The intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Genesis 8:21b
A thirtieth anniversary should be cause to celebrate. It ought to be, but it isn’t.
It’s been 30 years since the last case of smallpox was reported in Somalia. I remember how everyone in the political and scientific communities rejoiced, as for the first time in history, a terrible and often deadly disease had been swept from the face of the earth. This is why I was shocked last week when Forbes Magazine announced the United States Food and Drug Administration had approved the licensing of a new smallpox vaccine.
I wondered, “Why make a vaccine for a disease that no longer exists?” I found a two-word answer: biological terrorism.
It seems some very special and highly guarded labs throughout the world kept some samples of the smallpox virus. While there doesn’t seem to be much worry about the disease escaping into the general population by accident, authorities are concerned that someone –a terrorist, a person wishing to make a name for himself, a madman–might try to break into one of those labs, steal the virus, and reintroduce smallpox into a culture or a country. What I found out was a depressing revelation.
You know, after the Genesis flood, the Lord promised never to destroy the world that watery way again. He made that promise because of who He is, not because He thought Noah and his crew were so perfect and pure. God had no such delusions. That’s why, immediately after making His no-more-universal-flood promise, the Lord added, “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
With that statement, God shows that He knows us better than we know ourselves. God knows our hearts and minds are dark and filled with all manner of evil, up to, and including the reintroduction of smallpox upon an unprepared population.
Amazingly, God decided to do something about our dark hearts. In a gracious act, which is unique in the pages of history, the Lord sent His Son into this world to seek and save the lost. If our hearts are evil from our youth, Jesus’ heart was perfect from His birth. Because His perfect life was motivated by perfect love, Jesus willingly did all that was necessary to save us from ourselves, as well as our triumvirate of enemies: sin, death and devil. With a pure heart, Jesus allowed Himself to be burdened with our sins, and die the death that we deserved.
Now, because He has risen from the dead we know our salvation has been won and we are forgiven and free to live a life without fear–even if that fear is caused by a madman with a vial of smallpox virus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Let the world know Your suffering and death can lighten dark hearts and free us from our fear. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries