Doing What Is Right
This teaching is not meant to be a full exposition on what God is doing in this present pestilence and is only a short textual teaching of the truths found in Romans 13:1-5.
Many are confused with what to do with public gatherings and places of worship. Nothing more disappointing than hearing the people of God defiantly disobeying the government He has raised up for the day we live in. The Book of Romans 13:1-5 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. …do what is right and he will commend you. [The government] is God’s servant to do you good. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”
The Biblically ignorant often put God to the test and mislabel it as faith, expecting God to show His hand upon them. The Biblically mature seek for the truth found in the whole of Scripture. The Bible says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that trough endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
It is a fact, Coronavirus is highly contagious. Doctors, nurses and health care givers have been afflicted with this disease while wearing protective mask and clothing. Medical personal are concerned, constantly wondering if they may pass COVID-19 to others. COVID-19 has been passed on through church services, social parties and traditional city observances.
Presently, the medical field is facing a disease which has spread rapidly around the world and they are corresponding with our governmental officials.
In our key text Romans 13:1-5, the writer through the Holy Spirit is giving the Devine sanction role of government and the Christian’s responsibility to those in authority. The child of God is to submit to the governing authorities.
As in the time of Christ, the Apostles, and today, most people in governmental control are none-believers. Just as it was with Christ it is for Christians today, there is no authority apart from that which God has established. He has delegated authority to those in charge of the public well-being.
When Pilate was speaking with Jesus, he said, “’Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.’” (John 19:10-11)
It is imperative for Christians to remember government is God’s way of maintaining the public good and directing the affairs of the state. Human government is a permanent institution for regulations of human affairs. This is God’s means of promoting law and order on earth. If laws are hard or against God’s moral law, then Christians are to make legitimate protest, not live in acts of disobedience for protection against lawlessness and disorder. (Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 2, pp. 221–223). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.; Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 243). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.; Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Ro 13:1). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.)
Practical Application: Follow the guidelines set up by the medical and governmental authorities which are set before you now. Keep yourself updated and do not fall to the temptations of the sin of justification. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, be hungry to know God’s will for you and strive to be like Christ as He submitted to the governmental authorities of His day.
God’s Chastisement on an Unrepentant Nation
According to news releases, COVID-19 is on the rise with the government and medical field warning people to take caution, by wearing mask, avoid large crowds, stay home, do not have family Thanksgiving gatherings, etc. According to our government, Coronavirus is afflicting more people and killing thousands who have underling conditions. According to virusncov.com to date there have been 254,311 Coronavirus deaths thus far (November 18, 2020). As of November 05, 2020, according to Wikipedia the United States has had 9,607,336 cases with a 2.4% death rate. The year 2020 has been a year of breeding mistrust towards the news media, government and the medical field. In Deuteronomy chapter 28:20 one of the cruses promised to a nation who disobeys God is confusion. The Hebrew word for “confusion” (מְהוּמָה mehûmāh) can mean panic, disturbance, turmoil, trouble or vexation. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 576). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship; Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.; Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Weber, C. P. (1999). 486 הוּם. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 212). Chicago: Moody Press.)
In fact, most will tell you it is hard to trust the media and government in the handling and reporting of the present pandemic we are in. There seems to be some confusion (מְהוּמָה mehûmāh -vexation) on which test can be trusted to give accurate results and confusion (מְהוּמָה mehûmāh – vexation) on the passing away of people from COVID-19. Many are wondering, did they really pass away from COVID-19 or are they just being labeled as being a victim of Coronavirus and really dying of something else? There is confusion (מְהוּמָה mehûmāh – vexation) over where or how much funds are being distributed from government resources to battle this pestilence.
As we take a Biblical look at pestilence in the Bible, it must be understood that when someone is afflicted with a disease which has become a pandemic or epidemic, it is not because that person has sinned, they are by-standers of spiritual warfare. It is like this, during war a nation may at some time be bombed – where the bombs have exploded there are by-standers who receive injuries and some people die. This is what is referred to as collateral damage.
