Raising Chicago

By Shawn Boonstra

Once upon a time, the city of Chicago had a very serious problem: disease. Unfortunately, as the metropolis emerged from the shores of Lake Michigan, much of the city was barely above the water line, and drainage became a serious issue.

About the Author

Shawn Boonstra is the Speaker/Director for the Voice of Prophecy. He is the host of the radio program and a popular public speaker.

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During the early part of the 19th century, typhoid and dysentery were regular problems. In 1854, a cholera outbreak took out a whopping six percent of the population.  

A contractor offers to raise buildings, 1857The solution? Raise the city. In 1856, an engineer by the name of Ellis Chesborough proposed that the city be raised with jack screws so that a proper sewage system could be installed. The first building to be elevated was a four-story masonry structure weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 tons. Two hundred jackscrews were used to raise it more than six feet.  

It was so successful that by 1860, engineers raised half a city block at once, using 600 men and 6,000 jackscrews to push the buildings upwards by nearly five feet.  They lifted an entire acre of buildings, weighing 35,000 tons. The amazing part?  All of the buildings being raised stayed open for business during the entire operation.

The human race has a serious problem, too. We find ourselves wading in the sewer of sin, unable to free ourselves from the death and disease that accompanies it. As time progresses, so does the problem: by the end of the 20th century, instead of achieving the utopia promised by scientific and technological progress, we found ourselves tragically capable of unimaginable atrocities, exterminating more than 200 million people over the course of the century in warfare alone. 

Fortunately, there is a solution. The cross of Christ promises to elevate the human race above the filth of our wickedness, and Jesus is able to lift all of us at once . . . if we want it. The plan is completely voluntary, and guaranteed by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  

Peter describes it:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4) 

So does Paul:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

One thing is sure: ultimately, if we reject Christ (and why would we?), the plagues embedded in the sewage of sin are guaranteed to catch us.