A Thousand-fold Blessing
God desired to bless the nation of Israel (Num 6:21- 26). Hence, He gave them a thousand-fold blessing which is recorded in today’s text. Surely, there are the blessings of thousands and ten thousands (Ps 144:13). However, such blessings are granted after receiving a thousand-fold blessing first.
We first need to know the historical background of the text. It is necessary to know the year when God spoke of the thousand-fold blessing. It was in the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month (Deut 1:3). The people of Israel left Egypt on the fifteenth day of the first month of the first year (Exod 12:1-7; Num 33:1-4). God designated the time of the exodus as the first year and the first month (Exod 12:1). Sheeps were bought on the tenth day of the first month, kept for four days, and then killed at twilight on the fourteenth day. The Israelites ate it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, with their loins girded and staff in their hand; and then they left on the fifteenth.
The Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai on the first day of the third month in the first year (Exod 19:1) and departed Mount Sinai on the twentieth day of the second month in the second year (Num 10:11-13). It is habitually mentioned among Christians that the Israelites walked in the wilderness for forty years, yet few or none know the exact date nor the supporting Bible verses. For example, if someone claims to a person born on January third that he or she was born on January tenth, wouldn’t that cause trouble? Likewise, was the walk in the wilderness really exactly forty years? That is not correct.
The Bible says there are many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning (1 Cor 14:10). Every word in the Bible has meaning and we need to know how to match the pairs in the Bible and understand its meaning. The Israelites departed from Mount Sinai on the twentieth day of the second month in the second year and arrived at Kadesh on the first day of the third month in the second year (Deut 1:2). In Kadesh, the Israelites were unfaithful to the word of God and sent the heads of the 12 tribes to spy out the land of Canaan. Joshua and Caleb reported, “If God is with us, we can conquer anything,” but the leaders of the remaining 10 tribes reported that conquest is hopeless by saying, “We are nothing more than grasshoppers compared to them.” The congregation of nearly two million cried and rebelled throughout the night and God sent down fire to control them. God swore with His life in anger, “All 603,550 men, except Joshua and Caleb, will not be able to enter the land of Canaan but die in the wilderness” (Num 14:1- 38). Many theologians and pastors roughly mention the number as 600,000, but God accurately recorded the number 603,550 in four places in the Bible. When someone asks, “How many people are working in the church this morning?” Is it right to say that there are only about 20 people when, in fact, there are 40 people? God takes every single count of people seriously.
God counted one day as a year for the forty-day spying period and commanded the people to walk in the wilderness for forty years. The journey to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, takes only a week for an average person in walking, and at the longest a month for a group that includes a pregnant woman. However, the Israelites had to walk in the wilderness for thirty-eight years. During thirty-eight years before crossing the brook Cherith, all 603,548 men died.
This incident is a shadow of our lives today. Those who do not have faith lie in the same fate as the church in Sardis (Rev 3:1). You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead, like dead corpses walking back and forth. If we have faith like Joshua and Caleb, God will transfigure us on this earth. Jesus came for the living, not the dead. If you are unfaithful, the prosperity in business planned for today will be postponed for two years. You may be in haste, hoping your business will go well since you’re paying interest debt for the money you borrowed for the business. However, things are not going well. Why is this? Because you have no faith. This is the word of God. Our times are in God’s right hand.
When we become ill, we tend to do the search first; “Which hospital is well-known? Which doctor is good?” We all must be honest before God. We must first prostrate before God and entrust everything unto Him, but we don’t think about praying. Look at King Asa in 2 Chronicles chapter 16. God gave him a foot disease in order for him to realize God’s will. However, even though God waited for two years, he still didn’t seek God and eventually died after three years. If you are suffering from cancer or other kinds of diseases, please prostrate yourself before God and pray first; “God, I sincerely seek and ask for You to lay Your mighty hands upon me and hold me tight.” Please make sure you believe first and then go to the hospital. Is it right to look for hospitals without even praying to God?
After wandering around the wilderness for thirty-eight years, the Israelites finally returned to Kadesh in the first month of the fortieth year. In that month, Moses’ sister Miriam died (Num 20:1), and on the first day of the fifth month in the same year, Moses’ brother Aaron died (Num 33:38-39). Eventually, Moses died as well. Seeing this, we must thoroughly realize and commit ourselves to believe in God properly for God is certain. Moses spoke in vain and disobeyed only once. However, when we look at ourselves, we easily say, “I won’t go to church, I won’t attend the cell group worship, I won’t tithe,” even when small things bother us. Can we call ourselves true believers of the Bible?
