Saturday, April 14, 2018

How God First Told Me to Read His Word

Photo by Nyehob 2016

Three weeks after I was saved by trusting Jesus Christ as my Savior, the One Who died to pay my sin debt and rose again to prove His deity (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), my husband and I had to meet a friend at the airport. Our friend’s plane had been delayed, so we found ourselves wandering through the shops when suddenly a book in a window display caught my eye.

“BIBLE CODE” read the large, black, Hebrew-stylized characters in the title on the cover, with what appeared to be word-search puzzles underneath. Intrigued, I entered the store and began thumbing through a copy of Michael Drosnin’s nonfiction best seller. A casual perusal soon became a voracious desire to read the book cover to cover, so I bought a copy and spent the remaining hours until our friend arrived devouring its contents.

At risk of oversimplifying a highly complex topic, let me explain that the book referenced a paper published in the academically prestigious journal Statistical Science. This article described “Equidistant Letter Sequences,” or ELS, in the Hebrew Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. These ELS encoded words, names and dates near each other, in meaningful groupings with historical and possibly prophetic significance.

To use an arbitrary number, circling every fifth, or fiftieth, or many other skip sequences of Hebrew characters in the original text of the Torah often resulted in a meaningful message, presaging events occurring millennia after God inscribed His Word on stone tablets and delivered it to Moses.

In 1985, this type of ELS analysis searching for names of 34 Jewish rabbis who were well-known over the past 1,000 years found all 34 in the book of Genesis, coded along with the dates of their births or deaths, even though Genesis was written more than 1,000 years before the first rabbi was even born!. The statistical probability of this happening by chance alone was determined to be 11 million to 1, as indicated by the authors of the Statistical Science article. The journal’s editors not only could find no fault with the analysis, methods or calculations, but even issued a challenge to other scientists to do so.

The existence of such codes was suspected by Sir Isaac Newton and confirmed in a very basic ELS by a Czechoslovakian rabbi in 1938. But it was not until the advent of modern computers that such searches became practical.

As the Book of Daniel predicted, in the End Times in which we now live, knowledge shall increase (Daniel 12:4) and the ability of computers to calculate and comb through data extremely quickly has put a whole world of knowledge in the palm of anyone’s hand who owns a smart phone. In that verse, the Hebrew word translated “many shall run to and fro,” is actually the same as the word now used in modern Hebrew to mean “computer search.”

Recent events coded in ELS in the Torah include the Oklahoma City bombing, the Gulf War, the 9/11 Twin Towers strike, the Holocaust, Watergate, and the Apollo 11 space mission. In 1994, ELS analysis revealed a message indicating that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would be assassinated. He did not believe the warning Drosnin gave him, but the “predicted” event actually came to pass 14 months later.

Unfortunately, the original science became diluted and popularized to more of a parlor trick, as searchers looked for ELS in English and other Bible translations and unsuccessfully attempted to predict the future using them. Several predictions based on Drosnin’s searches thankfully failed to materialize, including atomic world war in 2000 or 2006.

On the night that I began reading about the Bible Code, I only had a very cursory understanding of all this, but one thing seemed very clear: the Bible must have been written by supernatural inspiration from God Himself (2 Timothy 3:16). Before being saved, I had previously considered the Bible to be fine literature and had heard and read several passages in school and college, but I had never grasped (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21) their eternal significance (Matthew 24:35) and Divine wisdom (Proverbs 1:2; 4:5; Colossians 3:16).

The morning after I sat up all night reading the Bible Code, I attempted to summarize what I had learned to our son Brendan, who was then 10 years old, over breakfast. After my breathless explanation, I asked him, “So do you think it’s true?”

Brendan rolled his eyes. “Well, of course the Bible is true, Mom – God wrote it.”

Out of the mouth of babes! (Matthew 21:16). In his childlike faith (Mark 10:14; Matthew 18:3), Brendan clearly saw and spoke the truth God was speaking to my heart – that all Scripture is divinely inspired. As I later learned, all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

God speaks to His children in different ways tailored to their personality and intellectual preferences. Given my background as a physician and research scientist in biochemistry and molecular biology, perhaps He first drew me to His Word by these “coincidences” that resulted in my learning of the Bible Code.

Yet we don’t need science or a computer to understand God’s Word or to know it is true – all we need is faith (Hebrews 11:1), which is possible only through the Holy Spirit Who lives within us and instructs us from the moment we are saved (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). God spoke to me the second time through the words of my son that His Word is true, for He wrote it.

Later I learned that faith comes by hearing (or reading) the Word of God (Romans 10:17), which was the third message God gave me about the importance of reading and studying all the Bible. Three days after the above events, Richard took out the trash at my medical practice.

He returned with a strange look on his face. “You’ll never guess what I just found sitting on top of the dumpster cover,” he said, handing me a Bible, which was in excellent condition despite its age.

You can imagine my surprise when I realized that this Bible was printed in the year I was born; that the front page was inscribed with the “Serenity Prayer” that I used to carry in my purse as a good luck charm in high school; and that key passages had been highlighted!

“I get it, Lord,” I prayed. “You want me to read this, cover to cover, to get to know You better and to understand Your will for my life. Thank You for sending it to me!”

