Pandemics & Persecutions

It is true that there never in the history of the world has been a pandemic as the one that the world is now experiencing. We read in history that the Black Plague (Bubonic Plague) of the early 1300s took away, in some places of Europe, about one third of the population. But that plague did not extend globally into every population group of the world. It was not a pandemic as the present Covid pandemic that is now cursing humanity worldwide.

And then there was the “Spanish” flu (Influenza) pandemic of the early 1900s that possibly took the lives of at least fifty million people worldwide. The world at that time was connected globally with travel only on ships that moved slowly around the world. But the Influenza pandemic also, as the Black Plague, was limited, both geographically and in the devastation of humanity.

The impact of the Covid virus, on the other hand, is global. Not one nation of the world is escaping its carnage. The reason for this is quite simple. We live in a travel-oriented world that is connected by passenger airliners. Added to this is the fact that there are more people living today than when earlier pandemics swept across the face of the earth. And unfortunately, the majority of the population of the world today lives in clusters of people in large cities. People are clumped up in cities as opposed to the more rural population of the world until modern times.

Therefore, we are living in apprehensive times, that on the part of governments, assumes some decisive action. However, it is in times like these that autocratic leaders often arise among us, and subsequently slip in their mandates that often infringe upon the freedom of the individual citizens. Nevertheless, in times of war, society must have decisive leadership. For example, it is often in many countries of the world today as it is with President Museveni, who has been president of Uganda since 1986. In reference to the present pandemic, he stated to the people of Uganda:

“We are today in a war against this [Covid] virus. And in a war you have no human rights. Therefore, when the vaccination is available in your area, line up and take the jab.”

And certainly in a global war in which we are now engaged against the Covid virus, the President’s words are indicative of those who would use the occasion for their own autocratic adventures in democratic societies. Nevertheless, in times of “war,” leaders must make mandates to protect the people. Without the approval of a legislative congress, Museveni took action as an autocratic leader, though he had his people foremost in his mind.

When the Covid pandemic began the first of 2020, Uganda shut down all their schools throughout the country. When they recently reopened after being closed for two years, an interviewed teacher on international news said, “Don’t worry, we will be back to our normal educational level in three years.”

To the Ugandans, the sacrifice of two years of avoiding contact spreading of the Covid virus in schools was worth the lives of thousands of parents and grandparents throughout the nation. And when these students grow into adulthood, they will be thankful that class was dismissed for two years for the sake of their parents and grandparents. (Fortunately, these children do not live as Western children. During the two-year school closure, there were gardens to keep and livestock to herd.)

In times of social crisis (war and pandemics), politicians of necessity sometimes become dictators by ignoring legislative control over a people. When politicians ignore, or bypass, an elected congress, it is then that democracy is threatened, if not terminated, as with Nazi Germany of the past. Democracy is threatened because autocratic dictators often change the rules in order to keep their power. True democratic leaders, on the other hand, allow the people to change them when they go wrong.

In times of war we need decisive leaders. But when the war is over, it is often difficult for decisive leaders to relinquish the power that they exercised in order to win the war. This is the reason why leaders of rebellions have a very difficult time being the heads of state in a new democracy after the war has been won. What usually happens in the transition from a dictatorial state to a sought-after democratic state, is when the revolution is won, the rebel leaders simply become the new dictators. It is almost impossible for a personality that leads on the streets to be challenged and changed by the votes of the people they led in the streets.

We can see this happening around the world in reference to the present pandemic. We see in the pandemic, not so much the human toll on the population of the world, but the fact that the pandemic has become the opportunity for some elected officials in democratic systems of government to morph into autocratic leadership. If you question this, check out a book–download–on the Russian Revolution of 1917/18, as well as Hitler’s rise to power during the early 1930s.

