Tag Archives: coronavirus

As In the Days of Noah

Noah lived in the midst of evil. We do too. Our modern world has plenty of idols. For some it is politics, for others it is entertainment. Acquiring wealth consumes the time and affections of many people, providing a false sense of security and self-sufficiency that excludes God. As in the days of Noah, violence fills our world. Individuals and nations employ violence as a means to secure wealth through war, sex trafficking, drug trafficking, and exploitation of others in the global marketplace. Violence against the unborn has reached abominable proportions. It’s not difficult for Christians to identify many other forms of corruption and to be appalled at their rapid increase.

A Unique Task

God gave Noah a unique task for a unique time. Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), was faithful even though God delayed for decades the judgment he declared to Noah. Though none of us have a task as unique as Noah’s nor live in as unique a time, we can learn from Noah’s persistent obedience. We can, in the words of the apostle Paul, see to it that we complete the ministry we have received in the Lord (Colossians 4:17).

It could be that you have been given a specific task, one that others have been given but that is by no means universal. Perhaps you have journeyed far and labored long in obedience to God’s clear instruction but do not yet see the fruit you expected. Be encouraged by this:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.—Galatians 6:9

Favor In the Eyes of the Lord

Noah, a righteous man and blameless among the people, found favor in the eyes of the Lord and he walked with God.

A careful look at scripture shows many of God’s promises to be conditional on our obedience. We either walk with God or we don’t, there is no third option. If we cling to idols we cannot simultaneously walk with God, if we serve money we cannot serve God, we will not gratify the flesh if we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16); we cannot be partners with immoral, impure or greedy people and be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-7).

The Bible is filled with exhortations to persevere in our faith. In times such as we now find ourselves in, God looks with favor upon those who, like Noah, walk with him and are obedient to the task they are given.

A Universal Task

God has given some tasks to every Christian. None of us are excluded from walking in the Spirit, being ambassadors for Christ, or making disciples. We cannot do what God has asked of us in our own strength, but God has made it possible for us to participate in the work that he is completing in us. We can, in the words of the New Testament, see to it that none of us has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12) and that no one falls short of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15). We can “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. We can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Noah had to be prepared for the time of God’s judgment. Likewise, we must be prepared for the Lord’s return. God has promised to complete the work he began in us. We take comfort in this fact when we stumble while running our race, knowing that our perseverance, though there is no room for laxity on our part, ultimately depends upon God. Even the warnings against falling away found in the book of Hebrews serve as a means by which God ensures his elect do not leave the faith.

Noah warned about unseen things. As in the days of Noah, the unbelieving world is unaware of the wrath to come. We are called to go into the whole world and warn them, to make disciples who follow Jesus and escape God’s wrath.

Persevering In the Storm

Whether you believe the coronavirus pandemic is judgment from God on a rebellious world, a wake-up call for believers or merely evil resulting from a fallen world, the task in front of every Christian remains the same—to persevere in faith.

I can’t help but wonder what Noah thought while the flood waters prevailed on the earth for 150 days. How long would he have to live in the ark? When would he be back on familiar, solid ground?

The Lord knows how to rescue godly men and women from trials (2 Peter 2:9). If you are discouraged during this pandemic, recall that even as the floodwaters were still high, God remembered Noah and then made the waters subside. He will remember you too. Be faithful.

Coronavirus: Bursting Babylon’s Bubble

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Our world has been hurtling toward globalization for decades. Progressives spend their lives devoted to the cause of globalization with zeal unmatched by most of their ideological opponents. And, with the enthusiastic and unwitting help of their conservative opponents, a global capital economy has engulfed the majority of today’s societies.

From the point of view of economics, a nation is simply a political barrier to the movement of the factors of production. Since capital freely flows across borders in our modern global economy, globalization is nearly accomplished from an economic standpoint. Regional economies such as the European Union already allow the free movement across national borders of another factor of production—labor.

With a global economic system in place, progressives need only consolidate political power to achieve their goal of a one-world government. Progressives hate nationalist and populist movements because they stand in their way. I think this explains the irrational hatred of Donald Trump and his supporters among the media and progressive elites as well as the opposition to Brexit.

