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Covering the frog story

It’s easy to miss the power behind human events

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I dreamed a few weeks back that I found myself working away almost 4,000 years ago as editor-in-chief of the mainstream daily newspaper in Cairo, Egypt. I dream a lot—but rarely this far back into history. But if you’re even a casual student of history or of the Bible, you might appreciate what was going on.

My wife Carol and I had been reading through the Old Testament book of Exodus as a devotional study every morning. We’d also been thinking a lot about the gifted people who have so regularly and faithfully come to our various publications, broadcasts, etc., being “journalized” by World News Group. Maybe it was the combination that is important to you readers and listeners. Maybe it was that combination that had launched my dreams.

A good “dream machine” includes some generalists and some specialists. And sometimes, in God’s providence, it even takes a combination of combinations. Fairly often, here at World News Group, we do our work in teams of both specialists and generalists. Some times, both. So it intrigues me to think how we might have covered an event like the Egyptian plagues.

The whole purpose of the Plagues in Egypt was to drive at least two nations to God—each in its own way.

Suppose, for the time being, that we’re sitting at the desk of the editor-in-chief in Cairo at the time of the Exodus plagues. How do we begin building our staff? We should probably start with the big story—with what everywhere in Egypt is being called the “frog story.” Who knows the world’s top expert on frogs? Has this happened in other countries? Have so many calamities happened simultaneously in just one culture? Do we have to send our staff there to be briefed, or can we bring them here?

I’ll tell you, though, what really bothers me. There are enough facets to this one story—that’s the story of the frogs—that it could take our whole staff to do it well. It’s a big deal—a very big deal. Yet at the very same time there are a dozen other equally important stories. The Bible, of course, lists 10 distinct plagues.

There are similar things happening with atmosphere-related issues like the Nile River turning to blood or daylight turning to pitch dark. There are also big but unpredictable things happening to animals as different as insects and livestock.

Every one of these developments calls on a reporting team 10 times as big as the one I’ve got. Who is more important to our assignment—a generalist who is both smart and wise about everything in all these various fields of expertise, or a series of specialists?

But we may ultimately find that the most glaringly missing piece from this human puzzle is not just one more story or picture, but is instead the infallible explanation of everything that is already there by the One who created it all in the first place. The whole purpose of the plagues in Egypt was to drive at least two nations to that God—each in its own way. For the Egyptians, it was to be a first-time face-to-face acquaintance. For the people of Israel, it was to be a humbling return.

It’s still tempting to try to explain all the details of human events as they unfold. Too often, though, our sophisticated efforts simply make the problem harder. The only thing that glues these various plagues together is the power that is behind them, and the more I hear about them, the more I am reminded that that power is actually a Superpower—whose judgments are just and whose mercies are more—who wants us to know and love Him personally and to worship Him.

Joel Belz

Joel is WORLD’s founder. He contributes regular commentary for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Radio. Joel has served as editor, publisher, and CEO over three decades at WORLD and is the author of Consider These Things. Joel resides with his wife, Carol, near Asheville, N.C.


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