Nevertheless, and regardless of the potential rise of dictators among us, we do not have to die as in the days of the Black Plague pandemic, and the Spanish or Asian flu pandemics. When it comes to winning this war, who cares who makes money off the vaccines that we are offered to use to arm ourselves against an enemy we cannot see. After all, we won the war against smallpox by choosing to arm ourselves with a vaccine of which some pharmaceutical company produced and made money. We were vaccinated, and the smallpox war was won.

Some people need to reflect on their inconsistent arguments on this matter. We inject our children with the smallpox and measles vaccine to “protect them.” But hang on for a moment. “Protect them” against what and who? The “what” is easy to answer. We seek to protect our children against the smallpox virus. But who carries around in their bodies the smallpox virus? The unvaccinated! The virus is spread through sneezing and coughing droplets of the virus in the air by “other” people who have not been vaccinated. It is carried about by infected individuals who infect others.

We protect our children and ourselves, therefore, from others who have not been vaccinated against smallpox. In like manner, we choose to be jabbed with the Covid vaccine in order to “protect ourselves” from others who have Covid, or may be asymptomatic carriers as ourselves, and thus unknowingly infecting others. In other words, if we are concerned about other children, then we will have our own children vaccinated against the smallpox virus. If other parents have little concern for the health of their own children, and possibly allowing their children to be carriers of the virus, they will not have their children vaccinated against smallpox.

Keep in mind that the smallpox virus has been eradicated from the world because of the smallpox vaccine, and the choice of parents to have their children vaccinated. However, the virus can still make its way come back into society if people stop vaccinating their children.

So recently one of the members of our four-teamed evangelistic group here in Cape Town received a call that there was an America missionary family, with the parents of the wife visiting from America. They were passing through our area and wanted to meet with us. We wanted to meet with them. We did not want to be known as the “isolated church.” Unfortunately, in order to meet we could meet with them for only a few hours, we could meet only in an unventilated restaurant.

Unfortunately, we are not the most healthy group of evangelists. Three of us have two heart stints each; one has asthma; one struggles with high blood pressure; one’s heart is pumping blood at only 80% efficiency, having a damaged heart value that is waiting to be replaced; one has already had a heart attack; one had recently had emergency surgery to correct an internal organ dysfunction. All four of us were in the age group of 60 to 74. Would you say that we four have extenuating health conditions, and should be rightly concerned about the Covid virus? Fortunately at the time, all of us had been vaccinated against the Covid virus, but that was about five months before the meeting. Our residence to Covid at the time was down to about 20% to 30%. (All of us have since received the booster injection to get our resistance back up to 80% to 90%.

Nevertheless, we agreed to meet with the foreign visitors who had flown into South Africa a week before and were touring throughout the country. And since they would be in Cape Town, they wanted to meet with us. However, after the meeting, and after the visitors left for Johannesburg a day later, we received an urgent call from Johannesburg two days later that three of their group of five tested positive for Covid, and thus were confined to quarantine. They wanted to warn us about their Covid infection in order that we be on the guard since they were Covid carriers at the time of our meeting.

Now you can imagine the apprehension of the four of us as we waited out the five-day incubation period of the Covid virus. All four of us had been vaccinated, but still this is not a 100% protection against the Covid virus. You can understand that among ourselves as a fellowship of disciples, we lean on one another to be vaccinated in order to protect one another. This is our choice. So we freely choose to vaccinate ourselves in order to protect ourselves as a group from one another, and thus continue to meet together in order to execute the work of the Lord.

Nevertheless, in view of what we experienced, we must not become victims of autocratic leaders who would use our present despair in a time of a pandemic in order to leverage their thirst for power over us. We seek a choice concerning “protecting” ourselves in order that we do not become subjects of a totalitarian state. We are not establishing the “vaccinated church,” as opposed to the “unvaccinated church.” Nevertheless, we choose to be vaccinated against Covid in order to protect others. We look out for the interest of the brotherhood of believers through self-protection against an unseen enemy (See Ph 4:3,4).

