“Read the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” I’ve heard this quote, or something like it, attributed to either Billy Graham or Karl Barth. (If you know who originally said this, please enlighten me!) While not my original thought, it is somewhat accidentally my practice.
Years ago I began reading through the Bible in a year. Each day I read a Psalm, a couple of verses in Proverbs, two chapters of the Old Testament, and one chapter of the New Testament. Most days I also skim a newspaper or two along with randomly sampled websites for news stories. Some days there is a thought-provoking convergence of input.
These days I happen to be reading through two prophetic books: Ezekiel (not on most people’s go-to list when consulting the Bible) and Revelation (another puzzle). Today’s chapters were Ezekiel 38-39, a head-scratching prophecy about “Gog and the land of Magog,” and Revelation 14 where I read of salvation, judgment and angels. My most frequent thought after such readings is, “I don’t get it.” Scholars have proposed theories about what these particular prophecies mean and how they will play out in human history, but I’m not so sure anyone really gets it.
Then I skimmed the Wall Street Journal featuring cover stories on Hurricane Irene and what Federal Reserve chairman Bernanke might do to deal with a Wall Street disaster of another sort. I’m not sure anyone gets that either.
Finally, I landed on the editorial page where I read a tribute to Steve Jobs. Clearly, Jobs is a person of great brilliance who has made a stunning contribution to our way of life (who does not own an iPod, iPad or iPhone?) while generating wealth and employment for countless people in the process. It is fitting, perhaps even slightly prophetic, that his name is Jobs. His departure from Apple due to his health challenges makes me sad. I don’t get it.
I conclude, from this morning’s readings, that we cannot predict the future of our nation, the path of a storm or the fate of any particular individual. I don’t get it. No one does, even those who insist that they do. I know just one thing: I’m sticking with my Savior no matter what. The important message of most biblical prophecy is that God wants defiant people to recognize Him, to repent of their rebellion, and to return to Him. He does this for our own good, for without Him, the future is truly fearful. That much I understand.
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17b-18
“I am the resurection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16