- WHAT CLARIFICATION WE MADE:
Q. How does the Scripture talk about this Pandemic?
- The Hebrew word דֶּבֶר (deber) is usually translated as Pestilence / Pandemic and comes from a root that means “to speak”.
- It is the Lord who is continuing to speak to the world through this Pandemic. That he is the Lord of Lords and king of kings.
Q. What is this Pandemic, COVID-19?
- This is not the end times as many are saying of this today.
- It is the natural outcome of the reactions or outcomes of sins that mankind has done.
- WHAT CLARIFICATION WE CONTINUE:
This time we would like to bring in to your notice one of the unique and outstanding incidents of the Scriptures that is, in reality, a Pandemic. Our aim and prayer are that you continue to see the revelation of God, in understanding who he is and how he is (what kind of God he is).
2 Samuel 24:1-25 and 1 Chronicle 21: 1-30
Why is this unique and outstanding? BECAUSE IT IS THE ONE AND THE ONLY INCIDENT IN THE BIBLE THAT RECORDS ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PANDEMIC.
Please have look at the number of occurrences in the Scripture of the word דֶּבֶר (deber) is usually translated as Pestilence / Pandemic.
Ex 5:3; Ex 9:3; Ex 9:15; Lv 26:25; Nu 14:12; Dt 28:21; 2Sa 24:13; 2Sa 24:15; 1Ki 8:37; 1Ch 21:12; 1Ch 21:14; 2Ch 6:28; 2Ch 7:13; 2Ch 20:9; Ps 91:3; Ps 91:6; Jer 14:12; Jer 21:6; Jer 21:7; Jer 21:9; Jer 24:10; Jer 27:8; Jer 27:13; Jer 28:8; Jer 29:17; Jer 29:18; Jer 32:24; Jer 32:36; Jer 34:17; Jer 38:2; Jer 42:17; Jer 42:22; Jer 44:13; Ezk 12:16; Ezk 28:23; Ezk 3:27; Ezk 38:22; Hab 3:5; Rv 2:23; Rv 6:8 & Rv 18:8
Observations from the Above Occurrences:
- Approx 41 occurrences of the word pestilence or Pandemic, life with the disease.
- 38 occurrences are in the OT.
- Only 3 occurrences are in the NT.
- Only once in Exodus 9, the Lord struck the Egyptian animal with the pestilence or Pandemic.
- Only once in 2 Samuel 24: 13, 15 & 1 Chronicles 21:12, 14 the Lord literally struck the Israelites with pestilence.
- The rest of the 36 occurrences are either a warning, a law, or a prophecy to an immediate or eschatological time reference.
- General Reference of the Pestilence / Pandemic: Ps 91:3 & 6; Hab 3:5.
- A warning from the Lord: Ex 5:3; 9:15, Num 14:12.
- The Law of the Lord: Lev 26:25, Due 28:21, 1 Kg 8:37, 2Chr 6:28;7:13; & 20:9.
- A Prophecy from the Lord: Jeremiah and Ezekial prophecied about the Pestilence towards the nations like Israel, Egypt, Sidon, and Gog.
- There are altogether three verses, Two in Revelation and only one in Ezekiel gave futuristic prophecy regarding Pestilence.
The Recorded Pandemic / Pestilence in the Bible:
As the world is going through this unprecedented experience with COVID-19, we thought to bring to you a similar experience of the Scripture that the Lord has penned in the Bible. With this intention that the Lord will continue to encourage and strengthen you. As we have already emphasized that this is the only incident that the Scripture gives an account of a Pandemic.
- Please remember always it is the combination of Famine, Sword, and Pestilence when God speaks of punishment or curse to mankind or the world.
- These three are the means or tools of punishment upon the world or mankind for disobedience or evil against God.
LET US DIVE INTO THE TEXT - 2 SAMUEL 24:1-25 AND 1 CHRONICLES 21: 1-30.
The background and plot of these parallel texts are: - David counts or takes a census of the warriors available in Israel.
- David counting the warriors or taking a census: Was an act of Pride, Self-dependence, and dishonoring the Lord. Verse 1 says he did it outside of the will or law of God, it was an act prompted by satan or flesh.
- There was an objection to stopping these various acts of disobedience and dishonoring the Lord.
- But David was careless and arrogant to take heed to the message that the Lord communicated through his channel (Joab’s objected to David not doing so, but David did not listen).