Churches do not have the authority to make mandates outside clear Bible teaching on any particular subject. Church leaders can only use Bible principles to love one another as the foundation to establish behavior upon which they as a group can make the best decisions possible. However, we are vaccinated in order to protect one another to the best of our ability. It is first a matter of our mutual concern for one another as fellow citizens of the state, not primarily in obedience to a state mandate that would work against our freedom as citizens of the state. We are free to choose. But our love for one another has moved us to chose to vaccinate in order to protect one another.

We have the freedom not to be vaccinated in times of a pandemic. The church has no authority to bind medical practices on the church. But notice what we have just stated. “We” have the freedom. Individually, there is some self-centeredness in the statement. If we bring ourselves into close fellowship with one another in a confined space, whether seated in a small building, or passing by one another in the confinement of a foyer, then are we not infringing on one another’s freedoms in order to conduct a safe assembly? At least this is something about which to think as we tout our antivaccination rights in view of the following thought:

In South Africa it has been quite revealing to watch the Covid infection statistics every week. Since the incubation period of the Covid virus is about five days, you can guess when and where most people initially contacted the virus. On Thursdays and Fridays, the positive tests for the Covid-19 virus, specifically the Omicron variant, is almost three times for these two days than the rest of the days of the week. Count back five says (the incubation period), and thus, most people became infected on the weekends. On the weekends we have all our Sunday assemblies, political meetings, funerals, memorials, family fellowships, etc. Covid seems to be invited to each one of these occasions, but does not make itself known until Thursday or Friday.

Testing positive with the virus is the result of social events, whereas the rise in the number of deaths that follows the end-of-the week infections, is a measure of the severity of the virus.

So consider that in the heat of a pandemic some churches have called up their elders (usually those about 60 and older), and asked them not to be present in the traditional assembly, but rather electronically Zoom the assembly in the safety of their own homes. If we do this, then something may have gone wrong in our behavior and thinking.

But when there are no electronic options, as well as no vaccines in one’s village, town or city, then the leadership of the church must make sure that everyone at least wears a mask. At least this reveals that we are concerned for one another in the heart of a pandemic. Otherwise, we must ride out the curse of a cursed world until our Lord comes or we come to the Lord in death.

When the Romans were breathing death down upon the first century Christians, did the early Christians resort to Zoom assemblies and Zoom preaching, just to be “safe” during the “Roman pandemic,” which “pandemic” lasted for at least 150 years?

In the city of Rome, the first Christians simply went underground during times of persecution. They hid in the caves that were under the city of Rome. When they were being sought in order to add another attraction for a barbaric audience in the Coliseum by being fed to lions, they went into hiding in inconspicuous groups of two or three, and sometimes just alone in a forest. We wonder what most of those today, who have been bred and sustained in their faith on a concert every Sunday morning, would do in such a social environment? Would even a pandemic detour their craving for a large assembly?

Persecutions, as well as pandemics, have a way of revealing those who have a true faith in God, regardless of being hindered in assembly with one another.

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Obey Government

We took a picture of a “Covid-19 Occupancy Compliance Certificate” that is posted in one of our restaurants here in South Africa. The local health inspection officer previously visited the restaurant, judged that the seating capacity was 48. In compliance with the laws of the national health department, the local health inspector calculated that the seating capacity of the restaurant was now 24.

In a similar manner, at the beginning of the pandemic, each food store was given a number of people who could be present in each store at any one time while customers shipped for essential food items for the week. Someone was thus standing at the entrance of each food store handing out numbered tags. Once all the numbered tags were distributed, then no other customers were allowed to enter the store until someone left the store, and handed back his or her numbered tag. The population submitted to these temporary government mandates in order that all of us as a society be where we are today. As Christians, we submitted in order to escape the judgment in time of the Covid-19 virus. (The “judgment” of Romans 13:1,2 is not a reference to the end-of-time judgment.)

Because the population of South Africa collectively submitted to the mandates of the government for the survival of the people, the people of South Africa are essentially delivered from the fourth wave of the Covid pandemic, for all the citizens willingly submitted to the advice of the government health department during the pandemic. By the first of February 2022, the populace of South Africa will be well on its way to some normality, and thus free from many of the government restrictions that were followed by the people during the pandemic.

