I've seen some best-selling books that claim there are hidden messages encoded in the Bible—names of current world leaders, places and events, and dire warnings of disasters yet to occur. As Christians, should we be paying attention to these "Bible Codes"? Are they for real?
—Sherry Pettey, via e-mail
Sherry, it seems that at least every couple of years a new book comes out claiming to reveal some great "secret" connected to the Scriptures. One author says that the Bible contains predictions of contemporary events that can only be detected by computers isolating words and phrases through complicated sequencing programs. Another author tells us he or she has uncovered clues that expose the name and nationality of the Antichrist. Many have claimed that through a staggering series of mathematical equations, they have discovered the precise day and time of the Second Coming. Time and again, these books have been debunked by reputable Bible scholars, theologians, scientists, and time itself. The logic is faulty; the formulas are flawed.
So why are people so easily caught up in their claims? Human nature, I guess. There's just something about a secret that fires up our imagination and drives our curiosity wild. These books appeal to our pride, our ego—our desire for knowledge and the power that knowledge brings. (Remember what the serpent offered Eve in Genesis 3:5?) They also play on our fears: our anxiety over the uncertainty of the future and what it may hold.
The Scriptures assure us that God holds the future and we can trust Him with it. And the Bible warns us not to be deceived or distracted by those who claim to have "secret" knowledge or offer strange new teachings. Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever …"1