three crosses


I’ve just returned from a trip to Germany to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters. It was a wonderful visit, and the travel went well, all but the last ten seconds!

Every connection was stress-free. My seats were in perfect locations; well, I didn’t get business of 1st-class seats. I flew for free, using the last of my frequent-flyer miles. I could not have hoped for a better trip, except for those last ten seconds.

I was sitting on a bench at “Arrivals” when I spotted my wife; actually, I spotted her car and then her. As she searched for a place to stop and let me get in, I hurried to the car. That’s when it happened. I fell. Yet again, I fell hard on the pavement, but I have good news! Three men ran to where I was, working together to get me back on my feet. What an incredible blessing! Instead of me laying there like a turtle on its back, I was swept up to my feet and helped into my car. Wow! I love stories with surprising endings, so now I have one! It was nothing less than extraordinary.

In the car, as we pulled away, this verse ran through my mind:

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

1, 2, 3

In the Hebrew language, the meanings of one, two, and three are:

One: Oneness, Unity, Primacy, First, Beginning. Single and not plural, not subject to multiplicity or division. (1×1=1) One remains one, it does not change. God is One. (Dt. 6:4) There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father. (Eph. 4:4–6)

Two: Divide, difference, oppose, judge, discern, witness, conflict, blessing, abundance, building, couple, dying to self. It is also related to the Hebrew word shanah, meaning change or repeat. Context determines meaning (as with all numbers). Ideally, two should mirror one, as in the “two shall become one (echad) flesh.” Thus, making a true “pair” that works together like one’s ears, eyes, nostrils, hands, and feet.

There are two great commandments (love God/love neighbor), two houses of Israel, two sticks, two sisters, two olive branches, two silver trumpets, two leavened loaves on Shavuot, two cherubim guard Ark of the Covenant and the entrance to Eden, two good spies (Joshua and Caleb), and two witnesses mentioned in the Bible.

Three: Seeds, trees, fruit. Revelation, resurrection, gathering balance, equilibrium, pattern, counsel, witness, and strength. New life, sprouting, resurrection, fruitfulness, words of life (counsel), unity, and the foundation of the Temple/House are all signified by the number three. Three brings harmony and unity to opposites like one and two. Three creates a solid or a foundation and makes the first geometric shape (triangle). The sequence of three makes a chain of continuity: three patriarchs, three pilgrimage festivals, third day, three primary manifestations of the Godhead, three-ply cord, three witnesses, three kings of united Israel, three primary missionary journeys of Shaul (Paul), three woes of judgment (Book of Revelation). In tradition, Moses ascended and descended Mount Sinai three times.



As we just read, three or triplets in God’s Word are often used to communicate intensity, completeness, or something good. Jesus told Peter that the rooster would crow after he had denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:34) and Jesus later restored Peter by asking him three questions (John 21:15–25) When looked at as a whole experience, we see that Jesus knows we will fail and when we will do it. Afterward, He doesn’t abandon us but offers to restore us completely.

More Threes

Jesus declared in the book of John, chapter two, that if the temple were destroyed, He would raise it again in three days (John 2:18–20). He was referring to His death, burial, and resurrection, though the Jews thought He was speaking of the temple in Jerusalem.

A few more threes are when “Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish.” (Matthew 12:40). The three patriarchs of the Jewish people are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 22:32). At the birth of Jesus, the Magi presented to Jesus three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2). And the ultimate three is the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19–20)

Good News

Since three stands for completeness, then 27, or 33 (3 cubed), is even more complete. So, it should not surprise us that there are twenty-seven books in the New Testament. Let’s all take a moment and marvel at God and His Word. Do God’s will and enjoy Him!

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

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