Are there any anthrax spores in the junk mail in your mailbox? Or have they already been released into the breathing air of your house? Or are they already overwhelming the lymph nodes of your children, with surprise death only hours away?
The first week of October, 2001 brought reports from Florida and New York of possible terrorist efforts to spread the deadly bacterium anthrax. Envelopes with mysterious powder were reported in several places. An exposed man died in Florida.
The nation responded - as natural men ignorant of the true God would respond - in fear and near panic. Gas masks were bought up, lines formed at clinics for testing, and the news media became preoccupied with the subject.
Since inhaled anthrax is far more dangerous than contacted anthrax, it is easy to imagine a crop duster leaving it in the air over a city. Since it can be reduced in size to float in the air and pass our respiratory tract to lodge in our lungs, such a plan has been called "the poor man's nuclear bomb."
Inhaled anthrax poisoning has a fatality rate of 95%, shows no symptoms until it is too late, and takes 1-6 days to work its deadly course.
What should the nation do? Vaccinate every citizen? Nuke Afghanistan? Provide gas masks for everyone? Builder a wider coalition including more Muslim nations? Establish a Palestinian state? Say the pledge to the flag simultaneously in all public schools and hope for the best? Be thankful the NFL has resumed its schedule and enjoy the games while we can?
What should the nation do?
What the nation has not done is repent for its many sins and issue strong reminders of God's promises of protection for the righteous.
America is dying. She has rejected the God of the Bible and His plain demands for truth in pulpits and government alike. Instead, the nation drunkenly rushes down the path of Epicurean excess - how much sinful pleasure can we consume before we die. Men laugh at the bumper sticker - "He who dies with the most toys, wins" - but their lifestyle proves it their motto.
Rather than sing "God Bless America," brag about the great American spirit, and trust in temporary unity, our leaders should call the nation to repentance and punish all sinful activities. Pulpits should be loud with cries of warning and demands for strict and complete obedience to "thus saith the Lord." Fasting and prayer should bring activity to a halt. As the Bible describes in many places, such actions would be the basis for true revival - the restoration of life to a nation and its people.
But since the nation has chosen Charles Darwin, Pope John Paul II, Michael Jordan, Bishop Tutu, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, and other pagans as its great heroes and saviors, they will not hear any truth. They will continue to gorge on carnal pleasures and show a form of godliness, while their hearts fill with fear of anthrax poisoning. They have no antidote or cure for this invisible and silent killer.
What can the righteous do? First, we must repent for our carnal Christianity, an effeminate form of religion where most anything is allowed. Our affliction should bring self-examination, confession, repentance, and reformation. Any other reaction shows an ignorance of God and His holy demands for righteousness. Every aspect of our lives must be dissected in the light of God's Word, and any conduct not meeting His full approval should be ended. Only then might God hear and respond to our situation.
But then the righteous should read, study, memorize, and sing Psalm 91. It is the perfect cure for times like these. Written by David over 3000 years ago by the inspiration of God, it offers the great protection and deliverance of a sovereign God for those who will put their trust in Him.
Let us consider it very briefly to see how well it addresses the present anthrax scare.
It promises God's sure deliverance from the "noisome pestilence" (Ps 91:3).
What is a noisome pestilence? A pestilence, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is "any fatal epidemic disease, affecting man or beast, and destroying many victims." A noisome pestilence is one that is harmful, injurious, noxious, or hurtful (Ezek 14:15,21; Rev 16:2).
It promises no fear of "the pestilence that walketh in darkness" (Ps 91:6).
Here the figure of speech is describing the unseen nature of a pestilence. It is invisible. You cannot avoid it easily. It sneaks into houses and bodies without warning. It can make a fatal claim on a man's life before any symptoms are known. It walks in darkness.
The previous verse (Ps 91:5) describes terror that comes at night, which makes it invisible, and an arrow that comes during the day, which means it cannot be heard. Since we cannot see or hear anthrax, then we are totally dependent on the God Who sees and hears all things.
Yet the righteous do not need to fear it, for the Lord will surely deliver them from it.
It promises that "neither shall any plague come nigh they dwelling" (Ps 91:10).
What is a plague? Again, the Oxford English Dictionary states, "A general name for any malignant disease with which men or beasts are stricken." And how do diseases travel? Invisibly and silently. They cannot be detected until they have captured and fatally infected their victims.
But the righteous need not fear such diseases, for the Lord has promised to protect their houses from such treacherous invaders. Anthrax should not cause fear in the soul of a believer. The God he worships is more than able to deliver him from such threats.
Who has the right to claim such promises?
Those who dwell in the secret place of the most High (Ps 91:1), which is to choose for their lifestyle a close walk with God by the Spirit.
Those who make the Lord most High their habitation (Ps 91:9), which is to seek safety and security in daily communion and fellowship with God.
Those who set their love on the Lord (Ps 91:14), which is to take your affections from this vain and vexing world and direct them toward the God of heaven, which is the first and great commandment.
Those who know and understand His name (Ps 91:14), which is to take delight in learning about the most High God and His glorious perfections and putting your trust in Him.
Though many may fall on both sides (Ps 91:7), the invisible and silent enemy will not come near the righteous. They may see its results in the lives of the wicked around them (Ps 91:8), but they will not experience its ravaging destruction themselves.
The Lord will be with the righteous, deliver them from trouble, honor them, and satisfy them with long life (Ps 91:15-16). And He will show them His salvation, which is to reveal the full beauty of His Word.
Understand that the promises and words of this psalm are only for the righteous. They are not offered for singing "God Bless America" with unbelievers. You must repent of all your sins, as defined by the Bible; which is to confess them, repudiate them, and turn completely away from them. Instead you should seek the Lord with your whole heart, delight in knowing Him, and trust Him for deliverance.
This is what America should do.
If she does not, then let all the righteous flee to their Eternal Refuge and trust in the safety of His wings (Ps 91:4). You will see the destructive judgment of the wicked, but it will not otherwise affect you (Ps 91:8).
1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.