The Morning After

Plague Service

After the plague the LORD said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest— (Numbers 26:1)

Sure, God does all this judgment from heaven stuff. He hurls blood and frogs; he kills livestock and the firstborn; he blasts entire armies. But does he give any thought to who’s going to clean up afterward. Nope. Charred corpses, rotting horses, puking vultures, rusting weapons, broken chariots on blocks—he leaves it all strewn across the decimated landscape and simply moves on to his next event. Except for directing his own personal chosen people to cherry pick the best stuff left over, he could care less about the mess or that he’s turned a perfectly nice tourist spot into a heap of smoking, stinking ruins.

The Bible hardly ever tells you the other side of the story. It’s all about flash and boom, lights and action. You never read about the poor suckers who have to stay behind and vacuum. You never read about the unchosen dweebs who get the dubious job of picking up after the Deity. God can pull off some impressive carnage, but when he’s moved the show to another town, there are toilets to clean, towels to launder, walls to scrub, grass to replant, bodies to bury or burn, temples to rebuild, and idols to recast. It’s a hard scrabble life on the backside of divine wrath, let me tell you.

Take the whole frogs thing, for example. It’s no problem for God to abracadabra a gazillion frogs all over Egypt. Zingo! And they’re everywhere: in the kitchen, in the bed, in pots and pans, and even on people (though mostly on really slow people). Everybody is grossed out, except for this one visiting chef from France who came up with a few creative recipes. So Moses figures he’s made the point and we quickly move on to the plague of insects. But there’s this little bit of information tucked in to the account: The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. Though the grand narrative moves quickly toward the nifty slaying of the firstborn, we have evidence that the transition from one plague to the other was no picnic. While Moses is coaching the insect world, somebody is shoveling the former divine wrath into piles of aromatic amphibian mush. Can you say gag me with a spoon?

God’s kind of funny. He can be the most finicky supreme being around. One slight blemish on an otherwise perfectly good sacrifice and he goes bonkers. Directions for the tabernacle and its utensils are meticulous to the nano-degree. And just try sneaking just one tiny, harmless idol into the camp and see what happens. He’s so precise he’s got all the stars numbered (around 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 at last human count, though we don’t have enough sticky notes to tag each of them) and he’s inventoried each of the hairs on your head to boot. You’d think a God that obsessive about order would at least wipe up after himself. But not this guy. I guess when you’re the king of the hill, you’re too busy planning the next disaster.

Makes you wonder what kind of kid Jesus was. Being the son of the most high thrasher, he may have been a chip off the old block. How many times did his mom have to tell him to pick up his room or to stop tracking donkey dung into the house? He did seem to be a little tidy when he got older. Both times, after he fed the 5000 and the 4000, he had his disciples pick up the leftovers. And upon rising from the dead, Jesus apparently didn’t forget to make his bed (Jn 20:7). On the whole, Jesus seems much more conscientious about picking up after himself than his dad was. Of course, Jesus was under pressure to make a good impression. Nobody would get off on a sloppy savior.


One Response

  1. I can dig it, man, I’m a custodian at a high school!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s