Nations Have a Purpose

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

—Acts 17:26-27

People have a natural, sinful tendency to think they are self-sufficient, without any need for God to help them succeed.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth—Deuteronomy 8:17-18

In the Bible, Babylon represents any world system antagonistic toward God and his people. It is no wonder then, that the most famous king of Babylon was judged for failing to recognize God’s sovereignty over him.

All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”—Daniel 4:28-30

This illusion is even more powerful and destructive when the entire world gathers together to solve humanity’s perceived problems without any deference to God and without acknowledging the real problem facing humanity—sin. At the tower of Babel the result of humanity’s desire to unite in rebellion would have been so disastrous that God, in his mercy, confused their language and scattered them over the earth. Better a world divided into nations than a world united in apostasy.

Recognizing Babylon

Both Scripture and history describe the world system called Babylon.

John in Revelation 17:5 describes Babylon as the great harlot (Revelation 17:5). The Bible uses adultery to describe idolatry. Idolatry is unfaithfulness to God (Hosea 1:2). Babylon opposes God’s redemptive plan and replaces it with human self-sufficiency. Babylon seeks power and wealth in an illusory attempt to get away with a sinful lifestyle opposed to God’s standards (Revelation 18:3). The great whore Babylon seeks worldly wealth convinced that its lack is humanity’s real problem. It hates the real riches we can obtain only through Jesus (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Babylon at the time John wrote the Revelation was Rome, an empire that persecuted Christians and sought to control vast portions of the world. The world system Babylon at the end of the age will be drunk with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6) as it seeks luxury. Its merchants will both fear and mourn her demise, one she never saw coming because of her rebellion against God (Revelation 18: 7,10-11).

We can recognize Babylon as any society that makes wealth acquisition its top priority at the expense of others (i.e., slavery in Rome, or enslavement by debt in modern societies) and one that opposes God’s standards of morality while persecuting Christians who would stand against its man-made standards.

Coronavirus vs Globalization

Globalists/progressives try to plan the world’s course without God. Our modern day situation is really not that much different than that at the tower of Babel. The predictable outcome now seen in the developed world—record individual, government and corporate debt, unrestrained sexual immorality, rampant abortion, small families and the resultant demographic crises—can be directly attributed to the all-out quest to serve money instead of God.

The coronavirus, with astonishing speed, has brought the global economy to a standstill.

Will anyone notice the spiritual implications?

We don’t know how long the coronavirus will wreak havoc on the global economy. But even if the pandemic ends sooner than expected, it will leave in its wake a worldwide economic crisis (more on that in my past and future blogs).

Has coronavirus dealt a serious blow to globalization? Or, will progressives find a way to use it to their advantage, not willing to let any crisis go to waste? It’s not hard to imagine a progressive call to unite the world to fight future pandemics and to resolve the looming worldwide economic crisis. Of course, they will want to expand government to attain their goal.

Bursting Babylon’s Bubble

This is where American Evangelical Christians need discernment. We have been told that, before coronavirus, the United States economy was very strong; even the best we’ve ever had. That’s a lie. Our economy and the world economy were unsustainable; they were built on debt. Coronavirus was simply the pin that pricked the debt bubble. The underlying problems in our economy and that of the world are so deep and severe that two or three months of a shut down economy pale in comparison.

Years of artificially low interest rates have increased the money supply (in the form of debt) to unprecedented levels. When all of that money is unleashed on economies that have misallocated resources into non-productive assets, prices will skyrocket as competition for necessities increases amid a slowed economy. The world is awash in debt it cannot repay (Psalm 37:21). Babylon cannot solve the problems it has made for itself.

Christians Unite

God will not give his glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). Not to progressives, not to conservative politicians, not to our economy, not to a united world. God provided the solution to the world’s problems when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. If Christians are to unite, let’s do so to proclaim God’s mercy to the world.

This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made!

Gathering Manna Daily
Wake-Up Call

If you are like me, this coronavirus pandemic has been a wake-up call. Bible verses that used to sound pleasant and encouraging to my ears now sound life preserving. “Redeeming the time, for the days are evil” has a more urgent ring to it. Verse after verse tells me that today is the day to trust and obey God. This is the day to walk in the Holy Spirit, totally surrendered to God and enjoying his presence. Today is the day to abandon all worry and find comfort in the promises of God. This is the day to follow Jesus as his disciple, observing all that he has commanded me.

