By: Michael Hobbis
CW Committee Member
All in a matter of a few weeks, a virulent virus spreads over the globe. The pandemic Coronavirus – Covid 19 – has caused widespread disruption in every nation it has visited, many are calling these ‘unprecedented times’, times when the medical services have been stretched, often beyond capacity, in terms of hospital beds, staff and equipment. The price of oil, man’s liquid gold, has for the first time in its history reached negative territory. To add to these calamities the world’s economies are in danger of a great, possibly the greatest, recession ever.
When the Bible, the Word of the Living God, in the book of Amos speaks of the “lion roaring”; what does this mean? It means that God by The Lord Jesus Christ who is also called in Scripture “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah”, has roared out a warning to the inhabitants of the earth. How? By His acts of Providence in temporal judgements, we may say chastisements. Amos which speaks much of these Divine acts declares: “the lion has roared, who will not fear?”
It should be remembered that Almighty God who has sent out this warning holds in the hollow of His Hand all His creation and all events be they great or small. Lest any should ascribe these things to chance or the ‘natural way of things’, He asks by Amos: “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” The Puritans in the time of the black death had no doubt as to who had sent such a plague!
By PETER SIMPSON
Many, including the Prime Minister, have likened the current coronavirus pandemic to the crisis faced by the nation in World War 2.
There is certainly one key area where at the present time we would do well to emulate what happened during the wartime years, and that is in respect of a corporate turning to God by means of national days of prayer.
In WW2, as various crises and turning points came into being, some 12 national days of prayer were held. This was reflecting an historic and long established tradition in which between 1535 and 1939 this country had conducted no less than 536 such occasions of public prayer and ‘humiliation’ in respect of national calamities, including outbreaks of plague and cholera and poor harvests.
During the course of the Second World War Britain was very dependent upon the importation of food by sea in order to feed the population. It was more than ever vital that the nation grew as much of its own food as possible. Christians were therefore praying that He would mightily bless the produce of the fields. The harvest in 1942 in fact brought forth one of the most abundant yields on record, so much so that the then Minister of Agriculture, R. S. Hudson, on the BBC News of October 10th, openly attributed the harvest to the intervention of the Trinitarian God in answering the people’s prayers.
By Peter Simpson
ADOLF Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945. On May 4, at Luneberg Heath in Lower Saxony, representatives of the armed forces of the Third Reich went to General Montgomery’s headquarters and signed a paper accepting the Allies’ terms of unconditional surrender. The German delegation was led by Generaladmiral von Friedeburg, Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy.
On May 8, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the Speaker of the House of Commons and requested that the House adjourn in order to cross the road to St Margaret’s Church to give thanks to God for the rescuing of the nation. Later that day King George VI went out on to the balcony of Buckingham Palace and again offered thanks to the Lord, as he addressed the crowds in front of him.
That same evening the King further addressed the nation, and concluded his speech stating, ‘In the hour of danger we humbly committed our cause into the hand of God and He has been our strength and shield. Let us thank Him for His mercies and in this hour of victory commit ourselves and our new task to the guidance of that same strong hand.’
Not even viruses occur outside of the providence of God
Regarding the national and indeed worldwide calamity of the coronavirus, this pandemic must be viewed as a call to the nation to humble itself before the Trinitarian God who controls the advent of all diseases. We must as a people cry out to the Lord in prayer, for He is able to deliver us, both on an individual and a national level.
Believers in Christ experience God’s special protection in their physical and material affairs, as well as in matters of the soul. This is clearly taught in Matthew 6:33, and in Psalm 91:1 we are told that believers
“dwell in the secret place of the most High … (and) abide under the shadow of the Almighty”.
The ‘secret place’ and the shadow’ speak of the special protection which the Lord is able to grant to those who honour Him even in times of common calamity. This of course is not to say that Christians will not contract diseases or suffer the negative effects of a widespread affliction along with all other people – we all live in the same fallen world – but the difference is that believers always remain under God’s special providential care. This gives them a security and a peace of mind which those outside of God’s kingdom simply do not possess.
The Bible deals specifically with the issue of plagues and nationwide medical emergencies, for example in Leviticus 26:15-16, and Deuteronomy 28:15, 21-22. These passages teach us that if a nation carries on ignoring of God’s laws, He will withdraw His protecting hand in respect of that nation’s health and general medical well-being; He will also remove from a people who reject Him in their economic prosperity. So the Bible establishes a distinct connection between common calamities such as epidemics and national righteousness.
