Dever: PESTILENCE/PLAGUE

PESTILENCE/PLAGUE: dever. Noun masculine. (Strong’s 1698)

Root: דֶּבֶר

Sounds like: devehr

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 5 months since the world announced that it was under a global pandemic. The whole planet, it seemed, came to a grinding halt as we watched the rising number of infections and deaths. With the pandemic announcement many in the religious community started speculating: Was this some sort of great punishment? Were we living in end times? Was this pandemic a prophecy fulfilled?

Although I’ve been putting it off (because I find this word, theologically, a great challenge), it’s now time we looked at the main Hebrew word for pestilence/plague: dever.

First of all, it’s important that we don’t panic. We ought to take a deep breath (from a socially safe distance) and calmly and methodically look at how pestilence was portrayed in the Bible. And honestly, it’s not pretty. These are some hard passages, and they have made many question what kind of God we have:

Ezekiel 5:8-12, 15-17

…therefore, thus says the Lord YHWH, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations. And because of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again. Therefore, fathers will eat their sons among you, and sons will eat their fathers; for I will execute judgments on you and scatter all your remnant to every wind. So as I live,’ declares the Lord YHWH, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable idols and with all your abominations, therefore I will also withdraw, and My eye will have no pity and I will not spare. 

One third of you will die by plague [ba-dever] or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.

…So it will be a reproach, a reviling, a warning and an object of horror to the nations who surround you when I execute judgments against you in anger, wrath and raging rebukes. I, YHWH, have spoken. When I send against them the deadly arrows of famine which were for the destruction of those whom I will send to destroy you, then I will also intensify the famine upon you and break the staff of bread. Moreover, I will send on you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you of children; plague and bloodshed also will pass through you, and I will bring the sword on you. I, YHWH, have spoken.’”

How do we come to terms with passages like this? What kind of God sends plagues, famines and war upon His people so that they become objects of horror?

Have Mercy!

There’s an interesting story involving David, the kingly ancestor of YHWH’s promised Messiah. David blatantly disobeyed God’s command, and as a figurehead for the Jewish people he knew he had to be accountable for his actions. He begged God to remove his sin. In response YHWH gave him a choice:

2 Samuel 24:10b-14 (see also 1 Chronicles 21)

…David said to YHWH, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O YHWH, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”

When David arose in the morning, the word of YHWH came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and speak to David, ‘Thus YHWH says, “I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.”’” 

So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence [dever] in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.” 

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of YHWH for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.

After weighing the options, David decided to rely on God’s mercy rather than the unforgiving hands of humans… and so he chose pestilence:

 2 Samuel 24:15-18, 26

So YHWH sent a pestilence [dever] upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 

When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, YHWH relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of YHWH was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 

Then David spoke to YHWH when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house.”

So Gad came to David that day and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to YHWH on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”…

…David built there an altar to YHWH and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus YHWH was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.

It’s worth noting that in this instance YHWH sent out an angel to destroy… He did not do it Himself. YHWH is a Creator and an Advocate of Life, and death is not natural to Him. And so when He heard David’s prayer He was easily moved and mercifully stopped the plague.

Today, many have rightly turned to prayer to deal with this strange new normal we find ourselves in. Jeremiah, living under the treat of the invading Babylonians, also prayed for healing: 

Jeremiah 17:14-17

Heal me, O YHWH, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise.

Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of YHWH? Let it come now!”

But as for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd after You, nor have I longed for the woeful day; You Yourself know that the utterance of my lips was in Your presence. Do not be a terror to me; You are my refuge in the day of disaster.

For most of us, praying that YHWH not be a terror feels strange on our lips. We prefer to think of God as a loving God. He is our Abba, our Redeemer and Friend. But YHWH wasn’t meant to just be our Fluffy Buddy… He is The Creator, The Almighty, The All-Good, All-Powerful Judge… a Judge of ultimate fairness and an Opposer of evil. 

YHWH’s goal was to bring His people back to His Presence, destroy the agents of Evil and renew the world. Accomplishing His goal meant sometimes making choices that we don’t fully understand.  

Is YHWH a terror? … Yes, He can be, to those who oppose Him.

Is He an angry deity who haphazardly throws a plague our way to punish us? No… YHWH does get angry at the actions of people, but He does nothing haphazardly. His actions are calculated… and they are done only to fulfil His plan of Salvation

Regardless of how important prayer is, it’s not a sure-fire way to exempt ourselves from this pandemic. Many believers have been infected with Covid-19 and many have died from it. Even with great prayer, they still perish. But believers have a beautiful place to go… so much better than where we are now. Death is not a punishment… it’s a ticket home. But we hate death when our loved ones die… because we are left to mourn; we feel the loss, and it feels horrible. 

