Yesterday’s introduction to our campsite at Exodus 19 cleansed our pallet or erased the slate, resetting our expectations and preparing us for the show that is about to begin. In the opening few verses of this chapter, I imagine Israel as an audience of antsy and impatient theater goers taking their seats in front of a stage with a curtain drawn in front of it. This is the show they were invited to, and they have heard that it is excellent. They are just getting to know the producer, and He’s developed a good reputation. The lights are about to dim and the curtain is about to lift.
What is about to come is hinted at on the day of the month on which we have all assembled. According to verse Exodus 19:1, this one-time showing is happening on the first day of month THREE. One of the most difficult aspects in interpreting ancient biblical texts is discerning when numbers are being used literally or figuratively. Usually it’s both, but numbers hint at something deeper than simply mathematics. At the very least we should be asking ourselves questions when numbers are mentioned. “10 plagues? Why not 7, why not 11? Where have we seen 10 before?”
Three is most definitely one of those numbers. Shelosh (Strongs H7969), the Hebrew word for “three”, is made of three letters, which read the same way spelled forwards or backwards. The Masorites added the letter ‘vav’ to help with pronunciation thousands of years later, trading practical spelling rules for the beauty of symmetry. Shelosh is spelled Shin, Lamed, Shin. Whether it’s the ancient pictographs or the modern font, the completed word looks just like a seven-branched menorah with the staff of God as the center candle. We could also imagine this word as a wink and a nod to the burning bush, which exactly 40 years earlier burned at this exact location in the wilderness.
On the third day of creation, we have the first introduction of land in Scripture. Sure, mankind is created on day six, but man is made from earth, and that earth is born on day three. It’s not just land that’s born, because on that same day plants of literally every kind will also arise–each plant bursting with seeds to perpetually create more of the same—from that day to this—even through a devastating flood.
This new life doesn’t need the sun for photosynthesis. The sun won’t even be made until day four. The life and light is coming supernaturally from Yah and Yeshua, exactly as it is in the new creation in Revelation 22:5! The tree of life is thriving, feeding only from living water at the roots and the light from the glory of Elohim through its leaves.
Father, Son, Spirit.
Man, Woman, Child.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Matzah, Shavuot, Sukkot. (The 3 chags, or “Pilgrimage Feasts”)
The Way, the Truth, the Life.
Faith, Love, and Hope.
Who was, Who is, and Who is to come.
Holy, Holy, Holy.
Three represents the process of perpetual life-giving. When we see the number 3 in Scripture, we are supposed to stop and reflect. How is the passage we are reading related to perpetual life-giving? Since Messiah is the right hand of Yah as well as the head of Heaven’s salvation department, we will often see a hint or an aspect of Messiah connected to this number as well. For example, our hope in a resurrection and perpetual life is established by His rising on the third day.
During the final year of Messiah’s ministry, that third day in the grave was also day number one of the Way to Shavuot! That same day he breathed the Holy Spirit onto the tiny remnant of his followers. Following that same spirit, here we find the Israelites gathered on day one of the third month, preparing to meet the author and finisher of their faith face-to-face. And as that number three represents, He is preparing to offer us the terms of the Covenant that will guarantee Israel perpetual blessing and eternal life.
(And then on Shavuot it’ll be signed, sealed, and delivered.)