The Final Four is here: it’s Florida Atlantic against San Diego State, and Miami against Connecticut. The two winners advance to Monday night’s National Championship Game. Very few people would have predicted this Final Four; it’s one of the craziest we’ve ever seen (along with 2011 when my VCU Rams made it as a #11 seed). But every year, millions of us fill out our Brackets with what we think will happen (mine is below).
If every single game of the NCAA Tournament had an equal chance for either outcome (it doesn’t, but let’s assume you know nothing about the sport and you flip a coin for each game), the odds of predicting all 63 games correctly is about one in 9.2 Quintillion; that’s a 92 followed by 17 zeroes (approximately; it’s not actually all zeroes but you get the idea). 9.2 quintillion is a huge number; much larger than anything we can imagine, because we’ve never seen it. Scientists estimate that there are only 7.5 quintillion grains of sand on earth, so even if you visit a beach, you’re not looking at anywhere close to 9.2 quintillion grains of sand all at once. There are about 31.6 million seconds in a year, so 9.2 quintillion seconds would be about 292 billion (with a ‘b’) years. I ran an NCAA Tournament Bracket Pool (as always) this year; we had 22 people join. Our winner has already been determined—since no one can catch up to him in points—but if Connecticut wins it all, he will have gotten 38 out of 63 games correct; just over 60 percent, while our Bracket Pool’s average would finish at 31.2, which is just a tick under 50 percent. Only six players in our Pool even got one Final Four team correct.
If you shuffle an ordinary deck of cards (a good shuffle, not just cutting a deck right out of the box and placing one half on top of the other), chances are that the order those cards are in, has never been seen before by any deck of cards in all history; that’s because there are 52 Factorial (“52!” equals 52 times 51 times 50, and so on, down to 1) potential ways those cards could be arranged. 52! is a much larger number than 9.2 quintillion; it’s approximately an 8 followed by 67 zeroes.
The LORD is all about large numbers; he told Abraham that his seed would be as the dust of the earth and as the stars of the sky (Genesis 13:16, 15:5). That was at the beginning; by the time Abraham’s nation made it out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, there were somewhere around two million Israelites (Numbers 26:51); the LORD protected and provided for every single one of them, feeding them with daily manna for 40 years. There are still over six million Jews today, and they’re not going anywhere.
Here in 2023, there are about eight billion people on the planet, and the LORD has compassion on all he has created (Psalm 145:9). Not a sparrow falls to the ground outside of the LORD knowing about it. The very hairs of your head are all numbered by the LORD; you are of much more value than many sparrows—which five were sold for a penny in Jesus’ day—and the LORD cares about them, too (Luke 12:6-7). He even tells the number of the stars, and he calls them all by name (Psalm 147:4)!
At the end of John’s Gospel, he writes “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were to be written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (John 21:25 NIV).” Jesus’ ministry on earth was only three-and-a-half years, but his ministry in heaven has been going for the past 2,000 years. He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and he works now with all his people, in creation, and in the world governments.
The LORD’s family may be relatively small right now, but one day it will fill the earth. Those who belong to Christ at his coming and those who served him faithfully in their time will only be the firstfruits; Christ and his Saints will reign on earth for 1,000 years, and all nations will come to know the LORD and become part of his family. Israel will be the first dominion (Micah 4:7-8), and the Gentiles will follow (Jeremiah 3:17). At the end of the Millennium, all enemies will finally be eliminated, and even death will become a thing of the past (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). All the earth will be part of God’s family; a multitude that no one can number.
Joy and gladness,