It seems that the whole world is watching South Africa quickly move out of the fourth wave of the pandemic, but they do not understand why. This will take some explanation on the uniqueness of the South African government and culture. While the American and European West obsess over being restricted, and thus supposedly losing their freedoms, the populace of South Africa complied with their government for the sake of the collective, a cultural value that is somewhat void in the West. The populace of South Africa agreed to be restricted in order to regain their freedom after the pandemic.

A movie was once produced many years ago that could be somewhat prophetic of the present worldwide pandemic scenario. The setting of the movie was based on a supposed third world war that had transpired in the world, which war almost wiped out mankind on earth. It was concluded, by the survivors that human emotions had driven the people of the world to go to war with one another in order to settle a dispute.

Therefore, in order not to go to war again, a powerful psychological drug was developed to suppress all human emotions. The state mandated that the drug had to be taken every day by every citizen. If one missed a day in taking his medication, the emotional part of the brain would start to arise again within the human mind. According to the autocratic leaders of the surviving city-state, that would not be good. Therefore, they supposed that human emotions would lead to another world war where the existence of all humanity would again be endangered. But in actuality, the leaders had gained power during the war, and subsequently, they did not want to relinquish that power after the war.

In order to prevent another world war, the autocratic leaders of the now totalitarian city-state, convinced the people to take their daily emotion-suppression medication. As a result, there was an “equilibrium” of emotionality among the people. The movie was subsequently entitled, Equilibrium.

The problem was that one day one of the law-enforcement officers of the state forgot to take his daily medication, and subsequently, he started to experience some emotions. And then he missed another day. To him, and all those who had refused the medication–and were now living underground–it was a decision between making a choice and enjoying freedom, or submitting to a totalitarian state whose citizens walked around like emotionless zombies doing their commanded duties.

The movie Equilibrium was first released in 2002. That was twenty years ago! In many ways, the movie may have been prophetic of our times. Therefore, when vaccinations are available for a population to escape a pandemic war, the vaccination must still remain in the freedom of individual choice. Governments may mandate vaccination standards, but this is not within the realm of Divine authority, lest we create the “vaccinated church” and the “unvaccinated church.”

However, in reference to the authority of the state to mandate that which is good for the whole of society, in a democracy we the people often relinquish into the hands of our government the power to determine that which is good for the whole. If we do not do this, then we have no democracy. We will loose our freedom of choice in a society of totalitarian rule. Nevertheless, if we would be citizens of a healthy society in a democracy, we as a collective of society must relinquish some of our personal freedoms for the sake of the survival of society as a whole.

When our freedoms are slowly eroded away by state coercion, the story never ends well. In a democracy, the state is composed of politicians, and with politicians, remaining in power is often more important than the individual freedoms of the individual citizens. In fact, this thirst for power corrupts the morals of the politicians. It is for this reason that politicians in a democratic state are often known for being liars. They are such people in order to stay in power. It is just an inherent flaw of democracy. On the other hand, autocratic dictators in a totalitarian state will often say the truth more often than a power-hungry elected politician in a democratic state.

Moral decisions are the responsibility of Bible-obedient children of God. Unfortunately, we have too many autocratic politicians in the state who thirst only for power, regardless of the freedoms of the individual citizens of the state. Sir William Wallace (portrayed by Mel Gibson) in the 1995 released movie, Braveheart, is still right when he cried out at the end of the movie before his execution, “FREEDOM!”

OK, so you would like an example of the leadership of South Africa as to why the fourth wave of the present pandemic is closing, and at the same time, the rest of the world is still struggling in the midst of this wave. Here is one reason why: A great political meeting of people was recently scheduled for a visit of the President of South Africa. The mass gathering was composed of those of the President’s constituency who had voted him into office.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa subsequently arrived at the place of assembly. Before he was allowed out of vehicle, his security personnel, as usual, first entered into the assembly hall where all the people had gathered. However, the security personnel returned to the vehicle in which the President was seated, and informed him, “This is not a legal assembly. There are too many people who have gathered. There is no social distancing because of the mass number of people, and many are not wearing face masks.”

