The First and Worst Pandemic

Baseball players wear masks to thwart the spread off the Spanish Flu ii 1918 (courtesy of science.nationalgeographic.com)
Baseball players wear masks to thwart the spread off the Spanish Flu ii 1918 (courtesy of science.nationalgeographic.com)

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me – Psalms 51:5 (NIV)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; – Romans 3:23 (KJV)

Within the last 24 hours the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that outbreaks of the flu had reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the US.  Flu vaccines are in short supply in many areas and the country and the heath care infrastructure is being taxed.  Experts are calling this the worst flu outbreak in years.  Even as I’m writing this I’m not feeling my best.  While I’m pretty certain I don’t have a case of the flu, I’m not ready to skip along singing “zippity do dah.”  (Come to think of it, I couldn’t envision myself signing that song even if I were feeling fit as a fiddle!)

The current flu outbreak got me to thinking about the worst pandemics in recorded history.  So I consulted my favorite research assistant, Google, and here are the top five pandemics:

1.  Peloponnesian War Pestilence – 430 BC.  Killed 30,000 of Athen’s population.

2.  Antonine Plague – 165 – 180 AD.  Now thought to be smallpox, killed 15 million of Rome’s inhabitants.

3.  Plague of Justianian – 541 – 542 AD.  Death toll is uncertain, but one estimate places it as high as 25 million in the region of Constantinople.

4.  Black Death – 14th century.  Estimated to have killed between 75 million and 200 million of Europe’s inhabitants.

5.  Spanish Flu – 1918. Death toll estimated between 20 million and 50 million worldwide

There are an awful lot of smart people who work for Google.  Mathematical geniuses like Matt Damon’s character in the movie, Good Will Hunting.  However for all this grey matter applied to search engine analytics, the folks at Google, as well as those at Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines missed the first and worst pandemic.  This pandemic is unique in that unlike the pandemics listed above, it infected and continues to infect 100% of the world’s population and it has a 100% mortality rate.

I’m referring to the pandemic of sin

Our first parents, Adam and Eve were born without the contagion, but became infected when they disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17).  They passed along this genetic mutation to every human being who has lived ever since.  Unlike some diseases, there are no mere “carriers” of the sin virus.  Everyone develops a full blow case, which results in death.

Throughout the ages, God has prescribed remedies that have provided temporary relief from, but not an ultimately cure for, the virus of sin.  The various offerings prescribed under the Levitical law treated the symptoms, but not ultimately did not provide a cure. It was not until Jesus Christ entered the world and died on our behalf that the ultimate cure for sin became available.  The precious blood he shared provided the serum. While death is still a byproduct of the original virus, it loses its potency (1. Cor. 15:54).

God readily makes the cure available to all, but you must willingly submit to it.  He does not practice forced inoculations.  

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