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)
80 medical doctors and 21 nurses died while taking care of Corona infected patients in Italy having contracted the virus themselves. I learnt this when I watched news from this App on my Smart TV – HayStack (on 6 April 2020). I am sure some of these medical professionals were believers. I believe, on the final day, the Lord will reward and honor them, with gusto, in the same way, he honors ‘fulltime’ missionary martyrs like Jim Elliot, John Allen Chau and others. There is no secular work – sacred work divide in the Bible. The work God has given us – be it ‘secular’ or ‘sacred’ – we need to be faithful unto death in it. “WHATEVER your hand finds to do, do it with all your might….” (Eccl. 9:10, OLD TESTAMENT). “WHATEVER you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23, NEW TESTAMENT).
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj on the ‘CR’s from the Bible We Need To Recall When Life Plays Football With Us!
I was in Allahabad, North India, studying a college course (B. Tech., Agricultural Engineering) when I heard first about this beautiful actress from Nepal in Mumbai. Her name? Manisha Koirala. She won a tough battle against cancer recently. She said, “I think cancer helps to transform a person. It affected me so much that it enabled me to grow!” (I read this in Outlook mag). She is not a believer to the best of my knowledge. But I was amazed that she was able to see something positive in suffering. Though the Corona pandemic has caused many inconveniences to Corporates, churches, individuals, etc., can anything good come out of this? What are the blessings that come out of this pandemic?
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer, popularly known as CR. Using the acronym CR, I have outlined my message which captures the biblical CRs we need to keep in when life plays football with us. These CRs will keep us playing the game of life with a positive attitude despite setback such as the Corona Pandemic. When life plays football with us – that is when we suffer – we will do well to remember these biblical CRs!
CHARACTER REFINEMENT (CR NO. 1 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
Job is one of the earliest books of the Bible and it has a lesson on suffering. Job experienced untold suffering – loss of his children, loss of his wealth, his wife encouraging him to curse God and die, acting as Satan’s agent (She repeated Satan’s words to God about Job that he would curse God when his worldly blessing are removed). Job 23:10 says “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” God does not contradict himself. From the Old Testament to the New Testament God says the same thing in a progressive way. I Peter 5:10 says “after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” The suffering which is only for a while confirms us, strengthen , and establish us. Our character gets refined in a mysterious way. It does not matter who caused it but blessings will come out of this pandemic.
COPYBOOK (BIBLE) REFLECTION (CR NO. 2 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
If a shotput hits your head during game time in school, you might lose your memory. You might say crazy things. But no shotput ball hit the author of Psalm 119. He was in-fact directed by the Holy Spirit when he wrote Psalm 119:71.
Psalm 119:71 says “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
Generally our tendency is to waste our time and be addicted to the screen. We like to go down the easy path and are like water that flows wherever there is a way. Usually we are always in a hurry but this lock down time has given us unhurried time to study the word of God.
Suffering should not just turn our attention to Scripture. But also make us obey Scripture. I say this because I have read Psalm 119:67 – “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your Word!”
CROWNING OF OUR ROCK (CR NO. 3 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
By the phrase, ‘Crowning of our Rock’ I mean the ‘the glory of God our Rock’. John 9:1,2 speaks of a blind man from birth. “What is the cause of his blindness?” asked the disciples of Jesus. Was it his sin or the sin of his parents? He was born blind in order to display glory to God; raise the glory of the Lord in a mysterious way, the Scripture says in John 9:1-2. How does a black buffalo eat green grass and produce white milk? I don’t understand. But I drink milk and give my kids milk to drink! How can the corona virus situation bring glory to God? I don’t understand. But I do not doubt the goodness of God even in this situation! We are living in times of inexplicable suffering and inconveniences/lock down. During, the times of suffering we must keep praising for our creator. The Lord’s name must be glorified even during the time of suffering because suffering brings glory to his name according to John 9:1-2.
CHRIST ‘REPROGRAPHICS’ [COPYING] (CR NO. 4 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
We become more like Jesus during suffering. When we suffer with a positive attitude we copy Christ. Apostle Paul writes, “that I may know the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). We become like Him in death. Suffering with a positive attitude helps us to imitate Jesus. We become more like Him. That is God’s ultimate purpose for us (Rom. 8:29). We look for different models to imitate. Teens tend to imitate famous movie stars. The only model completely worthy of imitating is Jesus. Job 5:7 says “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” If we are human, suffering is unavoidable according to the Old and New Testaments. Acts 14:22 says that we must go through many hardships in our day to day life till we enter heaven by our death or after the return of Jesus.
We get our salvation through the suffering of Jesus but He is also a model when it comes to suffering. We must copy the attitude of Jesus when we suffer. How did Jesus suffer?
