Mission Statement

In classical sacrifices, the people get the good bits, and the gods get the refuse, the bits that would get thrown out otherwise.

Not our God. Leviticus (particularly Leviticus 3) describes the sacrifices that our LORD demanded from His people of Israel. God gets the kidneys, the tail, and all the fat. He gets the prime steak, He gets the best.

Today we do not literally give sacrifices of animals. For us the ultimate sacrifice has been made through our Lord, Christ Jesus. But should always be our ambition to do the same thing - to offer God the best of what we have, to offer Him the fat, and not the smoke and bones.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Bubonic Plague

I'm currently reading 1st Samuel. And in the 6th chapter I noticed the plague that visits the Philistines when they have captured the Ark of the Covenant seems remarkably like the plague. (I'm not the only person to think so.) There are the tumours and rats - the two big symptoms of the bubonic plague.

Which got me thinking about the plague. Now, I love history, and I always thought the plague was interesting. (Okay, I'm a little weird.) The main recorded outbreaks are the Black Death in Europe in the 1340s, and the outbreak in 1665-1666 in London, which ended with the Great Fire of London in 1666. In the Black Death between 30 and 60 percent of Europe's population died of the disease - and considering the high general mortality rate of the time, famine caused by lack of labourers, etc, it lead to massive social changes (including things like the death of Feudalism).

When did the Plague occur, and what else was happening at the time? Well, as I said, the biggest outbreak was in Europe in the 1340s. At that time the Roman Catholic Church was the only official church of Europe, with all churches and people that we would nowdays consider Protestant (though it wasn't a phrase in existence) were usually condemned as heretics and treated as such. The Great Schism had occured, seperating the Eastern church from the Western church, and the battle was primarily over Papal power (with Eastern churches seeing the Pope as a kind of first among equals and the Western Catholic churches seeing the Pope as essentially infallible) though other issues such as Iconoclasm (with the East worshipping icons, while the Catholics left that for a few centuries) and the marriages of parish priests (East allowed it, West didn't). The Crusades had begun, and had in the 4th Crusade resulted in Catholic Crusades sacking Constantinople, the centre of the Eastern Orthadox Church. The Popes were in battle with everyone (including each other - there was more than one) in a power-mad bid.

The Plague of London in 1666 was shortly after the overthrow of Puritan England (7 years before), a year after an act that prohibited dissenting Christians from meeting (unless all members of one family) and was in the same year of the Five Mile Act which prohibited Non-conformist ministers from going within 5 miles of their former parishes or in any towns, or to teach in any schools. The King of the time, Charles 2nd, was known for his lechery (he had 12 ACKNOWLEDGED illegitimate children) and for the hedonism of his court.

Notice anything about the religious lives here? The two best know examples of the plague took place in times where the true church was marginalised, outlawed, where many Christians lost their livings and their lives, whilst the ruling powers of church and state lived lives of debuchery.

So what does this say for today? The plague is no longer considered a worry - although it does appear, even in the medical Western world. Apparently there are an average of 13 reported cases in the US a year - with a 15% death rate. The plague is treated with antibiotics, but there have been cases of antibiotic-resistant strains. The death rates should those strains reach the Western world would be astromonical. About 30% of people who get the plague died historically. We would be looking at similar percentages. In addition, with the removal of so many diseases from our lives (a GOOD thing, believe me) we have lowered resistance. Very few non-Europeans have any genetic resistance, and so they are at even greater risk.

Are we in the same position as the 13th century and Enlgand in the 1660s? I would say we aren't far off it. The church is marginalised, with the church held up to ridicule and laws being slowly put into place that prohibit the free exercise of religion ('hate speech' laws against Muslims and homosexuals immediately spring to mind). The leaders of church and state are generally in states of appostacy and live lives of unrivalled luxury and licence. Think of all the politicians who are connected with sex scandals in recent times. Shades of Charles the 2nd, anyone?

Like the Philistines, like the people of Europe and of London in the past, we are all guilty of turning away from God, of thinking Him a joke, of something that we can have serve ourselves, to make ourselves more powerful. We, like them, are ripe for judgement.

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