- God was offended by this act of counting the warriors (census): (21:7)
- Exo 30:11-16, explains the will or law of God regarding taking a census.
- David openly violated the law, by doing it as if he was the boss.
- Every life/soul belongs to the Lord, not to any individual or family, or country.
- Counting was to be from 20 years above of age, but David did everything out of his own interest.
- God’s reaction and dealing with David, for his dishonoring act to the Lord.
- God gave David three options of punishment to choose or decide (through the prophet Gad). (21:9-12)
- First: Three years of Famine.
- Second: Three months of the chase by the sword from the enemy.
- Third: Three days of the pestilence/pandemic from the Lord.
- The response of David: David chose the Pestilence or Pandemic over the sword and famine because it was from the Lord.
- He preferred to be attacked by the Lord than to be attacked by men or satan.
- Because David knew the Lord is very great in compassion.
- 70,000 (seventy thousand) Israelites died in that appointed times of the pandemic.
- The Angel was keen on harming more but the Lord stopped the Angel and said “That’s enough! stop now” (21:15 & 24:16)
Dear friends, we want to say a very precise and clear message to all of you, let us continue to remind ourselves that our LORD is a compassionate and gracious God. The world is going through this great time of hardship and agony, we can say from the text that the pandemic is from the Lord, therefore he is aware and he is in control. We need to go to him to continue to ask for his mercy and grace. We need to do this as a church individually and corporately to check if we have dishonored him in any way and at the same time as a mediator for the whole world just like Moses did for the children of Israel in numbers 14 (When children of Israel rebelled against God, and God wanted to strike them with pandemic).
It would be absolutely wrong for us and perhaps we would be like David just as we saw in the text and to say that we have no problem in ourselves or we are perfect and righteous and without any faults or drawbacks. Yes, for sure the Lord has taken all our blame and sins on the cross of calvary and given us a new status in Christ, and a new name. Therefore, there is nothing that can separate us from the love and name that Christ has given us already. We have eternal hope and life that can never be snatched by anyone.
LET US ASK FOR HIS GREAT COMPASSION BECAUSE HE IS VERY GREAT IN HIS MERCY/COMPASSION.
COVID-19 Fear & Worry:
One of the major issues of life these days is this fear and worry. People are fearful and worried about the life that they have, the family that they have, and the wealth that they have, the jobs and facilities that they have because all these things have been at stake. In the midst of all these fears and worries one thing that can be a great hope and strength for us is the knowledge of the Lord. We need to know our God, who he is what has done for us and what he will never do to us. David says I would prefer to be attacked by the Lord than all these men or world. David knew his Lord very intimately, and David knew how sinful he is and what he deserved from the Lord, therefore he was not fearful and worried when the Lord said that he has got punishment for him.
What is it that we are worried about and fearful of today? When we say do not be fearful, it does not mean that we ask you to behave like a superhero and violate all the precautions and rules of safety from COVID-19. But we say that “fear the Lord instead of the world and its loss”, which will result in 100% trusting and being confident in the Lord in the midst of this fear and worry.
(We have heard that some pastors and churches have started asking for online payments though the whole world is in lockdown today and there is no gathering in the church, irrespective of the situation around the church and the world today. The pastors and churches are fearful of the finance and its upcoming lacking)
COVID-19 Peace & Confidence:
One of the other major issues of life during these days is this peace and confidence. Where there is a presence of fear and worry there is the absence of peace and understanding. David was certainly fearful and worried about what he was going to receive from the Lord as a punishment, but he overrules the fear and worries with peace and confidence in the Lord. David put it like that, “I know the Lord is great in his compassion” and he will do everything so compassionately and mercifully, there is nothing that I should be worried or fearful of. Many of us today lack peace and confidence in the Lord because we are not sure who our Lord is and what kind of God he is for us. We are never like David coming to the realization of our life and being bold and confident to deal with us accordingly. We instead prefer to run from God and hide from the Lord and as a result rebel against the Lord.
The bottom line is this, the Lord has not started pouring his wrath on this earth, if he does so there will not be any chance for us to escape. But nevertheless, there is an appointed time for the pouring of the wrath which is the tribulation period. May we take this advantage of his grace and mercy which is very great at this time. May we ask him to show his great compassion during this great Pandemic.