DayBreaks for 07/26/19: The Great Contagion
From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:
The Black Death plague ravaged Europe between 1348 and 1351. It is believed to have traveled to Europe via rats aboard ships that came from Asia. In three short years, 30-60% of Europe’s population died from the plague. It is estimated that the plague killed nearly a quarter of all persons in the world died during that time (~100 million deaths). The bubonic plague had a mortality rate of thirty to seventy-five percent and symptoms including fever of 101–105°, headaches, painful aching joints, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise. Of those who contracted the bubonic plague form of the disease, 4 out of 5 died within eight days.
The world hasn’t seen a plague like that since. Let’s pray it never does. But we do have avian flu, swine flu, regular old flu, and other diseases that could be equally deadly if they were not contained…and if not for modern interventions.
These and other contagions are serious business and can spread rapidly. But Scripture has something today about contagion of the spiritual kind that we should think seriously about. Consider Deuteronomy 29:22-27 (NIV): Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it. The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur–nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger. All the nations will ask: “Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?” And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book.
Lest we think all of the above came about because of massive sin, all we have to do is go back a couple of verses to verses 19-20 to see the cause: When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” Do you get it? It starts with “such a person”, a single individual, who persists in going his own way. And what is his own way? Following his own wisdom and desires and wants rather than God’s. In short, sin. But did you catch the consequence? “This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” The contagion spread from one man determined to do his will instead of God’s, and it spreads to other people like a contagion…but even one person, it appears, is enough that the contagion will even affect the dirt and soil. In The Gospel According to Moses, Athol Dickson put it in these words: “The corruption beginning as a hidden thought in one man’s mind is so contagious it ends with a curse not just on humanity but even upon the soil and plants! Suddenly it seems the Torah is treating sin not as a mere choice, but as a disease, a highly contagious, full-blown plague upon the earth.”
He continues: “I am reminded of the Torah’s teaching that simply touching holy things such as Mt. Sinai, the tabernacle altar, or the offerings presented at the tabernacle altar could cause a person to become holy. The Torah says physical contact with a specific piece of real estate, a portable piece of furniture, or a slaughtered animal could make a person holy under the right circumstances. There is no stronger argument for the contagious nature of spiritual conditions. Unfortunately, I believe the Torah also strongly implies that this spiritual contagion flows both ways. For example: Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening. (Num. 19:22)
Not one of us would voluntarily touch Yersinia pestis (the infectious agent of bubonic plague). Yet daily, we touch and handle sin, playing with it as if it were a toy rather than a destructive contagion that brings plague everywhere. If only we had eyes to see how deadly it is…
PRAYER: Jesus, we need to have a deeper understanding of the deadly contagion that is the sin in our lives. Help us understand its effect not just on ourselves, but on others that we love, and upon You as seen through the cross. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>