Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj (transcription of a Family Bible Study during lockdown).
A popular Worship Leader quoted John 10:10 – where Jesus said, “The thief only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that they might have life” – to say that the Corona Pandemic is not from God.
Throughout the Bible, we have the very simple teaching which we must understand that evil cannot happen unless God gives permission for the same. This understanding made Bible writers to even attribute evil to God.
Evil happens because of 2 things – Satan and human cooperation with Satan. Satan cannot do anything in this world without God’s permission. Whatever the disaster – Corona virus, plane, crash, complete wiping out of a country – it cannot happen without God allowing it. Even a sparrow (or my hair!) cannot fall from our heads without God’s permission (Matt. 10:29).
Let us understand this truth that nothing happens in the World without God’s permission from different sections of the Bible.
- THE PATRIARCH DISCUSSION (BETWEEN GOD AND SATAN)
One of the first books of the Bible is the book of Job. In the first chapter this truth is crystal clear: only after God gave Satan permission, did Satan attack Job’s possessions and family (See Job 1:12). God was confident that Job loved and served him not because of the gifts he got from God. But because he was motivated by love. Satan felt otherwise. And God gave Satan permission to unleash trouble on Job so that the truth about Job’s character will come out.
Job 1:21-22 is significant: And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Though his suffering was the result of Satan’s work, Job attributes it to God. But the spirit inspired author of Job says that Job did not sin while he said that. Why? The answer is simple: Bible authors acknowledged that evil cannot happen and Satan cannot do his destructive work without God giving him permission, first!
This is not an one-off reference.
In Job 2:6 the Bible records God giving permission to Satan to attack Job the person himself.
So, we can safely conclude when a time of suffering comes to the world – like the current Carona Pandemic – it could not have come without God giving permission for it to happen!
2. PRINCE DAVID’S COUNTING DECISION
In Actor Vijay’s ‘positivity anthem’ which became viral on Youtube called, “Kutti Story”, you hear this line being sung: “Design design aa…Problems will come and go…” Problems will come one after the other, till our last breath! The latest one is the Corona Pandemic!
According to I Chronicles 21:1, Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a decision to count the troops of Israel. And according to II Samuel 24:1 (which reports another version of the same story) it was God who caused David to count his troops. Both the writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16). So who is right? Both are! If we combine the lesson from both the accounts, we learn this: “God gave permission for Satan to incite David to count his troops. David used his freewill to obey the promptings of Satan!”
David’s stubborn will, like that of Judas’ stubborn will, and he rebelled against God by counting the troops. Basically, David wants to trust his troops instead of God. Suffering happens because God gives permission to Satan to act in this world and we humans obey the promptings of Satan. God could have stopped this by striking David dead or those who were assigned to count the troops. God did not do that. He allowed it.
Yes, nothing can happen without the permission of God – including the Corona Pandemic!
We are combing the Bible to learn this key truth: evil happens only after God gives permission for the same!
3. PROPHET MOM HANNAH’S POST COVENANT-FULFILLMENT DECORATION
Hannah made a covenant with God. In I Samuel 1:11, she says that she will give her child to work for the Lord if the Lord of Hosts give her a child. When this was fulfilled and she gave birth to a son, she dropped off little Samuel to Eli. She kept the covenant she made with God.
We must learn from her! Some couples say, “Lord give me a child! And I write a testimony to a Christian Mag that you gave me a child, miraculously!” You can do more! You can do what Hannah did! You can say what she said: “Lord give a child and I will give him back to you so that he/she can serve you fulltime!”
Hannah, after fulfilling her covenant with God, decorates the character of God. She sings God’s praise. Read I Samuel 2:6,7. It goes this way:
“The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.”
Suffering cannot happen without God giving permission. We see that here too. Here, God kills and makes alive. We have to look at the whole message of the Bible. Yes, death was caused because of human disobedience. Humans used their God-given freewill to disobey God and follow Satan. God can allow death by the Corona Virus, accident, cancer or any other disaster. He can also raise us up.
Hannah did not go around giving this teaching: “The Lord gave me a child, miraculously! So, he will most definitely give a child to all parents who ask him for the same!” Instead in her decoration of God’s character in I Samuel 2:6-7, she does not shy away from talking about God who can give two opposites: life or death, poverty or wealth, a humbling or an exaltation! Whatever God gives/allows is for our ultimate good!