Here are a few examples of verses that have caught my attention:

God Provides Daily

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:22-23

The Bible teaches that God’s love sustains us on a daily basis. Jesus taught his disciples to pray for their daily bread (Matthew 6:11) and then commanded them not to trust in riches but to trust in God, not worrying about tomorrow (Matthew 6:19-34). God supplied miraculously bread from heaven on a daily basis, commanding the Israelites not to gather more manna than they needed each day in order to test them (Exodus 16:4-5; 17-20). Having more or less than our daily needs tests our trust in God and often reveals our true heart condition (Proverbs 30:8-9).

This truth, that God faithfully provides our daily needs, is the key to living each day as God has commanded, trusting in him.

One way that God impresses on our hearts that he is the one who provides all of our needs is to place us into situations that we cannot control. Some people live this reality constantly, but those who live in affluence rarely experience deprivation. Coronavirus may have taken away much of our entertainment and many of our amusements, but, at least for now, few in wealthy societies have a lack of the necessities of life to the point that they experience God’s daily provision in an obvious way as did the Israelites in the desert. Many of us still think we are the ultimate providers for our family:

He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.—Deuteronomy 8:16-18a

God Leads Daily

When we truly believe God will provide for us each day, we are freed from self-dependence and ready to follow Jesus’ leading wherever that may take us. Most of the time, we find that God leads us step by step, day by day. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).” Ancient lamps did not shine very far down the road.

As a new Christian, I wanted to know God’s “big picture” for my life. It didn’t occur to me that God would ask for daily obedience and that by my obedience he would lead me. I am sad to report that too often in my Christian life, I did not set out each day to accomplish the task in front of me, but instead, wasted time seeking some elusive future existence or worrying about the future. I’m not saying we don’t benefit from planning or having a vision, but that we won’t reach the goal God has for us if we don’t obey and follow him today.

We can be more certain about today. All of us have something we know God wants us to do today. We know of a relationship that needs mending, a neighbor who needs our compassion, a habit we need to form or break. We know these things because God has spoken to us through his Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We make plans for the future, even very good plans, but God may alter them— “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps (Proverbs 16:9).

My wife and I recently had our hopes and plans for the future changed by God. Over the past couple of years, through Sunday sermons, personal study and mentoring by a pastor devoted to making disciples, we knew the Spirit was calling us to make disciples in obedience to the Great Commission. We knew that along with being a disciple of Jesus, making disciples was our main priority and we desired to minister in the Philippines. We knew that getting there might take a year or two, but we hoped to go sooner. So, during the waiting period, we continued to hold Bible studies in our home—the task we knew to do today.

We traveled to the Philippines to see how God was working there. We met with missionaries both in the US and in the Philippines who connected us with a church that reaches out successfully to plant churches that can go on to make more disciples.

But on our return from the Philippines, my health took a turn that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to move to the Philippines. God closed a door. Whether he will re-open it remains to be seen. But whether he does or doesn’t our present outreach remains. Our mentor, who uses technology to disciple people living around the world, told us early on that we can make disciples anywhere. We knew, before going to the Philippines, that our daily mission can be accomplished from any location God chooses for us. So, this closed door didn’t discourage us or change God’s mission for us to carry out. The fact that we can hold our Bible studies online during the coronavirus shelter-in-place order proves again the point that disciples can be made anywhere.

We should all remember how God has led us in the past. He is our Rock! During this coronavirus crisis, let’s not imitate the majority in Israel who didn’t trust God to lead them and care for them even though he had faithfully done so in the past:

Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. ”

In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.—Deuteronomy 1:29-33

Part 2 looks at the believer’s response to God’s faithful provision and guidance.

 

God Is Good

God is Good: A Mini Theodicy

Theodicy: An explanation of why a good, omniscient, omnipotent God permits evil.

The task of any theodicy is to show that the existence of evil is not contradictory to a God who is omnipotent, omniscient and morally good. This article does not attempt a full-orbed theodicy. Instead I assert that God permitting evil and God’s judgment of evil are not contradictory to the actions of a good and loving God.

