“Impossible!” you say, “The Bible can never be lost!” But it has been lost…
It happened during the years leading up to the reign of King Josiah over Judah. During the first half of the seventh century B.C., Judah was ruled by two wicked kings: Manasseh and his son Amon. Together they kept Judah in a shroud of wickedness that lasted 57 years.
Under these two kings the Word of God was effectively silenced in the Southern Kingdom. There were prophets (2 Kgs. 21:10), but they were persecuted. God’s Word was utterly lost to the people and the temple in Jerusalem was desecrated.
Upon Amon’s assassination in 640 B.C., his eight-year-old son Josiah ascended to the throne. At sixteen he began to seek after God.
In the course of having the temple repaired, a copy of the long-forsaken “book of the law” was found (2 Kgs. 22:8). This was read to Josiah. Upon hearing the teachings of the Lord, the king tore his clothes in dismay and immediately set about to accomplish an extensive series of religious and social reforms (cf. 2 Kgs. 23:25).
It happened again near the end of the Dark Ages in the sixteenth century. William Tyndale was born in 1494 when the Scriptures were kept from the common man. The only copies were in Latin, and only Catholic priests and highly educated people could read Latin.
Tyndale wanted to get the Bible in the hands of the common man. He built on the foundation laid by John Wycliffe, a man who had died a hundred years before Tyndale was born. Wycliffe had risked his life, translating the Bible from Latin to English, which was illegal. He was so hated for doing this, that after he died his body was exhumed, burned, and the ashes were thrown in a local river.
Tyndale wanted to translate the Scriptures from the original Hebrew and Greek to English. He was so persecuted that he had to flee from England to Germany to do his work. In response to one of his critics, he wrote, “If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that drives a plow to know more of the Scriptures than you do.”
One bishop in Tyndale’s time did a survey of the 311 priests in his diocese and found…
- 168 could not repeat the Ten Commandments
- 31 of the 168 had no idea where to find the Ten Commandments
- 41 could not locate the “Lord’s Prayer”
- 31 of the 41 could not name the author of the Lord’s Prayer
Tyndale completed the NT in 1525 and smuggled more than 15,000 copies back into England over the next five years. Many of these were burned by the priests.
In May of 1535 he was captured and imprisoned. A year later they burned him at the stake.
These examples ought to wake us up and put us on guard. If the Bible has been lost before, it can be lost again!