With his trademark humor and insight, best-selling author and pastor Eric Eichinger takes a deep dive into the hidden meanings of numbers that appear throughout Scripture in his newest book, Faith by Numbers: Deciphering Doctrine with Biblical Numerology, through CrossLink Publishing.
Faith By Numbers shares the hope of Christian faith through the vantage point of God's recurring use of specific numbers throughout the Bible. From "forty days and forty nights," to "the seventh day of rest," to "the three-in-one God," and "the Messiah who rose on the third day," the Bible is teeming with significant numbers and patterns.
Q: Eric, thanks for doing this interview with us. It has not been that long since you last released your previous book, you are indeed very prolific. Do you spend a lot of time writing?
A: I used to not see myself as a "writer." That's more for people with smoking jackets, old typewriters, leather couches, and pipes. I had more of a nonchalant approach, with a project here or there. At some point I realized I enjoy this. Now I love getting up early and thinking through what I see as big ideas, and if I get excited enough about them, I find interesting ways to intrigue others to share that same enthusiasm reading about them. When Christ is the central theme of what I write about, (sermons or books) the passion is not difficult to conjure.
Q: Why a book on the numbers in the Bible?
A: There is a certain cryptic mystery about the numbers in the Bible. Growing up I learned all the stories, and then studied the greater theology those Bible stories share. Occasionally I would hear pastors reference the larger themes of certain numbers in the Bible and how God uses them. This intrigued me greatly, as there was something I had missed. I wanted to understand more. Sometimes there can be a larger underscored appreciation for what God is communicating to us through a Bible story simply by exploring a particular number He uses in context with a passage. When those numbers pop up in a text, it is fun asking the question, "is there something more going on here than just the peripheral reading of the text?" Often, I was delighted by what I found.
Q: What are some Biblical numbers discussed in the book?
A: There are six numbers that jump out at me the most in the Bible: 3, 7, 8, 10, 12, and 40. In my book I associate these numbers, how they are thematically used with some of the major tenets of the Christian faith. To offer a few examples, 3 is often a wink at the Trinity, and there are conveniently 3 articles to the 3 Apostles creeds. 7 is perfection, and there are interestingly 7 petitions in the Lord's Prayer, the perfect way Jesus teaches his disciples to pray. 10 is completion, which obviously connects to the 10 commandments. We are incomplete and broken in sin, but Christ completes and fulfills the law for us, thus completing us by His Grace. 12 is always God's people, whether it's the 12 tribes, the 12 disciples, and I connect that to the Last Supper. And so on...
Q: Many may say, "you can say anything about the numbers in the Bible," so what hermeneutical principles did you use to guide your discussion?
A: Context is king when it comes to biblical interpretation. We must be careful and not run wild with these numbers outside of the biblical context they are used in. We know God speaks to us through His Word revealed in the Scriptures, and so when we examine those numbers with the message, we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.
Q: Why are numbers in the Bible important for our daily lives?
A: Often theology can get confusing between family, friends, and strangers through our various cultures and languages. So much rich biblical learning can easily get lost in translation. God's math cuts straight through all that. Numbers is a universal "language" every tongue and tribe understand. This book offers the opportunity to look at the Bible in a different way and perhaps help us comprehend massive ideas in a simpler way.
Q: How will this book encourage us in our walk with Jesus?
A: We remember phone numbers, zip codes, birth dates, and anniversaries (hopefully).
Faith by Numbers also provides a helpful memorization tool to connect these six numbers to greater significance of the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Baptism, the Ten Commandments, Holy Communion, repentance and forgiveness. If you can remember those numbers, you can remember a great deal about our Christian faith and defend it.
Q: What's next for you? Any thoughts yet on what your next book will be?
A: My first book, The Final Race, explored the gold medal olympic and missionary hero, Eric Liddell. My second book, Lord of Legends, examined the ultimate superhero that is Jesus Christ. I'm pleased with Faith by Numbers, as I've enjoyed sleuthing through and uncovering some of the more or less hidden meanings that readers of the Bible don't always easily identify. My next book, let's just say, is a mystery at this point. In the meantime, I assisted some friends of mine producing the upcoming movie, Reagan, starring Dennis Quaid, and look forward to seeing it in theaters in 2023.
For more information about Eichinger, author/pastor/father/husband/willing vessel and Faith by Numbers: Deciphering Doctrine with Biblical Numerology, click here or visit ericeichinger.com. Bulk purchases for churches and small groups can be made here.