A common explanation for the coronavirus is that it is a natural evil resulting from the Fall. The Scriptures show that goodness is the essence of God while evil is revolt against God (Psalms 25:7-8; 100:5; 118:1; Matthew 19:17). Scripture also affirms that God’s creation was good and later subjected to futility as the result of sin. God’s original creation contained no coronavirus. It contained neither disease nor infirmity. It contained no evil. It was good (Genesis 1:31).

But knowing the source of evil and why it exists doesn’t explain why God permits it. It doesn’t give any hint as to the purpose of suffering. We need the Bible to tell us that too.

Satan Did It

Some Christians, who believe correctly that “God is love,” can’t seem to imagine how God would in any way be involved in bringing calamity upon people even when faced with Scriptures that indicate that He is involved during times of judgment (Amos 3:6). For them, the “go-to” option that remains to explain something like coronavirus is that it comes from Satan. But to come to this conclusion without considering the possibility that a disaster might be judgment from God, one must ignore God’s other attributes such as justice, mercy and holiness. This is the “let God off the hook” argument I mentioned in my last article.1

This “Satan did it” line of reasoning aligns perfectly with the skeptic’s contention that God is either indifferent or unable to stop evil. If God is not Judge, he is not in control. Christians affirm that God is in control, so how can we acknowledge that Satan seeks to do harm to people without attributing to him more power than he actually possesses?

God Is Not the Author of Evil

God is not the author of evil. Scripture is clear on this matter (1 John 1:5b; James 1:13; 1 Peter 3:12). But Scripture also consistently asserts that God is sovereign over his creation (Job 38:8, 11; Psalm 89:8-9; Luke 8:24). Evil is on a leash, restrained by the hand of the Almighty. God is in control (Job 2:6).

In an article entitled “How to Contemplate Calamity,” John Piper notes that both the author of the book of Job and Job regard God as the decisive cause of Job’s misery (Job 1:21; 42:11; 2:10). Satan certainly was involved in Job’s misery (Job 1:12; 2:6) but he had not the decisive hand. Piper points out that Job’s misery was not punishment, but purifying (Job 42:6) but that the death of his children may have been judgment (but we simply don’t know for sure). His point is that suffering and death can be judgment and mercy at the same time (1 Peter 2:24).2

This dual application of judgment and mercy can be true for any calamity that is a result of the Fall, including the coronavirus.

Evil Brothers and an Evil King

Let’s look at two examples from Scripture, one familiar and one not so familiar, in which God permitted evil to accomplish his purpose. In the first God used evil to bring about good. In the second he used evil to punish evil.

The story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers is well known, as is his amazing declaration after he reunited with his brothers many years later, forgiving them:

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. —Genesis 50:19-20

Without the Fall, there would be no coronavirus. Without the Fall, Joseph’s brothers would not have acted wickedly and sold him into slavery. Without the Fall, Joseph would not have suffered so much at the hands of other men. But without God orchestrating events, there would have been no food in Egypt and many would have died of starvation.

In a perhaps less familiar example, the Assyrians, a particularly cruel people, were the instrument by which the Northern Kingdom of Israel’s destruction came about. God made clear through his prophets (Hosea, Amos, Isaiah) that this destruction was a judgment from God.

Without the Fall, there would have been no wicked King of Assyria who boasted of his military might:

When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. For he says:

“‘By the strength of my hand I have done this,
and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.
I removed the boundaries of nations,
I plundered their treasures;
like a mighty one I subdued their kings.
As one reaches into a nest,
so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations;
as people gather abandoned eggs,
so I gathered all the countries;
not one flapped a wing,
or opened its mouth to chirp.’” —Isaiah 10:12-14

God used this wicked nation to judge another wicked nation, Israel. Assyria was merely an axe in the hand of God. It was God who swung the axe:

Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it,
or the saw boast against the one who uses it?
As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up,
or a club brandish the one who is not wood!
Therefore, the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors;
under his pomp a fire will be kindled
like a blazing flame.—Isaiah 10:15-16

God’s Judgments Are Righteous

It is not evil for God to judge his creatures (Romans 2:4-5). If it were, then there would be no hell for a good God of love. This idea that all humans will eventually be reconciled to God (so no need for an eternal hell), of course, is the conclusion that Universalists have come to, and it’s based upon a false conception of God. It can only come about when humans impose their idea of good upon God. We say God is good and then define good as something or someone who does not allow evil rather than using the biblical definition that says that good is God’s character and actions, which are both exclusive of evil.

