AN AMAZING FACT: On September 13, 1848, a 25-year-old railroad foreman in Vermont, named Phineas P. Gage, was packing explosive powder in a hole with an iron rod. Unfortunately, someone forgot to put the sand in the hole over the powder. A spark flew and there was a powerful blast. The 13-pound tamping iron, over one inch thick and three feet long, was propelled with the force of a bullet, through Gage’s head. It entered under his left cheekbone, went through his brain, and then out the top of his head. Amazingly, this traumatic accident did not kill Phineas. In fact, he regained his physical strength and lived for another 13 years. He seemed mentally sound; he could speak and do physical tasks just as well, and his memory seemed unimpaired. But friends and family knew he was no longer the same man.
Before the accident he was a well-loved, responsible worker. He was known by all as a pious, reverent, and dependable man with high morals. But after the accident Phineas experienced a major moral decline. He became very short-tempered, rude, foul-mouthed, and lost all respect for spiritual things. It seemed as though all of his ethical filters had been turned off. As a result he had difficulty keeping jobs. Around 1850 he spent about a year as a sideshow attraction with P. T. Barnum’s New York museum, putting his injury and the tamping iron on display. Gage kept the iron rod throughout his life as a souvenir and even had it buried with him in death. In medical circles, his story became known as the “crowbar case.”
In 1867 his skull and the original rod that pierced it were exhumed. Both became part of the exhibition at the Harvard Medical School Museum in Boston, where it remains today. Phineas’ traumatic accident cost him his personality, his moral standards, and his commitment to loved ones. Researchers have concluded that he had lost an important part of his brain called the “frontal lobe.” The frontal lobe, behind the forehead, is the largest section of the brain and is responsible for moral reasoning, judgment, social behavior, and most of all, spirituality.
It is interesting that in the book of Revelation, the enemy of God, the beast, seeks to place a mark on the foreheads of all, while the 144,000 have God’s name “written on their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1). Which mark represents the controlling force in your life?
What a powerful example of our Bible text for today!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: Revelation 13:16