Acid covered strings allow plastic balloons full of verses to release slowly, so empty and eager hearts can receive them across restricted borders, and it’s been happening since the 1970s. Prison cells around the world hold those who risked their lives to hold, know, and share the Bible’s words. How has God’s Word been preserved despite attempts to eliminate it?
Many books have been hated or censored, but no other book has been the subject of such determination to annihilate it, proving its power and influence. Even the Enemy knows it is God’s revelation to man. Attempts to destroy it began before Christ became flesh and continue today at the hands of governments in places across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
Isaiah 40:8 testifies that, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever,” and it has, indeed, survived the onslaught of the ages.
Before invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in 1450, copies were painstakingly made, but largely illegal, so most existed in pieces, often hidden and protected. Old Testament books were written on stone, clay, and leather, while New Testament books were written on papyrus, then copies were made on vellum and parchments of animal skins. When translations made God’s Word available for common men to read for themselves, it resulted in rulers ordering the burning of copies produced by men like William Tyndale and Martin Luther.
Translated now into over 2,000 languages, work continues to get the Gospel out to all nations. In the last decade Bibles have been burned in Jerusalem itself, confiscated during the Chinese Olympic Games, and pronounced illegal in countries like Morocco and North Korea. The Voice of the Martyrs reports that believers walk for days to obtain and distribute Bibles for those longing to know the one true God and His truth. Some copy passages repeatedly, so they can keep God’s Word in the “safest place of all – their heart,” able to quote it at meetings “without the danger of having a Bible at the meeting.” (VOM, March 2010) Hatred for the Book of Truth extends through history and across cultural and language barriers, but God has preserved His Word.
While men accept classical Greek and Roman literature such as the Iliad of Homer, there are fewer than 1,000 original sources. Today there are more than 5,000 manuscript sources for the Greek New Testament. God has insured that enough ancient copies of His Word exist, so it leaves us confident in its preservation. Many fragments and copies and quotes provide what Geisler and Nix call “an unbroken link of testimony.”
Few things will endure beyond today or beyond a thousand years, but God’s Word has been preserved as His truth revealed to mankind, and it will stand forever. Since it’s obvious God has guarded and protected His Word to us, there’s no mistaking He wants us to know Him and understand His truth. Awesome motivation to dig in!
Sources for further reading or reference:
A General Introduction to the Bible by N. Geisler & W. Nix
How We Got the Bible by Rose Publishing
Voice of the Martyrs, www.persection.com
Wycliffe Bible Translators, www.wycliffe.org