In today’s passage, we see the 70 returning to Jesus with their evangelism report. Jesus had chosen 12 disciples who later became apostles except Judas. After Jesus’ ascension, they became the foundation of the early church and the church today. What is the significance of the 12 and 70?
The saints of the church in the end times have 2 tasks to fulfill, the same tasks which Jesus came to earth to do. The first is to complete the temple of God, and the second is evangelism. Jesus came to proclaim the Word so His people can receive life. If evangelism is so important to Jesus, shouldn’t it be as important for us who claim to love Jesus? (Mark 1:38-39; 3:13; Luke 10:16).
Why did Jesus choose the 12 and 70 and sent them out?
1. The 12 and 70 that appeared in God’s providence of salvation in the bible:
(i) Jacob’s 12 sons and 70 family members who moved to Egypt (Genesis 35:22; 46:26-27; Exodus 1:5)
(ii) 12 tribes and 70 elders during Moses’ time (Exodus 24:1; Genesis 29:48; Numbers 11:16)
(iii) Jesus’ 12 disciples and 70 followers (Matthew 10:1; Mark 11:11; Luke 10:1,17)
2. Biblical meaning of 12 and 70
God designed the original Hebrew language with numerical values, so understanding numbers & their meanings are important. 12 is the multiplication of 3 x 4 = 12. 3 is the number of heaven and the trinity. 4 is the number of the earth. Addition is the combination of heaven and earth coming together 3 + 4 = 7.
(i) 12 is the number of order and task
In biblical times, the Jews consider number 12 as the number of totality. There are 12 months to a year; 12 tribes make up the nation of Israel. Therefore, 12 is the most basic order and means being ready to go out and cover the whole world. God chose the 12 tribes to not only bless them, but also for the task of bringing all Gentile nations to believe in God. The 12 apostles become the foundation of the church. They went out & spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through the whole world. May we have the spiritual readiness & order to go out into the world!
(ii) 12 is the number of the foundation of new Jerusalem
Revelation 21-22 has many 12s: 12 gates, 12 foundation stones, the trees of life producing 12 fruits for 12 months in a year. 12,000 stadium is the length of the new Jerusalem, which represents the new eternal temple where we will dwell with God. May we become the foundation of the new Jerusalem!
(iii) 12 is the people of God who continue in faith and follow Jesus to the end
The 144,000 in Revelation 7 & 14 are sealed by God and follow Jesus wherever He goes, through hardships and difficulties, and are not defiled by the world and sin. 144,000 is 12x12x1000. Repetition of 12 is the emphasis and 1000 is about fullness & eternity. May we become the 144,000 on Mount Zion!
(i) 70 symbolises the world
Biblically, 7 is the number of redemption and fullness. God created the world and finished it in the 7th day and made it His Sabbath. 7 represents the time when His creation and redemption work is done, and Sabbath.
(ii) 70 is the number that provides Sabbath
70 = 7 x 10. 10 is the number of completion and fullness. After counting to 10, the number repeats. 70 is a repetition of 10s, and is the number of complete redemption for the world.
In the wilderness journey, the campsite at Elim was like heaven on earth with 12 springs of water & 70 date palms (Exodus 15:27). It represented a resting place, a place of Sabbath in the wilderness. The church where Jesus is the source of the living water, has 12 springs of water and 70 date palms. May Zion Church be the Elim where people can come in to find shade, comfort, rest and life!
(iii) 70 is the number of restoration
The people of Israel were restored to their land 70 years after their captivity in Babylon (Daniel 9:2). Daniel, in understanding the prophecy, began repenting on behalf of his people. May we receive the blessing of Daniel to repent and pray on behalf of our children and our church, and even the whole world.
Daniel also received another revelation of the 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24-27). The 70 weeks is not just about the Israelites’ return from Babylon but covers the entire age until the end-times when Jesus returns. 70 therefore represents restoration, and full completion of God’s redemptive work.
3. Why was Jesus pleased with them?
(i) They obeyed and evangelized in Jesus’ name
At that time, the religious leaders were persecuting Jesus as a heretic and association with Jesus means excommunication. Therefore, the 70 in order to go out and share the gospel of Jesus Christ, needed faith, boldness, courage, most of all, obedience.
(ii) They willingly set aside their honor & glory
Instead, they went out in the name of Jesus, doing whatever Jesus commanded (Luke 10:1). When we obey, God will give us the power to trample over our enemy, the devil (Luke 10:17-18). When the 70 went out to do Jesus’ work in obedience, that is when Satan is attacked and falls. Jesus Himself proclaimed He sees ‘Satan fall like lightning’.
Instead, do we live a life on the defensive? Do hardships strike and then we think of how we can overcome? This is living a life on the defensive. The adage “The best defense is a good offense”. Evangelism is being on the offensive, it is how we attack Satan & defeat him. Evangelism is war against Satan, and is how we defeat the great dragon (Revelation 12). In return, we benefit the most, allowing our souls & spirits to come alive, as Satan is defeated (John 12:31).
4. The blessing of those who go out to proclaim and evangelise?
Our names will be recorded in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20; Philippines 4:3; Revelation 21:27). We become the remnants who have overcome the world (Isaiah 4:3; John 16:33; Revelation 13:8). Please believe that when we obey God’s command to evangelise, our names will be written in the book of life. And also the blessing of saving many from death (James 5:20). ~ AMEN