At the time of writing, the world has suddenly entered a time of fear and turmoil, due to COVID-19, a highly contagious Corona virus. In a number of countries, citizens are ordered to remain in their homes. There are only a few exceptions to this ruling, with most people remaining in shutdown. It is impossible to predict how long the danger will be present for, and whilst there are those who are vulnerable due to underlying health conditions, there have also been deaths of those who are young and healthy: no-one is beyond reach of the virus. Ecclesias across the world have had to temporarily close their doors, and are forbidden by the authorities to meet, to try and reduce the spread of the disease.
In Philippians chapter 4, we read words of comfort, which are particularly relevant to times such as this:
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV Phil. 4:6-7)
These words seem particularly relevant to the present distress amongst all the nations of the world. The Corona virus outbreak is causing great upset and worry for many, but as disciples of Christ, we ought not to worry in the same way. Whilst it is true that we must be sensible and take the recommended precautions, nevertheless we trust in the Lord to deliver us from all evil (Mat. 6:13). So the Psalmist wrote:
“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night: nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness … ” (Psa. 91:5-6).
We should therefore “not be afraid” of what is happening in the world around us, including this modern pestilence. We commit all our ways to the Lord, and trust in His power to save, and that ultimately we will be brought into Messiah’s coming Kingdom. The very worst that can happen to us is death – but the Lord is able to raise us up again, incorruptible, to live eternally with His Son. The sufferings of this life—whatever form they may take— will seem to be a “light affliction” when compared to the great “exceeding and eternal weight of glory” in the Age to Come (2 Cor. 4:17).
BIBLE EXAMPLES AND PRECEDENTS
Not being able to go out of the house, there is the opportunity for folk to use the new found time to reflect upon their circumstances, and reassess their position in life. There is much to reflect upon in the Scriptures regarding this type of circumstance. Whilst many in our day are grumbling about the interruption of their daily routine, the Scriptures provide examples of other people in times past who were also restricted to their houses— for their benefit. Isaiah 26 reads:
“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hid thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast” (Isa. 26:20).
There are Old Testament examples of those who did just this. In the days of Noah, only 8 souls were saved from the floods of Yahweh’s judgments. His family had to remain in the ark, and so were saved from the waters – and this, we are told is “the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us …” (1 Pet. 3:21). In their case, it is written that “Yahweh shut him in “ (Gen. 7:16). There were no exceptions: they had to remain within the ark until the danger had passed.
Another example is that of the house of Rahab. It is written in the Proverbs that “the wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand” (Prov. 12:7). This was the case with Rahab: she and her family were to remain within their house until the army of Israel had completed their task of destroying the wicked. The wicked were overthrown, yet her house stood, and remained.
A third example is the first observance of the Passover. Then, when the indignation passed over the houses of the people, only those who remained in their homes would be spared. Egypt was judged, and Yahweh’s people were to remain in their houses—again, with no exceptions.
Returning to Isaiah 26, this passage is being quite wrongly construed by some as being a prophecy of the current corona virus outbreak. The context, however, presents the prophecy as taking place at the time of the Resurrection:
“… thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast” (Isa. 26:19-21).
The fulfilment of this prophecy therefore, is yet future, when once again the judgment of the Almighty shall take place and Yahweh’s people will be delivered from the wrath to come. But having said that, there is also a powerful lesson in each of the above examples: we must remain within the ecclesial house until the day of Messiah’s coming again. Like each of these 3 examples—and unlike the present distress—there are no exceptions. We will only be spared if we remain within the House of God.
In our quotation above, the Apostle speaks of “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding”. Despite the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and notwithstanding the difficult circumstances that come in our life, in the midst of it all, we can find an inner solace that all things will work out according to the purpose of our Heavenly Father. The Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme example of this: when the sea and the waves were roaring around him, he was asleep in the boat. When the disciples were fretting because of the storm, Jesus had a total confidence in his Father’s protecting hand. So it is that even in our somewhat turbulent lives, we can develop a peace of mind that those in the World just cannot understand. We can have total confidence, knowing that despite all the turmoil, we can humbly and quietly trust in the Angelic ministrations, and ultimately in life in the kingdom to come.