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A Perfect Ten

by Tim O'Hearn

Ten fingers; ten toes. We think, naturally, in tens. The decimal system. Outside the United States, the metric system. Decades, centuries, millennia. All are based on the number ten. When you get to be my age, you dread years ending in a zero, that is, multiples of ten. Ten is a significant number.

This issue marks the end of ten years of publication of “Minutes With Messiah.” Lord willing, there will be another ten issues, or ten years. Some of the subscribers and regular readers have been faithful for most of that ten years, for which I thank you. Others have joined within that ten years, and I also thank you.

Ten years. Counting this issue, that is 359 articles (one of which is available only online—the article about what the Bible really says about divorce). Four of the articles have been by other writers; most are mine. In addition, there have been four songs published to date.

For seven of those ten years “Minutes With Messiah” has been available on the web. In addition to all the articles and songs, I have posted the answers to 809 Bible-related questions on the web site, and answered countless others that did not make it to the site or were duplicative. “Minutes With Messiah” has also presented four “Promising Songleader” awards.

Where does “Minutes With Messiah” go from here? If the Lord gives us another ten years, what can you expect? I can promise more of the same: articles for each of the major Jewish holidays; stories about “The Teacher” from the gospels; some more songs; certainly some more humor along the way. Beyond that, only God knows. Ten years ago I had no thought of a web site, or of becoming an answer man. I had no way to know I would have subscribers and readers from all over the world. The future may include YouTube, or something brand new. Or nothing, if God so wills it. You have been with me for all or part of ten years. I welcome you to the ride into the future. And I would welcome your input as we finish ten years of publication.

By the way, since we are creatures of the number ten, perhaps it is natural that the number ten occurs about 142 times in scripture. Most of the time it is a count of things (years, bulls, shekels, lepers, etc.). Occasionally it has some prophetic or other significance. That is not to say that it has a special meaning. Some people claim three is the number of God and seven is completeness. Ten has no obvious meaning like that. If anything, it means a number man can comprehend.

Perhaps the most significant occurrence of the number is in the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people. (That is, there are ten commandments, not that the number appears in those commandments.) Why only ten commandments? If there are 613 mitzvot (commands; 248 positive ones and 365 negative ones), why single out these ten? Why not eleven, or fifteen, or twenty? Why not include circumcision as one of the ten, or not to afflict widows and orphans? Obviously God does not tell us. Maybe he only got this far in his oral recitation of the list before the people yelled to stop. (Ex 20:18-19) Maybe he figured that even a child could count to ten so this was a good number. Certainly he did not mean to imply that these were the only ten really important commandments, and the rest were of less importance. The rabbis say he gave seven laws to Noah (which are, therefore, binding on all non-Jews). Perhaps he felt an additional three would indicate that the Jewish people belonged to God (if three is the number of God).

The significant prophetic use of ten is found in Daniel and in the Revelation. (Dan 7; Rev 17) In both cases the ten horns represent ten emperors of Rome. So even though it is a prophetic use of the number, it is actually a count rather than a special number.

We are people controlled by the number ten. Here is thanks to you for one ten, and a hope that we can begin another one next month.

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