The World’s Best Seller—Its Fight to Live
OUT of every thousand books published, only about fifty continue in popular use for at least seven years. Because people soon lose interest, the life-span of a book is quite short.
What would you think, then, about a book that has continued in popular use for over 3,000 years? Add to this the fact that it has survived the fiercest opposition faced by any book in the history of the world. Tyrants, kings, princes, yes, even whole empires, have striven to destroy it. Yet, today it has become the world’s best seller!
At times it appeared to opposers that the destruction of the Bible was assured. Mighty rulers formed edicts and prohibitions condemning it to the fire, only to sound its death knell in vain. The book survived. Its preservation through wave after wave of assault throughout centuries has been termed “a miracle of history.”
Just think! Is it not extremely strange that a book as old as the Bible and that has been subjected to such opposition would be the all-time best seller? In some respects, books are like humans. They have a beginning, may grow in popularity, and usually become old and die. Libraries are often cemeteries of millions of dead books.
Yet, the Bible, with its written origins going back 35 centuries, is very much alive and is readable in the languages of 97 percent of earth’s population. So amazing is its distribution that even before the term “best seller” was coined, the Bible was the most sought after book in the world.
More Needed than Survival of the Book Itself
The Bible claims to contain the words of God, in that its writings were directly inspired by his spirit. (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21) God said of his word: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isa. 40:8, An American Translation) But its ‘standing forever’ would mean more than that God’s word would merely exist in a book for a long time.
Actually there are “books” in existence today that in written form appear to be older than the Bible. For instance, there exist clay tablets and other literary works of the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians that are believed to have been written centuries before the Bible began to be compiled in 1513 B.C.E. by Moses. But these ancient documents are written in dead languages and discuss matters that are of little interest to the masses of persons today. For all practical purposes, these “books” are dead.
To the contrary, the Bible says that God’s Word would remain “at work in [the] believers.” (1 Thess. 2:13) The force of its message would influence the lives of those who used it. In its rendering of that same verse, The Jerusalem Bible says of “God’s message”: “It is still a living power among you who believe it.”
A Mammoth Challenge
Would God be capable of preserving his word as a “living power” forever? If so, it would mean overcoming enormous obstacles. Added to natural impediments would be an assault that ultimately would almost destroy the Bible as a living force among believers.
How the Bible overcame all this opposition makes for an absorbing discussion. Through centuries men have tried to burn and to bury it. Mighty kings and emperors have raised the power of entire empires against it. And yet the Bible remains indestructible down to this day.
One might wonder: ‘Just why was such effort put forth to preserve it? Is it simply so that the Bible can have a good effect on my life? Could there be a much deeper and more profound reason?’ Yes, why is it that strenuous efforts were made in the past, and are still made, to enable every person to have and to read the Bible?
You will find a very happifying answer to such questions in the material that follows. It will also genuinely enhance your own appreciation for the Bible’s preservation until our day.