18 Wherefore, I the Lord God will send forth flies upon the face of the earth, which shall take hold of the inhabitants thereof, and shall eat their flesh, and shall cause maggots to come in upon them;
19 And their tongues shall be stayed that they shall not utter against me; and their flesh shall fall from off their bones, and their eyes from their sockets; (D&C 29:18-19)
This comes as a part of D&C 29, which has some prophecies about signs of the last days.
I picked up on these particular verses because some things struck me as I was thinking about it.
It sounds really scary and gross if it is to be literally fulfilled. Supposing it to be literal, wouldn’t people notice a plague of flies? And wouldn’t there be attempts to eradicate them before they have a chance to start eating flesh off people and laying eggs that turn into maggots? For this to be literal, all those flies would have to go unnoticed or thought to be completely harmless. And considering we know about how flies spread disease, that knowledge would have to be ignored or lost. We might say, “Okay, so maybe that knowledge is lost. Or maybe there has been such a breakdown that people don’t have the resources to fight it. Or maybe they no longer care. Maybe modern means of sanitation ceases and the waste lying around becomes a breeding ground for flies.” Okay, maybe. We’ll leave that option wide open.
I think it is also possible to read this as symbolic of plagues that come upon people and they don’t realize they are plagues and don’t do anything to stop it. The way these flies eat the flesh off people makes me think that it is meant to warn us of little harmless-seeming things that gradually steal our time, our motivation, our energy, our lives. If you ask me, social media fits pretty well, with all the buzzing notifications and what-not.
The problem is, all of this sucking away of our time and attention also sucks away our ability to act. I’ve noticed this in my own life. Have you seen it in yours? When I live so much in my mind, I become reluctant to act. I find myself just want to think about acting, while dreading doing it. I think it will be hard and take too long. I fear making mistakes. Silly, but it is something I fight. Do you notice this too?
The other freaky thing is that it says eyes will fall from people’s eye sockets. If symbolic, it tells us that people will not be able to see what is happening to them because the pesky plague has destroyed their vision.
I think it is worth testing ourselves to see how affected we are by internet consumption and social media. Do we know what we’d do with ourselves if we didn’t get on the internet at all or read social media or text or Facebook or tweet or any of that? Are we prepared to just act?
What about the line that says, “there tongues shall be stayed that they shall not utter against me?” It is possible it means that the distractions will sap the energy and motivation of the wicked such that they won’t bother vocalizing their opposition. But if we are plagued by this too, then it may be that we’d be sapped of the energy to defend the Kingdom of God against opposition as well.
So that’s a possible interpretation, you can take it for what it is worth. Yes, I’m reading those verses in light of present issues and there may be future developments that enable a completely literal interpretation, or that suggest a different symbolic interpretation, and I’m open to that. But I think the above interpretation is useful in that it helps us look at an issue in a new way and shows us truths that we might not be able to see otherwise.