God’s Math Is Not Our Math
In the world we live in, two plus two always equals four, and two divided by two always equals one. But that’s not always true in God’s world. God seems to add and divide differently than we do. Let me give you an example of that..
In Mathew 14, verses 17 thru 20, we have the story of how Jesus feed about 5,000 men, besides women and children (that would probably be at least 10,000 people total, probably even more) and He did it with just two fish, and five loaves of bread. And then after they had all eaten, they gathered up more leftovers than they had started with, twelve baskets full.
So then somehow, Jesus took two, and added five, and then divided it by at least ten thousand, and ended up with twelve. Now even if I use a calculator, I don’t come up with twelve. I come up with .0007.
So then if I were the one feeding those ten thousand people (maybe more) they wouldn’t have gotten their fill. But verse 20 tells us.. “And they all ate, and were filled..”
Now I don’t know how big those fish were, and I don’t know how big those loaves of bread were. Those fish could’ve been 18 inches long, and they might have weighted 3 pounds each. And even if those loaves weighed 2 pounds each, (that would be a big loaf) that would have been about 16 pounds, or 256 ounces of food. So if I had been doing the feeding, I’d have divided 256 ounces of food, into ten thousand pieces, and each person would have gotten about 25 thousandths of an ounce of food. 25 thousandths, of an ounce. Is that even a crumb?
God definitely does not add and divide like I add and divide. Somehow, when God divides, He ends up multiplying, and then He has leftovers to boot.
And sometimes, when God subtracts, He ends up adding! Where’d He go to school at anyway?
In 1 Kings 17, verse 9, God said to Elijah the prophet; “Arise, and go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold I have commanded a widow there, to sustain you.” Now the bible doesn’t give us any indication that God actually spoke to the widow, and “commanded” her to take care of Elijah. But that word “commanded” also means to.. “set in order”, and to “ordain”, and to “appoint”. So then what the Lord actually did, was to ordain it to be this way; That when Elijah would find the widow, that she indeed would sustain him with food.
There was a famine in the land, because of the wickedness of King Ahab. We’re told in chapter 16, and verse 33; “And Ahab did yet more to provoke Jehovah to anger, than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” And so it says in chapter 17, verse 1; “And Elijah the Tisbite, who was of the sojourners of Gilead, said unto Ahab; As Jehovah the God of Israel lives, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except according to my word.” And of course Elijah’s word, was going to be God’s word. So then God withheld the rain and the dew, so that there was a sever lack of food. But God was going to sustain Elijah.
And it’s interesting to see how this actually played out, so let me read verses 10 thru 16, of 1 Kings 17..
“So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks, and he called to her and said; Fetch me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her and said; Bring me I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand.”
“And she said; As Jehovah thy God lives, I have not a cake (or a loaf) but a handful of flour in a jar, and a little oil in a jug.” And listen to what she says next; “And behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
She was gathering a little bit of fire wood, so she could prepare the last little bit of food that she and her son had left. And evidently, she was anticipating that this would be the last bit of food that they would ever eat, and so she says, I’m going to go and prepare this last little bit of food that we have left, so that me and my son can “eat it and die.”
Now listen to what Elijah says to her. He’s going to tell her about how when you think something is going to be subtracted, God is actually gonna be adding instead. So here’s what Elijah says, beginning in verse 13..
“And Elijah said unto her; Fear not; (in other words, this isn’t going to be your last meal) Go and do as you have said, (go and prepare your flour and oil) But, of it (of the flour and oil) make ME a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and afterward, make for you and your son.”
How’s the widow going to do that? She just got done saying that all she had left was just enough to make one last meal for herself and her son. And now Elijah tells her to go and make HIM a cake of bread FIRST, then go ahead and make a second one for her and her son.
Well, I’ll tell you how she’s gonna do that; She’s going to subtract a little flour and oil from her jar and from her jug, and God is going to start adding. We subtract, and God adds. But we’ve got to have faith that God’s going to do what he says He’ll do. We can’t be afraid to use up what we’ve got, even if it’s the last of what we’ve got. We’ve got to trust in God, to sustain us. We subtract, but God adds, even more than we’ve subtracted.
Isn’t that what Jesus did with the two fishes and the five loaves? The disciples began dividing up the food, and subtracting from what they started with, and God began adding back to it, and multiplying it as they distributed it.
That’s how our lives are supposed to be. We’re suppose to trust in God, to supply our needs. And we’ve got to be willing to just keep on giving, and doing, even when we’re down to the last of what we have to give. And if we can bring ourselves to do that, all the while trusting in God, then God will begin His adding and His multiplying.
