For many of us, this is the first time in our life that we have seen a global pandemic with such far-reaching consequences. The coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down and inside out.
A significant number of people in different nations around the world are self-quarantining, the stock market is roiling, many if not most schools are closed, tourism and travel have grounded to a halt and many countries have followed guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and have even forced restaurants to shut down or suspend in-person dining.
As a result, families are increasingly weary, anxious, uncertain and stressed.
And that’s just after a trip to your local grocery store!
So, what does the Bible say about the Coronavirus?
There are several things …
This Is Not Revelation 13
Coronavirus is not the end of the world, it’s got nothing to do with an antichrist or the Mark of the Beast. I know some Christians will be very disappointed by this. I’ve met people who relish disasters because they somehow (in their mind) fulfil end time Bible prophecy. And this is not a new phenomenon. While the Black Plague ravaged Europe in the 1300s, people became convinced that their Jewish neighbours were secretly poisoning Christians’ wells. Conspiracy theories about Covid-19 range from believing the disease is a bioweapon to the result of eating bat soup. No, the Coronavirus has nothing to do with Revelation 13.
It Probably Has More to Do with Leviticus 13
According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, medicine and religion were closely connected for Jews in ancient times. Priests were “the custodians of public health,” and Jews in biblical times regarded the physician as “the instrument through whom God could affect the cure.” This is the picture we see in Leviticus 13, which, although it may sound somewhat elementary to our ears, was very progressive for its time (around 1500 years before Jesus).
According to Leviticus 13:21, the priest was to inspect someone who had a disease and could “isolate the affected person for seven days.” He would then re-examine them and could “isolate them for another seven days.” Fourteen days! Sound familiar? The diseased person “must live alone; they must live outside the camp.” And if they did walk around, they had to “wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’”
So, Coronavirus isn’t about Revelation 13. It has more to do with Leviticus 13. Thus, act according to 1 Corinthians 13.
Consider, a few weeks ago, Britons (and many others from different nations) were demonstrating a whole lot of love. We were going about our daily Christian lives, we were donating money and putting others first. But not anymore. Now we’re emptying supermarket shelves, stockpiling rice and pasta, and fighting over toilet rolls. In a few weeks, we’ve seen the very best and the very worst of humanity. What we need is more of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Now, there’s some truth to live by. Coronavirus isn’t about Revelation 13, it’s more like Leviticus 13. So, let’s act according to 1 Corinthians 13 until Romans 13 runs its course.
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.”
Now, I know these verses have been and can be abused. It’s time for real Christians to stand up and be counted.
There’s no question we’re in a difficult season and sailing uncharted waters. Lately, it seems like wind and waves of bad news continue to lash the boat, each crashing a little harder or higher than the previous ones.
Yet, the Lord remains in full and complete control.
For perspective, I’m reminded of the nearly impossible situation the early Church found itself in almost 2,000 years ago. The early Christian Church was marked by suffering, specifically persecution, but also plagues and disease that indiscriminately ravaged populations. One of the deadliest pandemics occurred between AD 249 and 262, where up to 5,000 people in Rome died – per day. While many non-Christians concentrated on saving only themselves, it was the Christians who remained and served those who were suffering. They made a tremendous impact. In fact, some believe their heroism was rewarded in the form of building up personal immunity to the disease.
A similar scenario occurred a century later, and Julian, the Roman emperor at the time, lamented that the church’s growth was due to Christians’ “benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead, and the pretended holiness of their lives.” Emperor Julian was disgusted, not just by their charity and sacrifice – but by the absence of the equivalent bravery of his own people.
“For it is a disgrace that . . . the impious Galileans [Christians] support not only their own poor but ours as well,” he said.
The current coronavirus crisis we find ourselves in may not rise to the level of what the early Christian Church faced. Nor am I suggesting believers need to flood hospitals to help, though there are so many ways we can lend a hand.
Canvass your neighbourhood and check on the elderly who live near you. Might you run an errand for them? Pick up some groceries or medicine? We know they’re highly vulnerable to this virus and need special care and protection.
I believe the comparison to the early Church is instructive because it reminds us that strife and struggle need not slow us down – nor impede the mission of a ministry that’s ordained by God to bring Good News to a hurting world.
As this situation continues to unfold, as well as twist and turn, may we model the courageous and sacrificial attitude of our brothers and sisters in the early church.
Now is the time for all church leaders who fly around in private jets to give back to their communities. Let’s see more of the millionaire pastors and prophets come to the rescue of nations. Let’s see closer cooperation with authorities in the fight against this virus. Now, would be an excellent time for our millionaire prophets in Africa to donate and inject funds into health departments and assist the government to provide healthcare to the impoverished.
Indeed, now is not the time to abuse the Bible
With the frightening onslaught of the coronavirus affecting multiple facets of people’s lives, one can easily fall into a tailspin of anxious thoughts.
I think this a time where we need to be feeding our faith. If you feed your faith, your fears will starve. If you feed your fears, your faith will starve. Our tendency is to feed our fears. We have to do intentional things to feed our faith.
Written by Brilliant Pongo. He has authored a top-selling and perfect book for a time like this, entitled “I Am Anchored in Christ; Bring on Euroclydon” which is now available on Amazon. Get a copy Get a copy here.
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