My interest started last Monday while I chiseled the brick face off my fireplace. Dust particles floated up my nose and down my throat. Dust landed on my hair, on my face and into the corner of my eye. Actually, dust particles found their way to every surface in my home.
And so I was curious if anybody had ever studied the properties of dust particles and apparently in 1952 a scientist named Edward Purcell won a Nobel Prize in physics by studying the behavior of dust. All the formulas in this study were way over my head but what Purcell found is that dust particles will find their way to every surface in your home.
Dust will sometimes travel a great distance before it settles and even a little dust on some surfaces is very obvious and dust in the wrong place can be dangerous.
Think about some other properties of dust.
The Bible says in Genesis 2:7 that God formed mankind out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into these dust beings the breath of life. And these living dust beings become the crowning achievement in all of God’s paradise-creation. And everything was perfect.
But then we dust people rebel against the God who made us and perfection is destroyed and the whole world falls into disrepair – cursed because of this rebellion we call sin. We find some of these curses described in Genesis 3:14:
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
A lifetime of eating dust. Dust men and women are cursed a couple verses later.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return. ~ Genesis 3:19
What a combination – dust and sweat as long as we live and when we die more dust. This is the curse of sin and it is like a dust that spreads far and wide until every surface is covered. The Bible often points out the consequences of sin as a dry, dusty barrenness; or as layers of filth caked on people with dirt encrusted lives needing to be washed clean; or as a dryness that causes dusty throats with a never ending thirst.
the Bible also says that we are not satisfied with dusty old sins but that we like to invent new ones. That we exchange the truth of God for lies so that we are constantly stirring up more dust.
(we are) …filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. … full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. …(we are) gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; … (we have) have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. … (we) not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 8)
The message paraphrase describes us as mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers, bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags who keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives because we are stupid, slimy, cruel, and cold-blooded.
The dust of sin has settled every where. The whole world groans for it to be better. We long for it to be better because we know that unless Gd does something we are doomed.
For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. ~ Romans 8:19-21
We wait with eager hope for that day longing for something to be done with the sin that has settled everywhere and encrusted everything. When we understand the properties of dust know that this is a huge problem. We might try to do something about it but instead of cleaning it up we make matters worse. If we try to blow the dust from our lives we simply blow it from one place to another. If we try to wipe down the dirt in our lives it becomes a smudgy, smeared-up mess. We need help.
And so God steps in and says I’ll clean up this mess. And God sends Jesus to offer a washing and renewal. God does it all in Jesus who becaem a dust man, lived a perfect life, went to the cross, died for us, was buried and was rasied to live again.
Do we want to be clean? Will we embrace the work of God in Jesus?
When we recognize our dustiness and know that we need washing because we genuinely mourn the brokenness in this world an in our own lives, then we find ourselves in the posture of true grief and repentance. one such posture is to sit in dust in ashes.
I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. ~Job 42:6
We recognize our dustiness and then we claim God’s promise:
God raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap. ~ 1 Samuel 2:8