Plague, Pestilence, Pandemic

PLAGUES FEATURE WIDELY in the Bible: some are caused by God to further His purpose, for example the plagues on Egypt in the book of Exodus.

Infectious diseases are a fact of life, they have been suffered by humankind throughout our history. Recently we have learnt how to effectively control their spread by more advanced medicine, antiseptics and vaccinations. So the Covid 19 pandemic came as a huge shock to most of us. We did not realise that we were so vulnerable in our modern world. Many people will ask, “Why does God allow such suffering to happen?”

Our world is not a perfect one but its imperfection is the result of our disobedience in the first place. God gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey or disobey Him. They chose disobedience, and its consequence was mortality. God said to Adam:

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it’, cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:17–19).

This curse passed to all their descendants—to you and me. This is why we live in a world of suffering.

The Healer

When God made His covenant with Israel to be their God, He described Himself as their “healer”: ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer’ (Exodus 15:26).

Part of this special care for His people was shown in the Law which He gave to govern their lives. This Law included lists of animals that were not to be eaten (Leviticus 11). Today, although the Christian is not obliged to keep the Law of Moses, we can appreciate the science behind these lists. For example, pork and shellfish can be very dangerous if they are not cooked properly.

God never said that if we follow Him we will be free from trouble, but His people have the assurance that He looks after them, whether they fall sick or whatever else happens: ‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).

Signs of the End

In his prophecy on the Mount of Olives, Jesus Christ told us that plagues (or ‘pestilences’) would be a signal of the nearness of his second coming: ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven’ (Luke 21:10–11).

The Bible abounds with descriptions of the Kingdom of God which will be established when Christ returns. At that time all the disasters with which we are all too familiar today will be a thing of the past, and he will make this world into the place that God intended:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

This really is the promise of the Bible so let’s find out more now!

Marion Buckler

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