Plagues and Epidemics in History

It is often helpful to place what we experience in the present within the context of the past in order to provide a perspective for the future.

Our present COVID-19 moment demands such a perspective and Christian History Magazine will help provide it. I have every hard copy of the magazine since its inception and have found it to be one of the most helpful and informative resources in all my years of ministry. Each quarterly issue is completely dedicated to a particular theme: the last two were on the historical relationship between Judaism and Christianity and the Church’s relationship to Science and Technology throughout history. Every once in awhile there will be a bonus issue published, such as the one I’ve included for your perusal, Plaques and Epidemics: Christian Responses Past and Present. I encourage you subscribe. There is no set price, but subscriptions are on a donation basis.

If you click on the link below to the present issue and look on pages 22 and 23,  you will find a summary of all the major plagues and epidemics recorded in history. You can compare these with our present global crisis which has infected, to date, 17.3 million and claimed the lives of 674K (154K in the US). This will be helpful in keeping our present troubles in proper perspective.

Also, let me suggest that you read pages 24-29 to gain even more perspective: encouragement by the Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) and the ministry of Margaret Blaurer (1493-1541). Especially note the words to the “plague hymn” of Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1583) on page 29, Now, Christ Prevail.

May the Lord give you wisdom, insight, and encouragement as you read this material and think deeply about its application to you and your ministry to others. Blessings!

The God-chaser

The Bible introduces King David as a “man after God’s own heart.” We know the guy was far from perfect so what was the element that defined him in contrast to his predecessor, Saul, or his son-successor, Solomon? Someone described David as a God-chaser. I like that. I think such a description singularly defines a person after God’s own heart—someone who relentlessly pursues God in spite of being deeply flawed and broken.

While Saul was busy building a monument to himself (1 Samuel 15:12) and Solomon was focused on loving “many foreign women” and accommodating their gods (1 Kings 11:1-6), David was chasing after God. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1, 2) “O God, you are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land.” (Psalm 63:11) “My soul languishes for your salvation; I wait for your word.” Psalm 119:81. “I stretch out my hands to You; my soul longs for You…” (Psalm 143:6)

David was hungry and thirsty for God; he sought after God; he had a passion for spiritual things. Though he was a sinner he was also a man of repentance who saw his sin as potentially separating from the God who was his very life. “Have mercy upon me, O God…blot out my transgressions…against you, and you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…I was brought forth in iniquity…create within my a new heart…cast me not away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:1-11)

Yes, David was a God-chaser and rightly called a “man after God’s own heart,” because he had a deep desire for God and doing the will of God. He was a shadow of another who would come to be known as the “son of David.” The Messiah, Jesus Christ, took what David imperfectly demonstrated and manifested those qualities to perfection. He relentlessly pursued God, his Father; his food was to do the will of the One who sent him; his entire purpose in life was to glorify his Father in heaven. Interestingly, we usually define the passion of Christ as his suffering and death, but his real passion was desiring to do the will of God more than he wanted to escape his pain.

I want to be like Jesus, but David shows me that it is possible to be a God-chaser inspite of my sin. David gives me hope that, though deeply flawed, I can be a man after God’s own heart!