Today’s scripture text is the message that Moses proclaimed to the Israelites in the plains of Moab on the first day of the eleventh month in the fortieth year, which was six months after Aaron’s death (Deut 1:1). In such ways, God is leaving a valuable record of the march of the wilderness church; He is relaying the chronology and history of the people of Israel since their departure from Egypt. It is here that God spoke of the thousand-fold blessing. Who is blessed a thousand-fold? This blessing is promised to the people who are headed to the land of Canaan to establish the wilderness church. The march toward Canaan is now on its final course. The thousand-fold blessing is a blessing that will be given after entering Canaan, and this word was given two months before their entry into Canaan. Moses is commanding the Israelites to be awake for the final remaining march. Only those who step on the land of Canaan after completing the march may receive God’s second instruction and a thousand-fold blessing. Only those who are awake and faithful to complete the march may receive such a blessing. Our praises must be awake like the people of Israel. A church full of grace is one where the praise is alive. We must sing praises by clapping our hands vigorously while meditating and thinking deeply about the meaning. We must not sing praises while dozing off or yawning. In the days of King David, an orchestra of four thousand and a choir of four thousand gave praise to God (1 Chr 23). Our prayers must be awake as well. We start our prayer by raising our hands and shouting, “Amen! Hallelujah!” That is the moment when the devil is terrified and appalled. It is the moment when the darkness in our house is driven out and the light of Jesus, who is the sun of righteousness that never sets, comes in.
We must hear the voice of God saying, “People of Israel, two months are left!” and wake up. Although this was spoken at the wilderness church, it is a message for us today. It is fulfilled only through those who go out and come in by faith, those who obey the word like Abraham, and those who are faithful and devoted to the work that God has given. God’s word is fulfilled on this earth when I believe in it. If I don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross for mankind and resurrected at dawn after breaking the power of death, that word will not come true to me. Our faith must be a thousand-fold as well. You should not be small-minded like Elisha who only asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. God will be surprised if we pray, “God, increase my faith a thousand-fold!” God’s mercy, His benevolence, and His love that we’ve received is already enormous, but when we say, “Give us a thousand-fold more grace,” God will be astonished. You need to pour everything of yourselves when you pray. If you worry about your clothes getting wrinkled and dusty when you pray, that is a prayer of the flesh. There is the prayer of the flesh and a prayer of the spirit. The prayer of the flesh is about praying with one’s own wisdom gained from what he has seen, heard, and obtained; it is praying with one’s shallow know-hows and own knowledge. Would this kind of prayer be delivered? It can’t even reach to knock on the door of God. However, the prayer of the spirit is a living prayer, a prayer that creates and works. Please look at Jesus who knelt down on His knees, prostrated Himself with His forehead on the ground as He prayed His final prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:39). When countless numbers of Satan’s forces interfered and attacked to instill fear, Jesus prayed with his forehead rubbing on the ground in order to win the fight, so even His skin would have been peeled off. Even God the Creator prayed in such a way. Have we ever prayed like that to resemble Jesus’ heart and deeds? Only the prayers of the spirit are accepted by God.
A thousand-fold is not a numerical concept. It is an infinite number that cannot be counted with human thoughts and calculations. When we say, “Long live Korea for ten-thousand years,” we’re not saying, “Perish after those ten thousand years.” What we mean is “forever.” A thousand-fold blessing is an innumerable blessing, an indescribable blessing, and the unfathomable love of God. It is glory, life, and blessings for generation after generation. When God gave Abraham a thousand-fold blessing, although he was a single man all alone, didn’t his descendants multiply like the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky?
Finally, Israel crossed the Jordan River and reached Gilgal in the land of Canaan on the tenth day of the first month, in the forty-first year (Josh 4:19). Since they left Egypt on the fifteenth day of the first month in the first year, they arrived in the land of Canaan five days short of forty years. If so, why was it short of five days? Since the Bible says there are many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning, we must know the reason why. Where will God complete the forty years? Please read the Bible as the answer is found in it. Please see how they received blessings because of those who believed in the covenant and promises. Because of Rahab the prostitute, her family and relatives were saved. The scarlet cord of thread which Rahab tied in the window symbolizes the blood of the cross. In the end, she was recorded in Jesus’ genealogy.
Through today’s message, we are able to feel how God is truly pleased to give us blessings, and guides us to understand His absolute faith, hope, and unfathomable love. May we acknowledge His love once again and pray for the forgiveness of all our sins, for not being faithful, not being zealous, not striving to read the Bible, not praying, not keeping our place in faith, forgetting all the grace and not repaying the grace we’ve received, and for living according to our mood and flesh. I pray and bless you in the name of the Lord that you will be faithful until the end, that you will march according to God’s instructions to the end and advance in your faith.
This message was put together based on two sermons with the same title that Rev. Huisun Abraham Park preached at dawn service on Tuesday, May 14, 2002, and during Wednesday service on May 15.
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)