Jamal Hashweh, Jordanian Bible Society General Director, recently reported that "last year, at the huge book fair in Baghdad, we saw people lining up 45 and 50 deep to buy Bibles.... In 56 hours we sold seven tons of Scriptures."
Of the 55 publishers at the book fair, the Bible Society sold more than any other, despite the fact that less than 5 percent of the people of Iraq are Christians ("American Bible Society Record," June/July 1999).
Maybe it's the practical nature of a book whose history spans more than 25 centuries that keeps it a perennial bestseller. Almost every language has its translation of the Bible. And scriptural passages are used as the foundation for countless daily meditation guidebooks. Not much more than 10 years ago, these devotional publications were found mainly in religious bookstores. Today, it seems, almost every bookseller offers some sort of publication based on the Bible.
What is it about this book that satisfies people from so many walks of life? It could be the record of healing. Bible characters like Moses, Jesus, Elijah, and Paul healed disease and overcame poverty and persecution. Biblical ideas and concepts were found to dissolve fear, bolster hope, and bring peace of mind.
For example, Jesus relied on the Hebrew Scriptures at a time when he was tempted by doubts about how to carry out the work he had to do (see Matt. 4:1-11). He was able to withstand intense and misleading pressure by quoting passages from them. By acknowledging the validity of those statements, Jesus found strength and direction from God. And he found peace.
I have begun reading the Bible daily. As a result, I sometimes will remember certain passages from this reading that help me when I need a boost.
Sometimes the Bible brings me healing. One day, for example, I felt a headache coming on. I was afraid it would end up ruining my whole day. My approach in dealing with this was not to use medication. I picked up a Bible. And right away I came across this passage: "In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me" (Ps. 56:4). I actually laughed. For me, this Bible verse so completely addressed my need. The pain left instantly, and I had a wonderful day.
My sister also turned to the Bible when she found out a portion of her property might be condemned for an easement. She read: "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage" (Ps. 16:5, 6). These helpful words brought her peace of mind. She prayed about the situation, and it was eventually resolved in a good way.
These are not isolated instances. Testimonials to the Bible's healing power are heard regularly in churches, discussed more and more in the workplace, and even found on the Internet.
Research shows most people own a Bible, if not two or three. And through history, people have even been willing to make great sacrifices for their right to own and read the Bible, which the founder of this newspaper referred to as "the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 24).
This week is National Bible Week in various countries. People familiar with the Scriptures are encouraged to read them again. And newcomers are invited to pick up the Bible for the first time.
What might it have in store for you? Perhaps this passage from Second Timothy (3:16, 17) will pique your curiosity: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
Continue thou in the things whichthou hast learned ..., knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise ....
II Timothy 3:14, 15
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society