Jesus saw suffering as something allowed by God enroute to the Cross. Jesus prayed this model prayer at Gethsemane: “Take this cup of suffering from me but yet not my will, but your will.”
We too must understand that times of suffering are allowed by God.
When Jesus suffered, He forgave those who made him suffer. That’s why he prayed while hanging on the Cross this: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do!”
In the Old Testament when someone cursed David, David felt God gave him permission to do that (2 Sam. 16:11). The Son of David, Jesus, also said in similar vein: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
There may be financial difficulty coming, terrible health issues, and untold trouble during this pandemic. There is a gripping Malayalam movie “Virus” about the Nipha virus outbreak which broke out in the Indian state of Kerala in 2018, but the Corono virus is more deadly and global. God has allowed it to happen (though we aren’t sure who is the cause for this)
And when we exhibit a Christ-like attitude during this time of suffering – saluting the Will of the Father, forgiving whoever may be involved – God will be pleased! And we will become Christ-like!
COSMOS REDEMPTION(CR No. 5 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
The most relatable example of how God can use our suffering as a channel of blessing for others (the cosmos) concerns the Old Testament hero, Joseph. Genesis 50:20 says “ye thought evil against me but God meant it unto good.” Those are Joseph’s words to his brothers who were super-mean to him when he met them after he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph undergoes sufferings on multiple occasions. I preached a message on the sufferings of Joseph when I was invited to preach in a Baptist Church earlier this year (2019). That message on the ‘arrows’ launched against Joseph is found on YouTube. But despite these arrows, Joseph’s bow remained steady. He believed God had a plan in allowing his brothers to be envious of him. The envy of Joseph’s brothers was caused by Satan, of course. But Joseph saw that as God-allowed for the greater blessing of his family, the nation of Israel. Read Genesis 45:5-8. Count the times Joseph says there, “God sent me….”. He says it three times! Joseph did not feel that his brother’s envy sent him to Egypt but he came to Epypt because of the God’s good purposes! Joseph was not bitter when he suffered (via his brothers, Mrs. Potiphar, Mr. Potiphar, the forgetful cupbearer, etc.) but he thought differently. Great people think differently. He saw God’s hand in allowing these folk to make him suffer so that a grander plan can be executed for the blessing of many people.
Government restrictions for travel keep us home. Our international travel may have cancelled. The World’s finances may be in disarray. But Believe that God allowed this virus to go beserk for a good purpose.
By saying this I am not justifying envy or any sinful thing. If the Corona virus was manufactured in a lab as a weapon for bio-terrorism, whoever responsible for that must be punished. God will judge that person either on this side of eternity or the other side of it (if the concerned does not repent). Was that act wrong? Absolutely.
Joseph was in a position to bless so many people even though he was the second youngest sibling in his family as he grew up. He became an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ! What a blessing!
Graham Staines was an ordinary missionary in the interior parts of Orissa. He was burnt alive along with his 2 sons when he stayed in his jeep following a meeting in a village (January of 1999). But this has inspired many to take up medical mission, to respect humanity, and pursue truth. Jim Eliot, worked among the Aucas in Ecuador, South America and was killed in 1956 at the age of 29, amidst remote tribals. His life inspired many people to labour for Christ and go to other countries to share the love of Jesus. In mysterious ways all this resulted in cosmos redemption.
CONTRAST AND REVERSE-APPRECIATION (CR No. 7 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
Read I Peter 1:6,7 (we already read it earlier in this message). Twenty-one day lock down may seem long. When you compare our time of suffering here and now with eternity, is such a short time. When we understand the fleeting nature of our suffering here and now, then only we will be able to appreciate the reverse – the time of everlasting joy in heaven. For example, a tiny kidney stone can cause much excruciating pain, even though temporary. I have experienced hours of kidney stone pain twice in my life (a pain that is said to be close to the labor pains a woman experiences). When I go through a pain-free day, I praise God even more with delirious joy because I recall those two terrible bouts of pain. Eugene Peterson, an American Presbyterian Minister, says hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us (in his contemporary English translation of II Corinthians 4:17,18). We have light and momentary troubles (to use another version’s rendering of the same set of verses).
Sometimes we feel our suffering is so gigantic but when compared to the suffering that Jesus underwent, it is very light. God has a grand, glorious plan when he allows anything. God had foreknowledge of this pandemic and this is not a surprise for God. He already knew about it.
