If you take 58 and subtract 28, you end up with 30.
I suppose you find that to be a simple math equation, eh? But here’s something that just might engage your mind and heart: 30 is the age Jesus was when He began His “public” ministry.
Maybe you’ve never heard of the phrase “ministry equation”, at least in those words. But you’ve probably heard or read teachings about “how to be truly blessed”, “God wants you to prosper”, and “how to put the swagger back into Christianity; in six easy steps.”
I submit to you that the “equation for ministry” is:
I use the numbers 58 and 28, because of the contents in Isaiah 58 and Deuteronomy 28. Please take a few moments and read those scriptures.
First from Isaiah:
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord ?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.
“Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord ’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord , have spoken. (Isaiah 58:1-14 NLT)
Now from Deuteronomy:
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.
“The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven! “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord , and they will stand in awe of you. “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.” (Deuteronomy 28:1-13 NLT)
I am not into numerology, or anything like it. I only find it interesting, that as I compare these passages, I see Jesus’ earthly ministry and the impact He made, and also a few reasons why the church isn’t making more of the same kind of impact today.
Deuteronomy 28 tells the people of God how to be blessed in every part of their life. Jesus did all Moses said, and The Lord set Him high above the nations! Father God took care of Jesus’ need for food, water, shelter; and everything He did prospered!
His enemy came at Him one way (on several occasions), and had to flee seven. People stood in awe of Him, wondering where did He receive such wisdom and learning. He never lacked anything He needed, and always had enough to meet the needs of those around Him. I’d call that blessed; how about you?
Deuteronomy 28:1-14 really speaks to the nation of Israel, and all the people of God. Yet it also points to the responsibility of every individual to do the right thing. Do things right, and receive God’s blessing for YOU.
“Well, if Deuteronomy 28 is true, then why can’t I get it to work for me?”
Here’s where Isaiah 58, the other part of the equation, comes into focus.
Jesus ministered effectively because His eyes weren’t on Himself, but on what other people needed. He wouldn’t fast, pray, or minister to please Himself, impress His Father, or even “build His church.” No, He ministered, gave of Himself, because people needed what He had to give.
The people in Isaiah’s day cried about how they had done so much for God, fasted and prayed, and all that jazz!
“But You don’t even notice”, they exclaimed to God.
“Oh, I notice”, God said. “I see just where your focus is. It’s on yourselves! It’s not where it should be; not at all. If you’ll change your focus, you’ll discover My focus will change as well! For if you will use your blessing to touch others, I will take care of you!”
That’s exactly what Jesus did, the disciples did, the early church did, and what we should do!
Jesus removed Himself and His needs from the equation, and found the grace of God to really minister.
Ministry begins when “self” is removed.
So, as I mentioned before:
58 (the dreams and desires of God for all people), minus 28 (the dreams and desires of man for themselves), equals 30 (the number that represents when true ministry begins).
The ministry equation.