Do you ever do any of the Facebook quizzes, that reveal so much about yourself? Well here is a quick Bible quiz – see how much you know.
How many times did Joshua’s army go round Jericho? (Joshua 6:3-4)
How many times did Naaman have to dip himself in the river Jordan? (2 Kings 5:14)
How many times did Elijah’s servant have to go look for signs of rain, before he saw the first cloud? (1 Kings 18:43-44)
How many days did Moses have to perform the ceremony to ordain Aaron and sons, and to consecrate the altar? (Exodus 29:35-37)
Easy Peasy. The answer was 7 each time. It’s a number of completeness in the bible. ‘The number seven possessed an ideal completeness, resting on the primeval facts of creation (Genesis 1, 2). It is the number almost exclusively used under the old covenant, when acts are to attain their result by repetition.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary)
After 7 days of ceremony, Aaron and sons were ready for the job of priesthood, and the altar was ready for sacrifice; but it all had to repeated again for their successors, and under that old covenant, the sacrificing had to go on and on, daily.
How many comments did Jesus make on the cross? You guessed: it was seven. His final words were to commend his spirit to God, but just before that, he said, “It is finished”. The job was done, once and for all. Everything Jesus came on earth to do was accomplished. Coming as a man, preaching, modelling the life, being shamed, becoming the scapegoat, being sacrificed for our sins, it was all done, all finished. Complete. Jesus only died once. This was the new covenant. We recognise his sacrifice, believe that he died for us, ask his forgiveness for our wrongdoing, and we are forgiven and free once and for all.
We won’t become perfect all at once – that will take the rest of our lives – but we are free to choose to do right. Forgiven so that we can forgive.
Loving others, forgiving others isn’t about doing it seven times and job done, as Peter thought (Matthew 18:21-22), but about loving and maintaining our forgiveness for them, for however long it takes. We are forgiven and so are they. Let it go. It is finished.