Today is Friday. And the 13th day of the month. Yes, Friday the 13th. How fitting that today is also my 13th post on this blog. Lucky? Unlucky? Should I find a rabbit’s foot or maybe be wearing my shamrock socks (Yes, I do have some thanks to my brother being married on that day! Not because he likes fun socks, but my new sister-in-law does. Anyway, I digress …)
Many people avoid the number 13.
The unluckiness of the number 13 may have many possible origins. It is a prime number, and is 1 more than 12, which is considered the ‘perfect number’ in some cultures.
Other theories argue that 13 is unlucky because Judas was the 13th guest at the last supper, but it likely comes from a combination of superstitions.
According to Wikipedia … Superstition. If you are an 80’s person, like I am, you may have a classic Stevie Wonder song going on in your head now. Or maybe old episodes of “Bewitched” are coming to mind. As long as the world has been spinning, people have been worried about luck. One source says that fear is the common culprit. We all try to keep the Big Guy in the sky happy. Or at least those people who do not believe in God seem to go that route.
This was even a common problem in the Bible. In both the Old Testament …
Isaiah 2:6 NIV You, Lord, have abandoned your people, the descendants of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and embrace pagan customs.
And the New Testament …
Acts 17:22-23 KJV22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
Or in a simpler version …
Acts 17:22-23 NLT 22 So Paul, standing before the council,[e] addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man[f] he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
Interesting to note that the word superstitious is translated “very religious” in the other version. So what that says to me is that rather than being devoted to God, these people are being devoted to fear. And being afraid can definitely plague all of us. (Supposedly fear is referenced in the Bible 365 times because God knew that we needed the daily reminder to trust and not be afraid.)
In the definition of superstition, the most common word is “belief.” This correlates well with Paul needing to remind the Athenians that trusting an unknown God just doesn’t work. Paul instead introduced them to the One who is really in control – the One in Whom perfect love casts out fear. So you can keep your lucky charms (at least other than the cereal)! Even though I may often need the daily reminder “do not fear,” I still choose to trust in God for my future.
P.S. If you want to read another “Christian” perspective on superstition, I encourage you to read this article on Gospel.com!