President Ramaphosa replied, “We cannot attend this illegal assembly,” and thus his motorcade moved on. This is leadership, not a thirst for power that would violate the very mandate of the South African Health Department that put restrictions on the number of people who could gather in assembly halls of various sizes. This example is one of those reasons why South Africa is rapidly moving out of the fourth wave and on to some normality. It is a matter of leadership, not playing politics by narcissistic political figures who are looking for opportunities to exert power. It is leadership of a population of people who are willing to forego some of their freedoms in order to eventually be set free from an unseen enemy.

(Boris Johnson should have called up Cyril Ramaphosa before he accepted invitations to all those parties.)


If we view the present pandemic from a biblical point of view, we should find some encouragement. However, the pandemic should not be an occasion for Bible believers to take out of historical context specific statements of hope in the Bible that were directed to initial individuals and audiences who needed encouragement in times of local tragedies. Specifically, we must not be prophetic thieves to steal away from local first century Christians those prophecies that were originally spoken to encourage local believers directly, but only us indirectly.

It is for this reason that Christians must be cautioned about what they encounter on the worldwide social media today, the messaging of which can reach even to the young village dweller in the bush of Africa. Some innocent minds are often in cellphone contact with an encyclopedia of theological nonsense that is spewed around the world by those who would seek to arouse hysteria during a worldwide pandemic.

For example, the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:23-25 is a commonly misunderstood prophetic statement that Jesus made specifically to first century Jewish Christians. He made the prophecy in order to explain to His immediate audience that in the lives of their children and grandchildren in the years to come, God would be working in a local tragedy that they would personally experience.

With this understanding in mind, Luke 21 was originally a message of reassurance to those believers in His audience to whom He initially delivered a prophecy concerning the termination of their Jewish persecutors. Jesus’ message was that in the midst of any tragedy, the believing Jesus must not forget that God is always in control. In their case, He would bring judgment upon national Israel because of the unbelieving Jews’ rejection of the Son of Man (See also Mt 24; Mk 13:14-20).

A few extracts from the prophecy of Jesus’ message to Jewish Christians at that time is central to our discussion in the context of modern-day prognosticators who misapply the Luke 21 prophecy. Around A.D. 61/62, Luke, the scribe, eventually recorded in writing Jesus’ spoken prophecy. This was about a decade before the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy in A.D. 70, that was about thirty years after Jesus originally made the prophecy.

In A.D. 70, the Jewish world was about to come to an end within the Roman Empire. For unbelieving Jews, this end seemed to be the end of the world. Therefore, because the events of A.D. 70 would affect the Jews throughout the world of the Roman Empire, Jesus prophesied during His earthly ministry years before a message of reassurance for believing Jews. His message was in view of the fact that the immediate unbelieving Jews to whom He first prophesied the end of national Israel, who subsequently rejected Him as the Son of Man (the Messiah), would themselves in about four decades meet their judgment. So in order to prepare the Jewish Christians of Palestine for a social trauma that was going to take place in about forty years after the ascension, Jesus embedded a message of hope in His prophecy of the termination of the Jewish State, and specifically, Jerusalem and the temple.

So with the liberty of our following parenthetical interpretive inclusions, notice what Jesus prophesied concerning the children and grandchildren of those Jews who personally rejected Him as the Messiah. Their children and grandchildren would experience the following:

“But woe to those [unbelieving Jewish women in Jerusalem in A.D. 70] who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days [of Roman’s besieging of Jerusalem]. For there will be great distress in the land [of Judea] and wrath upon this [Jewish] people. And they [the future children and grandchildren of Jesus’ generation of unbelieving Jews] will fall by the edge of the sword [of the Romans]. And they [the survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem] will be led away captive into all nations [over which the Romans rule]. And Jerusalem will be trodden down [with every stone overturned] by the Gentiles [Romans] until the times of the Gentiles [the Roman Empire] are fulfilled.”

