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.
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.