It must be interesting for a teacher to watch a child learn his way through the world of numbers.
At first our children know only the names of the numbers and use them as they see fit. It is not at all unusual to find a pair of three or four-year-olds picking dandelions out of the lawn. The one may hold in his pudgy little fist six or seven of them and say, “I got ten of ’em.” The other replies, “I got a hundred.” They are aware of numbers already and learn to hold up their fingers to indicate how old they are. But here again. They will often hold up three fingers and say, “Five.”
Then comes that day in their lives when they leave the protection of home and parents and find themselves confined in a school room for hours at a time. Now they are shown a picture or card with one apple. And they are taught to say, “One apple.” Then a picture with two apples is shown, and the same process is followed. Soon they come home being able to count the windows in the room, the flowers in the vase, exactly how many pieces more of fruit you gave the one child than the other or how many toys and playthings they have.
The next process is that they learn the multiplication tables, a certain number each grade until they have all the fundamental tools for working with numbers. They will soon be introduced to algebra and geometry in all their variations. By that time they have come a long ways in their formal education. And these will remain with them all their life. Only the historical highlights will stand out in their memory. But the mathematical processes will and must remain with them, if they are to take their places in this world. And the covenant child must take his place as well as the child of the world. He must learn this world of numbers that also is our Father’s.
The child will find when he is grown that every day he is dealing with numbers and profiting by the knowledge of numbers to which others have attained. The housewife deals with her fractions and numbers when she bakes her cake. So much of this and so much of that. In the oven for exactly so many minutes and at such and such a degree of heat. The carpenter needs to cut his rafter at an exact angle to make the desired pitch of the roof. He must measure accurately the feet and inches of his boards. And though he need not count his nails, they too must be spaced definite distances according to the stress and length of the board. The plaster man and cement man must count accurately the pails of water, the shovels of sand and bags of plaster or cement. Otherwise he will suffer loss. And when you see the giant jet airliner flying or being built, you must remember that mathematically the pitch of the wings, the tensile strength of the metal has all been determined before construction began. It was proved by mathematics to be airworthy before its first flight. We ride over long suspension bridges and fail to remember that some man had to figure out how thick those cables had to be to hold that weight and what the limits of such a bridge are. Similarly before the first atomic bomb was made, it was demonstrated mathematically to be possible. Figures and numbers serve us in so many wonderful ways. They are important tools, and we ought to get a good grip on them and we ought to learn how to use them skillfully.
But only a fool then can say that there is no God.
Let us remember that the whole human race has grown up too. Adam when he left paradise did not know how to build a modern comfortable home. Man did not know the harmonics in music, the steps and half steps, the chords and progression of these chords. He did not know yet how to melt his iron and brass and make his tools. He was as the child who knows the numbers and even sees them around him, but he knew very little of how to use them. Algebra and geometry were not taught Cain and Abel. Noah aid his sons did not go through some tedious equations before they had the right proportions to the ark. Even today there is a new method of teaching arithmetic which undoubtedly is better and teaches the child to work out his problems fast. But that method came after some sixty centuries of thought and working with numbers. Today man, with electronic computers, which neither Adam nor Noah nor Solomon had, can speed up the processes and produce the answer long before man can have done much more than start. We have come a long ways. The human race is at the university level in its learning.
But remember this, that man only discovers this wonderful world of numbers. What wisdom is it not, that is in the eternal mind of God, Who from eternity had all this in His infinite mind! He did not learn it. God learns nothing. You cannot teach Him a thing. He knows your sinful attempt to do so before you do yourself. “Shall any teach God knowledge: seeing He judgeth those that are high?” Job asks in Job 21:22. All the world of numbers is in Him, the three in One. Actually, if you have the one, you have all the numbers infinitely. He is the Alpha, and therefore He also is the Omega and all that which is in between.
