Can God do Math?
1 Kings 7
The Sea and the Oxen
And he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference.
24 Below its brim were ornamental buds encircling it all around, ten to a cubit, all the way around the Sea. The ornamental buds were cast in two rows when it was cast. 25 It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward. 26 It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained two thousand baths.
[A lot of folks have looked at I Kings 7:23 and concluded the Bible is factually inaccurate because it says this bronze sea has a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits which means the value of Pi would have to be 3, when everyone knows Pi is 3.14 or 3.14159 for the math geeks. So if you had a completely round tub 10 cubits in diameter, the circumference would be 31.41 not 30, according to what we learned in geometry class. The difference between the two is 1.41 cubits or 4.7%. So if this is a Bible error the error rate is less than 5%.
This is the most common answer to Pi in the Bible. They would say the writers were not engineers. The cubit was just the length of your arm and hand below the elbow, which varied from man to man. Pi itself is an inexact ratio, so for the sake of the Bible narrative Pi of 3 is close enough. Now that sounds reasonable, an error rate of less than 5% is not bad, and it's a simple answer. I hate that answer. Look back at verse 13.
13 Now King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a bronze worker; he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill in working with all kinds of bronze work. So he came to King Solomon and did all his work.
This is why I hate the "close enough" answer. Solomon the wisest and richest King who ever lived, who spares no expense build his own house and the Temple of God, hires from Tyre the finest craftsman he can find. But Hiram can't do geometry any better than that? To me that answer is inconsistent with the scriptures.
What I think is a better answer requires a little work, and includes the complete description of the Bronze Sea, not just verse 23. If you look at verse 26 there is a critical detail for the Bronze Sea. "It was a handbreadth thick". The most common measure for a cubit is 18 inches, so the diameter from "one brim to the other" as verse 23 says, is 15 feet or 180 inches. The Hebrew word for brim is Saphah meaning the natural boundary or the outer edge of an object. So the diameter of the Saphah is 180 inches. Now the thickness of the Sea is a handbreadth, which measures 4 inches so the internal diameter is 172 inches. Now look at the end of verse 23.
"a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference" There is no Hebrew word for circumference, so the line that measures it's circumference in Hebrew is (Qav cabab cabiyb translated literally would be the "rim that that borders around". So if the inner rim is 172 inches and Pi is 3.14 then the inner circumference is 540.08 inches. Divide that by 18 to get back to cubits and you get 30.00 cubits which is exactly what the Bible says it is.
So how do we know that the Qav or rim and Saphaw or brim are two different things. Well for one they are different words. Secondly the 30.00 is pretty compelling evidence. And third the thickness would give you structural strength to hold 10,000 or more gallons of water in this bronze sea. So yes, God can do math]
Dead men walking
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
[All 4 gospels record the death of Jesus but only Matthew has this detail about dead saints rising from the dead. So what do we make of this, what can we learn from it, and how does it fit in with the rest of Jesus' teachings?
First I think we need to understand the time-line. Even though verse 52 sounds like the graves were opened right after Jesus died, verse 52 makes it clear that the dead were raised after Jesus' resurrection. This is an important detail because it is consistent with 1 Corinthians 15:20
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Second it seems that this resurrection of the saints we similar to the raising of Lazarus. Verse 53 says they went into Jerusalem and were seen and probably recognized by people who knew them in life, otherwise how would you know for sure that they had died? So these were contemporaries of Jesus', and it seems reasonable that the power that resurrected Jesus, spilled over to others, maybe they were buried nearby, but certainly these resurrected saints walking would strengthen the testimony of those who saw Jesus alive.
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
It is because of the resurrection that Jesus and the apostles frequently refer to the death of saints as simply sleeping. What a incredible confidence. So the question is was this resurrection of the saints foretold anywhere in prophecy, and I think the answer is yes. Look at Isaiah 26:19
19 Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.
Isaiah 26 is called "A song of salvation" and is part of a prophecy about Messiah.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
But we need to understand the difference between the bodily resurrection and the transformation or glorification that happens to the saints ascending to heaven.
1 Corinthians 15
35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.
38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind
of flesh[c] of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41
There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being."[d] The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord[e] from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
John 20:17 (King James Version)
17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
[Though resurrected, Jesus was not yet ascended so he told Mary not to touch him because he was not yet ascended. Some teach that during this time Jesus completed his work as priest by carrying his blood into the presence of the Father, and during that ascension he was transformed. But later in the same chapter look at what Jesus said to Thomas.]
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" 27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
[8 days later he was more than willing for Thomas to touch him. Jesus has experienced more than a bodily resurrection; he had experienced a transformation, when he ascended to the Father.]