YHWH has the ability to deliver us from the evils of this world, but it doesn’t always mean He will… and that’s a hard sell for most humans to buy. If this God is Almighty, why doesn’t he just send a cure? And why did He send the plague in the first place? What kind of God lets us suffer this way?

The 10th Sign in Egypt

Surprisingly, in Biblical times there were no pandemics. There wasn’t one plagues that covered the entire earth. Plague outbreaks, however, did occur. During the Egyptian captivity of the Hebrew people, YHWH used pestilence against the Egyptians, as a tool to protect His people. 

Exodus 5:1-4

And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says YHWH, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” 

But Pharaoh said, “Who is YHWH that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know YHWH, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” 

Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to YHWH our God, otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence [ba-dever] or with the sword.” 

But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labours!” 

When Pharaoh dismissed them, YHWH delivered a warning to Pharaoh through Moses:

Exodus 9:13-17

…Then YHWH said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says YHWH, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues [magehfohtai] on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence [ba-dever], you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go.”

But after nine plagues in Egypt, Pharaoh remained hard-hearted and so YHWH sent one final plague… the pestilence of death. In the evening which came to be known as the Passover, YHWH sent an angel to annihilate every firstborn in Egypt, apart from those that were under the mark and protection of YHWH.

Drastic measures like this got the attention of humans… The Egyptians came to fear this God of the Hebrews. And in humility and awe, YHWH’s people returned to Him.

Four Severe Judgements

The Bible consistently named four judgements (war, famine, beasts and pestilence) that were used to help realign human priorities and bring them back to the Almighty God:

Ezekiel 14:19-23

“Or if I should send a plague [dever] against that country and pour out My wrath in blood on it to cut off man and beast from it, even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord YHWH, “they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”

For thus says the Lord YHWH, “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague [wa-dever] to cut off man and beast from it! Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it. Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done in vain whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord YHWH.

These four judgements (which John also dreamt about in Revelation 6:8) seemed harsh, but they brought results. It was a comfort to the people to know that God had good purpose for His severe actions: the survivors were saved and they had a whole new respect for YHWH. They turned away from foreign gods and returned to their Creator.

Pray, Seek, Turn

In our current state, living in a pandemic, many of us are wondering what we should do. Well, YHWH actually gave pretty clear instructions on what to do, if faced with a plague. His directions came in response to Solomon prayer of dedication for the newly built Temple: 

2 Chronicles 7:12-14

Then YHWH appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence [dever] among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

YHWH said that if the community would humble themselves, pray and seek His face, then He would hear and respond… but it would take a group effort. Today that group tends to err on the side of silence. Regardless of what we are going through as a communal planet of human beings, the truth is, for the vast majority, a relationship with YHWH means very little. 

Image Author: Alexandra Koch (pixabay.com)

Personification of Pestilence

These texts about pestilence and plagues are problematic for many people because there is a great desire to mould the Bible into our 21 century standards. We should be cognizant of the fact that readers in the Ancient Near East contemplated these writings in a very different way than we do. The nations surrounding the Hebrew people believed in a pantheon of gods… they had a god of Death, a god of  arrows, gods of agriculture (famine), beast gods, gods of destruction… and gods of pestilence/plagues.

And when the Biblical writers used these words readers, who commonly understood the idea of multiple gods, saw these things in personified form. Their God was The One God… but He used these foreign-god-like things (arrows, thunder, plague, beasts) to fulfill His work. It was almost as if He took these gods from other traditions and controlled them for His purpose. 

When the Hebrew people made YHWH jealous with their love of foreign idols, He took those ‘gods’ they so admired and used them against them: 

Deuteronomy 32:20-24, 39

“Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness. They have made Me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation, for a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

I will heap misfortunes on them; I will use My arrows on them. They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts I will send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust.

…’See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.’

YHWH was making a clear statement: there is no god besides Me… all these other gods (arrows, beasts, famine, plague), they are under My ruling.

The prophet Hosea represented Death and Sheol in personified form. He  spoke them as if they were entities of evil: 

Hosea 13:4-6, 14a

Yet I have been YHWH your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no Saviour besides Me.

I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me

…Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death?

O Death, where are your thorns [where is your pestilence: d’vareka]

O Sheol, where is your sting [where is your destruction: qatav’ka]?

Here YHWH was taunting the nations and their other gods, saying, “You’ve got your gods… but they have no power. I have control over them. They do my bidding.” 