Where Does God Draw the Line?

Why does God allow you or me to sin? When we think about evil, our minds go to unusually wicked actions of people like Hitler, child predators, human traffickers or to natural disasters, or to creatures like Satan who continually act in an evil and cruel manner.

If God did what so many of us would like him to (namely, not allow great evil), there would have been no Hitler or other despots. However, if God didn’t allow them into the world, we would then see those who did a little less evil than Hitler and Stalin as people God shouldn’t allow. We would still not be satisfied and we would eventually demand that God not allow whoever’s evil we detest into the world. Then surely God would draw the line between good and evil before he got to us.

Nope.

This is where God draws the line:

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.—Luke 18:19

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! —Matthew 7:11

In short, ordinary people, indeed, all people, are evil and deserve death and hell. If only God is good, where does that leave us?

A Perfect Solution to the Problem of Evil

Creatures brought sin into the world. Our sin, no matter how insignificant it seems to us, separates us from God.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God—Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death—Romans 6:23a

A good, loving God provides a way out of the predicament that sinful humans find themselves in.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 6:23

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16

What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ? It means to trust in and depend on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross as penalty for your sin and acknowledge that you can do nothing to earn salvation.

If you are reading this and you have yet to believe that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus, you need to know this—that those who trust in Jesus are imputed his righteousness and are no longer separated from God.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.—2 Corinthians 5:21

Those who have not believed in Jesus when they die will spend eternity in hell, but those who believed will have eternal life with God.

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”—Matthew 25:46

The Bible says we must decide now in this life because it is appointed to men to die once and then be judged (Hebrews 9:27). There is no second chance after you die.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near—Isaiah 55:6

If you trust in Jesus now, he will lead you into his Kingdom.

God’s Is Just and He Is Good

At the cross God brought the greatest good out of the greatest evil. Evil men murdered the perfect Son of God. He was crucified for our sins and paid the penalty for them on our behalf.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.—Isaiah 53:5

There will be a final judgment. At that time all who have believed in the name of Jesus will enter eternal bliss because their sins were judged at the cross. Those who reject Jesus will get what they want, an eternity without God telling them what to do. Those who rejected the Light of the World (John 8:12) will be in eternal darkness. They will be in eternal agony separated from everything good. They will be forever separated from God.

 

Notes:

  1. God can’t actually be let off the hook, because that would imply he was “on the hook” for doing something wrong. God’s ways are perfect, so it is only our arrogance and misunderstanding of God’s character that demand that God act in a way that suits our definition of good.
  2. John Piper, “How to Contemplate Calamity,” Desiring God, December 26, 2012, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-contemplate-calamity.

Is the Coronavirus Judgment from God?

Is the coronavirus judgment from God? Surely Christians everywhere are asking this question or one like it.

I have listened to a number of sermons from this past Sunday that addressed the believer’s response to the pandemic we now experience. All of the pastors exhorted their congregations not to fear. Believers were reminded that God is in control and that he is our fortress. People were encouraged to pray for courage, mercy and peace. These are all very good responses.

Some pastors said the coronavirus is just one of many calamities (though admittedly larger in scope) that God allows in a fallen world. Others, similarly, proclaim it to be just another natural disaster, all of which can be traced to sin. No need to panic, nothing new under the sun here. This is not the beginning of the tribulation. Just hunker down and trust God.

The Elephant In the Room

What was missing from all but one of the messages I listened to (admittedly a small sample) was any notion that the coronavirus might be judgment from God. In fact, one well-known pastor said it would be dangerously presumptuous to say that the coronavirus was judgment on America for wicked behavior (such as abortion) if God did not say it, citing Deuteronomy 18:20. I agree. Why would God send corona virus upon the whole earth as judgment for the sins of the United States?

But how can something that, on a world-wide basis, brings economies to nearly a standstill and upends life as we knew it with no end date in sight just be a run-of–the-mill natural disaster?