Read Acts 2:22,23; Acts 4:27,28. Different people became united. The religious leaders of the time and common people, Jews and gentiles schemed together, came against Jesus who is the only one who did not deserve any suffering (as he never sinned and yes, suffering first came into the world because of sin – check out John 5:14; ofcourse not all suffering is because of sin – John 9:1-2 teaches that). We may not understand the intricacies but something good will come out of this corona virus pandemic. The teaching that we will not have to suffer here and now on this earth because Jesus suffered for us on the Cross is a false teaching. We suffer because Adam chose to disobey and we also commit sin and disobey. Hebrews 13:12,13 is clear that even though Jesus suffered on the cross, we have to suffer as well – especially when we take a stand for Jesus in this pluralistic World and in this prosperity-false-doctrine embracing backslidden church.
This world is not our home. We are just passing through looking for a new heaven and earth.
Let me reproduce a story from my article that provides a practical summary of the book of Job titled “Why me?”
MARTIN AND GRACIA BURNHAM STORY VIA A NAT GEO TV PROGRAM
My wife and I tucked our kids to bed and settled to watch the National Geographic channel program called, “Locked up Abroad!” in September 2008. It featured the story of a missionary couple by the name of Martin and Gracia Burnham.
They were American Missionaries who served God in the country of Phiippines. They had met and married each other with a singular purpose of serving God together in the mission field he would send them to. God had blessed them with three children all of whom were born in the mission field.
On their eighteenth wedding anniversary, they had gone to a beachside island resort in the same country to romance each other afresh and to celebrate their wedding anniversary minus the children.
That’s when a terrorist group led by Abu Sayyaf linked with Osama bin Laden kidnapped them and took them away in a speedboat along with 18 others. In this group of 18, there was only one more American, apart from the Burnhams. This missionary couple was chained to two terrorists. They kept moving in the dense forests as the Philippine Army tried to track them down.
They starved for most part of their 377-day captivity. While they fainted physically, spiritually they did not. They kept believing God and kept serving him by sharing the gospel with their captors. When they did eat something, dysentery was the result. Though the food came out of their bodies like water, their faith during this time was rock solid. Their bodies were cut. Blood oozed out. But their faith in Jesus did not fizzle out. Their captors demanded $1 million for their release. $330,000 was given to them, yet they did not release them. 3 men in that group of 18 were beheaded. Even after these horrific incidents, this missionary couple in captivity did not want to kick their Christian Faith from their hearts and heads. The terrorists married four women in the group against their wishes and sexually violated them. Even this incident did not force this determined duo to divorce their faith from their life during the time of extreme trail. On June 7, 2002, during a cross-fire between the Phippine Army and the terrorists, a bullet pierced the chest of Martin the soldier of the Cross, and he died. Yet, the faith of his wife, Gracia, did not die. She continued to serve God with a steely resolve. Injured on her leg in the same cross-fire, she was finally free from her captors – nearly 400 days in horrific captivity.
Max Lucado writing about this incident memorably asks a series of questions you may have wanted to ask as well as you read this true story: “Why didn’t God block the bullets? Why did he let her get shot? And why God let him die?…She was a widow, and we are left to wonder why. Is this how God honors his chosen? How do we explain this tragedy? And as you’re thinking of theirs, how do you explain yours? The tension at home. The demands at work. The bills on your desk or the tumor on your body. You’re taken hostage, but aren’t you occasionally taken aback by God’s silence? He knows what you are facing. How do we explain this?”
Gracia Martin, the dead missionary’s widow, answers this “why” question in an interview she gave: “During the 10th week of my captivity, this Bible truth I had taught others all-along strongly came to me: life’s not all about me getting my way; it’s about Him getting His way. I decided that I was going to believe God was good, no matter what…. It seemed like God would answer every prayer but to get us out of there. I think we realized that He wanted us in there for a reason. Our prayers really changed at that point – we just wanted God to be teaching us.”
Today, Gracia Martin, is stronger in her faith after having gone through such a harrowing experience. She leads a ministry that uses aviation for mission work that involves getting the Gospel to those living in closed Islamic countries. The terrifying trails she underwent being a captive to a dreaded terrorist group for close to 400 days helped in mysterious ways to demonstrate the glory and power of God in her life!
This Corona Virus Pandemic and consequent lock down time will also be for our ultimate good! I am sure of that!
There was a time when Apostle Paul was chained to a roman soldier. He considered that as an opportunity to share the Gospel. The chains that bound Apostle Paul caused him inconvenience. But he say that as an occasion to advance the Gospel (Phil. 1:12). This is one obvious reason and purpose. In their discussion with God, Satan tried to tell God that Job loved Him because of all the gifts He gave Job. God said that Job loved Him because of genuine love and had no ulterior motives. The reason that Job had for loving God was love for God and nothing else. As a popular secular romantic song goes, “Love me for a reason. Let the reason be love!” We must love God for no other reason, but love! And if we do, this pandemic time will become a purposeful time for us!
