Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture.
1000 Indefinite large number
The majority of times that the number thousand is used in the scriptures it means specifically one thousand. However, there is a sizeable number of times that the context of the use of the number thousand indicates that it is associated with a large indefinite number. The following verses use the number thousand to represent a large indefinite number:
In the next several essays, we will look at the significance of the use of the number thousand to mean an indefinitely large number in many of the above verses.
Deu. 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;"
1 Chr. 16:15 "Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;"
Psa. 105:8 "He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations."
The covenant referred to in the above scriptures is one that God has said that he will keep to a thousand generations. Ps. 105:8 equates those thousand generations to his covenant he would remember for ever. This makes the covenant an eternal covenant and the use of the term "thousand generations" does not mean a literal thousand generations, but it means a large indeterminate time that equates to for ever.
The covenant under consideration cannot be the covenant of the law that he made with Israel on Mt. Sinai. This covenant, according to Heb. 8:13 "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." This covenant lasted until the new covenant of worship was established.
Further, this covenant cannot be the covenant of the law of sin and death made with Adam and ultimately all of mankind. This covenant only last until the time of the end of the world, or until the time of the new birth: Rom. 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
In addition, there were covenants that God made with Abraham, with David, and with the children of Israel that had limited time ranges. These are not the covenant that God made that last a thousand generations.
The covenant that last a thousand generations is one that God made before the foundation of the world and will last beyond this timely world. This covenant is spelled out for us in Rom. 8:29, 30: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Thus, the covenant that last for a thousand years is an eternal covenant – one that God made before the foundation of the world and last for ever as the glory world has no end.
Psa. 90:4 "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night."
2 Pet. 3:8 "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
In the first reference above, we note that God is eternal. Thus, a thousand years is a figure of speech to tell us that time regardless of the amount of time is irrelevant to God. He is from everlasting to everlasting. Furthermore, he is the eternal "I AM". Therefore, time is not relevant to God, but is made for man. Our days are numbered. We have a timely beginning and our natural lives on earth have a timely ending. We mark events by time. We can spend our time, "redeeming the time," or we can spend our time serving the flesh. If we do the latter, then we will not have the joy and peace, rest, and comfort that comes from spending our time serving the Lord.
In the second reference, we should not concern ourselves about how long it may be before God fulfills his promise of returning to take his elect home to glory. In the eyes of God it is as good as done, because he promised it. On God's measure of time, it has only been two days (two thousand years) since Christ ascended back to glory after his resurrection. God will fulfill his promise to return, but it will be when God pleases and it is foolish for us to speculate on when that may be.
Josh. 23:8 "But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. 9 For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. 10 One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. 11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God."
Joshua, by the inspiration of God, declared a wonderful conditional promise to the children of Israel. First, the children of Israel were commanded to cleave unto the LORD their God as they had done that day. In order for the children of Israel to realize the benefits of this promised they had to cleave unto the Lord. Failure to cleave unto the Lord would negate the promise.
Second, Joshua reminded them of the great deliverances with which the Lord had already delivered them in driving out from before them great nations and strong. No man was able to stand before Israel unto that day.
Third, the promise was that "One man of you shall chase a thousand." The reason this would be possible and this would happen is because the LORD their God, would fight for them as he had promised. When Gideon and the three hundred defeated the huge multitudes of the children of the east, it was because the Lord fought for them. When David defeated the giant Goliath, it was because the Lord fought for him. When Abraham and a few trained servants in his house defeated the armies of four nations at the valley of salt, it was because the Lord fought for him. In all the victories of the children of Israel over numbers and weaponry far greater than which they possessed, it was because the Lord fought for them.
One man with the Lord by his side is far superior in battle to a thousand of the enemy. When we cleave unto the Lord and put our trust in him, the Lord is certainly able to defeat any enemy that comes against us. A thousand is used in this text as an indefinitely large number. This should encourage us as we do battle against principalities, against powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world. All the combined forces of Satan, the flesh, and the world are not strong enough to withstand that servant who puts his trust in the Lord and cleaves unto the Lord because he has the Lord by his side to fight for him.
Man has no answers
in contention with God
Job's question is "how should man be just with God?" Job went on to say that if we contend for our own righteousness, then we cannot answer God one of a thousand just accusations. Thousand is used in this instance not as a literal number, but to show the impossibility to establish through our own efforts (be they ever so numerous) a righteous state with God.
First, we consider that God is all wise, all knowing, and all-powerful.
He is also completely and perfectly just. He is the creator of all
things. As the Creator, he has every right to establish his laws as he
sees fit. Every transgression and disobedience receives a just
recompense of reward. Even the very thought of foolishness is sin. God
gave the law and the penalty for breaking the law. God also apprehends
the transgressor. God judges the sinner. God also executes his wrathful
judgment our sins deserve.
Second, we may plead our ignorance of God's laws. Even in man's laws, ignorance is no excuse. Nature itself teaches us the glory of God: Psalms 19:1 "To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof."
Rom. 1:18 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Not only is ignorance itself not an excuse for breaking the law, but God himself has manifest his righteousness to his creation. Therefore, we cannot plead ignorance before God.
Third, we may plead our own good works and deeds as justification before God. Yet, the scriptures plainly declare:
1. Isa. 64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
2. Psa. 62:9 "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity."
3. Psa. 130:3 "If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?"
Though we cannot answer God one of a thousand, yet he has brought his people into a just state before him:
1. 2 Sam 14:14 "For we must needs die, and are as water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him."
2. Rom. 8:29, 30 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
3. Heb. 10:12-14 "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
4. Rom. 3:24 "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:"
5. Rom. 8:33, 34 "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."
Though man cannot answer God one of a thousand trying to establish his own righteousness, yet God has made his people righteous according to the covenant of redemption. He sent Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for them and to satisfy the just demands of his perfect law by suffering and dying on the cross for his people. Now they all stand just before God and there is no charge that can be laid against them.