What we do know is that the Bible is clear, God holds authority and is Sovereign over any pestilence which may be afflicted upon a nation. Habakkuk tells us, “Before Him [referring to God] went pestilence…” (Habakkuk 3:5 ESV) When the Lord wants to deal with His enemies who refuse to repent or deal His disobedient people, He has struck with pestilence. – (Barker, K. L. (1999). Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (Vol. 20, p. 363). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers; Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Habakkuk (p. 52). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company; (cf. Exod 5:3; 9:15; Lev 26:25; Num 14:12; Deut 28:21; 2 Sam 24:15; Jer 14:12) as well as “pestilence” (rešep; Deut 32:24).
What is Biblical Pestilence
“Pestilence” (דֶּבֶר deḇer) is a dreaded disease. This word is a dreaded threat of the Lord against His people for disobedience and to a people of a nation which are His enemy. (Lev. 26:25; Num. 14:12; Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 223). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Habakkuk (p. 52). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
It is an epidemic or pandemic occurrence of sickness that causes widespread death, often with the associative meaning of judgement from God. (Ex 5:3; 9:3, 15; Lev 26:25; Nu 14:12; Dt 28:21; 2Sa 24:13, 15; 1Ki 8:37; 1Ch 21:12, 14; 2Ch 6:28; 7:13; 20:9; Ps 78:50; 91:3, 6; Jer 14:12; 21:6, 7, 9; 24:10; 27:8, 13; 28:8; 29:17, 18; 32:24, 36; 34:17; 38:2; 42:17, 22; 44:13; Eze 5:12, 17; 6:11, 12; 7:15; 12:16; 14:19, 21; 28:23; 33:27; 38:22; Hos 13:14; Am 4:10; Hab 3:5; Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) God sent pestilence to punish the Israelites for the ongoing idolatry and disobedience. (Deuteronomy 32:24; Jeremiah 42:22) Pestilence can incorporate any public chastisements. (Ezekiel 7:15 ESV)
Pestilence is a form of chastisement brought upon a people of God for neglect of her covenant obligations. (Leviticus 26:25; Deuteronomy 28:21) The warning of pestilence is a frequent occurrence whenever God is dealing with His people in regard to bringing a covenant lawsuit against them as well as a form of judgement on the enemies of God’s people (Psalm 78:50; Ezekiel 28:23; 38:22). (Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 1015). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)
The Bible records occasions when God brought pestilence on a nation:
First: In 2 Samuel 24:15 (ESV) and 1 Chronicles 21:14 (ESV) we read “So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from morning until the appointed time [which was three days]. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men.”
Second: In Leviticus 26:25 (ESV), under the preoccupy, Punishment for Disobedience we read, “I will send pestilence…”
Third: In Numbers 14 under the preoccupy, The People Rebel, the Israelites were coming against Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb. “The Lord said…, How long will these people treat Me with contempt. How long will they refuse to believe in Me… I will strike them will pestilence…” (Numbers 14:10-12 ESV)
Fourth: Jesus gives a list of sorrows which in the NIV Bible are under the preoccupy Signs of the End Times. Note: These are things to come before Jesus’ second coming. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 122). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) The Lord said, “…Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences.” (Luke 21:10-11 ESV)
God has promised chastisements for an unrepentant people, rather they are the hard-hearted children of God or people living according to their fleshly desires, living by a world view or the lies of the devil. The greatest prophet of all time, Jesus Christ, told us of possible judgements which were proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets as well as the New Testament writers. (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1899). Peabody: Hendrickson.; Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 1015). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)
Jesus says in Luke 21:10, pestilence would be a part of God’s chastisements until the very end. (Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Lk 21:9–11). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.) Jesus is teaching what can be called a prototype. Pestilences have happened in the past and they will happen in our modern times. (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 261). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)
In the New Testament, we read of Warnings from Israel’s History, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:6 NIV) “These things happened and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
Coronavirus today is a pestilence, a prototype of past national afflictions which can according to Jesus happen again in modern times as well, which will also be a judgement of God in the future. The beloved John, in the Book of Revelation 6:7-8 (ESV) we read, “When He [the Lamb of God, Jesus] opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I looked, an behold, a pale horse! The rider’s name is Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beast of the earth.”
