It was in the late 1400’s that the famed Italian explorer Christopher Columbus read in his bible the 22nd Verse of Isaiah chapter 40.
“He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”
Though the intellectual community of Columbus’ day believed the earth to be flat, he believed the bible. But this was not by any means new knowledge to the world. 2000 years ago a few Greek scholars knew the spherical shape of earth, along with other ancient astronomers from various cultures. But still, Columbus dared to challenge the status quo of his day as he set out to prove his belief, and we are all familiar with the story of how he did so.
Picture this doctor from the 1840’s, a prickly sort, adjuring fellow surgeons coming from doing autopsies, “Wash your hands!”
With quickly reddening faces the top notch physicians would respond, “Wash my hands? Good grief, I’m busy saving lives here man! Time means lives, and you want me to stop and perform some meaningless act by washing my hands? Get out of the way!”
The pleading physician, an obstetrician, was an intemperate sort and not the most pleasant of characters to work alongside, but that’s not why all of his colleagues snubbed him. Had they know he was correct, perhaps he would not have been so ostracized by the other leading physicians of his time. Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian, had made an observation which eventually would end up saving a whole lot of lives.
The mortality rate of pregnant women was atrocious back in the 1840’s, and Semmelweis marveled that women who delivered at home, or using a midwife, stood a staggering less chance of dying than those who delivered in hospitals. The widespread ailment from which they were expiring is named puerperal, the word being derived from the Latin for ‘parent and child’. But it was more commonly called “childbed.”
As this astute doctor was observing the other physicians going straight from doing an autopsy to the delivery room, he cogitated correctly: there was an unseen culprit at work. Back then, they didn’t know anything about the hazards of microscopic germs and bacteria, but Semmelweis suspected something of the sort. That was less than 200 years ago. Today, we know that microscopic organisms are responsible for the spread of many and various diseases. Most everyone is familiar with the diligent sanitizing scrub every good surgeon must go through before operating on a person, much less before delivering a baby. One little microbe of decomposing flesh could mean a death sentence for the patient.
But it took several years for Semmelweis’ discovery to be confirmed by his detractors, accepted, and finally sanitizing practices were put into place. There’s much more to the story, but for our purposes this should suffice. (Cairney, .Prescience 2, 137-142 & some very old medical journals)
What does this medically historic event have to do with the origin of the bible? In previous posts we determined that if a book really was divine in origin that we would expect it to contain knowledge that nobody on earth knew at the time it was written.
Through Moses, God set down cleanliness laws 3500 years before micro-organisms were known to exist. The following is one example.
“For the unclean person (someone who has touched a dead person or animal), put some ashes from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh water over them…. The person being cleansed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and that evening he will be clean.” (Numbers 19:17,19).
Ash, water and time: all three are cleansing agents. The scriptures assume a knowledge about that which is unseen to the naked eye, namely that germs and bacteria are responsible for the spread of disease. But this was not discovered until the mid 1800’s. The Book of Numbers was written between the years 1440 and 1400 B.C.
As God was giving laws and guidelines for the nation of Israel to live by, He also instituted quarantines for contagious diseases such as leprosy. And there’s a myriad of other well documented medical facts that the bible has revealed long before mankind discovered them. Here’s another one concerning the human body.
When considering the history of the world it wasn’t all that long ago that “bloodletting” was still a common medical practice. It is thought to have originated first in Egypt thousands of years ago. As a first line treatment doctors would often open a blood vessel and drain some blood from the patient in an attempt to maintain proper balance of four humors. This fallacious thinking was derived from ancient Greek philosophy.
“The four bodily humors were part of Shakespearean cosmology, inherited from the ancient Greek philosophers Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen. Organized around the four elements of earth, water, air, and fire; the four qualities of cold, hot, moist, and dry; and the four humors, these physical qualities determined the behavior of all created things including the human body.” (The World of Shakespeare’s Humors)
Often, leeches were employed to suck blood from the patient. I’ve had my own experiences with leeches down in the Florida swamps near Okeechobee, as well as in the Everglades. I don’t like leeches—not even a little bit. For one, I just don’t like slimy things, but my disdain for them is connected with a decidedly unpleasant experience. I was out hunting poisonous snakes for the purpose of milking their toxins that is used to make anti-venom. As I waded through the black mucky waters of Dead Maiden Swamp, one of those slimy blood suckers latched onto my manhood. And I don’t mind telling you, I screamed like a baby banshee when I ripped it off. There are different types of leeches and the ones in that swamp were humongous, unlike in the image above.
Anyway, there’s a very long and colorful medical history of bloodletting. Today, there actually are a very few extremely rare cases where it really can be beneficial…sometimes. But for the most part this practice has been done away with. Modern medicine now knows that when the human body is experiencing something detrimental, the blood is a good indicator of what’s happening inside the body. One of the first things that is done today in diagnosing health is to take a blood sample to be analyzed. And these days we give blood to a patient to heal them, rather than take it away. You’ve probably seen the signs in places that ask you to donate blood, which reads: “Give the gift of life.” (By donating a pint of healthy blood)
Kidney disease requires an artificial filtering of the blood, which is what the kidneys do, ferreting out toxins and other contaminates.
The bible tells us that “Life is in the blood.” It says it quite a few times in the book of Leviticus. Just one example is chapter 17. Several times in this one chapter the same truth is repeated. Verse 11 begins: “For the life of a creature is in the blood…”
How did Moses, the writer of Leviticus, know this unless God was guiding him in what to write?
There are plenteous more things we can and will show that the bible spoke of long before science and medicine discovered them. It would take a full length book to discuss all of them, but we will be sharing many of them with you.
Please watch for the next installment, and may God Richly Bless You.