“…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
2 Timothy 3:7 (NIV UK)
In 1896, a sweet shop owner in New York named Leo Hirshfield developed an oblong piece of chewy chocolate which he wrapped individually. He called it a “Tootsie Roll” after his five-year-old daughter. He sold the sweet for a penny and it became a favourite with his customers.
Then he had the idea of putting the Tootsie Roll inside another of his customer’s favourites—a round lollipop. And so was born the Tootsie Roll Pop. There were originally five flavours—chocolate, orange, cherry, raspberry and grape. Some people, who must have nothing better to do, have calculated how many licks it takes to get to the centre. The average is 285.
That is hardly the most important piece of information you will hear today. Well, here is another: it has been calculated that there are 31,174 verses in the Bible. That being the case, then the 15,587th and the 15,588th are the middle verses. They are found in Psalm 118, which makes it the middle of the Bible.
Wait—there’s more! It so happens that the Psalm before, 117, is the shortest chapter in the Bible—it is only 2 verses. And the following Psalm, 119, with 176 verses, is the longest. So, the middle of the Bible is flanked by the shortest and longest chapters in the Bible. That is an interesting coincidence—but that is all it is. Because whether this is actually the middle of the Bible depends upon which version of the Bible you are using.
Sadly, this kind of thing causes some people to spend years searching Scripture for coded messages buried within the text. They use what is called ‘equal distant interval’ letter searches. This amounts to nothing more than superstition. To study the Bible for this kind of information is about as relevant to understanding its real message as knowing how many licks it takes to reach the centre of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
It just causes us totally to miss the point—just as those Pharisees who were warned by Jesus, “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want” (John 5:39-40 Message Bible).
Don’t lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the ultimate, final, definitive word of God. He is the living Bible, and its true centre. Don’t waste your time licking around the edges.
Great Father, we human beings so often concentrate on the trivia in our lives to escape having to face the reality of what we are. As the poet said, help us, please to see ourselves, to acknowledge what we are, and to change—to let the Bible reveal to us what really you want us to know about ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach
About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA. You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.