Medical researchers have discovered that up to 10% of modern Europeans may be resistant to HIV infection because these individuals harbor a rare gene mutation. CCR5 is a protein found on all white blood cells. A rare mutation causes this protein to change and prevents HIV from entering its target white blood cells, protecting the individual against HIV infection. It probably appeared in the human genome over 2500 years ago with a very low prevalence. What caused the mutation to become so prevalent in the gene pool?
The intriguing reason may be linked to the Black Plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century. The Plague was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that was most commonly transmitted to humans by fleas that were carried by rats. About 40% of the population succumbed to the Plague and mathematical models suggest that this may have altered the gene pool boosting the prevalence of this mutation. It was an unexpected consequence of a devastating disease.
As the world slowly recovers from the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are already learning of many unexpected consequences. From medical sequelae such as long term damage to the heart, lungs, and liver to legal issues such as worker’s compensation and workplace safety, our entire society has been transformed within less than a year. Positive effects include the explosion of technological tools that enable us to meet and work together from remote locations and the successful implementation of a new class of therapeutic agents, the mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna vaccines), that has broad applications in all areas of medicine.
…that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.
Esther 9:28 (NKJV)
Because of hundreds of years of sinning, God allowed the Jews to be enslaved and carried off to the Babylonian Kingdom. Thousands were slaughtered and the great temple of Jerusalem, that was built by Solomon, was destroyed. From this disaster, the Bible records the actions of Queen Esther, a Jewess, who was chosen by the king from dozens of women, to become the queen. At the time of their marriage, Esther had not revealed she was jewish. She later learns of a plot by a palace official, Haman, who hates the Jews and tricks the King into issuing an edict to execute all the Jews in Persia. God’s divine Hand of providence intervenes and Esther exposes Haman’s plot before the king who then executes Haman and allows the Jews to defend themselves. The Feast of Purim celebrates this victory of the Jews over their enemies.
Unexpected consequences of a disaster may be immediately evident while others, like the Great Plague increasing the prevalence of the CCR5 mutation, may take hundreds of years before it is recognized. Through the faith and bravery of Esther, hundreds of thousands of Persian Jews live in the world today. Some of my closest professional colleagues proudly identify with them. I am honored to work with all of them and have trained many of them. However, it would never have happened if the tragic fall of Jerusalem and enslavement of the Jewish people by the Persian empire had not occured. It is an unexpected consequence from a dark chapter in Jewish history.
Praise God for His faithfulness to the Jewish people. The Bible promises us that someday, all Jews will recognize Jesus Christ as their true Messiah and accept them as their Lord and Savior. It will be a glorious reunion in Heaven!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.