4. PROPHET ISAIAH’S COUPLET OF DECLARATION
Read Isaiah 45:7. It goes this way: “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Those are the Word of God). That was a crystal clear and bold declaration from Isaiah. Evil cannot happen without the permission of God. This truth is seen here as well. We, as children of Adam, continue to use our free will to do evil following Satan (who is still ‘roaming’ in this world, I Peter 5:8).
God is progressively revealing himself to us. God does not say one thing in the Old Testament and an another thing in the New Testament.
5. POST CROSS NEW TESTAMENT AUTHORS’ CHRONICLE (OR DISTRIBUTION OF EMPHASIS)
We do not have a confused God who says one thing in the Old Testament and an another thing in the New Testament. After the death and resurrection of Jesus – that period may be termed as the post Cross-period. The book of Acts falls in that period. Acts 10:38 speaks of healing by Jesus. Acts was written after Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. Satan caused inconveniences and Jesus removed them – we learn from this verse. Because of the devil’s oppression people became sick, demon possessed. A man was cutting himself with a stone, under Satan’s influence remember (Mark 5:5)?. Similarly, under the influence of the devil, we can watch porn and destroy our marriages; we can consume alcohol and destroy our family. We can cut ourselves with modern stones like these.
Jesus did not heal or deliver everyone, he bumped into. He chose the man who was an invalid for 38 long years waiting for a healing near the pool of Bethesda and healed him (John 5:5-9). I am sure there were other sick people who were waiting for healing beside that pool (John 5:7 talks about ‘someone else’ getting into the pool to receive healing when that pool was stirred in myseterious ).
Revelation 2:20-24 reads this way:
‘Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.’
This passage is not in the Old Testament. It is in the New Testament. It is a post-Cross passage!
Here, Jesus throws Jezebel (a New Testament cultic false teacher who impacted the local churches of the New Testament) in the sick bed. Note it was Jesus – not Satan – who threw her into the sick-bed (Rev. 2:20-22 is plain as day)! She perhaps taught a theology which made her followers comfortable with sexual sin. She kept pushing back her repentance. And Jesus decided to discipline her.
In Revelation 15:5-8, out of heaven came 7 angels with 7 plagues. From heaven they were given bowls of God’s wrath. Our God is a loving God but a Holy God and his wrath comes out against unholiness. An angel of death was sent by God during the plague-time in Egypt (Exodus 12:23). II Samuel 24:16 talks about the angel of death in action in the King David counting the troops episode. Note in all the three cases, it was an angel and not a demon in action! There is no difference between pre-cross and post-cross when it comes this truth: God allows evil or God gives permission for evil!
Since Jesus is the Lamb who was slain before the world’s foundation (Rev. 13:8), it is pointless to talk about pre-Cross passages in an effort to explain away Bible passages that talk about the other side of God – his holy wrath!
Read Genesis 6:3. God gives us a free will. The Holy Spirit speaks to us repeatedly. Beyond a certain point, the Holy spirit will stop speaking. I can use my free will to obey or disobey, to do good or evil. When I keep disobeying, beyond a point, the Holy Spirit will stop contending – or
When I disobey, it becomes sin – Genesis 6:2,3.
In Acts 10:38, Satan causes sickness. In Revelation 2:20-22, Jesus causes sickness. Both books – Acts and Revelation – are inspired by the Holy Spirit. So our conclusion should be this: ‘nothing evil can ever happen without God giving permission for it!’
Consistent with the New Testament teaching and consistent with the Old Testament teaching, there is a balanced emphasis that evil cannot happen without God’s permission. I would include the Corona virus pandemic in the category of ‘evil’. God can heal the affected and help them realize He is the Living God. He is able. At the same time, some may die of the Virus too. We cannot say, “the Corona Virus cannot come upon any believer!” John 9:1-3 teaches that, at times, people can have sicknesses and the reason need not be a sin in their lives or their parents’ lives.
(Transcribed from a Facebook/Youtube Live Duke Jeyaraj did on 29 March 2020 by Mrs. Malini Prabakar. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is a viewer-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org)