Man has not invented the mathematical sciences. He has only discovered what was created into this world before he ever appeared on the scene. The fool says in his heart that there is no God. The wise man sees the wisdom of God and wants his children to see that as well. The fool speaks of a mighty world evolving from an original cell, whose origin he cannot explain: But the world of numbers alone points to an infinitely wise God. Listen to the psalmist in Psalm 104:24, “O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.” Arithmetic is a rich field to emphasize the inscrutable wisdom of God. It is a wonderful field wherein to impress upon the child’s mind that HE IS GOD!
And so we could continue. There are reading, spelling and grammar. There is art and music. There are social studies and civics. And with a little thought God and His glory will be seen in them. But if our children do not see God in each and every subject, we have missed the mark and our instruction is worse than in the public school system. Our children expect it of us. It is our solemn duty and obligation to do so. The unbeliever in the world does not even know this calling. But to know how to do good and not to do so, is a serious matter. We deceive our children. We encourage their worldly thoughts which are so strong because of the flesh. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And that does not mean that our children are to learn to cringe with terror at the mention of His name. It does not mean that they are to live in the fear that the heathen have for their idols. No, it is the fear of awe and reverence. It means that we do see that this is our Father’s world. It means that with meaning and feeling we sing, “How great Thou art.”
It is one of the tragedies of today’s church world that therein men do not want a God who is GOD. They sing and compose songs that extol Him as God and speak of His love and greatness. And yet they do not actually want so great a God. And that flows over into all the instruction given the youth of the Church as well. But we repeat with the psalmist, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Truly a good understanding have they that do His commandments in that fear. One who serves in terror of punishment does not actually serve. He complies. He seeks to serve his own preservation; but he does not serve the Lord. Solomon in all the wisdom that God gave him declares at the conclusion of the whole matter in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Here again we are to be warned not to separate these. We can keep His commandments only in His fear. It is not “fear God or keep His commandments.” It is not so that if .you “keep” His commandments but not in His fear that you have done part of the duty of man. You have done none of it. That is not keeping His commandments. It is outward compliance for a fleshly reason. To keep God’s commandments you must love Him. And that means you must stand in awe before Him with profound and deep respect as the Sovereign One, the Infinite One, the God of all grace, the only Potentate, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. In one word, that you bow before Him as GOD. It is therefore also true that if you do fear Him in that sense, you will keep His commandments.
How important but how wonderful that the teachers of our children may have the privilege to do that! What an opportunity to impress upon the minds of the covenant seed that Jehovah is God! They will themselves, of course, have to be filled with that awe. They will have to see Him in His glory and majesty before they can impart it to His children. It requires consecrated study and effort to present the various subjects in such a way that the glory is His. But it is well worth the work. It is worth it in the fruit to be seen upon that labor in the lives of the children. It is cheering to hear the children speak of Him as God and not simply some powerful being somewhere who rules and guides and sees all things. It is rewarding to see His fear in them and their love for Him as the God that He is. But the greatest reward is the one that He gives in the life to come. This work does not go unnoticed by the One who demands it. Although He is under no obligation to reward us for anything that we have done, and as Jesus stated, we can only declare after we have done it all, that we are unprofitable servants. We have not earned a single thing. See Luke 17:10, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” Yet He is pleased to send His Son to earn that which unprofitable servants cannot earn. And His Son will return at the end of time with HIS—not our—reward. By the wonder of God’s grace we will share in HIS reward. But remember that it will always remain His reward. In the New Jerusalem, when we are in our Father’s new world, we shall be filled with His fear. As the holy angels cover their faces and say, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” we shall render all de praise and all the glory to Him. We will see Him in all the works of His hands, the new world in its extent and content, the endless history of the day of the Lord, the everlasting Sabbath and in the wisdom whereby He upholds and rules all things. We shall be rewarded with a large place before His face to rejoice in awe and reverence before Him as we see Him in His glory. For that we were made, and for that we are saved by His grace. In His fear is life, that is, walking in His fear is living. To stand in awe of Him is to enjoy true beauty.