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Reporters generally tell what has happened, not what will happen.

"Usually, people wait for things to occur before trying to describe them," wrote Jonathan Schell in his definitive book about the nuclear threat, The Fate o f the Earth. "But since we cannot afford under any circumstances to let a holocaust occur, we are forced in this one case to become the historians of the future."

In the days after Yitzhak Rabin was murdered, I reluctantly came to the same conclusion.

"I know why you're involved in this," I told Rips late one night a few days after Rabin was killed, and there was no longer any doubt that the Bible code was real. "You're a mathematician, you're religious, and you read the Bible every day.

"But I don't know why I'm involved. I'm not religious. I don't even believe in God. I'm a total sceptic. There's no one who would be harder to persuade this is real than me."

"That's why you're involved," said Rips. "You can tell the modern world about the Bible code."

"I'm just the reporter who stumbled onto this," I replied.

But at exactly the moment the Bible code became life-and-death reality, we discovered that the code also predicted an "atomic holocaust" in Israel, an attack that might trigger the first nuclear "World War."

I felt compelled to warn both Peres and Netanyahu that the code seemed to predict an atomic attack, as I had warned Rabin that the code predicted his assassination.

I never imagined that I would ultimately find myself searching for the details of the real Apocalypse. I never imagined that the "End of Days" would be encoded in the Bible with the current year. I never imagined that the long-known Biblical prophecies of Armageddon might on some level be real.

I had been a reporter all my life. I started out on the night police beat. I always had a very flat-footed, down-to-earth view of reality. And I was determined to deal with this story the same way I dealt with every other story.

There were two problems. I could not get a face-to-face interview with the encoder. And I could not check out the facts in the future.

Is the Bible code merely giving a scientific gloss to millennium fever, or is it warning us, perhaps just in time, of a very real danger? There is no way to know.

The code may be neither "right" nor "wrong." It probably tells us what might happen, not what will happen.

But since we cannot let our world be destroyed, we cannot simply wait -we must assume that the warning in the Bible code is real.