We must keep in mind that by the time the preceding events occurred in Judea, Christian Jews had already left Judea and Jerusalem (Compare At 8:4). The letters of Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, and Jude were all letters that were written in the middle 60s to warn Christian Jews to stay away from Jerusalem when they began to witness the “signs of the times” surrounding the end of national Israel in A.D. 70.

The preceding calamity that eventually came upon national Israel in A.D. 70, was the end of the Jews’ social and political influence within the Roman Empire, though the Jews’ religious beliefs carried on, even to this day. However, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 seemed that their world had fallen apart because God allowed such to happen to His supposed chosen people after they rejected and killed His Son (See Mk 12:1-12). They had not accepted the incarnate appearing of the Son of Man. National Israel rejected the Son of Man by not accepting the new nation of Israel, the body of Christ, that was established on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 30.

In the context of the Luke 21 narrative, Luke turned to common metaphors that were used in Old Testament prophecies in reference to kings and kingdoms. His Jewish audience would understand the meaning of these metaphors. The “sun” was commonly used in prophecy to represent the king of a particular kingdom. The minor heavenly lights of the “moon” and “stars” represented tributaries of a kingdom, or the satellite nations that were under the control of the king of the empire. We must keep in mind, therefore, that when such metaphors were used in prophecy, focus was not on the literal sun, moon and stars, but on their dominance of light in the darkness of space.

The metaphorical meaning of the sun, moon and stars of the Luke 21 context were used in reference to the vast network of satellite nations that functioned under the control of the Roman Empire.

At the time of the conclusion of the first century, Rome was continuing to expand throughout the Middle East and into Persia. Regional kingdoms in Europe, the East, and North Africa were likewise succumbing to its military dominance. Therefore, at the time of the fall of national Israel in A.D. 70, the Jewish nation was only one of many social population groups that needed to be subjugated to the control of Rome. So Jesus continued, and Luke thirty years after Jesus in A.D. 61,62, recorded, the following:

“And there will be signs in the sun [regional kings of the Roman Empire], and in the moon [the regents of nations], and in the stars [the generals and governors of Roman dominated nations within the reach of the Roman army]. And on the [inhabited] earth [world] of Rome, there will be distress among nations [that Rome will militarily dominate] and perplexity at the roaring of the sea [populations] and the waves [turmoil among the populations].

John’s metaphorical use of the word “sea” in the visions of Revelation defines that the populations (citizenries) of the nations is intended. There is always sociological movement in the populations of every nation, just as waves and currents of the sea constantly shift and move the waters of the sea. Therefore, when an invading force, as Rome, moved in to conquer, the raging waves of the people reach their climax. It is during these times that “men’s hearts will be failing them for fear” (Lk 21:26). In A.D. 70, there was great fear among the Jewish people when Rome launched her war against national Israel. It was the same fear that permeated the hearts of every citizen of every nation at the time Rome launched her military attacks against the Jews.

Of course, the heaven in which God dwells is unshakable. Therefore, Jesus referred in the Luke 21 context to the “heavenly” rule of nations on earth that would be shaken by the invading forces of Rome. It would be at this time that the presence of the Son of Man (Jesus) would be confirmed to every Christian, for believers would conclude that King Jesus was in control of all these things, just like He said during His earthly ministry (Mt 28:18; see Hb 1:3 that was written just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem). In the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the believing Jew would subsequently conclude that King Jesus had come in judgment of Israel for rejecting Him as the Son of Man, the Messiah and Savior. It was exactly as He prophesied.

Old Testament judgment language is found in Luke 21:27 when the word “coming” was used by Luke in reference to “the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” In Matthew 24:27, and in the same prophecy, Matthew used the Greek word parousia. This word means “presence.” Therefore, the “coming” of the Lord in time in judgment was a sign of the presence of the Lord.

