Over the past several months I’ve been writing about some basic numerology as it is found in the Bible, and especially as it pertains to worship. This week I’d like to conclude this series with the number 12.
The number 12 is found throughout the biblical narrative. There were 12 sons of Jacob (a.k.a. Israel). There were 12 tribes of Israelites. There were 12 disciples, and then 12 apostles. In Revelation, there are 144,000 that are sealed from the tribes of Israel: 12 x 12,000. What do all these instance of twelve mean?
Twelve seems to represent God’s people, and authority or government as well. You’ll remember that the tribes of Israel belonged to a covenant that God had with Abraham and with Jacob. He did this to help Israel to govern themselves justly, not like the neighboring kingdoms where kings tyrannized their people and ruled them ruthlessly.
When Jesus begins his public ministry, he calls 12 disciples. He gives them authority not over tribes like their ancestors, but power to do miracles and cast out demons. In the end, he gives them the authority to start the church.
Because we are part of the church that was started by Peter and Paul and the apostles after Jesus ascended, twelve represents us, too. God has given us authority and empowered us by his Holy Spirit to be a priesthood of believers, sharing the good news of Jesus to the world around us. I am moved and refreshed by the time we spend each week gathering to worship God. I hope you are, too. But we need to remember that worship is not meant to remain a Sunday morning activity. It is a call for us to bring justice to the world around us. It is a call to be the hands and feet of God!