Even in John’s Revelation, chapter 6, he dreamt of the personified forms of Conquest, War, Famine and Death in, what is generally referred to as, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse… all agents of YHWH, made to do His bidding.

In Habakkuk YHWH sent out Pestilence before Him and Plague after Him. Other nations saw Pestilence & Plague as a gods coming to destroy them, but YHWH was clearly stating that He alone had the power to control these forces. And He used them, ultimately, for the Salvation of His people:

Habakkuk 3:3-6, 12-13

God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendour covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power.

Before Him goes Pestilence [Daver], and Plague [Reshef] comes after Him.

He stood and surveyed the earth; He looked and startled the nations. Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, the ancient hills collapsed. His ways are everlasting…

…In indignation You marched through the earth; in anger You trampled the nations. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.

YHWH was making it clear: I am not like these gods you admire and fear- gods of war, and famine and pestilence. I am a God of Salvation!

In these current days, as we live in fear of the corona virus, many have recited Psalm 91 as a prayer for protection:

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to YHWH, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence [mi-dever]. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence [mi-dever] that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made YHWH, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. 

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

[YHWH:]“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honour him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.”

This is a beautiful prayer of protection… YHWH delivers you from the deadly pestilence [mi-dever] …but there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. In many ways this prayer was asking for protection from evil forces… forces that stalked in the darkness, and laid waste at midday, and tried to trap us in a snare. 

[For a more detailed analysis of Psalm 91 as a protective prayer from the forces of evil, check out The Naked Bible podcast, episode 394, “Psalm 91 and Demons”] https://nakedbiblepodcast.com/podcast/naked-bible-324-psalm-91-and-demons/

According to Heiser, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain a collection of four poems that scholars have identified as exorcism poems… and only one of those poems can be found in the Bible: Psalm 91. In light of this, it’s worth pointing out that Psalm 91:11-12 was quoted by the Adversary (ha-Satan) as he attempted to test Yeshua (Jesus) in the wilderness:

Matthew 4:5-7

Then the devil took Him [Jesus] into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’;  and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Psalm 91 wasn’t just a prayer to fight the plague… it was a prayer asking for YHWH’s help against the powers of evil. The Adversary (ha-satan) understood what this Psalm was about (casting out evil) and he taunted Yeshua with it. Ha-Satan wasn’t just testing Yeshua, he was goading Him as well… jump and let YHWH protect you from me, the Evil One. Yeshua responded calmly and quoted scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16) back to the Adversary, telling him that he had no right to put God to the test.

But humans, in our effort to be gods ourselves, have consistently put God to the test. And by the time Babylonians came to conquer Israel, they had turned so far away from their Creator that they could barely recognize Him. They turned to other gods of other cultures and raised idols up in their lives.

War, Famine & Pestilence: Are these really the kind of gods you want?

The prophets highlighted how the people of Judah had fallen so far from their heritage, as YHWH’s children, that they brought upon themselves the harbingers of death:

Jeremiah 14:7-12

“Although our iniquities testify against us, O YHWH, act for Your name’s sake! Truly our apostasies have been many, we have sinned against You.

O Hope of Israel, its Saviour in time of distress, why are You like a stranger in the land or like a traveler who has pitched his tent for the night? Why are You like a man dismayed, like a mighty man who cannot save? Yet You are in our midst, O YHWH, and we are called by Your name; do not forsake us!”

Thus says YHWH to this people, “Even so they have loved to wander; they have not kept their feet in check. Therefore YHWH does not accept them; now He will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account.” 

So YHWH said to me, “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. When they fast, I am not going to listen to their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I am not going to accept them. Rather I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence [u-va-dever].”

God’s people had forgotten Him, and they turned to other gods from other traditions and so God basically turned the tables on them: “Are these really the kinds of gods you want?!”… okay, I’ll be that kind of God for you!!”

And so God sent famine, pestilence, and war (like the idols that they worshiped):

Amos 4:9-12

“I smote you with scorching wind and mildew; and the caterpillar was devouring your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares YHWH.

I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, and I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares YHWH.

I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares YHWH.

Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.”

YHWH gave the Hebrew people the kind of gods they sought… a God who could destroy by sword, famine and pestilence. But this was not the kind of God He wanted to be. God never wanted war or suffering; it was not His plan for His people. Although He proved He could be a Destroyer God, He refused to be defined that way. YHWH was a Healer and an Advocate for life; He was a Provider of Safety; He was a Redeemer and a Rescuer.