Prayer: Thank you Lord for helping us understand from the Bible why there can be a mysterious blessing even via this Corona pandemic. Bless our time of lockdown and suffering so that we will continue to learn your word, raise Your praise, share your Gospel , and grow in character. In Jesus name. Amen.
[Transcribed by Mrs. Malini Prabakar voluntarily from a devotional that Duke Jeyaraj shared via video on 29 March 2020. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this piece, is the fouder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, a listener supported Indian Ministry. Find out more at www.dukev.org. You may choose to subscribe to www.youtube.com/visitduke and like www.facebook.com/dukebook. You can reach Duke via WhatsApp at +91-8886040605. If you send a message via this number we can send you the PDF of the magazine that Duke publishes called, The Days of Your Youth, with the article, ‘Why Me?’ (summary of the main lessons of Job put in outline j-o-b o-f u-z)]
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj – 22 nd March, 2020 (A Video Message Shared Online Via Facebook and Youtube)
We thank you Lord for this day, March 22,2020 when we are home, worshipping you in accordance with your sovereign plan; also for the privilege and freedom to broadcast on social media (You Tube and Facebook).Thank you for the opportunity to teach and share your Living Word that touches and transforms the lives of people watching globally .
May hearts be warmed by the Holy Spirit’s leading, bringing illumination, revelation, and life transformation. Amen.
The recent Economist Magazine reports that governments are trying to get a grip on this deadly pandemic – COVID -19. On March 16, reliable medical research published by epidemiologists (Imperial College, London) predicted that the virus would affect 80% of British population within 3 to 4 months if not arrested by the government or population.2.2 million Americans and 500,000 people in U.K. would be affected. No one really knows what will happen in nations like India.
I want to use the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to teach what the Bible, God’s own Word, has to say about plagues and pestilences.
C – CREATOR CAUSED PLAGUES
The Bible repeatedly attributes the origin of plagues and pestilences to God. If the Devil causes a plague (In Luke 13:16 Satan causes a disease which could have been a result of a viral attack on the human body – See also Mark 9:17; 9:25 and Acts 10:38) he needs to get God’s permission. God can permit the devil to operate. God’s sovereignty is a major doctrine of the Bible and no one can question him with a WHY (Dan. 4:35)?
The first reference to the plague is found in Genesis 12:17 when the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house in Egypt because of Abram’s wife Sarai. (Genesis 12:10 – 20)
The next reference is Exodus 8:2 where the Lord plagues Egypt with frogs because Pharaoh would not release the Israelites from their bondage. (Moses was their leader and he wrote the first 5 books of the Bible.)
In Exodus 9:3, it is the plague on livestock caused by the hand of God. In verse 14, we read that God sends all plagues on the Egyptian people to proclaim that “there is none like me(God) in all the earth.” In all, there were 10 plagues that affected the Egyptians.
Exodus 32:35 states that God sent a plague because Aaron made a golden calf which the people of God, Israelites, worshipped. They worshipped the CREATION rather than the CREATOR.
Numbers 11:33 tells us that even before the Israelites had consumed the flesh of the quail, God sent a plague because their perpetual complaints and ingratitude triggered God’s anger.
(One theory regarding the origin of Corona virus is that it came from a wet market which sold exotic meats, including the meat of winged bats, the likely original host of the Corona Virus, in Wuhan, China).
In Numbers 16:46, Moses tells Aaron to carry a censer, take fire from the altar and use incense as an atonement for the congregation since God’s wrath had caused a plague. The Bible is a library of 66 books and as we comb through it, we come to Numbers 25 where we read of the religious prostitution with Moabite women in the temple of Baal and Baal worship of the Israelites.
Balaam, in Numbers 31:16 counselled the Israelites to worship the idol Baal-Peor in-effect (by dancing with the women of Moab) using his seemingly prophetic powers and the consequence was a plague that killed 24,000.
Deuteronomy 28:59 records the farewell speech of Moses to Israelites before their entry to the Promised Land where he repeats the law and warns them of the fearful plagues that will affect their children and will last long and afflict them with sore sicknesses. In Deuteronomy 32:24 God warns the disobedient people that he will send hunger, heat, beasts, and poisonous serpents as agents of destruction. At the beginning of creation, the serpent is Satan’s slave and speaks to Eve. However, in Matthew 10:16, God says “be ye therefore as wise as serpents.”
Joshua 22:17 is a reminder of the plague on the congregation by sexual immorality. Joshua 24:5 states, “I plagued Egypt.” I Samuel 4:8 tells us how even the pagans realized God’s protection over the Israelites when it came to plagues.
