|C. Kevin Thompson|
I wrote a series of articles several years ago when 30 Days Hath Revenge originally came out. It was a quick history of The Plague. It covered The Justinian Plague of 542 A.D., The Black Death, or Black Plague, in the 14th century, and the Third Great Plague of the 17th century. There were other, more recent outbreaks, too, which I discussed, like The Barbary Plague in San Francisco during the early 1900s, and smaller outbreaks in Chandigarh, India (1994) and in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa (2003).
As I researched for my book, I became fascinated by a portion of Old testament scripture I had read numerous times in the past, but it was an author who specialized in germ warfare who pointed out to me what I had missed.
In 1 Samuel 5:1-7:1, we have the story of the Ark of God being captured by the Philistines. They take the Ark back home and place it in the temple of Dagon in the city of Ashdod. At first, the Lord God sends a little message to the Philistines by causing the image of Dagon to fall on its face. The priests of the pagan temple, finding their god on the ground that next morning, picked up the image and put it back in its place.
(As an aside, how much does this look like us? God knocks down an image we tend to worship, and we, like the priests, pick it up, dust it off, and continue to live our lives in the same fashion, missing the inherent warning? Hmmm…Now, back to our story.)
So, the Lord God does it again. When the image of Dagon fell a second time the very next morning, the head and hands also broke off. They were found lying on the threshold of the temple. A very symbolic act by the Lord God to denote His dominion and power over the pagan god. Problem is, neither the priests nor the people of Ashdod got the message. You would think they would have put two and two together and thought to themselves, “Hey, we didn’t have this problem until the Ark of God arrived.” But, they didn’t. So, God proceeded to Plan B.
(One more aside: This, by the way, shows how merciful God is. He could have just gone ahead and enacted Plan B, but He tried to get their attention by other means first. This is often how God operates. Unfortunately, we often miss the earlier messages and only see the bad ones that follow, like the people of Ashdod. Then, we have the audacity to criticize God and ask why He is so vicious, so uncaring, and so malevolent in His ways. “Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?” Had we listened the first time, He wouldn’t have to enact Plan B. Hmmm… Now, back to our story.)
In verse six and following, it says the Lord God’s hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and He inflicted them with “tumors.” In the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate, they add this line (NIV): “And rats appeared in their land, and death and destruction were throughout the city.”
That’s when the priests and people of Ashdod finally figured it out. Oh, it’s the Ark… So, they called for a meeting and decided to move the Ark. To Ekron. Duh. Now, two cities were infected because God did not stop the affliction in Ashdod. Verse 9 says the people in Ekron were also infected with “tumors.” In the Septuagint, it adds: “in the groin.”
The Bubonic Plague was referred to by that name because of the buboes (in the Biblical account = tumors) which appear under the arms and in the groin area. Lymph nodes swell with a mixture of the bacteria, both alive and dead, and puss (hence the stories about the “stench” and “smell of death” often recorded by historians).
In 1 Samuel 6, seven months passed before the Philistines called a major conference. Seven months of the plague devastating five major cities of the kingdom. Such is sin. It causes great suffering and stubbornness. So, when the conferees arrived and discussed the situation, they decided the Ark of God must be sent back to Israel. They also decided a guilt offering be sent with it: five golden tumors and five golden rats, to symbolize the affliction, and one for each ruler of the five major cities of Philistia (vv. 1-18). They finally got it.
Historians believe that this account in 1 Samuel is the first recorded account of a bubonic plague. There may have been other outbreaks in biblical times, too. They just didn’t get recorded.
What can we take away from this? It’s interesting how God uses the effects of sin (in this case, war, pride, and disease) to “preach a sermon,” of sorts (cf. Romans 1:19). In one of the worst accounts in recorded history, it started with one little microscopic bacteria and a flea. But that’s how sin operates. One seemingly small incident, decision, or choice against the laws of God, even by those who seem religiously devout, hatches in one individual and spreads throughout that person’s body, who in turn, comes in contact with another and another.
And the rest, they say, is history.
If only we would listen to the first message, we’d never have to experience God’s Plan B.
A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.
Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.
But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.
C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years of experience as an administrator at the high school level.
A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels. The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) is scheduled for reprint with Hallway Publishing, Spring 2017. Kevin’s second book, 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is also scheduled for a second edition Oct. 2016, with Book 2 coming soon. Kevin also has had articles appear in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.
Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com
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