HOW GOD deals with viruses and pathogens.

CORONA VIRUS: As the World fights an unprecedented onslaught from a deadly and an invisible virus, governments all over the World are looking at effective ways to deal with the pandemic and save millions of lives. At first, World governments resorted to total lock-down measures to isolate the virus and prevent its further spread among the population while preparing for the worst possible scenario. However, as the world economy crumbled under the weight of the lock-down, governments are now pressurised by calls from all kinds of civic organisations to relax the regulations. Meanwhile, the infection and death rates in many countries continued to rise and experts warned that with the relaxation of the emergency measures, it will get worse before it gets better. As religious institutions re-open, we have to turn to the Bible to see what lessons we can learn from there and what rules and regulations did God prescribe when His people were confronted with diseases of that nature.

FOURTY YEARS IN THE DESERT: We are grateful to modern medicine that we have a better understanding of pathogens today than our ancestors did thousands of years ago. However, there are instances such as this, when modern science also finds itself struggling to understand how to resolve disastrous situations that confronts our modern health systems. Between 1250 and 1210 BC, the Israelites (descendants of Jacob also known as Israel, son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham), were travelling out of Egypt towards the land then known as Canaan. They spent 40 years in the Sinai desert. During this journey, they encountered many difficulties, amongst which was hunger, thirst and disease. Their story is recorded in the book of Exodus. It was during this time that God gave the Israelites, through their leader, Moses, the Ten Commandments, which is a set of basic laws, according to which the Israelites had to live.

GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS TO ISRAEL:Then there were instructions that God gave the Israelites, through Moses, which were rules and regulations that would govern their day to day activities. Although these, unlike the Ten Commandments, were not not laws, but rules and regulations, their violation also resulted in severe sanctions for the offenders. We see in Leviticus 10: 1-3 that: ” 1. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu (they were anointed as priests earlier in Leviticus 8), each took his fire-pan, put live coals in it, added incense, and presented it to the Lord. But this fire was not holy, because the Lord had not commanded them to present it. 2. Suddenly the Lord sent fire, and it burnt them to death there in the presence of the Lord. 3. Then Moses said to Aaron, ” This is what the Lord was speaking about when he said, ‘All who serve me must respect my holiness; I will reveal my glory to my people’ In another translation, ‘Those who bring me offerings must realise that I am holy. Their respect for me must be seen by the whole nation”. Regarding alcohol, the Lord said to Aaron: Lev 10: 8: ” You and your sons (descendants) are not to enter the Tent of my presence after drinking wine or beer; if you do you will die. This is a permanent law for you and it must be kept by all future generations.”

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DEALING WITH CONTAGIOUS DISEASES: Leviticus Chapter 11 deals with ceremonially clean and unclean animals. God’s instructions are that we should not touch those animals. If we do touch them, then we will also be ceremonially unclean and we will have to be quarantined until evening or for 7 or 14 days depending on the seriousness of the transgression. For a full list of these animals please read the chapter. Chapter 13 deals with contagious skin disease. If anyone has symptoms of a contagious skin disease, then they must go to Aaron or one of his sons who will examine them. If they confirm that the person is indeed suffering from a contagious skin disease, then the priest must pronounce the person to be ceremonially unclean and then the priest will put the infected person in quarantine for a period of seven days. On the seventh day, the priest will conduct another examination. If the affected area has not changed or has spread further, then the priest will extend the person’s quarantine for a further seven days. The priest will make another examination at the end of the seven days. If the affected area has faded and not spread, the priest will pronounce the person ceremonially clean.

TODAY’S LEADERS: IT IS striking to see the similarities between what is described in Leviticus and what we are doing today in the fight against covid 19. The church can interpret these events for us better. The Israelites were able to survive as a nation by strictly adhering to these prescriptions. We hope that our leaders will be guided by God to find solutions to these problems.

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