But for something I intend to watch only while exercising, video cassettes will do just fine. What I failed to recognize as I began watching them, however, was the added benefit of finding fitting illustrations for communicating the basic truths of God’s Word.
For instance, one video, from the late 1980’s, had to do with the varied wildlife of Virunga National Park in the eastern part of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo along the famed African Rift Valley. This 3,000 square mile park stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, and borders other national parks in both the modern day nations of Rwanda and Uganda. “Virunga”, which is Swahili for “volcano”, was established as Africa's first national park in 1925, and has since been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1979).
While its chief natural attraction is its now expanding population of rare Mountain Gorillas, it also has large concentrations of both Savanna and Forest Elephants, as well as Chimpanzees and Low Land Gorillas, along with Okapi, Giraffes, Forest and Cape Buffaloes, and many endemic bird species. It even has a resident population of Bambuti Pygmy humans.
What intrigued me most on the video, however, were the volcanos themselves. The mountain slopes are pock-marked with what appear to be sinkholes, most of which are grown over with copious vegetation. In reality, these are the remains of actual volcano cones. The amazing thing is that many of them, while holding abundant water and lush vegetation give the appearance of life; but upon closer examination, one discovers that they are in fact death traps.
They are filled with animal remains, some consisting of entire skeletons long since bleached white, and others of animal remains barely a day old, still almost perfectly intact. The cause? Invisible, undetectable, and utterly deadly carbon dioxide gas. Released in small amounts from the volcanic chambers underneath the mountain, carbon dioxide, which is heavier than air, tends to hug the ground. While wind and the sun’s rays dissipate it in the heat of the day, in the early morning and late evening, it forms in deadly concentrations in the depressions formed by the earlier volcanic cones.
Green grasses and other alluring vegetation grow here vigorously, due to the abundance of carbon dioxide and lack of depletion by the grazing of animals. Why is the vegetation not consumed? Needless to say, herbivores are attracted to the fresh flora, but are quickly asphyxiated by the toxicity of the gas. Predictably, along come other animals, specifically predators, which are no doubt attracted to the dead herbivores. Inevitably, they, too, perish just as quickly. The National Geographic videographers were able to document all of this on film. Needless to say, it is sad indeed to watch animals die so tragically and so unnecessarily.*
How much more, then, is it to watch men and women do the same thing. The Word of God pleads with us not to be allured by the promises of sin. Yet we willfully ignore the warnings in hopes of a good time, an easy meal, a quick score, or a pleasant reward. The Bible does indeed affirm that there is pleasure in sin far a season (Hebrews 11:25). But later on, sometimes sooner and sometimes later, there is a consequence as well. Just ask David after his extramarital affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12). Just ask Achan after he stole his bar of gold and goodly raiment (Joshua 7). Just ask Ananias and Sapphira after they told their whopping lie (Acts 5).
Sin always has its consequence. As one preacher from a bygone era was fond of saying, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay!” More to the point, as God’s Word says (Numbers 32:23), “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Food for thought the next time you happen upon the alluring promise of a quick and easy meal!
*NOTE: In a similar vein, I once drug my family to the world famous La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum in downtown Los Angeles. There, scientists have dug up huge quantities of both predator and prey bones (including entirely intact skeletons). Over many thousands of years, numerous species of prey animals (enormous mastodons, gigantic mammoths, and immense bison, among others) came to drink at shallow puddles of water on top of the tar, only to find themselves hopelessly entrenched in peril thereafter due to the tar.
In short order, they were then set upon by other ancient beasts (large saber tooth cats, huge cave lions, oversized dire wolves, and massive short faced bears, among lesser predators). In the end, both predator and prey died by the thousands, only to be entombed in the tar pits alongside of each other. And all because each one and every one of them, in turn, heedlessly ignored the warning signs of danger!