Again these are very real people, down to earth, and John knows people well, a pastor for over thirty years. After the "unthinkable" had happened, followed by a period when people are at a loss to understand why ("unexplainable") we now see another miracle taking place, but in a different direction. From consternation and fear, we see God's word prevailing through people all over the world who had committed it to memory. In the effort most of the Bible was retrieved, including its original languages of Hebrew and Greek, as well as its translation into worldwide languages. The interest in hearing God's word recited by his people was a phenomenon in reading rooms all over the world. And people who would not have darkened the doors of a church were interested and listening. Even the Islamic scholars, who had suggested that the disappearance of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures was a judgment by Allah, were taken back by what had unfolded before them.
Towards the end of the chapter John describes through the conversation of tthe Christian friends in the story much of what John is getting at in telling this story. That in hearing God's word read out loud, people can begin to hear God's voice to them. And that the word of God and God's work through it is more important than our theological differences as Christians.
In the words of Harold Johnson, the evangelical professor in the story:
The Bible simply being recited has become a magnet for human attention. The way Jews are showing an interest in the New Testament and Christians are needing the Jews for the Old Testament is uncanny. Catholic and Protestant scholars are developing a deep respect for each other as they work together to have just the Bible itself accessible. The profound Christian-Jewish, Protestant-Catholic-Orthodox cooperation has caught the attention of the Muslim world. Something truly greater than our differences is causing us to communicate with each other. (p. 66)Another important quote from Pastor Steve in the story:
The watching world is taking note of the love that Christians and Jews have for their Scriptures. The Bible is not being used anymore to harangue and judge and belittle and ostracisize others. It is simply being spoken and lived out by people who deeply treasure it. The Bible was meant to be a lived Book, not just a learened Book. Maybe it's as simple as "A love letter needs to be read in a loving way." (p. 71)There are some parts of the story that need to be resolved. Like all the loving, painstaking work done by the husband and wife team, Hank and Karla. How God used the disappearance of his word in Luci's life and her leaving Wayne, her boyfriend because of that, since he has no interest in what she has found and wants the old Luci back. Some good story lines, and if you get a chance to meet John, you'll see the love and humanness which he has cast in this story and its fictional characters of very real people.
I really like what John is getting at in this story and I'm trying to "get it" better myself. And I haven't even uncovered all the themes in the chapter, like the difference between God and the Book of God. And yet how important that Book is as God's word to the world in Jesus.
This chapter alone has plenty of fodder for good discussion, and for a deeper appreciation of this wonderful gift we have from God, in Scripture. And one thing that comes out to me loud and clear is that nothing can stop God's word and his work of love in Jesus and we best get in line with it, and find our place in this Story of God. It is truly unstoppable!
What hits you about this chapter or what is said here or from the book itself? What would you like to say about this?
Next week: chapter 4: "unsurpassable".