When I realized December 12, 2012 was coming this month, I got really excited. Wow…12.12.12…so full of biblical significance. And it won’t happen again for another 100 years.
In a nutshell, the number 12 in the Bible always represents ORDER and INCREASE. Order is shown by God’s instructions to arrange the Israelites according to 12 tribes and Jesus’ selection of 12 original apostles. This theme extends all the way to the end of the book of Revelation, where the New Jerusalem is described as having 12 gates, guarded by 12 angels, with a wall that had 12 foundations (Revelation 21:12-14).
I don’t know about you, but I really need God’s divine order in my life. Sadly, I sometimes find my focus to be much like the early creation: “without shape or form” (Genesis 1:2 CEB). I need God’s Spirit to fill my heart and hover over my life, bringing His order to my time, relationships, priorities, and resources.
But in addition to God’s order, I also need Him to give me His supernatural increase. I’m asking the Lord to multiply my resources so I have more at the end of the coming year than I do at its beginning. Psalm 115:14-15 says that “the Lord, who made heaven and earth”…wants to “give you increase more and more, you and your children.” Let it be!
One story in Scripture beautifully illustrates the different strands of the 12.12.12 message. In Mark 6:34-44, Jesus and the 12 disciples confronted the same dilemma many Christian leaders face today: overwhelming needs and limited resources. The disciples logically concluded that they were unable to feed the hungry multitudes, so they should just “send them away” (v. 36).
Have you ever made a similar decision? I have. But Jesus, of course, had an entirely different perspective on the situation: “You give them something to eat,” He told them (v. 37).
As the story continues, we see a fascinating progression of questions—the same thought processes we must use today:
- What is the need? Sometimes we face a crisis in our own life, where we need God to bring His order and increase. More often, though, we’re called upon to remedy a need in the lives of others. This is what the disciples faced in Mark 6. And they analyzed the need quite well, even calculating the immense amount of bread required to feed such a huge crowd.
- What do we have? God never requires what we don’t have, but He does expect us to freely surrender what we DO have.He canturn a simple shepherd’s staff into the rod of God…use the jawbone of a donkey to slay the enemy…or kill huge giants with a slingshot and a stone. So it’s no problem for Him to multiply loaves and fish. However, the miracle can’t begin until we put our resources—no matter how meager they may seem—into His outstretched hands.
- Have we put things in order? It’s interesting that the disciples had to put things in ORDER before the INCREASE came: “He commanded them [the disciples] to make them [the crowd] all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties” (vs. 39-40). If you’re waiting for your increase today, it may well be that God is waiting on you to first make the necessary preparations. Perhaps you remember the story in 2 Kings 3:16-20, where God told people that if they would be faithful to dig trenches in the valley, He would be faithful to fill the trenches with water.
- Do we have our “baskets” ready? Often I hear believers say they’re expecting God to bless them with an increase, yet they’ve done absolutely nothing to demonstrate faith and expectancy for that kind of outcome. After Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes they had given Him, the disciples “picked up 12 full baskets of broken pieces” (v. 43). In the hands of Jesus, their paltry resources not only were enough to meet the need—they were MORE than enough. You see, that’s what increase looks like. Rather than being like the Israelites’ hand-to-mouth existence while eating manna in the wilderness, it’s a life of overflowing abundance, a cup that “runs over” and blesses others (Psalm 23:5, Genesis 12:2).
The 12 disciples brought their resources to Jesus and the unruly crowd into order. The miraculous result was 12 full baskets of leftovers. Aren’t you grateful for the message of 12.12.12?
I pray today—for myself and for you—that we’ll allow God to order our lives according to His perfect plan. May we put all of our resources into His hands, trusting Him to supernaturally bless and multiply them. And may we have our baskets ready for the INCREASE!