Opinion: Plagues And The Bible
Editors noteViews expressed in the following op-ed do not necessarily reflect those of Church of God Ministries, Inc., or its affiliates. We publish op-ed features to provoke thought, stimulate healthy discussion, and inspire us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. Weve asked to hear from a diverse range of voices across the Church of God movement. This op-ed features one of these voices.
There a number of questions we might ask ourselves about plagues and the Bible. A few are What does the Bible say about pandemics or plagues? Did God bring COVID-19? How should the people of God respond to pandemics? Id like to explore each of these questions for faithful consideration.
What does the Bible say about pandemics or plagues?
In a number of places in the Bible, there is mention of plagues, pestilence, or pandemics killing people. For example, in Leviticus, when Israel falls into covenant violations, God says, I will send pestilence among you. In 2 Chronicles, Solomon says if there is pestilence, famine, or blight, may God hear from the temple the prayers of the people. God also says that if he sends pestilence, the people can pray and humble themselves.
Did God bring COVID-19?
How should the people of God respond to pandemics?
Questions or comments? Dr. Timothy Dwyer can be reached by e-mail at . Timothy Dwyer serves as professor of Bible and ministry for Warner University in Lake Wales, Florida.
Do Christians And Pastors Consider This An End Times Prophecy
You may have saw the news about Ralph Drollinger, but his opinions are not widely held in Christian circles.
MARCH 21, 2020 BY RALPH DROLLINGER Some leading evangelicals believe and teach that America is now experiencing Gods judgment. If that is the case, as a public servant who is sacrificing so much in your attempt to turn our nation around, it would stand to reasonif those Evangelical leaders are correctthat you are wasting your time. Are you laboring against a foregone conclusion? I think not. But let me qualify that: I do not believe America is experiencing the forsaking wrath of God, but yes, American is experiencing the consequential wrath of God.
What Does The Bible Say About End Times Plagues
In this article, we will focus on what the Bible says about plagues that will occur during the last days of the so-called End Times, particularly with regard to how many and what types of plagues there will be and who will suffer from these plagues. Before we attempt to address these matters, we will define what a plague is insofar as this article is concerned.
Websters Dictionary defines a plague as any contagious epidemic disease that is deadly or any of various calamities sent down as divine punishment. And, Webster defines a calamity as deep trouble or misery any extreme misfortune bringing great loss and sorrow disaster. Therefore, when the Bible mentions a plague, it is not necessarily referring to a contagious epidemic, and the scriptures we subsequently cite will support this perspective.
The Book of Revelation describes the plagues that will occur during the last days of the End Times and the sixteenth chapter is the most comprehensive scripture passage to consider in trying to determine how many and what types of End Times plagues there will be.
Revelation16 states that seven plagues that are contained in seven bowls will be poured out on the earth by seven angels and describes the contents of each of the bowls, as follows:
1Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.
First Bowl: People Will Get Foul and Loathsome Sores
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Plagues And The Bible
What does the Bible say about pandemics or plagues?
Did God bring Covid-19?
How should the people of God respond?
In a number of places in the Bible, there is mention of plagues, pestilence, or pandemics killing people. For example, in Lev. 26:25, when Israel falls into covenant violations, God says, I will send pestilence among you. In II Chronicles 6:28, Solomon says if there is pestilence, famine or blight, may God hear from the temple the prayers of the people. In the next chapter, II Chron. 7:13, God says that if he sends pestilence, the people can pray and humble themselves . Plague number four on the Egyptians is pestilence on their livestock, and as a result they all die as mentioned in Exod. 9:3-6. In II Sam. 24:15, God sends a pestilence that kills 70,000 Israelites because of Davids ill-conceived census. Jesus says in Luke 21:11 that there will be plagues. Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah speak of God sending plagues, for example, in Ezek. 14:21 and 33:27, and Jer. 21:6, 7 and 9. In Rev. 6:8, the Pale Rider kills a fourth of the earth with the sword, famine, and pestilence.
Psalm 91:5-6, a great psalm of protection, says that we will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow of the day, the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that comes at noon.
