A Problem With Rats

April 13, 2023
Volume 27, Number 11

New York City has seen just about everything, but yesterday saw a “first”. On Wednesday Mayor Eric Adams introduced Kathleen Corradi as the city’s first “director of rodent mitigation”. Most will likely refer to her as the Rat Czar.

The former schoolteacher was hired to address a growing problem with rats. Rat sightings increased in 2022, according to a story carried by United Press International. Through September of 2022 there were 21,600 complaints filed, an increase of 74% over the same period in 2020. The ad which drew Ms. Corradi’s attention called for a person who “must be “highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty”. In other words, take no prisoners. Most would agree with the goal of extermination.

This sounds eerily similar to a story from the 13th century when the town of Hamelin in Lower Saxony, Germany, hired a piper to address the rat problem they were facing. Those were the days of the Black Plague, and the piper assured the mayor of that town he could lure the rats out by playing his flute. He did as promised, but the mayor reduced the man’s pay significantly. In retaliation, the piper used his charms to lead the children out of the town, and they were never seen again.

An account in 1 Samuel 5 and 6 also sounds similar to New York City’s rat plague. In that account, the Philistines (perennial enemies of Israel) captured the ark of the covenant and took it to their own town. “But the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors” (1 Samuel 5:6). When the ark was moved to other Philistine cities, the same thing happened. There was obviously a connection between their suffering and possessing something that belonged to God.

What finally removed this plague of tumors (likely a sign of bubonic plague) was sending the ark back to Israel. Along with the ark were sent “five golden tumors and five golden rats” (1 Samuel 6:4), sent as a peace offering to God. Once the ark again resided in its rightful place, the rats disappeared.

God has the power to bring plagues upon those who resist His will. The most famous episode was with Egypt when God determined to bring Israel out of their bondage. The first plague brought upon Egypt, turning the water into blood, was introduced with these words: “By this you shall know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 7:17). When God’s final blow was about to fall upon Pharaoh and his army, God said, “Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:18).

You and I have not likely experienced the wrath of God in the form of plagues (though some argue that COVID-19 was a plague from God). But God can do it. How thankful we should be, therefore, for how God has approached each of us: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Instead of a plague of rats, God extends grace to us. We still experience life’s problems, but His grace means we have resources to help us in such times (Hebrews 4:15,16), and deliverance from the ultimate enemy of man, death (Hebrews 2:14,15). Let us be attentive to the sweet sounds of that loving grace. They lead us to life in abundance (John 10:10).


Copyright, 2023, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.