The Spiritual Aspect of the Pandemic

I want to talk to you today about the Pandemic. We’ve been faced with this issue for several months now, not just in the United States but across the world. And because we live in a secular society, we have been listening to doctors, virologists, and experts of all shapes and sizes. But nobody has stopped long enough to consider what the spiritual aspect of this pandemic might be. I think that we need to consider a Biblical perspective on this issue, so let me share some things with you today.

The word “Pandemic” is never presented as a word in the Bible. But there are three different Hebrew words in the Old Testament and two separate Greek words in the New Testament that are generally translated either “pestilence or plague” in the Bible. So, just by looking at the instances of pestilence and plagues in the Bible, we can begin to see a pattern of the way those things occur in human history. And we can recognize the supernatural element or the spiritual aspect, the very part of this pandemic that no one in our culture seems to paying any attention to.
Throughout the Bible God often gives us examples of His use of disease and widespread epidemic problems as a means of accomplishing His divine and sovereign purposes.

So, what does God do sovereignly in the use of disease throughout the Bible? Well first of all, He executes Divine Judgment on individuals, on nations and even on families for chronic unrepentant sin.

He also uses epidemics, pandemics as a warning to individuals and other nations outside of His own people of the Divine Judgment that will come for their unrepentant sin.
He often uses this kind of event in human history to shake an individual or a nation to their senses to call us to wake up and be aware of what’s happening.

While we’ve been listening to the CDC and the doctors and they’ve been debating about masks, and vaccines, and everything else, there’s not anybody speaking about what God may be trying to say in this. In fact, our culture scoffs at the idea that this has anything to do with God at all. Except that God’s track record is, He often tries to get the attention of a nation that is wandering away from Him by putting them in a position where they face something that they have no answer for.
Let me give you some examples. In Amos 9:9 God says, “I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations.” In Haggai 2:7 He moves beyond the nation of Israel and says, “I will shake all of the nations.” In Matthew chapter 24, speaking about the “Last Days,” Jesus is on the Mount of Olives and He says, “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there will be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

One of the things that we need to do as believers, as Jesus followers, is consider whether or not the events that we are seeing today, are just what Jesus called them, “the beginning of sorrows.” The closing chapter of human history shows that God is trying to get our attention so that we’ll pay attention to what is unfolding and we’ll respond appropriately.

There are examples all through the Bible of individuals that have been inflicted with diseases like this. The book of Job obviously talks about Job. In the book of Numbers we see that Miriam, the sister of Moses, is inflicted with a skin disease. In 2 Kings chapter 5, there is a foreign official by the name of Naaman who has leprosy. In Matthew chapter 8 Jesus heals a man with leprosy. In Luke chapter 17, Jesus heals ten men with leprosy and makes a point about the fact that only one of them came back to say thank you. In the book of Exodus, as we’ve been going through this in our church, we’ve already seen the terrible plagues that God used to bring the nation of Egypt to her knees, particularly Exodus chapter 9.  Repeatedly throughout the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy the nation of Israel is given instructions about how to deal with infectious diseases. They were told that the primary response is genuine searching and repentance to discover their sin, atonement to receive forgiveness of that sin and turning back to God. Now that was the spiritual side of it.

But the Bible is very practical. It also talks about personal hygiene and social distancing.  You think those things are not in the Bible? Look in Leviticus chapters 13-15 and see God’s instructions to Israel on how to deal practically with infectious diseases.

The book of Numbers has a couple of examples of plagues.  In Numbers chapter 16, there was a plague that killed 14,700 people in Israel. In Numbers chapter 25, there was a plague that killed 24,000 in Israel. There were plagues in 1 Samuel that God sent against the Philistine nation. In 2 Samuel, when David and Israel sinned, there were plagues that were brought there against God’s people. The book of Jeremiah, particularly chapter 28, talks about the coming of pestilence because of the spiritual apostasy of Israel’s leaders or their rejection of the covenant loyalty that they were supposed to have to God.  Ezekiel speaks about the nation of Judah and the plagues that came there. Sidon, which is modern day Lebanon, experiences a plague in Ezekiel chapter 28. Amos talks about plagues brought against Israel in chapters 3 and 4 of his book. Habakkuk also.
The prophets are written with God using disease as an attention getter. You say, “Well, what kind of God is that?” Well, let me remind you of something. God’s typical pattern is, when people wander away, when a nation walks away from the True God, His first strategy is to provide “Blessing,” excessive blessing, so that the gifts will be so obviously from God that it will draw people back. When that doesn’t work, and often it does not, it’s amazing how often the successes that we have in our lives, we are perfectly satisfied to take credit for those. And so, God then let’s us run into something that we don’t have an answer for. Individually that happens. As a family unit, sometimes that happens. Clearly there’s a track record here of God doing that to a nation. Putting them in a situation where they don’t know the answer. They don’t know how to respond. And the intention is to call them back to God in the desperation of not having the answer.
God repeatedly warned the nations of the world, beyond His people Israel, that terrible disease would be inflicted on them in the future as judgement for chronic unrepentant sin. And that He would one day shake the nations in an attempt to draw them back to Himself.