I fear that when we omit judgment as a possible explanation for this pandemic, it might be perceived by unbeliever and believer alike as “letting God off the hook” for the suffering, fear and death this pandemic will cause.

The result of not mentioning judgment is predictable. Doing so brings comfort to the people of the world, especially Christians steeped in it, who might otherwise examine their troubled hearts, by telling them that everything will be ok, just play video games or whatever else distracts you from reality. Carry on as usual except that now, perhaps, would be a good time to start reading your Bible.

Conditional Comfort?

I am one of many who take comfort in Psalm 91. Three times in this Psalm, protection from pestilence and plague and the fear they produce is promised to the one who dwells in the shelter of the Most High. The psalmist also gives this promise:

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent. (ESV)

Charles Spurgeon says this about Psalm 91:

The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God. Every child of God looks towards the inner sanctuary and the mercy-seat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence.

If this be true, then carrying on as usual is the last thing that we want to do, unless our normal day consists of walking in the Spirit, ever communing with God and surrendering each day to him.

An absence of prayer and Bible reading indicates we are not dwelling in the shelter of the Most High (Psalm 91:1). In this time of pandemic, exhortations to draw close to God should be bold and forceful, not merely suggestions. Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty does not happen when God is an afterthought or the last Person to gain our attention on a daily basis.

Disease and Judgment In the Bible

Jesus could stop this virus in an instant. Why hasn’t he? Maybe God brought the corona virus for a particular purpose.

“Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heals.”

—Habakkuk 3:5

Throughout the Bible God used disease as judgment.

God brought pestilence as judgment on Egypt and he will bring it as judgment at the end of days to judge the world system of Babylon (Revelation 18:8). Our God protects and blesses, but he also brings pestilence to accomplish his righteous purpose on earth (See Isaiah 45:7; Ezekiel 5:16-17; Amos 4:10).

When Moses finished writing the Torah he warned God’s people that they would rebel against the Lord, do evil in the sight of the Lord provoking him to anger through the work of their hands. So, as judgment for their idolatry; evil would come upon them. (See Deuteronomy 31:24-32:47) Disease was part of the judgment (Deuteronomy 32:24).

Other examples where disease is used for judgment can be found in Jeremiah 42:22 and Numbers 25:9.

Awake O Sleeper

If the coronavirus is not judgment, then surely believers can see it as a wakeup call:

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. —Ephesians 5:14-16 (ESV)

 

Wouldn’t the best use of our time during this pandemic be to examine our walk with God? We can use this time to address the sins we have clung to (Psalm 66:18) and expunge them from our lives. We can ask God to show us sins we aren’t aware of (Psalm 139:23-24).

The law of God reveals our sin to us (Romans 7:7-8). The blessed man delights in it and meditates on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). The one who turns away his ear from it utters abominable prayers (Proverbs 28:9). 

What if we aren’t close to God? What if we have strayed?

Take the first step.

In James, chapter 4, the author attributes division in the church to worldliness. James beckons us to draw near to God so that he will draw near to us. He exhorts us not to be double-minded, to repent and purify our hearts.

Do we not find ourselves in a situation that is an opportunity to seriously examine our hearts, repent and humble ourselves to receive the promise that the Lord will exalt those who do?

When we walk each day submitted to the Holy Spirit will we not then be under the shadow of the Almighty?

Be Ready to Witness

We know that earthquakes, floods, pandemics and all natural disasters affect everyone in their path, both Christian and non-Christian. Our response should correspond to our relationship with God:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” —Luke 13:1-5

Jesus focuses here on what is a main reason for suffering—to lead people to repentance.

Regarding coronavirus, unbelievers should fear more than a disease that could kill their body. They should fear God who can cast both body and soul into hell (Matthew 10:28).

But God has not given Christians a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). When we are burdened beyond our own strength we develop reliance upon God (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). In the midst of this crisis and thereafter we have a mission.

These two workings of God in human hearts can come together magnificently in this crisis.

Christian, is not Jesus telling us now–“Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!” (John 4:35-38)

Let’s use our time well during this crisis and be ready to share the Gospel!

Do you know someone you can call or chat with online who needs to hear the Gospel?

 

Photo from CDC.