Plagues and Prophecy
Commentary for November 2, 2005 — November 2005 Newsletter and Article
Read the “Newsletter for November 2005” for this month’s introduction to the transcribed article “Disease Epidemics and Bible Prophecy” by Dr. Ernest L. Martin.
As I mention in the Newsletter, this article is particularly timely. In fact, it is as timely as today’s headlines. Just yesterday President George Bush proposed a large appropriation of funds to deal with a possible epidemic of Bird Flu virus, the latest of many disease threats in recent years. The Associated Press report of the proposed appropriation is “Bush Outlines $7.1B Flu-fighting Strategy.” It is unusual for a government to prepare for a potential disaster on this scale before the event happens, but the recent hurricanes hitting the United States Gulf coasts have made disaster preparation an important issue for many governments and peoples around the world.
As Dr. Martin’s article discusses, there shall be several threats from many disease vectors, most caused by man, and some, at the end of the age, will be directly caused by God. (A disease vector is the infection pathway by which a disease is transmitted through a population.) Whatever the case, all pestilences are allowed by God to happen.
Throughout history only a minority of people (in some cases extremely large minorities) die from any individual disease at one time. There are two major reasons people remain unaffected or survive an epidemic disease:
(1) Their body is able to remain so healthy that they do not succumb to the contagion whether through strong general health or through some immunity unique to themselves, orYou and I should take personal responsibility to prepare for the epidemics caused by man by keeping ourselves as healthy as possible, preserving and protecting our bodies which are the Temple of God on earth.
(2) the survivor contracts a mild case of the disease and survives. It is from survivors that medical researchers usually seek to develop vaccines.
Paul explained such matters to the Corinthians. In his two epistles Paul reminded the Corinthians what he taught them when he was at Corinth, and what they had forgotten:
“Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”After listing the classes of people (and their sins) who will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9–13), Paul continues with more things the Corinthians had forgotten:
• 1 Corinthians 3:16–17
“Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.Harlotry and the accompanying fornication in Corinth (and in all paganism for that matter) often had a religious context. Paul says there is a price to be paid in the body for fornication. That price may not be immediate, it may not be noticeable or even seem important even later, but there is a penalty (as in Romans 1:27, Jude 1:7–8).
What? Know you not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, says he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.”
• 1 Corinthians 6:15–18
Fornication in the Old Testament and in much of the New Testament is almost always within an environment of religion. Fornication as part of a religious ceremony, and the extensive practice of religious prostitution (male and female), was very important in pagan religious thinking and practice. That is why paganism was so popular for so long. Fornication and harlotry had a religious component. The fornicator was thought to help fulfill a religious duty which promoted civic well-being.
Such actions are not without consequences as Paul indicates. As Dr. Martin notes in the article “Disease Epidemics and Bible Prophecy,” sexual sins may be a factor in many historical plagues in history. Today, a major method of transmission of AIDS is through sexual contact. Sexually transmitted diseases of many, many types are at present an epidemic around the world.
“Know you not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost [Spirit] which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”Being healthy, taking care of the body which is the temple of God’s Holy Spirit is quite different than being physically fit. You can be fit and not be healthy. Likewise, you can be healthy and not be physically fit. People like body builders, professional athletes, or long distance runners may be fit, but may not necessarily be healthy. A temple (which is what you are) is a place set apart, pure without defilement. In the case of God’s temple of the Holy Spirit, there can be no idolatry:
• 1 Corinthians 6:19–20
“And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”In the present day we rarely require special warnings from God to avoid sins and evil because we already have sufficient warnings in God’s Holy Scriptures which cause people to repent of sin and evil ways. While special warnings and interventions can occur at God’s discretion, if we take the time to read Scripture carefully we can avoid many of the coming disasters and difficulties, and then using the wisdom God gave us to make our own decisions.
• 2 Corinthians 6:16
[citing Leviticus 26:11–12]
An example of this is the incidence of several recent hurricanes in the United States. Advance warnings were given to millions of people for each of the approaching storms. All too many chose not to heed the warnings and stayed in their homes. When the storms struck many hundreds of thousands sought to be rescued, and all too many died because they did not act on the warnings.
Some plagues and epidemics in the future will be caused by man. Others will come from God, whether as punishments, warnings for repentance, or cleansings. Those plagues that occur in the last years before Christ’s Second Coming will be particularly deadly and widespread. From those plagues we, as part of the body of Christ, can be assured of God’s protection from His wrath. Our obligation is to remain “healthy” as a proper vessel of God’s Holy Spirit.
God does not play games, not with the world and not with His children. Everything has a purpose and God is responsible for all that happens. Everything is done according to the pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5) which God the Father promises to make known to us, even the mystery — the deepest secrets — of His will (Ephesians 1:9), so that we shall perform what He has assigned us to do (2 Thessalonians 1:11; Philippians 2:13).
You need not fear any plagues or pestilences or epidemics, even if you should succumb to disease. You are safe as part the body of Christ. If you should error and miss out of the Kingdom of God (God forbid!), your salvation is assured at a later time. In the meantime read, study, and understand what God’s purpose is for you here and now.
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