This post is brought to you by the number three.
I mentioned in a previous post that the number three is very significant in scripture. The problem is, though, that it is significant for more than one thing.
Three days is a prophetic time in scripture that points forwards to Christ's death and resurrection. Examples are Jonah's three days in the belly of the fish, and Moses' declaration that the people should take a three day journey into the wilderness in order to offer sacrifices. (Mt 12:40, Ex 5:3)
Three is also significant in that is one of the numbers of established witness: by the testimony of two or three witnesses a thing is firmly established. An example would be Abraham's three visitors who testified against Sodom. Most other examples of witnesses tend to be twos rather than threes: Joshua and Caleb who gave a good witness after spying out the land, Moses and Elijah who witnessed Christ's transfiguration, and the two witnesses in Revelation. But it is still worth bearing in mind that three can be used in this way too. (Dt 19:15, Mt 18:15)
But the threes that have been jumping out at me lately are the threes of God's delegated authority. Within the Godhead of course we have Father, Son and Spirit who set the example for all the others. In the heavens God established Sun, Moon and Stars. In the created order he established Man, Woman and all the animals. In the family his order is husband, wife, children. And in the church we have the pattern of Apostles, Elders, and all God's people.
It is interesting to speculate about a possible link between the final two uses of three. Three is the number of the community of God. Two is the number of the community of man (husband and wife). Either of these two numbers can be used to establish something, which reflects the fact that God has delegated his governmental authority to man.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecc 4:12)