It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Gift of Seven

On the seventh day of Christmas
my True Love gave to me,
Seven swans a swimming...

On one web site the "seven swans a-swimming" are said to refer to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Stated as: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. With no particular scriptural reference.

Another site cited Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 as the scriptures used to build the seven swans or seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. But from the two scriptures that were cited there seem to be a few extra swans a swimming: prophesy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, compassion, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discernment, tongues, interpretation. I'm counting fifteen.

I wonder, that if the Twelve Days of Christmas was really written to be a catechism mnemonic device for catholics, that the seven swans would have been for the seven sacraments. But I can hear a few undergarments bunching at the mere mention of sacraments so we'll just talk about spiritual gifts instead today and count however many swans we want to. Which in itself may cause some bunching I am sure.

The gifts are in bold type.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Since we have
gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12

You know, let's just leave the discussion of Gifts from the Holy Spirit right there shall we. It's right there in scripture for all of us to see and deal with as we are able.

Seven has huge meaning in the Bible, as the seven days of Genesis imply, seven has to do with completeness. How interesting then that the seventh day of Christmas also falls on the day the current year is completed, January 31.

Here's another seven for you to ponder: 2 Kings 4:32-35

And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

Not just sneezed a bunch but sneezed seven times. What do the sneezes signify? Repentance.

What does the turning of the New Year signify?

A new start based on repentance (aknowledging and turning from the wrong way, then aknowledging and turning to God's way.)

Seven sneezes, complete perfect repentance, only capable in Jesus Christ our Savior.

There are quite a few sevens in the Bible:

"Not so ; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over."

Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate,

Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made."

So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, (seven for Leah first and then again seven for Rachel)

The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said.

"How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;

John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

These exmples are just a few, there are many more. Try it, put in "seven" on the deyword search of your favorite on-line Bible concordance ( I like BibleGateway myself) and see how many significant entries you come up with.

So what does it all mean? Is seven significant? I tend to think so but maybe some just see all this as a coincidence.

Ring in a wonderful New Year, Dear Reader and take heart, God is everywhere, through all time, knows everything, and is all powerful. We worship the One True God, who contains and sustains all things.


Cliff said...

Okay, okay, I can send the 5 golden rings into that guy on tv who wants to turn them into cash for me, but who on earth is cleaning up after the geese and now these swans? All of which, btw, are sliding around on our frozen ponds and the river.

Daisy said...

Lanny, a few weeks ago our minister was speaking on the topic of gifts and how we each have our own. He made the point, as you do here, that we are all important, and we depend one upon the other to make God's church a strong one. I have heard many times too of the importance of the number 7 in the Bible as a symbolic reference. Well-written post. Thank you! Maybe you should go into the ministry! :)

Tipper said...

Some of my favorite verses you've shared-so encouraging and uplifting to think we all do indeed have a special gift. Never heard the correlation between the 7 swans and the verses-neat! I've had some powerful experiences with the number 7 in my life-so that part strikes a real chord with me.