It was December 1941. Two noteworthy things were about to happen within hours of each other.
First, there was the kick-off of the first-ever National Bible Week, which was to begin on Monday, December 8th. The National Bible Association had been making plans to have Scripture read nation-wide over the airwaves on NBC. Various political leaders across the country were to take part in what the Association desired to be an annual promotion of the Bible’s Golden Rule. Even President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to be involved in the event!
But just as final preparations were being made for the week, the second thing happened on Sunday, December 7th—the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor so that the United States was plunged into World War II.
As far as I know, the Bible Association did go through with its plans for Scripture reading on that Monday. The readings were interspersed with reports on the war and probably reached a much wider audience than initially hoped for!
Over the years the dates for observing a National Bible Week have changed to what we have now—running from Sunday to Sunday the week of Thanksgiving Day, with the starting day called “Bible Sunday.”
I must admit that this day or week’s worth of “celebrating the Bible” is not something that has ever made it on my monthly church calendar. I was not even aware that there was such a thing as “Bible Sunday.”
In the closing weeks of November the church year calendar customarily focuses our attention on things pertaining to the end times—such as the Last Judgment, eternal life, and heaven. Besides that, from our vantage point we might well say that EVERY Sunday is a Bible Sunday!
But just as it has become our custom to set aside one special day for thanksgiving, setting aside a Bible Sunday certainly has merit too!
It is a great opportunity to give thanks and praise to the Lord for revealing to us through the written Word His from-all-eternity plan of salvation! Through the pens of divinely and verbally inspired authors, the Lord caused to be recorded both the promise and the fulfillment of His Son’s first coming to Earth as Lord and Savior! Their writings, as the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Not only that. The same apostle writes that “all Scripture,” which is “given by inspiration of God,” is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”
(2 Timothy 3:16-17).
What an opportunity Bible Sunday then gives us to contemplate not just the initial miracle of divine inspiration, but the thousands upon thousands of lifetimes which have been dedicated to the work of translating that Word into so many languages of the world. Through the work of countless men and women Jesus’ directive is moving forward, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”
I’m sure that many people in that first National Bible Day/Week found comfort in that Word as their loved ones marched off to war—many never to return! Let our prayer be that many will continue to find God’s Word applying personally to their hearts and lives today, whether it be for God’s marvelous forgiveness and grace or for guidance for their life’s footsteps!