COVID-19 from a Biblical perspective
The common questions that many are asking today in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic are: Why has this befallen us? Why is there so much death and dying from this disease? Where is God in all of this? If God exists, why doesn’t He intervene and stop this pandemic? These are all pertinent questions, some of which cannot be answered from a pure human perspective. As a result, I will now take a biblical approach to this human dilemma.
First, we must settle in our minds that God did not cause this pandemic, so we should not blame God for our present condition. Second, we should know that God, the Creator of the universe, made the Earth and set up natural laws to govern it and the existence of life on earth. The fact is that when we transgress the natural laws, we will face serious consequences. The Bible says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sews that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). We are currently reaping what we have sown.
Disregarding Natural Health Laws
The COVID-19 pandemic is with us because human beings have been disregarding the health laws, which are found in the word of God. In Leviticus 11, God spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them instructions that included dietary laws that speak to eating the flesh of animals, fishes, birds, and other creatures. Some are good for food while others are not. In the Bible, among the flying winged insects mentioned that should not be eaten is the bat. Leviticus 11:13 to 19 states, “And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.” We have been told that the COVID-19 virus came from bats. I am not a scientist, but my research revealed that bats hold more than 60 human- infected viruses.
It is believed that most viruses that affect human beings come from animals. They are referred to as zoonotic diseases. Not too many people are acquainted with the word zoonosis. This word refers to diseases that can be passed from animals to humans. All of this speaks loudly to the human predicament.
Some people are quick to reject the biblical health laws of the Old Testament by saying it is Jewish, meaning that they do not need to adhere to them. However, sicknesses and diseases know no race or ethnicity. We all were created by God with the same physical structure. What affects one will affect all. Health laws that were relevant for the Jewish people in 2,000 BC, are still relevant in the 21st century.
The Bible is full of conditional and unconditional promises. One of the conditional promises God gave to ancient Israel, and, by extension, to all His children, even to us living in the 21st century is, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ears to His commandment and keep all his statues, I will put none of these diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord God who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). God is in the business of healing, not of afflicting pain upon people. God is said to put diseases upon people only as He allows the natural laws to have their course. This sometimes can be very severe and disastrous, as we are facing today with COVID-19.
An unconditional promise (prophecy) is that which is not dependent on human actions or behaviour for its fulfilment. God’s promises will be fulfilled regardless of human circumstances. God promised that the Messiah would come into the world, born of a virgin.
“Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). That prophecy was fulfilled (Luke 2:7, 21). In the same way, the promise of the return of Jesus is unconditional (Acts 1:11 and John 14:1-3). There is nothing or anyone that can stop that event. It will happen.
As Jesus spoke to His disciples about eschatological events, He gave them insights into some of the physical signs that will occur on planet Earth before His return. I pick up the story in Matthew 24:4-9, with emphasis on verse 7, “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places.”
I suppose the world has become accustomed to the fulfilment of many of these signs, but in light of COVID-19, I have chosen to highlight one of these signs that Jesus spoke about, that is, pestilences. Do we really stop to know what the word means? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “Any virulent or fatal, contagious, or infectious disease; one of epidemic proportions". Wow! Based on the definition of the word, does COVID-19 fit into this pestilence category? Certainly, it does. Even though humanity has faced epidemics and pandemics in the past, this one is somewhat different because this one appears to have originated from a creature that God specifically prohibits from being included in the human diet.
Some alarmists are very quick to associate COVID-19 and other catastrophic events with the apocalypse of Revelation, but we should not be too quick to associate every disastrous event with the apocalypse. We should first stop to look at what we are doing wrong that may be the cause of suffering and pain to ourselves. I strongly believe that human beings need to heed the word of God and live according to the natural laws given by the Creator Himself. If we follow God’s instructions, we would live lives that are free from many diseases which now plague the human race but, if we fail to adhere to the instructions of God, we may experience worse pestilences in the future.
Jamaica, as a Christian nation, we should exercise tolerance towards each other as we navigate our way through this pandemic. COVID-19 will end, and, hopefully, we would have learned much from the lessons it taught us. With God’s help, I trust we will get through this without too many lives being lost. We must continue to pray that scientists will quickly discover an answer to this deadly virus and for God’s intervention to save people on this planet.
Dr Earl P. W. Cameron is a professor of applied theology at Northern Caribbean University.