I suppose that too many people are waiting for God to give them an abundance, so that they can feel “safe” in using what they have. But that’s just the opposite of what God want us to do. God want us to go ahead and give, go ahead and use what we’ve got, and don’t worry, God will give us more, so that we can use more, and give more.
Listen to what we’re told in 2 Corinthians 9, verses 8 thru 11..
“And God is able to make all grace abound unto you, that you, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work. As it is written; He has scattered abroad, he has given to the poor, his righteousness abides forever. And He that supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; You being enriched in everything unto all liberality, which works through us, thanksgiving to God.”
We can thank the Lord, that we serve a God, who doesn’t count, like we count. When we take away from what we have, we think of that as subtraction. But we’ve got to start doing our math the way God does it. The more we take away, the more gets added. The more we divide up, between ourselves and others, the more God starts multiplying, what we have to divide up.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?
So now let’s go back to Elijah and the widow, in 1 Kings chapter 17. Elijah told the widow to take the last of what she had, an give it to him first. And since it was the Lord who had instructed Elijah to go to this widow woman, she was really giving her very last bit of food to God. And Elijah said to her; “Fear not!”
And here’s what he said next, in verse 14; “For thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel; The jar of flour shall not be gone, neither shall the jug of oil fail, until the day that Jehovah sends rain upon the earth.” Remember that the lack of rain was why the widow and her son were down to their last meal. But then along came Elijah.
And remember how God had told Elijah, in verse 9; “I have appointed a widow there to sustain you” ? Why do you suppose that God chose that particular person to sustain Elijah? Well, I believe it was because of the type of person that she was. God knows everyone’s heart; Just like He knows your heart and mine. And evidently it was God’s plan all along to sustain the widow and her son, along with Elijah.
And what kind of person was this particular widow? Well, verse 15 says; “And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah, and she, and he, and her house did eat many days.” So then what kind of person was this widow? Above all, she was a person who trusted in God. Even when it “appeared” that there was nothing left to sustain her and her son, she trusted in God. Verse 16 says; “The jar of flour wasted not, neither did the jug of oil fail; According to the word of Jehovah, which He spake by Elijah.”
Is there a lesson here for us? Trust in God, because when we subtract, He adds; And when we divide, He multiplies. When we trust, God sustains.
Here’s a new testament scripture for us to always remember.. It’s from Luke 6, verses 30 thru 38; “Give to everyone who ask of you, and whoever takes what is yours, do not demand it back. (it’s only mammon, isn’t it) And just as you would have people do to you, do also to them. And if you love those who love you, what credit is yours? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend, to those from who you expect to receive, what credit is yours? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back, the same.”
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And do not judge, and you will not be judged. And do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; Pardon, and you will be pardoned.”
Now this last verse is the most applicable to our lesson.. Verse 38; “Give, and it will be given to you.. (But God won’t give back to you just “one-for-one” so to speak. God does His math differently) “Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, it will be given into your bosom.” What will be given into your bosom? Well, God’s blessings, of course. God’s benefits. When you give, for the sake of benefitting someone else (and the scripture isn’t necessarily talking money. It’s talking about giving of whatever it is that you might have) When you give to benefit someone else, God is going to give benefit to you.
“For with what measure you measure, it will be measured again to you.” The phrase, “it will be measured again to you”, is an interesting phrase. It’s really just one Greek word, and it expresses the meaning of something which is reciprocal. You give, and it is given back. And it also expresses the meaning of the return giving being proportionate to the original giving. Now, proportional, doesn’t mean necessarily “equal”.
God doesn’t necessarily give us an equal amount in return for what we give to others. It’s kind of like when we give of our earnings, on the first day of the week. We don’t give an amount “equal” to what we’ve earned, but we do give proportionately. We give a fraction of our earnings, don’t we?
Well, that’s how it is with our giving to others also. We give a fraction, of what God gives in return. That’s simply the way God does His math. “Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, it will be given into your bosom.”
We don’t deserve that much do we? Of course we don’t. But then we didn’t deserve Jesus Christ either, but that’s what God gave us. The blessings of Jesus Christ, simply overflow into our bosoms. Proverbs 10:22 says; “The blessings of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.”
And all we’ve got to do, is just like the widow did. We just need to trust and obey the word of God. That’s it..
Believe the word of God, confess our faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, and be baptized for the forgiveness of those sins, and then, remain faithful unto death, and we’ll be given, the overflowing blessing of eternal life, with our God in heaven.
( Invitation song #456, “No Tears In Heaven” )