People respond to this pandemic in very human ways. Usually, people acknowledge the verifiable events. Immediately after that, fierce arguments break out as to the real meaning of these events.
The stark realities of this pandemic are unsettling for many people. Reactions include declaring that huge conspiracies are at work, blaming supposedly deliberate plots by China, the CIA or Israel’s Mossad for the spread of the virus. Others deny that the pandemic is even a problem and assert that the whole thing is a manipulative ruse by politicians attempting to shore up their own rule.
Where is God in all this?
Only an omniscient God knows exactly how many people will be touched by this virus and to what extent. The Bible’s perspective is stunningly reflected in the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) rabbinic prayer ‘Unetana tokef’ which declares that God is both good and sovereign in all these events:
“And You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict . . . how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die after a long life and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by famine and who by thirst, who by upheaval and who by plague, who by strangling and who by stoning.”
It’s worth remembering the reality that God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained” (Acts 17:31). In light of that, we ruefully confess: “If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities – O LORD, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that You might be feared!” (Ps. 130:4).
Casting the first stone
When bad things happen, we want to know why. Who is guilty? Against whom do we point the finger? Two thoughts here:
Shi’ite Iraqi Islamic scholar Hadi Al-Modarresi, based in Qom, Iran, said on February 28, 2020 that the spread of coronavirus is undoubtedly an act of Allah’s divine punishment against China for their disrespect towards Muslims and Islam:
“It is obvious that the spread of this virus is an act of Allah. How do we know this? The spread of the coronavirus began in China, an ancient and vast country, the population of which makes up one seventh of humanity . . . The authorities in that country . . . laid siege to more than a million Muslims . . . Allah sent a disease upon them and this disease laid siege to 40 million [Chinese] . . . And there you have it, this disease spread . . . and it has scared humanity in its entirety.”
In early March, online sources reported that Hadi Al-Modarresi contracted coronavirus.
Messiah Yeshua raised the issue of individual responsibility in one of His comments on the collapse of a building in Jerusalem’s Shiloach neighborhood: “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no…” (Luke 13:1-5)
Yeshua tells us that we need to avoid haste in ascribing specific guilt to people who suffer tragedies. The fact is that all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. None of us is righteous (see Psalm 14:1-3), and all of us are in need of repentance. The accurate reason for tragedies and judgments may not be available to us in the heat of the moment.
God’s wake-up weapons of discipline
Though many believers are not aware of it, the Bible does not mince words regarding God’s ability to bring judgment to a nation or even an entire planet (think Noah). Jeremiah, Ezekiel and John the Revelator refer to four weapons in the LORD’s hands – famine, wild beasts, the sword of war, and plagues (Revelation 6:8) – that He has used, does use and will use to speak to a deaf and rebellious world (see also 2 Samuel 24:13; 2 Kings 8:1; 2 Chronicles 20:9; Psalm 105:16; Jeremiah 5:12; 14:12, 15; 15:2; 21:7; 24:10; 27:8; 29:17-18; 34:17; 44:12-13; Ezekiel 5:12, 17).
A pandemic touches all the nations of this world. Whether it is specific sins that are the fulcrum, or simply the general attitude of the world that ignores God, His values and guidelines – we may not clearly know at this point. But there is no question that, like King David in 2 Samuel 24, we need to cry out to the God of Israel and ask Him to stay His hand, grant repentance and hold the plague back from people (2 Samuel 24:21).
The voice of King David echoes down through the pages of history to us, and it should become ours as well. As 70,000 Jewish men, women and children were perishing, he cried out to the LORD and asked, “But these sheep, what have they done?” (2 Samuel 24:15-17).
How should we respond?
The Prophet Isaiah tells us that people respond to God’s judgments in two diametrically opposed ways:
“For when the earth experiences Your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Though the wicked is shown favor, he does not learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9-10).
The present pandemic challenges us to seek the face of God, to learn righteousness and to call out to Him for international mercy. Pray for God to have mercy on your nation and to reveal the areas of needful repentance. Pray for the saving of many lives and the healing of many who are sick. Pray for gifts of healing to increase on the earth through praying believers.
Republished and shortened with permission from the original