How often have you heard the Bible mocked as antiquated and irrelevant? “It’s a bronze age book about a tribal deity,” the critics tell us. “It has nothing to say to us today.” The reality is that the Bible, which is God’s Word, is always relevant and timely. That’s because God hasn’t changed, the world hasn’t changed, and human nature hasn’t changed.
When our daughters were young teenagers, I once read to them a section from Proverbs which describes the seduction of alcohol and the after-effects of getting drunk. I wanted them to see how relevant the ancient Scriptures were to our modern world.
The text begins with this vivid description: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:29–32)
Yes, that wine glistens in the cup, but soon, it will bite. And that bite will sting.
Next is the description of drunkenness and the folly of the drunkard: “Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. ‘They hit me,’ you will say, ‘but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?” (Proverbs 23:33–35)
Ancient words, for sure, yet as relevant today as the day they were written, more than 2,500 years ago.
Today, in the year 2020, God’s Word continues to speak afresh, reminding us that there is nothing new under the sun. (Wait! That’s in the Bible too. See Ecclesiastes 1:9.)
In recent months, there have been devastating forest fires in Australia, reportedly killing more than one billion animals.
Then there were the terrible locust invasions that ravaged East Africa, with a second, even worse wave on the way.
Then we were struck with a plague, COVID-19, which could ultimately take the lives of several hundred thousand people. (The present number of deaths is roughly 120,000.)
And in each case, despite our wonderful technology and our many scientific advancements, we have been relatively powerless. We have not been able to stop the drought, the fires, the locusts, and the virus. Sometimes the best we can do is run and hide.
And that brings me back to a passage in the Word of God, where the Lord spoke to King Solomon after the dedication of the Temple.
We are all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says this to the children of Israel, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
But what comes immediately before this verse? It is 2 Chronicles 7:13, which states, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people.”
This was spoken in the mid-900s, BC, so, nearly 3,000 years ago. Yet it could have been spoken this month.
Drought. Locusts. Plague. A devastated earth and a devastated people. The only solution is repentance and prayer.
Now, I am not saying that the wildfires in Australia were divine judgment or that the locust invasions have been divine judgment or that the coronavirus has been a divine judgment. God Himself knows.
But I am saying that there is nothing new under the sun. That the same challenges that confronted the human race three millennia ago are still confronting us today. And that humbly seeking God remains the ultimate solution.
Not surprisingly, a recent America-based poll commissioned by Joel Rosenberg’s Joshua Fund found that “44.3% of poll respondents said they believe the coronavirus and resulting economic meltdown is a ‘wake up call for us to turn back to faith in God,’ signs of ‘coming judgment,’ or both.”
The poll also found that, “Fully one-in-five non-Christians (21.5%) polled said the crisis is causing them to start reading the Bible and listen to Bible teaching and Christian sermons online even though they usually don’t, search online to learn more about Bible prophecy and God’s plan for the future of mankind, and have more spiritual conversations with family and friends.”
As the old saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes.
Of course, some do remain atheists to their dying day, but the truth remains the same. When we are confronted with our own frailty and our inability to change life and death situations, we are more likely to pray. That holds true for believers as well as unbelievers. Calamity has a way of bringing us to our knees.
So, while some skeptics continue to mock, others are recognizing their need, turning to the Book they once ridiculed and reviled.
When they do, they will encounter the living God who still saves and heals and delivers.
That’s because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).