Summary Of The Rationale For The Deliverance Of Israel From Egypt By Plagues
|Reasons for Deliverance by Plagues|
|Exodus 4:2123||God would kill Pharaohs son because he would refuse to release Gods son Israel even after many wonders.|
|Exodus 6:19||Moses and the people could see Gods power because of Gods word to the Hebrew ancestors God would take Israel as his own possession.|
|Reasons for the Plagues Themselves|
|God wanted to demonstrate his uniqueness.|
The Bible itself explains the rationale for the plagues:
Yahweh said to Moses, When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, This is what Yahweh says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, Let my son go, so that he may worship me. But you refused to let him go so I will kill your firstborn son.
The main reason for Gods hardening of Pharaohs heart, according to this passage, was in order to perform all the plagues and escalate the confrontation to the point at which God would kill Pharaohs son. This explanation fits with the third reason in the second explanationGod would use the exodus to claim Israel as his own possession .
God wanted the Israelites and the Egyptians to see his power . That power manifest in the signs of judgment revealed both his faithfulness to his word and his uniqueness .
Learn more in The Torah Story online course.
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No Plague Will Come Near You
As the worldcontinues to navigate the coronavirus crisis, Christian people are striving tothink scripturally about the pandemic. An enormous amount of helpful materialhas been posted online within the last couple of weeksso much so that we may beapproaching a saturation point for biblical worldview on the coronavirus.
Then there are less formal efforts, especially on social media, to encourage fellow believers to trust the Lord. It is truly a blessing to see Gods people fighting fear and anxiety with the words of Scripture. On the other hand, the use of some passages raises perplexing hermeneutical issues when those passages are read carefully. Here I want to consider one such passage, a popular one at this time: Psalm 91.
A Foreshadowing Of Things To Come
Covid-19 is not one of the plague that the Book of Revelation describes. However, it can definitely be a foreshadowing of things to come. When Christ described the end times He forewarned us of plagues.
Today we are seeing food shortages and soaring costs for basic essentials on eBay, Amazon, OfferUp, and more. We are seeing countries in danger of an economic collapse. We are seeing people struck with terror. These are just a few events that will occur during the Tribulation. Knowing this should compel us to pray for the world and the salvation of others.
40. Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.
41. Matthew 24:6-8 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
42. Revelation 6:6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, Two pounds of wheat for a days wages, and six pounds of barley for a days wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!
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Being Religious Does Not Mean Being Anti
Being a person of faith, however, does not necessarily make one anti-science.
COVID sceptics take a wide variety of forms in contemporary culture, including anti-religious conspiracy theorists. Yet anti-science views are often associated with people of faith thanks, in part, to some now tragicexamples from North America.
One example of a cleric who did not pit faith against reason was Martin Luther, the 16th-century theologian and reformer. Luther wrote about living through the plague in a pamphlet titled Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.
Oxford University professor Lyndal Roper writes that while many fled Wittenberg in 1527 when the plague struck, Luther stayed out of a sense of duty to help nurse and care for the dying. This is what he thought all leaders should do.
His staying was not the decision of a martyr, nor was it born of a naïve idea that God would necessarily save or protect him. Luther, writes Roper, advocates social distancing, the use of hospitals, and necessary precautions according to the science of his time. While he believed that God was ultimately in control, he also affirmed human responsibility. Luther harshly condemned those who went about knowing they were sick and spreading the disease.
A historical perspective does not make living through a pandemic easy. But perhaps there is a small comfort in realising we are not the first community to live through such times, and neither will we be the last.
Why Should We Know About Biblical Plagues
Whatever we face in our times, its important to trace the history of such occurrences in Scripture and to understand what God explained about those instances. With plagues, its very clear that biblically, God sends plagues on nations, leaders, and people groups to get their attention, to strongly urge them to call on His name, and to lead them to repentance. This should embolden believers to remember our role in preparing the way for Jesus. We are to represent Him. Were to speak the truth in love. Were to make disciples and always be prepared to give an answer for why we believeeven during a pandemic.
Its also an important lesson to gain from the global pandemic of COVID-19 that each one of us can impact the lives of many, many others. We are often tempted to imagine that our lives dont matter. That if were not famous or powerful or influential in worldly terms, then our actions dont make a difference. Contact tracing and the rapid spread of coronavirus put that lie to rest. You and I actually must work NOT to impact other peoples lives. We had to take extreme efforts to refrain from impacting countless others with this virus.