The “coming of the Lord” in Old Testament prophecies was a sign of judgment upon the nations. In the judgment, the presence of the Lord was revealed. The Lord came in judgment upon nations, and in the context of prophecy, the nation upon which the Son of Man would come in the prophetic judgment of the Luke 21 and Matthew 24, was national Israel. This was a coming of the Lord “in time,” whereas there will be another coming of the Lord at “the end of time.” The coming of the Lord in time, therefore, is always prophetic of the coming of the Lord at the end of time. But we must not forget that the coming of the Lord in the context of Luke 21 and Matthew 24 is in reference to judgment in time.

Jesus gave, and Luke, Matthew and Mark recorded, a final and specific note of encouragement for the local Jewish Christians who would suffer at the hands of the unbelieving Jews. Unbelieving Jews would persecute Jewish Christians from the time of the cross to the conclusion of national Israel in A.D. 70. However, when the immediate believing Jews’ children and grandchildren, forty years after the initial spoken prophecy of Jesus, saw all these events (“signs”) transpiring in their world, it would be a time to look up and realize that all things were still under the control of the resurrected and ascended King. Great comfort went out to the Jewish Christians of Palestine at the time of fulfillment because Jesus prophesied that the persecuting Jews would in the event eventually be silenced. The Christian Jews at the time of fulfillment in A.D. 70 were thus “redeemed” from their persecutors.

Unfortunately, during the “time of the Gentiles,” Rome would by the end of the first century, and into the second through the fourth centuries, launch an onslaught of persecution against all Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles. This would lead us to the encouraging prophecy of Revelation in order to find hope in the eventual Divine judgment of the Roman Empire. John would prophesy that even Rome’s persecution of Christians throughout the second to the fourth centuries would also come to an end (Rv 17:14). Therefore, in fulfillment of John’s visions, the coming of the Lord as King of kings would again be perceived.

As during the time of all wars and pandemics, it is always time to find hope in the fact that King Jesus still reigns in heaven with all authority. He is still King of kings and Lord of Lords. This was true throughout the great influenza pandemic of 1917/1918 when millions died around the world. It was true in the 1300s during the Black Plague pandemic when millions died. Great human tragedies have thus occurred before our present pandemic. However, God does not, and will not, use a pandemic as a sign of the end of the world. He used pandemics in Israel in order to drive people to repentance. He so used such to punish and to turn Israel to repentance (Study Nm 21:4-9; Dt 32:23-27. In the context of these passages, throughout the history of Israel God would and did use suffering and national tragedy to return His people to Him and His word.).

Nevertheless, our hope is in the fact that throughout all human tragedies, some of which were recorded in the Bible, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit remain true to believers. After “experiencing” the visions of Revelation, John responded, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rv 22:20). In view of the present worldwide pandemic, we too, as always, include that request in our prayers.

It is not that any one pandemic is a sign of the end of the world. Bible students have proclaimed hysteria in the midst of all pandemics of the past. Unfortunately, the only people to become frightened are those who believe in the Bible. But most people today do not believe in the Bible. It is only that during a pandemic the thinking of Bible-believing people is driven beyond this disease-cursed world in hope of being in the presence of the Lord where never again a tear will flow from a sorrowful eye (Rv 21:4). But in reference to unbelievers, everything just carries on as though there will be no finality to the things that presently exist. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Mt 24:36).

In this way, we, as Bible believers, interpret the present pandemic. It would be a judgment of God in time in order to encourage repentance. But only those who believe in God will repent. The rest of the unbelieving world is oblivious to the judgments of God in time. So as God dealt with Israel, so also He would deal with us in an effort to keep us focused on King Jesus. We must connect the dots on this matter. If we understand that the present pandemic is an in time judgment, then it may be that we need a restoration to the word of God among ourselves (Hs 4:6).