Rescuer and Redeemer

YHWH had stepped aside and let Babylon take Jerusalem by force, but YHWH, in His own time, would rescue them and bring them back:

Jeremiah 32:36-42

Now therefore thus says YHWH God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence [u-va-daver].’ “Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. 

I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. For thus says YHWH, ‘Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them.”

Yes, God allowed disaster and terror to be on His people, but He did not abandon them. He turned the terror into great good. And His people would flourish. YHWH reinforced the everlasting covenant He had made with them… a covenant which would bring Salvation to all who had a relationship with their Creator.

The Covenant promised a Messiah, a righteous Branch of David, who would be a champion of justice and righteousness. This Messiah would truly save them:

Jeremiah 33:14-16

‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares YHWH, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: YHWH is our righteousness.’ 

Yeshua and Disease

Disease, plague, pestilence are all part of life on this planet. And it all seeped in when Humanity made the disastrous decision, in the beginning, to disobey God and to try to become gods themselves. Pride and greed and the desire for power has caused us to do some pretty terrible things… and for the most part famine is a result of our greed, and war is a result of our pride, and disease is a result of our belief in our own invincibility. We have made terrible, terrible, choices as caretakers of this earth and we are in desperate need of a Saviour and a Healer. 

Matthew 4:23-25

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

Yeshua the Messiah was a fantastic Physician. He healed people all across the land, but it  foreshadowed greater things to come. Yeshua healed people in order to highlight the Good News of the Kingdom

Matthew 8:14-17

When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him. When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.”

Matthew was clear to point out that Yeshua healed people in accordance with the Scripture. The Messiah would heal by taking the afflictions upon Himself. Matthew was referencing Isaiah 53, which spoke of the Messiah to come, and His horrible suffering for our sake:

Isaiah 53:3-4

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

The Messiah would carry our sin and He would bear the punishment. We raised Him up onto the cross to be stricken with the plague which we brought upon ourselves in our attempt to be gods of our own making.  And so He was pierced for us and beaten so that He would bear the stripes and we would be healed:

Isaiah 53:5-7

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but YHWH has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.

Yeshua would not fight for His innocence. He would not stop all proceeding to vindicate Himself… He had one mission and He was determined to carry it through. Yeshua would be the Great Healer that we all needed… and He would be such an efficient Healer that not even Death could hold Him or His patients down.

In John’s dream he faced Yeshua, who gave a triumphant announcement:

Revelation 1:17-18

When I [John] saw Him [Jesus], I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

The four great judgements (war, famine, beasts, and pestilence) may all lead to death… but with Yeshua’s sacrifice death was not an end, it was a new beginning. With His great sacrifice, Yeshua paid our entrance fee so we can freely enter the Kingdom of God and face our Creator. That’s the Good News of the Kingdom!

Take Away our Iniquity and Heal us!

Yes, God gets angry and yes, God allows terrible things to happen, but He does not hold a grudge and He does not wallow in His anger.  His Great plan was never to destroy humanity with pestilence. His plan was to bring us back to Him.

We had been exiled from the Garden because we lost our innocence and we lost our way. Yeshua came to reclaim our blamelessness and put us back on the right path to the Kingdom. Yeshua took our sins and send them to the grave. He sacrificed Himself so He could lead us back God, innocent and pure in His sight. This was not the actions of an angry God, it was the actions of a forgiving God who loves us freely… a God who wants to Heal us, not destroy us:

Hosea 14:1-2, 4

Return, O Israel, to YHWH your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to YHWH. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously so that we may present the fruit of our lips [worship]…”

[YHWH:] …I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them.

If we can find any good in this pandemic it is perhaps that it has caused us to stop, and re-evaluate what it means to be human. We are the Image-bearers of YHWH and we are meant to be the caretakers of this planet (Genesis 1:26-31), a place that YHWH, seven times, announced was GOOD. By rejecting our role as world caretakers, we have messed up this planet pretty badly… and we only have ourselves to blame.

It’s time we return to our Creator, acknowledge Him as our forever God, and to take back the job that we were given in Genesis. Let’s do a better job of looking after this planet and everything in it: the land, the lakes, rivers and oceans, the sky, every human and every creature.

Let’s pray for a quick antidote to this pandemic. Let’s also pray for those currently suffering with this illness and also for those who have lost friends and family members. But let’s also remember that, along with our prayers, we must take the time to seek God and turn back to Him.

I can’t promise you that you won’t be affected by our current pandemic, but I can promise you this: YHWH loves you and when the time comes, and however it comes, He’s ready to welcome you Home. Shalom and stay safe!

Next week: Banner/Standard/Signal 

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