The fourth living creature was like an eagle (Revelation 4:6-7) implying high soaring intelligence and judgement descending from on high…” (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 568). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Revelation (p. 186). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
It must be noted the Greek word for pestilence (Thánatos) in Revelation 6:8 is different than the Greek word Jesus used when He spoke of pestilence (loimós). In the New Bible Commentary (21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1435). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.) we are told the rider on the pale horse is named Death represents a special kind of death coming trough pestilence. Barclay tells us the Greek word for “pestilence” (Thánatos) in Revelation is used in a double since meaning both death and pestilence. (Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The Revelation of John (Vol. 2, p. 9). Philadelphia: The Westminster John Knox Press.)
Recalling our minds to God’s instructions to learn from His dealings with Israel and Israel’s enemies, it is clear He is Sovereign over all pestilences in the past, now and in the future.
What to Do?
The Book of Psalms gives us a foundation to lay hold of as we hear of all the news about Coronavirus, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust a prince.” (Psalm 118:8-9) To take refuge (חָסָה – ḥāsâ) can mean to confide in. (Wiseman, D. J. (1999). 700 חָסָה. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 307). Chicago: Moody Press.)
Thus far, we have confided in God’s Word to grasp what pestilence is and it is God who holds Sovereignty over all pestilences. We are to seek God’s help and pray, “Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law. …do not hide your commandments from me” (Psalm 119:18-19b) We need to confide in the counsel of God’s Word. The Bible says about king David, “But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. (It says, “Heart-stricken” in the NIV). And David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’” (2 Samuel 24:10 ESV)
The Bible says “Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer. Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says…’”
We need modern day children of God, disciples of Jesus Christ, with Holy Spirit enlightenment of the whole counsel of God’s Word, to go and tell those in government and the church, “this is what the word of God says,” so the Lord will hear our prayers and heal or land. The Bible says, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
Resting In God’s Hand During Health Afflictions
The Bible is the foundational truth to rest upon during the affliction of a health crisis. The Word of God declares, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ You will not fear… …the pestilence that stalks in the darkness…” (Psalm 91: 1-6)
Let us first look at the most frightening word in this passage of Scripture. “Pestilence” (דֶּבֶר deḇer) means a dreaded disease, an epidemic or pandemic occurrence of sickness that has caused a lot of deaths. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 223). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.; Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
All through history, from Biblical times to this date, there have been diseases which have had its negative effects. Epidemics and pandemics will come and go until Christ returns. There will be diseases which will disrupt daily life and may lead to the destruction of many lives. What determines your peace and your eternal destination is the faith you live out before the God of heaven and earth, your personal relationship with Jesus Christ and your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit of Christ.
A Personal God Is Able
Finding peace amidst pestilence begins by understanding God is a personal Deity. The Old Testament gives us His personal names. Unlike today in ancient times a person’s name was more than just a likeable label. (Drane, J. W. (2000). Introducing the Old Testament (Completely rev. and updated., p. 252). Oxford: Lion Publishing plc.)
In the key text there are four descriptions of God which are worth grasping:
1.)Most High (Elyon): He cannot be compared to anyone, He is above all things, He owns and is ruler over everything.
2.) Almighty (Shaddai): Gives us the awareness of God being all-powerful, all-sufficient, a Sovereign ruler who is present all the time.
3.) Refuge (Yahweh): Reveals God’s nature in the highest and fullest sense, stressing His absolute faithfulness to fulfill His promises.