Major outbreaks of disease are not a judgement upon individuals, and anyone may become a victim of them, but they are a warning to nations to seek the face of the God who controls all men’s circumstances. How we need in this nation to humble ourselves before the one true God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, because there are many aspects of our national life which are an offence to God.
Yes of course, in the midst of an epidemic we care for the sick and the vulnerable, and must take all the necessary medical precautions, but we must above all else seek the Lord Jesus Christ, and cry out for mercy as a nation which has failed to honour God.
Dealing with sickness was a major factor in the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. He clearly taught that His healing of a variety of medical conditions represented the need for all to be healed from the plague of sin. He thus declared when healing a paralysed man,
“That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, he saith to the sick of the palsy … Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:10–11).
So a nation afflicted by plague and sickness is a nation which needs to examine its relationship to the holy God and to come in repentance and faith to the only Saviour of men, the Lord Jesus Christ, He who is well able to remove the coronavirus from a humbled people who seek Him.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul … Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:2–3).
Pastor Peter Simpson
(Penn Free Methodist Church and CW Committee Member)
By I A Sadler
Most of the research for this article was done in 2019 before there was any sign of a global emergency. During his research, the author often wondered why he felt the Lord’s leading in this way. Now that the Lord’s mighty hand has been revealed upon the nations through this present coronavirus pandemic, the author is burdened in the fear of the Lord to publish this article. The author’s prayerful desire is that it may be an encouragement and a help to the Lord’s people at this time of chastening and judgment upon an ungodly world.
Chippenham, UK, 31 March 2020
Copyright – I A Sadler, 2020
The author gives permission (indeed encouragement) for this article to be copied freely, provided it is not altered in any way.
The Hand of God Manifest
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” (2 Peter 2 v 9) “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3 v 7) These scriptures bear particularly upon the events that began at Pentecost on the Lord’s Day morning 8th June 1783. A godly man who was an eyewitness wrote: “In clear and calm weather, a black haze of sand appeared to the north of the mountains nearest the farms of the Síða area. The cloud was so extensive that in a short time it had spread over the entire Síða area and part of Fljótshverfi as well, and so thick that it caused darkness indoors and coated the earth so that tracks could be seen. The powder which fell to earth looked like the burnt ash from hard coal. … A southeasterly sea breeze drove the dark cloud back inland later that day so that, like other clergymen here, I was able to celebrate the day with religious services under clear skies. The joy of those celebrations was turned to sorrow soon enough. That night strong earthquakes and tremors occurred.”
These were just the beginnings in southern Iceland of one of the greatest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. The scale of the Laki eruption is almost unimaginable; the eruption lasted for eight months and a giant fissure (crack in the earth’s crust) opened that was 17 miles long, from which issued fountains of lava that reached up to 4500 ft high and floods of lava that covered 230 square miles, much of which was inhabited farmland. Part of the eruption occurred under the Vatnajökull icecap, resulting in massive glacial floods for nearly two years. Vast emissions of sulphur and fluorides poisoned the air, water courses and the pasture land. Great rivers that issued from behind the mountains through canyons dried up, only to be replaced by floods of fiery lava that consumed all in their path. Often, the land in front of the lava exploded and was torn apart, whilst day and night continual lightning, thunder claps and tornados further terrified the local people. Outside of Iceland, a choking sulphurous haze arrived in parts of Europe during the unusually hot summer of 1783. Trees lost their fruit, crops failed and many fell sick and died. This led many to believe that Armageddon had come. The winters that followed the eruption were exceptionally cold and harsh, with worldwide climatic changes. In Iceland itself the majority of the cattle died and one fifth of the country’s population died of disease and famine. The total death toll in Europe alone has been estimated in the many hundreds of thousands.
Solemn words by J. C. Philpot in 1853 – based upon Joel 1
Where in our day, with all this material prosperity, is real religion and vital godliness, which are the evidence of grace? Does it flourish? Is the church, the Lamb’s wife, growing in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do ministers preach with power and savour? Is God deeply feared, are His promises firmly believed, are His precepts carefully obeyed and His ordinances highly prized. Is His Word dearly loved, His honour and glory earnestly sought? Are those who profess the truth humble, prayerful, watchful and spiritually minded? Are they walking as living witnesses for God and testifying to an ungodly world that they are children and servants of the Most High? Is the line of separation between the church and the world clear and distinct? And does she shine forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners”(S of S 6:10)?
Who can say it is so? Who can say of the church that she is flourishing and that her prosperity runs parallel with that of the world? We may rather take up Joel’s lament in verses 10 – 12 of the chapter we read, “The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl O ye vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree even all the trees of the field are withered”.