Today as part of our home church meeting I had a scripture discussion about plagues with my teenage kids. In a religious context, a plague is some large-scale catastrophe, such as a disease or famine, which occurs as a judgment from God. The plagues in the book of Exodus are one example, where the Lord punished the Egyptians for enslaving the people of Israel and refusing to liberate them.
Each person was assigned to find a plague somewhere in the scriptures and to share it with the group. Each of these plagues has a lesson for us today. This is what they chose:
- 3 Nephi 8: A great storm, earthquakes, cities burned, and landslides occur in ancient America at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, as a judgement on the wickedness of the people. All of this occurred in the space of about 3 hours, which underscores the lesson that when a plague is upon us the time for preparation is over.
- Exodus 9:8-11: One of the plagues of Egypt; boils and pustules on men and cattle. A spreading disease can very quickly make a lot of people miserable and destroy their livelihoods, as we have learned in recent weeks from the coronavirus pandemic.
- Ether 9:28-35: The people reject the prophets who call them to repentance, so the Lord sends a famine, and poisonous serpents chase the people out of their lands. The purpose of plagues is not so much to punish us as it is to humble us, so that we will repent like these people eventually did.
- Genesis 11:1-9: The Lord confounds the language of the people at the tower of Babel. My oldest son shared this, which surprised and delighted me because I have never thought of it as a plague before. But he is right; Babel experienced a plague of miscommunication, which certainly could happen today. A sudden loss of our communications technology would produce untold mayhem in our society.
- 1 Kings 17:1-16: Elijah declares a famine on the people of Israel because they worshiped Baalim instead of the Lord. This is the one that I shared. The widow who fed Elijah was really suffering from the famine, but she had faith in Elijah’s prophecy that she would have enough food for her family if she would first feed the Lord’s prophet. Plagues will cause righteous people to suffer too, but if we put the Lord first we will come out alright.
The world economy has been brought to its knees in a matter of weeks by the plague of coronavirus, and we are warned in the scriptures that more plagues are coming. Are we prepared? Have we humbled ourselves and repented?
We also had a short meeting with all of the family together. We sang hymns, prayed, bore testimony, and read an article in a Church magazine. The Spirit of the Lord was with us, and we rejoiced that we could worship him. “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.“
As part of the service my oldest son shared this passage from the Old Testament:
2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. (Exodus 3:2-5)
As he read I looked around the room, and saw that all of us in the room had bare feet.
Yes, I thought, this is holy ground.