Psalm 78:50 speaks of a pestilence that God delivered his people to. In Zechariah 14:12, the plague will affect those who war against Jerusalem; verse 18 of the same chapter speaks of the Lord smiting the heathen with a plague that do not observe the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths.
The Feast of Booths/Tabernacles is a Jewish Festival which is symbolic of the Israelite journey through the wilderness in temporary shelters. It is a call to repentance. It is also a symbol of our spiritual journey through this world as aliens, strangers, travellers, and as Peter says “sojourners “ (I Peter 2:11). The world offers prosperity, sinful pleasures, immortality on earth before Second Coming and we can choose to be worldly! But we should remember that we are passing through, to reach a city with no plagues. As Jim Reeves sang, “this world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”
In the New Testament, Revelation 18:8 speaks of God’s judgement on establishments that are anti-God. Babylon is symbolic of this. The plagues will come in a single day – death, fire, famine. Revelation 22:18 warns with clarity that in response to people’s rebellion, God can choose to send plagues.
With the help of the above references, we understand that the plague is CREATOR CAUSED. Yes, Satan can be given permission by God to cause plagues/diseases. But even then, the buck for causing a plague, for reasons known to him, stops with God as he chose to give permission without which no plague could have occurred – including the Corona Virus Pandemic – in the first place!
We are using the outline C-O-R-O-N-A to understand what the Bible has to teach about plagues. C for Creator-Caused Plagues. O is the next letter under consideration!
O-OBLITERATED BY THE CROSS ON WHICH JESUS DIED? IS THAT TRUE ABOUT PLAGUES?
Obliterated means cancelled. Does the Bible teach that none of the believers will be attacked/affected by the virus? Is there such a theology in the Bible? This is the question. Exodus 12:13 speaks of the blood as an anti-dote for the plague. In Exodus 30:12, the Lord asks Moses to take census and number the Israelites when there is non-existence of plague among them. Revelation 18:4 refers to Babylon, which is symbolic of the system of evil and sin. We should say bye-bye to satan , come under the blood of Jesus, and join the spiritual church. Should we as believers never experience a plague? Plagues are not for God’s children says Numbers 8:19. Can Numbers 8:19 be applied to believers of today?
Psalm 91:10 is assuring – “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Revelation 18:4 says this: “be ye not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” So, the question is this: will a believer who lives a holy life be spared from the Corona Virus infection as Revelation 18:4 seems to suggest?
Accelerated, passionate, cultic preaching, originally from South Africa, also echoed in Sri Lanka, India, propagated immortality which said that if you believe on Jesus, you will not die. Is this teaching correct?
There are 4 things that the believer which the human race deals with: defilement, disease, death, and demonic attack.
DEFILEMENT: By His first coming, Jesus gave us power over defilement. Being away from defilement does not allow us to use angry/ abusive words. We gain complete victory over every kind sinful habit (I John 3:5-6).
The Bible reiterates 300 times that Jesus is coming again. II Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus has already made us righteous. But I John1 :8 states we are not righteous. James 3:2 says that we (believers) stumble in many ways. It is a paradox. We are “already” holy, but “not yet” holy! This is what is called the ‘already but not yet’ theology – a theology that we must understand!
Grace is not a credit card to sin. We are not perfect and we do sin, but must come back to Jesus in genuine repentance and confession (Romans 2:4-5; I John 1:8-9). Only after the Second Coming (which takes place in Revelation 19:11) and in the New Heavens and Earth will there be complete absence of sin (Rev. 21:27).
So till the Second Coming we must put to death the acts of the flesh empowered by the Spirit (Romans 8:13). So, in a sense, we are already holy but not yet holy!
DISEASE: The ‘already but not yet’ theology is also seen in the area of diseases.
Even though God has worked out the solution on the Cross, the provision for our healing, some do not get healed for mysterious reasons. Isaiah 53:5 – With His stripes we are healed. I Peter 2:24 – By whose stripes ye were healed. Yes, after the first coming Jesus made provision for our healing at the Cross. However for some mysterious higher reason not all of us are healed here and now II Timothy 4:20 – Paul left his fellow labourer Trophimus at Miletus sick, even though he had healed sick and possessed people, with handkerchiefs/aprons.
Matthew 8 :16,17 records that Jesus healed all that were sick in a particular area fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5. This is in line with Exodus 23:25 which says, “I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.”
Let us hit rewind button on the characters of Elijah and Elisha.Elijah had performed 8 miracles – shut up heavens, caused drought, multiplied oil and flour to the widow, raised her son, defeated prophets of Baal with fire, brought rain to end drought, destroyed 51 with fire, destroyed another group of 51 with fire, parted the waters at River Jordan and he was taken in a whirlwind to heaven. Miracle after miracle and healing after healing but one day, he was taken in a whirlwind to heaven.
Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and he performed 16 miracles – parted waters of Jordan, purified waters of Jericho, Caused a flood, made Israelites to foil the Moabiltes, gave a flow of oil to the widow, gave fertility to the woman of Shunem, raised her son from death, purified the poisonous stew, multiplied barley loaves, healed Naaman of leprosy, healed Gehazi his servant, floated the head of the iron axe, struck Arameans blind, prophesied end of Aramean siege, prophesied death of Benhadad and rise of Hazael and prophesied Israel would defeat King of Aram.
Yet, Elisha, the mighty miracle-worker died of sickness – II Kings 13:14. This is the story of many of our loved ones.
We know of the apologist Dr.Nabeel Quereshi who was working with RZIM Ministries died of an illness at the age of 33. God released healing in the Old and New Testaments but here and now there is sickness, suffering, and pain. Plagues and pestilences fall in that category of suffering. They keep us humble. We are not in-charge of the earth. The Sovereign God is in control.
Paul , the author of many New Testament books, had a thorn in his flesh – some kind of ailment causing pain. He pleaded three times with God. II Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I Peter 2:24 reiterates that we are healed by His stripes. Infirmities humble us.
If I can do everything, then I will be God but I am human. I depend on God and others and this ushers in a beautiful, mutual dependence, and a spirit of team work. The area in which I am weak may be the strength of another person.
While I Peter 2:24 teaches that Jesus has ‘already’ made provision for our healing, passages such as Romans 8:23 (which says that we await redemption of our bodies) teach that we are ‘not yet’ healed. After the Second Coming of Jesus (recorded in Revelation 19), there will be a time when there will be no more pain – no more disease (Rev. 21:4).
We have talked about Defilement in terms of the already but not yet paradigm. We have talked about Disease in terms of the already but not yet paradigm. Now to the next topic – Death.
DEATH- There are 2 stages in the coming of Christ – the first coming. If Jesus had planned to finish all his work with regard to us (like defeating death) in the First Coming itself, he would not have told that us that he is coming again. But he told us that he is coming again! First coming helps us overcome the ‘fear of dying’ (Heb. 2:15). Second coming helps us to overcome death itself (Rev. 19, Second Coming becomes a reality; Rev. 21:4 no more death in New Heaven and Earth). The fear of death is released. The first coming of Christ deals with one dimension of death but the second coming deals with death in all dimensions. Only post his Second Coming we will receive a glorified, death-free, immortal body (I Cor. 15:23). The reward for giving up all and loving Jesus supremely is “Eternal” life (a deathless life) and this blessing is only available in the “life to come” (Luke 18:30) – not before that! We have “already” overcome fear of death (Heb 2:15) and but “not yet” experienced a total win over death as death is the last enemy which Christ will defeat “at his coming” (I Cor. 15:23,26).
Some cult false teachers quote John 11:25,26 to teach immortality on earth. When Jesus said that those who believe in me will not die, we must check the context to understand the meaning of the word ‘death’. If we say ‘Sunny’ – it could mean the weather, or it could mean the Indian Cricket Opener (Sunil Gavaskar), it could mean the Nissan Car model, or it could me a porn star! The context will determine what “Sunny” means! In the same way the context of the word ‘death’ as Jesus used in John 11:25-26 indicates that he was talking about spiritual death. In Luke 9:20 Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead!” He was referring to the spiritually dead people who will refuse to follow Jesus because they await the actual physical death of their parents! In Luke 15:24, 25, Jesus referred to the alive-physically post repentance but once upon a time, dead-spiritually prodigal son. So, John 11:25-26 cannot be talking about immortality on earth (if you look at the context of these passages and map those the rest of the Bible, you cannot believe in immortality on earth here and now). It is talking about overcoming spiritual death and ultimately escaping second death which is hell punishment (Rev. 21:8). Romans 8:1 – There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. There is no danger of second death when you believe and abide in Christ Jesus!
We are talking about the ‘already’ but ‘not yet’ theology of the Bible with regard to Defilement, Disease, Death and finally, Demons!
DEMONS: Matthew 12 :28 – Devils are cast out by the spirit of God. When this happened in Jesus’ ministry the Kingdom of God has been established and Satan has been defeated. When Jesus died on the Cross the Devil was “already” defeated and shamed on the Cross. Read Col 2:13,14,15. Jesus defeated the devil on the Cross. But the final defeat of the Devil is still in the ‘not yet’ category. It is pending. The devil is still active deceiving people and nations (I Peter 5:8). “Already but not yet theology” tells us that the work of God is inaugurated in His First Coming but completed in the Second Coming. Matthew 25:1 – Kingdom of heaven is likened to 10 virgins with their lamps. Matthew 25:31-34 speaks about the separation of people and nations just as a shepherd divides the sheep and goats (judges both believers and non-believers) as a King on the throne. God will complete the establishment of the kingdom of God after the Second Coming. So, His kingdom is still coming, in one sense. Luke 23:42,43 is a reference to the dying thief who says “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” and Jesus responds “You will be with me in Paradise today.” The Dying thief rightly say the ‘already but not yet’ theology in Jesus’ teachings and made the right request.
