Many Christians are frantically reading the Scriptures in an attempt to make sense of the immediate circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. May I just share a brief word of caution in this regard.
Firstly, we have to avoid attempting to force our circumstances/ideas onto Scripture. To suggest that Thursday the 26th day of March in the year 2020 (RSA lock-down date) corresponds with Isaiah 26:20 (or visa versa) is extremely dangerous. What about other Books of the Bible with 26 chapters and 20 verses? Take for example 2 Chronicles 26:20 where Uzziah contracted leprosy due to his pride. What of Ezekiel 26:20 where the city of Tyre is prophesied against? There are also many other Books in the Bible with 26 chapters and 20 verses. Friends, we have no license to simply impose our ideas upon God’s Word to suite us. This is distorting the Scriptures.
Secondly, does Isaiah 26:20 only apply to RSA? What about other nations who have been on lock-down before this date & still others who will possibly still go on lock down? Is this then a word just for Christians in RSA? I think not!!
Thirdly, does this text then mean (as implied) that anyone who goes into their homes and closes their doors (in other words, adheres to the lock-down) are assured of being kept safe through the virus? To make this suggestion is to be presumptuous and irresponsible. Furthermore, will it mean equal safety for Christians and non-Christians, etc., etc.?
Friends, we need to recognize that the reference to God’s people in Isaiah 26:20 has a historical context where Israel, God’s OT covenant community were facing the prospect of divine judgment. But while facing this impending judgment God offers hope for the righteous in the future resurrection (vs.19), which is God's great future deliverance.
The verse (Isa.26:20) which reads, "...enter your chambers, and shut your doors," more than likely draws on Genesis 7:1,16 where the Ark's door is closed by the LORD before judgment with the Flood. The other historical allusion from Scripture is Exodus 12:22-23 where Israel had to enter into their homes, with blood from the sacrificial lamb on the door posts & lintels to keep them safe from God’s judgment by the angel of death. Please notice that both of these references point to the provision of God. In the account of the Flood it is the LORD who secures the Ark’s occupants. In the case of the blood on the doorways, it was the LORD Jesus Christ who would be the Lamb that was slain to secure the redeemed through His blood.
For us in the NT context, if we’re in Christ we have an eternal home secure & assured, even if part of His sanctifying work results in us contracting the virus & dying (1 Thess.5:9-10). There is no claim of so called ‘immunity’ simply because a random text taken out of context is applied like a magic wand. Definitely not! “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Php.1:21).
Dear friends, let’s be careful about what we send to others. We are not just communicating random thoughts, but are suggesting that these ideas communicate the true Word of God.
With sincere love in Christ.
VPBC Response to COVID-19
Greetings to you all in the wonderful Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We as the church leadership of VPBC would like to inform you of a decision made at a meeting, called on the 17 March 2020, to consider the announcement by our President on Sunday evening, concerning the state of emergency brought about through the onset of COVID-19.
Although our Sunday Worship Services may generally consist of less than 100 persons, we thought it wise to suspend not only our Sunday service but all formal church meetings until further notice. The need to encourage social distancing at this time is considered critical in an attempt to stem the tide of transmission within communities.
Our decision has not been made lightly but rather prayerfully, and with the primary consideration that every decision must be motivated to bring glory and honour of our LORD (1 Cor.10:31), and so therefore has to be in line with the teaching of Scripture (Psm.119:105).
We therefore include the following imperatives from Scripture:
1. Godly Love: “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”” (Rom.13:9).
2. Preservation of life: “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Prov.24:11-12).
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim.5:8).
3. Submission to authorities: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom.13:1-2).
Furthermore, it is critical to consider that we recognise God’s Sovereignty in all that is playing out in the world through this pandemic. Our decision is not made from the perspective of fear, but with the conviction of our absolute hope and trust in Christ our LORD. This Hope supersedes any medical technology, for it springs from our faith in Christ, and from the grace imparted to us through his sacrifice and resurrection. “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psm.124:8).
HOW TO DO CHURCH TOGETHER
There are 2 activities we would encourage you to participate in each week.
1. Bible Study - As a scattered community, we will be studying the book of Job together. You can download this Bible Study material by clicking here. Alternatively, a hard copy can be dropped off at your home, on your request. Please be in touch should you prefer this option.
Further online lectures can be found here, should you be interested.
2. Sunday Home Services - Each Sunday, please set aside the time to worship and turn to the Word. We will be sending out sermons that you can listen to or watch at home (should you have internet facilities). We understand that this is not possible for everyone, and so simply reading the Word and singing familiar hymns are equally honoring to God.
Please make use of the daily devotional messages that we will be sending via Whatsapp and sms.
We would love to stay in contact with you. If you have not already received an sms or Whatsapp message, please respond by sending us your cell number. In addition, if you know of someone who would like to stay informed, please pass on their details to us.
In Christ’s service through GRACE
Ps. Deon Lombard and the VPBC Leadership
Ps. Deon Lombard
Being a servant of Jesus makes it a delight to reflect and write about all that God has revealed about Himself in His Word.