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The Last Plagues Of Revelation Also Called The Bowls Of Wrath
Revelation 15:7 describes these seven last plagues as golden bowls full of the wrath of God to be poured out upon the earth. Some translations of the Bible, such as the King James Version and Youngs Literal Translation, use the word vial instead of bowl in this passage and in Revelation 16:1.
Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible states: The word used here phialemeans properly, a bowl or goblet, having more breadth than depth . Our word vial, though derived from this, means rather a thin long bottle of glass, used particularly by apothecaries and druggists. The word would be better rendered by bowl or goblet, and probably the representation here was of such bowls as were used in the temple service. The allusion seems to be to a drinking cup or goblet filled with poison, and given to persons to drinkan allusion drawn from one of the methods of punishment in ancient times .
So these bowls are imagery God uses to represent the seven last punishments that He will pour out on a sinful humanity.
What Does The Bible Say About Plagues Like The Coronavirus
If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians for I, the LORD, am your healer.Exodus 15:26
If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses. And He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. Also every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the LORD will bring on you until you are destroyed.Deuteronomy 28:58-61
But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked Then he forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation. They made Him jealous with strange gods with abominations they provoked Him to anger You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth. And the LORD saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters. Then He said I will heap misfortunes on them I will use My arrows on them. They shall be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague with the venom of crawling things of the dust.Deuteronomy 32:15-24
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What Drives These Doomsday Prophets
Many include wildly inaccurate readings of the Book of Revelation. Often these pandemic prophets end their predictions with sign-offs such as IF YOU DONT HAVE A BIBLE, BUY ONE!
Maybe its no wonder some people are stocking up on guns and ammo.
But some who study religion and prophecies for a living say its time for these social media prophets and psychics to take a self-enforced quarantine. Doomsayers are harming peoples spiritual and psychological health, they say.
Theyre also claiming knowledge that even the most revered figures in religion didnt dare assume. Whenever Ulrich Lehner, a Catholic theologian at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, comes across a social media preacher warning that Covid-19 means the end of the world is near, hes tempted to tweet back this response: Matthew 24:36.
Thats the passage when Jesus says about the end of the world: But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Jesus himself said, You dont know the hour, yet some self-appointed prophets today seem to know more than the angels around Gods throne, Lehner says.
Lehner says some of the doomsday prophets may be driven by another sin: pride.
Perhaps in these guys who create mass panic there is also a certain pride, a bloated self-confidence that I have some special insight, says Lehner, author of God is Not Nice: Rejecting Pop Culture Theology and Discovering the God Worth Living For.
Facets Of Faith: Biblical Plagues Are A Little Too Familiar
Locusts were one of the plagues brought against Egypt in the book Exodus.
As if being in a pandemic isnt enough with its health and economic ramifications, we’re being infiltrated by biting gnats and subjected to severe weather, including tornadoes.
Now there’s a disturbance in the Atlantic that has the possibility of turning into a let’s just not go there.
Of course, all of this has led to lots of jokes on social media about facing the biblical plagues.
But just what were the plagues in the Bible? Let’s reflect. Some of them sound a little too close to home.
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The Origin Of Plagues
The things that we may face today such as sin, sickness, diseases, natural disasters, and more were never part of Gods original plan for humanity. Plagues are one of the effects of the original sin .
1. Romans 8:19-21 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Role Of Government Is Key To Protecting The Community
Another link with the past is the role of government in containing disease. Governments have for centuries used quarantine as a way to preserve public health, often with great success.
Yet resistance to forced quarantine has an equally long history, with reports of those in isolation being unruly and needing to be contained during the Great Plague in 17th-century England. During this period, quarantine procedures made a marked difference to the mortality rate when comparing cities.
Balancing individual freedom with the health of whole communities is a tricky business. Karen Jillingss work on the social history of the plague in 17th-century Scotland shows that, while physicians, magistrates and preachers all regarded the plague as supernatural , the responses of those of faith differed.
Jillings describes the arrest of a Scottish preacher in 1603 for refusing to comply with the governments health measures because he thought they were of no use as it was all up to God. The preacher was imprisoned because he was viewed as dangerous: his individual freedoms and beliefs were deemed less important than the safety of the community as a whole.
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