Satan is still active and can cause us harm if we are not alert and will only be sent to hell after the Second Coming of Jesus [Rev. 19:11 (Second Coming), 20(hell for the miracle-working False Prophet and AntiChrist and Rev. 20:10 – hell for the Devil)]. Note that we must not get carried away false teachers who say, “Look at my miracles!” because the ultimate False Prophet, one who is part of the False Trinity will also work miracles!
There is a group working with missionary zeal on social media that circulates teaching that we have victory over disease (so you can’t have diseases), death (so you can’t die now), and demons (and Satan poses no danger to you now). In the light of the above paragraphs, what they teach is hellish false teaching. I wonder why this group does not say, “Jesus died for our sins on the Cross, so we must not sin anymore!” But they say, “Jesus died for us on the Cross and we must not die anymore!” Their shallow, double-standards-embracing arguments tells the larger story of how they love “Balaam’s wages” and so will only preach a message that will “tickle” people’s ear! [Of course, the right teaching is this: Jesus died for our sins on the Cross and we can have power over sin (I John 3:5-6), though only Jesus is sinlessly perfect (I John 1:8)!]
Balance Psalm 91:10 (no plague shall come near thy dwelling) with Hosea 13:14 where the prophet, alive before the first coming of Jesus, foretells the future time after Second Coming where-in a Psalm 91:10 protection will be a reality! In the absolute sense, Psalm 91:10 (no plague shall come near thy dwelling), will be true only in the New Heaven and Earth (Rev. 21:4) post the Second Coming of Jesus (Rev. 19:11) and not before that.
We are using the outline C-O-R-O-N-A to learn what the Bible teaches about Plagues.
C-reator-Caused plagues; O-bliterated by the Cross plagues here and now (absolutely not!); now for the third letter in this acronym, R….
R – REDEMPTION FROM THE PLAGUES
What can be humanly done to stop a plague (knowing ultimately it is God’s prerogative to do so)?
Sacrificial entry into God’s presence:
In II Samuel 24, we read about David’s pride and arrogance when he wanted to count the troops instead of counting on God. God sends a pestilence and 70,000 men died. A sacrifice had to be made in a particular piece of land for the plague sent by God to stop. That piece of land was available for free for King David. But he wanted to pay for it. “I will not offer to the Lord, burnt offerings that cost me nothing!” – he said (2 Sam. 24:24). Then finally the altar was built. The sacrifice was offered. The Lord answered the prayer and then the plague stopped.
We have to increase our prayer time and kneel instead of watching different screens all day and night (I am talking about the phone, pad and the TV). Spend time with family around His word, in prayer. We can fast and pray and say “NO” to the things we love with a sacrificial David-like spirit; we can give sacrificially and support missionary organizations. Then, God may chose to stop the plague!
Numbers 16:21 onwards speaks of the grumbling against Moses, the rumbling, and the humbling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The earth swallowed them up and their houses. A fire consumed 250 men that offered incense.14,700 died from the plague. Moses begged for mercy. Aaron offers incense as an atonement which is symbolic of the prayers and intercessions of saints. Revelation 5:8 speaks of golden vials full of odours which are the prayers of saints.
[We have a monthly fasting and prayer time with intercession named “Fountain of tears against Mountain of fears” when we pray for nations (for Corona-hit Italy/Iran), our nation (India), the google generation (which goes porn-again!) and for the tensions of those who come (for a job, for a baby, for peace in marriage, etc)].
Separation from the world:
Revelation 18:4 warns us not to partake in sins and be subject to plagues. When we live a life of holiness and separation, then God may choose to stop the plague!
Others use foul language, we too use foul language. Others watch soft porn via Netflix, we too do the same! This CAN’T be! For the plague to end, we must choose holiness and separation from the Bible. Then God may choose to end the plague!