4.) Fortress (Elohim): Reveals to us God’s intensity in revealing His power, preservation and preparation. (Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 542). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)
God is the one to look to when living through an epidemic or pandemic. He rules over all, He is the only true God who is above all, having the power to control and guide the government in all the decisions needing to be made as well as implementing the plans which have been set in place. He is all-sufficient, able to provide everything needed to come up with a treatment, strengthen caregivers and those afflicted. He is able to give wisdom to the medical field, businesses affected, to all whose lives have been disrupted or displaced. He promises wisdom to all who ask. (James 1:5) He can prepare His church to minister to all who have needs while resting on all His promises. He does not just watch from heaven but is omnipresence, present even if the world cannot detect Him. (Anderson, K. (1996). Where to Find It in the Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)
The Bible says “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) Psalm 139:7-12 says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about be night’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
Unbelief and spiritual coldness cannot keep God from working in the midst of mankind. In the New Testament we read, “…they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet, He is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:27)
Dwelling In God’s Shelter
Our spiritual condition must be in good order if we wish to enjoy resting in God’s peace through epidemics and pandemics. Scripture says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High…” The child of God who has his mind on the Lord’s will, who considers how the Lord feels about his life (Philippians 1:27) and thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:16) is the one who enjoys God’s guidance, protection and enablement’s. (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Psalms (Vol. 2, p. 268). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
Christians who dwell in the shelter of the Lord is at home were God makes His will known, they return to the Lord when the world view and the lies of the devil intrigue’s them to live outside of God’s purposes. They acquaint themselves to the call God sets before them and they make it heartfelt-work over everything the Lord places them stewards over. Christians do not only have admittance but have residency, living under God’s provision and protection, resting and enjoying His refuge forever. (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 876). Peabody: Hendrickson.)
Christians who trust in God live close to Him. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 709). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)
The married couple who makes it their life style to be aware of each other’s desires and needs is the couple who enjoy oneness in what they do. They know how each other respond in life circumstances, there is an awareness of what each other is doing, producing a confidence in each other, especially during crisis. The marriage covenant is the comparison of our relationship with Jesus Christ, with the Body of Christ being the bride. (Revelation 19:7; 21:9) The closer a person gets to God, His Son and walks in obedience to the Holy Spirit, the more he will dwell with the Lord.
To “dwell (יָשַׁב yāšaḇ) means to sit, to inhabit, endure or stay. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 479). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)
Many approach their relationship with the Lord like many approach their religion, maybe making it to a church service occasionally. We are not to make work, ministries, families and hobbies our dwelling place. When we approach our work, ministries, families and hobbies as being gifts from the Lord, through stewardship, then we seek to be in the Lord’s presence, dwell to have fellowship with Him so we can oversee those life blessing through His enablement. 2 Peter 1:3 says, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promise, so that through them you participate in the divine nature… (2 Peter 1: 3-4)
Dwelling with the Lord enables us to enjoy God as our refuge (מַחְסֶה maḥseh), indicating a place of safety and protection. Christians can also know Him to be a fortress (מְצוּדָה meṣûḏāh) a strong hold. (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 597). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Holy Spirit illumination of knowing God as our refuge and fortress moves Christians to be loyal. Loyalty is the foundation to Christians seeing their callings through to a healthy completion.
Christians knowing God’s refuge and Him being their fortress, will not fear, like most people in this world do in epidemics and pandemics. The present pestilence does not cause them to fear – they do not panic, they pray for direction, for open doors of opportunities and His will be done. They rest in His goodness as they minister to those in need and they know their eternal home is sure, even if they should catch an infectious disease and pass on.
Are you seen as a child of God, in this pestilence, as one who trust the Lord, resting in His goodness and faithfulness? Or are you seen as one who is over-reacting, hording what others might need. Are you making ways to minister to those who are homebound or maybe afflicted? Are you reasonably obeying those in authority, whom God has placed in charge to get a hold on the present pestilence?
Praying God’s best for you.
Practical Prayer Guide:
- Trust in Christ as your personal Savior and Lord.
- Seek God for His guidance, protection and favor.
- Ask the Lord what He wants us to learn in this trial.
- Ask the Lord to bring this country to repentance.
- Ask God to give wisdom to our government.
- Ask God for a cure.
- Ask God to guide our medical research teams, give strength to all caregivers and protect them.
- Enable the afflicted to respond to treatment.
- Ask God to give you open doors of opportunity to minister to the sick.