Weekly Blog: Mathematics is of the Devil
Feb 17, 2020 1938
Did you know that mathematics is of the devil? Well, sometimes it is. Let me explain.
Mathematics is always fundamentally about counting. The more advanced your maths gets, it’s just about counting in fancier ways, but basically it’s just about counting.
And there some things that God just doesn’t want you to count. That’s when maths is of the devil!
Here’s a fascinating story in the Old Testament
Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.” (1 Chron 21:1-2, NIV).
Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this.” (1 Chron 21:8)
What is happening here is that David has spent all his life living as a warrior, going out to battle and in his later years, always on the look-out for internal rebellions. And so David decides to do what every prudent government does, and that’s to have a census. He felt he needed to find out how many men of fighting age he had available for the army.
What could be wrong with that? After all, every responsible government does this, right?
But notice that the verse says that it was Satan who incited David to take a census of Israel, and the reason was because Satan wanted to harm Israel. David’s census was followed by a fearful punishment from God both for David and for Israel.
It hardly seems fair! What is going on here! Why was King David punished so harshly for doing some basic maths?
When the numbers are stacked against you, trust in God.
This King David was the same person who had earlier written the following as part of Psalm 20,
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (v.7, NIV).
God wanted David to trust him, just like he wants everyone to trust him. And although David had understood when he had written Psalm 20 that his safety depended on the Lord alone, like us, he was very forgetful.
God had delivered David from the giant Goliath when he was just a boy with a sling. God had delivered David from the entire army of King Saul when David had had only a handful of men. Now, in his old age, and despite knowing these things, David decided to trust in himself, so he could sleep well at night. He had forgotten his own teaching.
Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with numbers and with mathematics, and there’s nothing wrong when you take wise and prudent decisions in your life. But at this stage of history, God wanted to teach David a very important lesson, and it would be good if we learnt it too: When the numbers are stacked against you, trust in God.
– Eliezer Gonzalez