So I read it through completely, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, not understanding many passages and having many questions. Then I found a reading plan that completes the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice during one year, which worked out well because there were three passages to read each day, and there were three of us at breakfast so we could each read one.

Brendan is out of the house and married now, but praise God, He has empowered my husband and me to complete the 1-year reading plan every year since we got saved in 2000! The Bible truly is a living book, with new insight to be gained with each reading, through the direction of the Holy Spirit Who is eager to teach us (1 Corinthians 2:13) if we are eager to learn!

We wouldn’t imagine going a whole week without eating and then trying to make up for it with one big meal, yet many Christians let their Bible collect dust all week, opening it only for the Sunday morning sermon. Praise God that He will speak to us daily through His Word (Luke 11:3), if we are faithful to listen!


© 2018 Laurie Collett

 




Saturday, April 7, 2018

Confirmation


While browsing through my junk emails, I spotted what appeared to be a good deal on a trip to Costa Rica. My husband and I have always heard of the pristine beauty of this country and had spoken of visiting one day, yet that day had never yet seemed to come.

And while I’m not a fan of bucket lists, I also had come to realize that zip lining was an adventure I had always longed to experience – a perfect blend of my love for “flying” (which partly explains why I so love Theatre Arts dancing) and for nature. There are several such attractions in Florida where we live, but somehow hanging suspended over alligators didn’t sound too appealing.

My husband was also intrigued by the opportunity to visit Costa Rica, but we both wondered whether we should spend the time and money, when there were so many pressing concerns in our lives at home that we needed to address. So we agreed to pray about it.

After a few days of prayer, I still had no clear sense of direction, so I asked the Lord to give me some sort of sign. Although Jesus spoke of the Pharisees as being a wicked and adulterous generation because they needed a sign (Matthew 16:4), His Word also promises to give wisdom liberally to all who ask Him (James 1:5).

Shortly after I prayed for confirmation from the Lord, I ventured onto Facebook, where the first post I saw pictured a wistful elderly woman with the caption beneath, “Do what you’ve always wanted to do today, for we are not promised tomorrow.” (James 4:14)

“That seems pretty clear, Lord,” I prayed. “Would you mind very much just sending me one additional confirmation?”

Now I felt like Gideon, asking God for yet another miraculous sign, except that I felt even more presumptuous as I was asking for guidance about whether or not to take a vacation, and not about a decisive battle that would affect the lives and destiny of many people (Judges 6:36-40).

But the Lord is interested in all our needs (Matthew 6; 10:29-31), and no matter is too large or too small to bring to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6). If we don’t bring our prayer needs to Him, how can we expect Him to answer? (James 4:2-3)

So as I happened to check my emails, the most recent message was a solicitation from Barclay’s Bank, which caught my eye as Barclay is my maiden name, even though I am no relation.

“Make this the year you resolve to travel more,” said the message!  I rushed out to tell Richard that God had sent me two clear confirmations that we should take this trip, even though they came from sources as unlikely as Facebook and a solicitation email.

It is true that God most often speaks to His children through His Word (Psalm 119:105), through sermon messages (Romans 10:17), and through Godly counsel (Hebrews 10:25; Proverbs 27:17). But we should not put God in a box and apply our expectations to His infinite powers, for He can also speak through dreams (Genesis 31:11), nature (Proverbs 6:6), and presumably even seemingly trivial communications crossing our desk, mailbox or computer screen.

We both then felt at peace about embarking on this journey and eagerly planned our stay and excursions. We continued to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17) for safety and health while we were gone, both for ourselves and for our loved ones; for safe, smooth, comfortable travel; for pleasant accommodations, excursions, food, weather and company; and to grow closer to each other and to Him (James 4:8) as we experienced the majesty and beauty of His creation (Psalm 19:1).

Praise God, He answered every prayer! He allowed us to experience a land we had long dreamed of, to see a vast variety of wildlife in its natural setting, and to interact with pleasant people and to share God’s love with them (John 13:34-35). We distributed Gospel tracts carrying the message that all who trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven will have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16).

The trip was a much needed opportunity for relaxation and continued restoration (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 23:2-3) after a long period of stress and illness, and we are blessed and thankful that we interrupted our usual routine to take it, and to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

We honor God when we turn to Him for guidance in all matters, great and small (Psalm 27:8), and I believe He honors His promises to answer prayer in the best possible way, from His perfect, omniscient, omnipotent viewpoint of infinite love. Jesus told us to seek, and we would find; to ask, and it would be answered; and to knock, and the doors of opportunity would be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

As the zip line guide fitted me with heavy rigging before we sailed over the treetops, she asked if I had ever done this before, and if I were nervous. “This is my first time, and I’m not at all nervous, but I am praying a lot,” I answered truthfully, filled with the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

This peace (Isaiah 26:3) carried me through some challenging moments on the zip line, such as when my body weight was insufficient to carry me to the next platform and I had to turn myself around on the cable, climbing hand over hand backwards along the cable to pull myself to my destination!

Perhaps being just a little closer to Heaven added.to the joy of experiencing the jungle canopy, the plunging descent of the waterfall beside us at one point, and the exhilarating feeling of flight. Praise God that He guides us, answers prayer, wants to bless us with good gifts (Matthew 7:11), and gives us richly all things to enjoy!  (1 Timothy 6:17)


© 2018 Laurie Collett