I think we’ve got plenty of examples, Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 talk about the war of God and Magog.  And in that Last Days battle he talks about the pandemic that will be used to bring nations in rebellion against God to their knees and shake other nations so that they return to God.
This is all the way through the Bible. And I haven’t even touched yet on the book of Revelation, which has a number of episodes speaking about disease as an instrument in the hand of God to call people back to themselves.

And now you say, “Why would God be so mean? I mean, to inflict disease on a nation.” But you have to understand. God’s intention is to bring us to a place where we can be with Him in eternity, not in rebellion to Him, which will cause us to be in separation from Him as human beings in eternity. So, His goal is not our comfort here. His goal is not to make us at ease. His goal is to bring us in right relationship with Him. He does that by blessing. He does that by giving us the wonderful gifts that He desires to give to us. But when that fails to get our attention, He allows other things to come in. And even when we get to the book of Revelation, and we get to what is called the Great Tribulation, it is the unfolding of a series of plagues and pestilences designed to being evil to its knees and to bring mankind in repentance into the presence of God.

So, what does this mean for us? We’re in the year 2020 and we are seeing things that we really haven’t seen in our lifetime. The doctors, the scientists, the so-called experts, they have a whole variety of opinions. The media gives us information one day and changes it the next day. We’re having trouble finding out who to trust and what to believe. But I’m here to offer this suggestion. One thing you can believe is that God is active in this season that we call 2020.

Now, here’s my belief. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m not a pessimist by nature. I’m a born optimist. I live with the reality that Jesus wins in the end. And so, I’m not one who walks around like Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh stories, always complaining about how terrible things are. That’s not my temperament or my nature.  But here’s what I want you to hear from me. I think that 2020 is going to get worse than it is right now. I don’t think we’re finished with this. I think the COVID-19 is going to have an ongoing impact. I think the riots in our streets are going to get worse. I think as the election approaches, no matter who wins the election, there will be dangerous days ahead for us.

So, what do we do about it? How do think Biblically? How do we respond Biblically? Well, one of the things that God teaches us all the way though His Word is that He is always looking for a people who are returning to Him so that He can relent from what He has allowed to take place.
We know the Bible teaches that pestilence and plagues are used to judge. But God also in His warnings, in His desires to shake people out of their apathy and lethargy, He tries to draw them to a right and healthy joyful relationship with Him. In fact, the Lord in His lovingkindness promises to be gracious and to forgive a people, primarily Israel but by extension other nations, who follow certain basic guidelines of spiritual truth.  

For example, 2 Chronicles 7:12-14.
Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

That particular and famous passage is really designed as a promise that God gives to Israel that He will forgive them. But the principle applies to all nations. The Lord loves and cares deeply about humanity. And the Bible is crystal clear that He wants us to be in relationship with Him.

Jeremiah 18:7,8
"At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.”

Because mercy is God’s first nature, it’s the first expression of who He is, He’s always looking for an opportunity to extend mercy, to bring grace, to offer forgiveness.

Well, in a time of global pandemic, people are understandably frightened. The Lord Jesus told us that that was going to be the case. In fact, in Luke 21 He describes that when the signs of the Last Days occur, He will see men “faint from fear” at the expectation of what things are coming.  We are definitely living in a season when people are scared to death. They’re afraid to walk out of their house.

Yet, the Lord tells us just how to respond in these days. That is also in Luke 21 where He says,
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."

What the Bible teaches is most important in such times. And that is that we individually, personally and humbly have to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy and get ourselves spiritually ready for the return of Jesus. We do that by reading and obeying the Bible, which is the Word of God.
Let me tell you this. If you are comfortable with sin, if you are out of the habit of spiritual disciplines, do not miss the point of this pandemic. It is a wake-up call for the world to acknowledge that science is not the answer to our future. But there is a God to whom we all stand accountable. But for those of us who claim to be God’s people, this is a wake-up call for us to get serious about the days ahead, which I believe are leading to return of Jesus Christ. It’s time for us to quit saying, “One of these days. Someday. Eventually.” It’s time for us to buckle down and be serious about living the Christian life, about advancing the Kingdom of God, about seeking the face of God, finding sin that we have left unattended in our own lives, becoming repentant, offering that to God, asking to be cleansed. Because folks, if I’m correct that 2020 is going to get worse before it gets better, let me tell you this, your comfort, your safety and your hope will not be found in the Center for Disease Control. It will not be found in the World Health Organization. It will not be found in the doctors and the experts that are holding the press conferences. We need to find our way once again to the Throne of Grace and be the salt and light we’ve been called to be. Because the days in the immediate future, I believe are going to get dark. But the good thing about dark is that it makes even to tiniest light stand out that much more. You’re the light.
Envision this pandemic, not just from the scientific standpoint. Consider the Biblical perspective that God is up to something here. And He’s calling us to prepare for battle.

Truth Currents: It’s about thinking Biblically so we can behave productively for the Kingdom.
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