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A Call for Revival

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Is God trying to get our attention? Could COVID-19 be similar to a plague from Old Testament history?

I have found myself directed to studying portions of the Old Testament, both with my own Bible study group and in lessons for discipleship with other women. God seems to be constantly pointing me to portions of His Word that mention plagues. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I am attempting to summarize some thoughts and research I have done on the issue of plagues in the Bible and how it relates to the Coronavirus crisis. Keep in mind, I am not a Biblical scholar. I am just attempting to communicate some things I believe God has shown me and encourage others to return to the Lord.

It has occurred to me that I really can only place the term “plagues” in Biblical times or the 14th Century Europe. I cannot recall a time when I have used that term to refer to anything but ancient history. Naively, I didn’t think it was something that could happen in modern history. We have modern health care and industrialization, so no plagues, right? The oxford dictionary defines a plague as “a contagious bacterial disease characterized by fever and delirium, typically with the formation of swollen lymph nodes and sometimes the infection of the lungs. Performing a google search on symptoms of COVID-19, I found that common signs of the illness include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and infected lungs. So, given this limited research, it caused me to consider that we might indeed be experiencing a modern day plague. So, what can I learn from the one place I have seen the plague mentioned often - the Bible?

I looked up every reference to a plague that I could find in the historical accounts of the Old and New Testaments. I found 68 references to plagues or its synonym, pestilence. I reviewed each of these and consistently found that plagues were allowed or sent by God as a consequence for disobedience either because the people (usually Israel but sometimes other nations) had rejected and forsaken God usually due to worshipping something else in place of or in addition to God. Below is a summary of just four of the 68 accounts I studied:

Exodus 32: 33-35 is probably the more recognizable Biblical event in which God responded to disobedience of His people by sending a plague.  While Moses had been meeting with God on Mount Sinai, the Israelites combined their gold and made a golden calf which they worshipped in place of God.  When Moses, came down and found them engaged in revelry and idol worship, he broke their idol and the tablets of the law he was carrying.  God responded by stating that He would punish them for their sin.  Verse 35 states, “And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.”  

Throughout Deuteronomy, God detailed the commands that He desired for His people to obey.  In Deuteronomy 28, He details the blessings the people would receive for obedience and the curses resulting from disobedience.  God’s blessings for obedience are extravagantly abundant.  He does include specific consequences for disobedience if they did not obey the Lord their God and carefully follow all of His commands, which in verses 21 and 22 include plagues of diseases, fever, and inflammation, until they perish.  So, God warned His people that plagues would be an outcome of their defiance and forsaking of Him. 

Numbers 14: 36-38 recounts for us the observance of the giant-like men within the promised land when God told them to go into Canaan and promised them defeat.  Joshua and Caleb were faithful to God and willing to bravely lead the nation but the other ten spies spoke against obeying God and thus Israel did not go into the land because they looked to their fear instead of God.  The men who gave the bad report regarding the land were struck down with a plague and died immediately.  Once again, disobedience brought the undesirable outcome of a plague.  

In 2 Samuel 24, David was convicted of his pride after counting the fighting men in his army which was a sign of his glory in his own power and lack of dependence upon God. David stated his guilt before God in verse 10. God responded by sending a three-day plague which killed 70,000 Israelites.

Interestingly, the Bible provides guidance on how to approach God and receive healing from plagues. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 states, “When I shut up the heavens….or send plague among my people, if my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Similarly, 2 Chronicles 6:28-31 adds to this that in addition to prayer, aware of our own afflictions and pain, we are to spread out our hands toward God. 1 Kings 8:37-40 records almost identical information to what is stated in 2 Chronicles 6.

I don’t know if COVID-19 is a plague; that is not the purpose of my writing. But, I do believe God is seeking to gain the attention of our nation who has strayed from His ways, neglected our relationship with Him, and sought to be right in our own eyes. Specifically, the United States was a nation founded upon Biblical principles. The founders of our country came to America for freedom of religion, primarily because they were not allowed to worship God freely in their home country and sought to invoke genuine worship in their children and families. A large portion of the pilgrims were fleeing the legalistic views of the church being run by King James of England who would not allow them to worship in any place but his government run churches.

As a nation, I also believe we have poorly passed along our faith to our children. What is stated of the nation of Israel in Judges 2 is similar to our nation, “There arose another generation who did not know the Lord or what He had done.” According to Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who claim to be Christian is 70% but slightly less than 25% are evangelical Christians. More troubling is the statistics from Christianity Today which shows those who claim no religion at all has risen from 17% in 2010 to 23% in 2020. We’ve free fallen from Biblical principles.

Even if this is not a plague, I think our response should be revival. But, that revival must begin right here, with me. I cannot begin to expect revival of my land if I do not begin the hard work of transformation and humility in my own life. I need to dig up the areas of pride and self-sufficiency in my own life. Where am I looking like the culture around me? Where am I straying from God?

Honestly, submission to my husband and letting him lead has been a periodic struggle in my marriage. I’ve let that become a problem again because I am not trusting God to work through my husband. This grieves my Heavenly Father and my husband. This behavior is unbelief and it is making an idol of myself. What about my thought life or the words or way I speak to my family? Is that God honoring? Candidly, I’ve let doing for God replace being with God. God tells us in Psalm 51 that He desires our broken and contrite heart more than sacrifice. He loves me and desires intimate relationship with me - that is why He sent His son because He knew I could never be good enough. He doesn’t actually need me to do anything for Him. He invites me because He wants relationship with me. So, why am I not spending that time with Him - once again, it is the idol of self.

Where can you ask God to do some plowing up in your own life? What do you need to change in your own heart? Ask God. Then, obey Him. You cannot perform this operation on your heart by yourself, just like you need a surgeon to operate on you, you need the Holy Spirit to transform you from the inside.

Will you join me in asking God to change your heart, by desperately seeking Him? Humble yourself, pray for yourself to respond to His call for more intimate relationship with Him. Ask God for revival in your own heart. Confess your sin and ask for the forgiveness that you know will be granted because of Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf. Only then, pray for our nation to also humble themselves, to turn from their evil ways, and to seek God.

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