Volume Five: Conceptual Symbols
The Torah Code—Volume 5
In 1889, Charles H. Duell, the Commissioner of US patent office (allegedly) stated that the patent office would soon shrink in size, and eventually close, because “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Fortunately, Nicola Tesla didn’t get the memo.
Then, near the turn of the 20th century, William Thompson (a.k.a. Lord Kelvin), mathematician, physicist, engineer, and discoverer of the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, announced: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” He lived long enough to see Albert Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity published, along with papers on the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, and the equivalence of mass and energy, all in the same year. Oops.
Solomon came closer to the truth of the matter: “That which has been is what will be; that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11) He’s obviously not talking about things like frozen pizza, flush toilets, and heavier-than-air flight. But the fundamental concepts of how the world works have been known since antiquity. The problem, he says, is that we humans tend to forget the truths previous generations discovered, just as our children forget what we learned at such great personal expense. We keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, oblivious to the fact that “this” has been tried in the past, and it failed miserably, no matter how “good” it sounded on paper.
As we begin Volume 5 of The Torah Code, we find ourselves looking at some of those “inventions” and “concepts” that may have eluded our notice before—either because they never occurred to us (as they may have to previous generations of believers) or because we’ve been looking at God’s world (in this study, anyway) through a telescope instead of a microscope. So let us shift our point of view from things being used as symbols in God’s word, to concepts or ideas, elements we haven’t considered in detail before. If you recall, we looked at some of the “big” conceptual symbols previously. In Volume 1, we consider the scripturally revealed nature of God. And in Volume 2 we used contrast as a tool to dig into such macro-concepts as life and death.
The more I look at this subject (symbology), the more I must conclude that there is practically nothing repeatedly mentioned in scripture that God isn’t using to try to teach us something about Himself or about our relationship with Him. Some are as blatant as the nose on your face; others are quite subtle, but (to my mind) still worth digging out. We have only to look for them—to look at them with fresh eyes and a receptive heart.
Our first subject will center on an issue dear to the heart of any real estate agent: the three things we must always consider when buying property: location, location, and (wait for it) location. Or, as Yahweh asked the newly fallen Adam in the Garden of Eden, “Where are you?” It’s not that He didn’t know where the man had gone: it’s that He wanted Adam to ponder the move he had made—away from the presence of his loving Creator. From that moment on, “where we are” took on symbolic proportions—not the location per se, but what it meant to be living there.
Next, we’ll look at how numbers are used in scripture. We can’t get a dozen sentences into the first chapter in Genesis without encountering numbers. And they are alluded to in the Bible’s final chapter as well: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 22:13) You wouldn’t think an infinite God would need numbers; and He doesn’t—except as a means to communicate symbolic truths to us. Everyone seems to know that there is something special about the number seven, but our study will reveal that God’s use of numbers as symbolic entities goes far, far deeper—to the point that when the Bible tells us a specific number (when it didn’t have to) we ought to look for meaning there.
For example, why are we told that the disciples caught 153 fish when the risen Christ showed up (John 21:11). It makes me wonder: why not an even hundred, or 152 or 154? Of course, some people try to make a contact sport out of “numerology.” The Jewish rabbis are masters of finding things that aren’t really there. “Gematria” is a Kabbalistic “system of interpretation of the Scriptures by substituting for a particular word another word whose letters give the same numerical sum.”—Dictionary.com. With a little effort, you can “prove” anything you want by finding hidden meanings in number-letter equivalents. That’s not what I’m talking about, of course. But when God gives us statistics, dimensions, or weights in numerical form, we ought to pay attention to the underlying metaphorical context. For that matter, why did God tell us that the “number of the beast’s name” is 666?
We’ll also look at the names mentioned in the Bible. Of the utmost importance, of course, are the names and titles God assigned to Himself and His Messiah. They mean something significant. I realize children can’t name themselves, and yet the names their parents give them can often reveal something about their (or our) destiny or character. Do the names of the twelve patriarchs of Israel, or the twelve disciples of Christ mean anything significant? There are several times when God changed the name of someone with whom He was dealing. Why did Yahweh change Abram’s name to Abraham, or Simon’s to Peter? The Bible employed some forty writers, over the space of fifteen hundred years. Were their names meaningful? It’s a subject worth pondering.
Finally, I’ve noticed that there are concepts that almost everybody gets wrong, mostly because of common usage over the millennia. This would seem like a good place to deal with them. For example, did you know that a “cross” in scriptural usage is not (strictly speaking) a “T”-shaped device? Most of these are not “deal-breakers” as far as our salvation goes, of course. But sometimes, knowing the back story helps us understand what God is really trying to tell us.