Proclamation of the standards of God’s Holiness:
We should preach the truth about God’s holy standards from His Word taking the cue from Phinehas. In Numbers 25, we read of Phinehas and how he removed evil and stopped the plague which killed 24,000. He killed people involved in sexual immorality. We should turn away from filthy thinking and adultery. God’s word is the sword which divides holy and sinful people. Psalm 106:29 speaks of the outbreak of the plague. “They provoked him to anger with their inventions.” Phinehas literally sent a spear into a couple that was into sinful Baal worship through sexual intimacy inside the privacy of a tent (Numbers 25:6-8). As New Testament believers we will not kill people physically that way. Instead, we will use the sharp sword of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12) and preach it to people so that their hearts are “cut” (Acts 2:37). My book, Straight Talk, brings such frank Bible teaching on sex, love, marriage, petting outside marriage, homosexuality, porn, etc. We are now working on edition 3 as I write with vols 1 and 2 sold out.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
O – ORDERLY QUARANTINE HAS TO BE MAINTAINED DURING THE PLAGUE:
The laws of quarantine set by the local government have to be followed. Leviticus 13:36 speaks of social distancing and isolation. As long as they have the disease, they have to separate themselves from others and stay outside the camp. We must obey in order to stop the spread of the disease. Read Leviticus 5. Cleanliness can be marred by having an issue, leprosy or touching the dead – Numbers 5:2
Leviticus 15:6,17,18,32; Deuteronomy 23:10,11; II Kings 7:3; 15:5. Read these Scriptures that vote for orderly quarantine during times of plague or contagious disease long before medical science was as advanced as it is during our time!
In II Samuel 24, we read about David’s pride and self-sufficiency. God sends a pestilence and 70,000 men died. In II Kings 15:5, the king becomes a leper until his death and lives in a separate house. II Chronicles 26:21, Uzziah the king was a leper till his death and lived in a separate house. Read Leviticus 22:14.
Romans 13:1 teaches that we must obey the Government when it comes laws passed by it that does not contradict the written Word of God. The 21-day quarantine period and consequent ‘stay-at-home’ order by the Government needs to be obeyed for the larger good of the people.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
N – NEARNESS TO THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS:
“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” – Luke 21:11
Many signs of Jesus’ second coming are seen. From 1981, 35 million lives were lost due to the HIV pandemic; 1.4 billion were infected globally by the Swine Flu in 2009. 11,325 died and 28,600 cases reported in the West African Ebola in 2014; in 2015 the Zeke virus caused by mosquitoes affected South and Central America and in 2020 we have the Corona Virus globally. Many lives have been lost in China, Italy, U.S.A., Iran. In Deut 23:10,11, we read about an unclean man who has to cleanse himself.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. God can help us to be clean! Clean husbands will please wives and vice-versa!
The Lord’s coming will be like a thief at night (I Thessalonians 5:2) and we must be ready for it any-second.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
A – ALIVE DURING THE TIME OF PLAGUE AND SO WE MUST….
Amos 4:10, Luke 13:1-5 instruct us to repent or perish; repent from pride and prayerlessness. Pilate had mingled the blood of some Galileans with sacrifices.18 people died because the tower of Siloam fell. These people did not die because they were worse sinners than the others. We are all living with the virus of sin and this plague situation is a call to REPENTANCE. Hebrews 11:25 warns us of the passing pleasures of sin. May be prayerlessness and porn watching? If we are alive today, then we should eagerly expect and wait the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior who died for us. Without repentance, we will perish. We need to repent.
Jesus tells us about the ten lepers in Luke 17:12. They were healed. Jesus comes close to us and heals us though we are affected by the virus.
The question He asks is if we will allow His touch. He came in search for us. He wants to come close, touch, and perform a miracle in our lives. Those affected by leprosy had to stay outside the city and could not touch anyone. Corona is causing social distancing but sin is a greater virus than this. We live in a living hell and go to a literal hell because of sin. Intercede for the lost and affected. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. God can help us to be clean and ready for His coming and not left behind. He will lead you and give you a purpose.
Prayer of repentance.
Dear Lord Jesus, I am sorry for my sins. I have a virus deadlier than CORONA, the virus of sin. Wash me with your blood that you shed on the cross. Cleanse me right now from this. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for rising again. Thank you for being willing to be my friend, a friend closer than my brother.From this day onwards, I want to relate to you, love you, and follow you.
Thank you for cleansing me, washing me. Thank you that I am born again. In your name I pray.
Amen. We ask for God’s healing by His nail-pierced hand and experience miracles, testimonies, and healing and pray for closed doors to open. Let us continue to lead balanced lives and pray for the hurting world. When times return to normalcy, we should not forget God. God consciousness should remain. Let us plunder hell and populate heaven. God does more than we ask for or imagine and we have to follow Him and hold on to His Word.
(The Author of this piece is Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj. He is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at www.dukev.org or at www.dukewords.com. This particular article was transcribed from a message that Duke Jeyaraj preached via Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f25tnCjBJ3s) or Facebook on 22 March 2020 by Mrs. Malini Prabakar).