God certainly brought a worldwide judgment on the civilization of Noah’s generation. But since every imagination of humanity then was continually evil, God was justified in the flood to wipe that generation of unrepentant unbelievers from the face of the earth (Gn 6:5). We pray that God will not have to bring the civilization of today to such a climatic conclusion. In pandemics we see God purging religion out of us in order to restore us to the word of God.

Be A BRother Keeper

So God interrogated Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” (Gn 4:9). Why would God ask such a question if we are all free from one another and independent? Can we not be free from one another in order to do our own thing, regardless of the interests OF our fellow citizens? Would we have any social freedoms if we were continually looking out for the interests of our neighbors? The fact that God asked this question of the murderous Cain infers that we are responsible for the well-being of fellow citizens, and thus we are our brothers’ keeper. So Cain responded to the inquisition, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gn 4:9). Yes you are, Cain!

In the context of the church, the Holy Spirit mandated, “Let each one not look out merely for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Ph 2:4). In fact, the Spirit had introduced this mandate with the statement, “In humility of mind let each esteem others better than themselves” (Ph 2:3). Yes, we are our brother’s keeper as citizens of civilization.

It is today as it was a few decades ago when the American government finally came to the conclusion that it would mandate the law that people wear their seat belts when riding in a moving vehicle. Most countries of the world today have followed after the same mandate. When the law was first established, however, some people grumbled. They complained, “I have the right to make a choice as to whether I will or will not wear a seat belt in my own vehicle.” But they were wrong. Sometimes, dead wrong. Such people were thinking selfishly.

The reason for the law was a matter of protecting and benefitting society as a whole. If one did not wear a seat belt, and was subsequently involved in a moving vehicle accident on the road, then he or she could be thrown from the vehicle and seriously injured. He or she would thus be rushed to a hospital, and nursed back to health, that is, if he or she was not initially killed in the accident.

Now the question is, Who pays the hospital bill? Or, who initially paid for the ambulance, the doctors and nurses, or even the hospital in which the anti-seat belt person was nursed back to life? The answer is that society as a whole paid the bill for all the medical services. Society even paid most of the bill for the anti-seat belt victim because he or she could not in a lifetime pay the high cost of insurance premiums for his own medical expenses. All of us as a society, therefore, had to subsidize the hospital bill of the anti-seat belt wearer. And for this reason, society as a whole, through the government of society, said that everyone, when in a moving vehicle, must wear a seat belt.

In order to be a member of society as a whole, citizens must be willing to give up some of their rights . . . freedoms . . . in order to be a keeper of society as a whole. And when speaking specifically of Christians, it is incumbent upon every member of the body of Christ to “not look out merely for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Ph 4:4). As members of the body of Christ, we are our brother’s keeper. If we are not looking out for the interests of our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we are behaving selfishly. We are considering our “rights” above the interests of the whole body of Christ.

Smokers have always been very selfish people. They are more concerned about their right to freely smoke cigarettes over the rights of the people who must breathe in their smoke after they have exhaled. As a smoking father puffs away on a cigarette in his own home, the lungs of his young children are being damaged for life. He is a selfish father.

We have thus been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus for the benefit of the brothers and sisters into whose presence we come in any formal or non-formal setting. We wear a face mask in one another’s presence in order to guard our brother or sister against asystematic Covid carriers among us. We socially distance ourselves from one another for the interest of one another. And if lockdown is necessary to detour the pandemic, then in our own homes we confine ourselves We are thus not selfish, trying to exercise some rights or freedoms we think we have that encourage us to ignore the interests of the body of members, and society, as a whole.

On the contrary, we are trying to be our brother’s keeper during a pandemic that is ravaging the world. It is thus not a sacrifice of our individual rights or freedoms to be vaccinated, but a manifestation of our love for one another. We vaccinate ourselves for the sake for the community in which we live, but also for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our vaccination is not a total guarantee from being attacked by the Covid virus, but at least it reveals to you that we are doing the best we can to protect you if we are tested positive.