When my husband and I were married, our first oath was to love and honor each other. The second was a promise that since I was marrying an engineer, from that moment forward for me “there would be no math.” My hope was that between God, my husband and my handy-dandy pocket calculator, I wouldn’t need to figure out numbers. I’m not sufficiently wired mathematically.
Romans 9:28 as translated in “The Message” says, “God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name. Arithmetic is not his focus.”
We are not numbers to the One who created us; however, I believe that God is a brilliant mathematician — even better than my husband. He adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides. Positives, negatives, rationals, irrationals, imaginaries, angles, radicals and constants all indicate some aspect of God’s interaction with His creation. He is the ultimate calculator.
Scripture is filled with examples of God’s desire to add good things to our lives. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” He was talking about food, drink, clothing and shelter. God takes full responsibility for adding the necessities into our lives.
God’s plan for subtraction is His most important function. John 1:29 says, “The next day John (the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Only God can subtract us from our sins and rescue us to eternal life when our days here have ended. Subtraction is the most imperative key on God’s calculator. Without it we are doomed.
I think of multiplication as “addition on steroids.” Increase comes quickly and with exactness. It’s the same when God hit the multiplication tab in Deuteronomy 7:13-14.
“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them … And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you.”
When we are obedient, we become the recipients of God’s multiplication function.
He also uses division to bring order out of chaos. In Genesis, God divided the light from the dark. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.”
When God separated light from dark, He also created time, which is critical for our daily functioning. Wouldn’t you occasionally like a “time key” on the calculator of life? Hit it and go backwards to re-do a mistake or give a blessing you missed at the time? Instead, God says, “Go back to the subtraction key. I’ve got this.”
Sometimes my calculator fails me by using all its battery life. Sometimes my husband makes a mathematical mistake, though so infrequently that I hesitate to mention it here. But God’s math is perfect. King Solomon wrote, “I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14)
God has worked out all the variables. The world — its time, history and its future — are fully calculated and completely safe in His hands.
Sylvia Peterson is a former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at email@example.com.