Fortune-telling by randomly choosing a passage from a sacred text is an ancient practice. The classical Greeks used Homer; the Romans used Vergil’s Aeneid. Even Christians who would condemn astrology or Tarot have been known to flip open the Bible to get a coded message from the Divine.
Using heavy construction equipment to do so is, perhaps, overkill.
Recently an Irish backhoe operator spotted an ancient Book of Psalms in a peat bog. It was open to Psalm 83.
Given the apocalyptic mindset of certain world leaders and the current crisis in the Middle East, this is clearly a sign. But of what?
It all depends on the burning question of whether the book holds to the Catholic or Protestant numbering.
Psalms 83 in the Douai-Rheims version used by Roman Catholics is a lovely verse of praise for the protection of God.
83:2. How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!
83:3. my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God.
83:4. For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God.
In the KJV, Psalm 83 is a rant against the enemies of Israel, imploring God to smite them.
83: 1: Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.
2: For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
3: They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
4: They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
5: For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: [snipped: list of enemies with a few pious wishes for their destruction]
13: O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.
14: As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
15: So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.
Unfortunately, according to the article, The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the name of Israel.
Now, the book-lover and medievalist in me rejoice at the rescue of another ancient book. The fortuneteller is reading it as a sign. And the person who hopes the Apocalypse won’t happen next week regrets that there are highly placed politicians who may well believe this is a signal to get the end times started with a nice nuclear Armageddon.
Incidentally, this coming Sunday would normally be International Bog Day, but for unstated reasons, the holiday has been canceled this year. Is that a sign too?