When Las Vegas had the Miami Heat as favorites to beat the Detroit Pistons the other day, the question was asked in our paper: “Do the Pistons have a prayer against the Heat?” When I saw that, I had two responses.
First, I wonder why they bother actually playing the game, because it seems everybody knows who will win. Of course, sometimes the expected winner doesn’t win! As one commentator likes to say, “That’s why they play the game!”
Second, I wish they wouldn’t use religious terminology such as “prayer” to describe the Pistons’ “slim” chances. If the Pistons had a “prayer,” they seem to imply, then they have little chance at all. Notice, for instance, the basketball player who “threw up a prayer,” meaning that he threw up a shot that had as much chance of making it as a chihuahua in the Iditarod! To my way of thinking, prayer describes a person whose chances of succeeding are greatly increasing!
Here is the crucial difference. Sports writers predict the future; God prophesies the future! The difference is not subtle! God prophesied that Israel would be taken into captivity if she did not repent (Jeremiah 25:11). He also predicted that they would return in 70 years (verse 12). God predicted that a Messiah would come, predicting his place of birth, lineage, ministry and end. He predicts that this same Jesus will come again (Acts 1:11).
The Sports Illustrated jinx says that if good old SI predicts your success, you’re doomed. Be sure that when the Lord predicts your doom you’re, well, doomed.
“All your words are true,” declares David, “all your righteous laws are eternal” (Psalm 119:160).
I bet God knows who will win the NBA championship. Taking Las Vegas at its word is gambling. Taking God at his word is a sure and certain bet!
Why we can always depend upon God’s word