if you work 40 hours a week you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”
- Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D), speaking to MSNBC, March 21, 2014.

I applaud the Governor for rounding out my childhood CCD education, but rather than (incorrectly) invoking the Bible to advance a political agenda or cater to their constituency the Governor might be better served to take counsel from these other, actual, Biblical verses:

  • “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’ ” – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” – Luke 3:14
  • “I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.  – Zechariah 11:12
  • [some workers] grumbled at the landowner, saying, `These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a [fixed wage]? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ ” – Matthew 20:1-16

The Bible doesn’t mention what a “fair wage” is – it only teaches us to be fair, righteous, just, and charitable. It doesn’t say how long one should work, or whether one can avoid poverty by working hard. In fact, the Bible provides few guarantees other than spiritual reward for those who walk in the Lord’s path. However, it does teach us what happens to those who won’t work, and to those who are skillful in their work.

Thanks for reading!

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