As the mop room gang took their seats, Norma locked her wheelchair in place and Smokey took his usual place among the old firemen’s boots and gave his wagging tail a rest. The so-important prayer was spoken by Brock with special emphasis on thankfulness for the military service people and even the emergency response teams and their shiny trucks just outside the mop room door.
Zeb walked to the blackboard with a piece of chalk and said, “Gang. We’ll start with some Cross-Foot math.” He wrote two columns of three numbers. He drew a line below each of the three columns and added each column putting its total below the line. He looked around at each of the gang to see if all of them were watching. They were, so he continued by adding each of the column totals to give a grand total, which he wrote on the board separately.
“Now watch carefully guys.” He then added just the first number in each column and put the total across from the row of numbers he had just added. The explanation came next, “Now I’ll add the 2nd number in each column and wrote its total across from those numbers.” The same process was done with the 3rd number in each column. He then showed the gang how he then added each row total to give the grand total.
“OK so now we have two grand totals. One was from adding all the numbers up and down and putting the total at the foot of the column. The other grand total was from adding all the numbers across. Trudy exclaimed, “Hey look gang! Both of Buddy’s grand totals are the same!” Buddy asked, “Well Trudy, does that give you comfort and assurance that your adding was correct?” The reply was, “You bet!” Others made comments that they thought that was a neat kind of double checking.
Norma raised her hand to ask her question. “Buddy, I suppose you’re going to show us that God’s Word actually teaches us Cross-Foot Checking.” With a big grin Tom exclaimed to Norma, “And I’ll bet he’s gonna do it using the book of Numbers to do it too!” Zeb (that’s Buddy) clapped his hands at Norma and Tom. “Gang, you all are just getting too smart for me.”
Their beloved mop room leader with the silver mustache and warm smile asked, “Are you guys like me? I mean do you ever have a yucky day… one of those days that you get confused or discouraged to the point you start making mistakes? Do you ever have a sort-of ‘bad hair day’ where you just can’t figure out how to do a part of your math homework? Maybe you see that you can’t spend any more time on it, so you just put in answers that might be right?”
“Do you know that because our Bible was ‘God breathed’ that means that God Himself had written exactly what He wanted written and even protected the words and numbers all down through the centuries. And right here today, in front of God, Smokey and all of you, we’ll prove it. Are you ready? Good! I want you to all turn in your Bibles to Numbers chapter 1.”
“There are 12 tribes of Israel and the Bible names the name of the head of each tribe starting in verse 5. I want this first 12 of you to pretend you are the head of that tribe and I want you to come up in order and write on the blackboard the name of your tribe, how many men that are at least 20 years old in your tribe, and what verse tells it.”
Marty needed just a bit of help getting started as he wrote “Reuben… 46,500… vs. 21.” Then Tom wrote “Simeon… 59,300… vs. 23.” A few more boys and girls added their tribe name, number, and verse number. Zeb asked them to pause for just a minute, and asked, “Now suppose one of you were not feeling well or were not paying attention to your work and you wrote down a wrong number? Would you and I ever know it as we read God’s word these many years later? Wouldn’t we start questioning God’s Word and not be sure if what we were reading was correct?”
“OK Norma you’re next. You come up and write your tribe’s information as we continue.”
A few minutes later Zeb counted the tribes written on the board to make sure there were the 12 tribes of Israel. As he began adding up the tribe totals the gang corrected him once when he carried 9 and it should have been 7. With confirmation from the gang he wrote down the grand total of 603,550. The gang all clapped for Zeb and he took a silly bow toward them.
“Zeb said, “Now we’ve all done our best but can’t really be comfortable that there hasn’t been an error someplace. But now look and the words God put into His word, in Numbers 1 verse 46. It’s right there in black and white for us all to see. God’s word tells us the total number of males at least 20 years old is 603,550!”
“Gang, doesn’t that just smoke your socks?! The grand totals match! God’s word is correct! We can trust His word even after all these years!” Zeb slapped his leg in excitement.
But that isn’t the half of it!