A Special Number

There is an interesting story in John chapter 21 in which seven of the Disciples are fishing on the Sea of Galilee. (Interestingly, John used Tiberius, the Gentile name of the lake.) And, they were not catching anything. A man on the shore suggested that they cast their net on the other side of the ship. When they caught so much they thought the net would break, Peter realized that the man on the shore was the Lord Jesus.

• Jesus said unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. – John 21:10-11

I have long believed that the person names, place names and numbers in the Bible are not there by chance. All have meaning. In this passage the Disciples caught 153 fish. 153, exactly; not about 150. Several years ago I read that this represented the number of persons saved by contact with Jesus. Being the skeptical type, I went through the Gospels and counted . . . 153 people.

Hebrew letters have numeric values attached to them, just like Roman numerals. The total letter value of the phrase “Sons of God,” beni-elohim, is 153. The 7th prime number (a number that is not evenly divisible) is 17. Bible scholars consider 17 to be the number of victory. An example is the Resurrection of Jesus on the 17th day of Nisan. His victory over death represents victory for sinners. If you add the numbers 1 through 17, the sum is . . . 153.

Out of curiosity, I tried to estimate how many generations of mankind have lived on the earth. From Adam until Abraham 20 generations are clearly enumerated in the Bible. That leaves about 4,000 years with no such accounting. The patriarchs began their families after many years but that age for beginning a family has generally declined over the centuries. I guessed at an average age of 30 years for fatherhood over the last 4,000 years.

I divided 4,000 by 30 which resulted in 133 generations. When I added the 20 generations from Adam to Abraham, I was astounded to see that the total was . . . 153 generations!

I do not understand the significance of 153. And I do not know if there have been 153 generations since the Beginning. But the number is significant because the Lord placed it in His Word quite specifically. Perhaps in Glory, He will explain it to us.

Until then, praise His name always!

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