Lottery Tickets

0401. Unbelievable Odds

Recently in the United States, the Powerball lottery was drawn for a record $2 billion. No one had hit all the numbers for 40 straight draws, before someone finally became the winner of the largest money haul ever. The chances of winning the Powerball lottery is approximately 1 in 300 million. To say that these are especially bad odds is an understatement, as the odds of finding a pearl in an oyster is only 1 in 10,000. Heck, even the odds of flipping a coin to have it come up tails 17 consecutive times is 1 in 130,000. To really comprehend these outrageous odds, let’s compare this to a game of hide and seek. There are something like 300 million households in the United States, living in houses, condominiums, town houses, and high-rises. Now imagine if a child hid in one of those addresses across the entire United States. Then you would pay $2 for the opportunity to guess which address the child is hiding in, and if you guess correctly, you win the jackpot. Otherwise, the child changes addresses the next time you want to play. Sounds like a pretty unlikely instance that this would ever happen, and you’re better off just going to work and getting a paycheck. Yet millions of people play some form of lottery every day, despite the statistics, looking to beat the odds, and become the next instant millionaire.

So would you like to hear an even more surprising, yet true story, of defying the odds? Let us research all the empires that have existed in world history. Some of the more famous ones involve the Egyptian civilization that built the great pyramids, the Chinese dynasties that built the Great Wall of China, and of course the Roman empire, which dominated most of the known world at the time of its existence. There are other noteworthy civilizations, such as the Mali empire in Africa, the Incan empire in South America, and the Khmer empire in Cambodia. During the colonial era, it was the European empires such as the English, Spanish, French, and Dutch, that influenced our history. Of course, in recent history, we have the former Soviet Union, Communist China, and the United States. With exception to the last two mentioned, what do all of these empires have in common? They aren’t around anymore. The people continue on in some form, but the empire is no more. Some were destroyed by war and invasion, others imploded under economic distress. None of these civilizations have ever returned to their former glory. Except for one.

There is a little nation, only approximately the size of the state of New Jersey, that exists in the Middle East. It actually existed as a nation in ancient times. It was destroyed three times: first by the Assyrians, then by the Babylonians, and then finally by the Roman Empire. Their people were banned from their homeland, and taken to serve as slaves in other parts of the world. No matter where these people tried to call home, they were persecuted. Some have tried to eradicate them as a people numerous times, and many died in events such as the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. Any other civilization and people would have likely faded into history under such tremendous forces against it. However, despite these odds, on May 14, 1948, Israel reclaimed its homeland, and resurrected itself as a nation. Even after that, forces have tried to destroy them again through wars, only to fail. Today, the opposition faced by Israel include continuous terrorist attacks, threat of nuclear arms, and sanctions by the United Nations. When other more powerful empires have collapsed, never to have returned, why does Israel continue to thrive? How do they keep defying the odds in the face of such overwhelming opposition to their right to exist? Are they getting help from a higher power? Perhaps the answer lies in God’s statement to Abraham, patriarch of the Jewish people, in Genesis 12:3 (CSB): “I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Ponder that this week.

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