Guiding Lights

by Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: Between 1768 and 1775, the famous British explorer James Cook and his crew made two voyages around the world. Cook and his companions charted much of the South Pacific using nothing more than a sextant and a simple compass for navigation!

It's amazing to me how the ancient explorers knew their location based only on the sun, moon, and stars. The Bible contains a dramatic story of a ship lost at sea during a severe storm. For 14 gray days and black nights, the apostle Paul and some sea mates were beaten by the wind and drenched with the driving rain and angry waves. However, the main cause of the sailors' utter discouragement was that they had no heavenly bodies to guide them. They were oblivious to their location. "And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away." Acts 27:20. In the same way that it was imperative for the ancient sailors to have a view of the sun by day or stars by night in order to chart their location and measure their progress, modern men and women also need guiding lights.

In order for people to be truly happy and secure, it is important for them to have a sense of where they have come from, where they are going, and especially where they are now. Without these three essential reference points, people begin to feel like ships drifting aimlessly on some dark, endless ocean. In His Word, God has given a galaxy of prophecies to help us locate our position in the scope of time. Sadly, many people never avail themselves of these guiding lights. Jesus reproved the religious leaders of His day for not recognizing where they were in time. "He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" Matthew 16:2, 3.

Stunning Accuracy
I own a little hand-held computer called a GPS (Global Positioning System) that I take with me whenever I go flying. Using dozens of satellites that orbit thousands of miles above the earth, this remarkable device can tell me exactly where I am on a digital map-with accuracy within a few feet. But when I first turn on my GPS, it is useless until it begins to receive and process information from these satellites. At first the screen will say: "Cannot determine position. Need more satellites!" A minimum of three satellites are required in order for it to give a rough location. As one by one the unit begins to locate and register more of these man-made stars, the information becomes increasingly more accurate. Using seven satellites, it will tell me my longitude, latitude, altitude, the speed at which I am traveling, and how long it will take for me to reach my destination.

Sound Conclusions
This same principle applies when we study biblical topics. The more points of light we receive on a particular subject, the more confident we can be regarding the soundness of our conclusions and the truth just discovered. Isaiah describes this principle of comparative Bible study in this way: " For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." Isaiah 28:10. To build our entire belief system upon one passage of Scripture or upon human opinion is to build on the sand, which will more than likely leave us "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." Ephesians 4:14. In other words, we'd be spiritually seasick and confused! One light may reveal the location of the airport, but many runway lights are required to outline the landing strip and tell the pilot how to approach the runway.

One night during a cross-country flight in a small plane, a main fuse blew out in my instrument panel and I lost power to all supplemental forms of navigation. I had to aim my little flashlight at the compass and trust my life to that faithful instrument. Similarly, there have been times in my life when clouds of trouble obscured the light of His face above and my friends seemed few and far between. But through that dark fog, God's Word has always been a constant and comforting light on my path (Psalm 119:105). What the compass is to the pilot and sailor, the Bible is to the Christian.


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