March 17, 2020

The angel answered and said to him (Zacharias), “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, & I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:19-20

As I write, it’s March 17th and I am in voluntary “quarantine”; working, eating and shopping from home. I imagine you are too. If we are not careful, the social distancing will become mandatory. For now, the “authorities” are warning us and suggesting we don’t go to bars or restaurants or any “nonessential” place. I live in Texas where we tolerate a bit more freedom than say, California or New York, but, nonetheless, most social activities including church meetings have, voluntarily shut down. And, nationally, we’ve seen all the major college and professional sports leagues cancel their seasons. Heck, even weddings are off limits!

And it’s not just people that don’t like this necessary isolation – the markets don’t like it either – they are down a whopping 30% and it seems there is no bottom in sight.

What’s up – I don’t need to tell you, unless you are Rumpelstiltskin! A worldwide pandemic has broken out and the word is out – “WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!” or so they seem to be insisting, if the intensity of the media is to be rightly interpreted.

So what’s up? And why is it that all I am hearing, in answer to the peoples chants of “PLEASE SAVE US” is “wash your hands, stay indoors, cover your mouth” and, oh yea, “the government is going to bail us out…”

Phooey! Really, do we really expect that all we need is Government, media, markets, toilet paper and wet wipes!

No, no, no. We need something much more, something more powerful and ultimately more guaranteed in its saving ability. What we need is God…again. We need a national revival beginning with its twin sisters; personal confession and repentance.

That one thing I am not hearing, that I heard in 911, or even in 2008, is any suggestion that we should seek God; that our biggest problem is not the virus or economy, our biggest problem is leaving God off our shopping list and out of our emergency preparedness.

Perhaps it’s time to not only pray but to seek a personal revival – to repent of our sins; the things we do that violate God’s moral standard and clear revelation from His word and from the things we ignore, that give evidence of a faith that’s real.

Perhaps we need to take this “impossible situation” and look to a God who accomplished the impossible (For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37) for those who believe (But when Jesus heard this, He answered him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well.” Luke 8:50). Perhaps we need to upgrade our faith from the CDC and Politicians to the one who created the universe, and supervises it systems and inhabitants to this day; The Lord God; Almighty!

Perhaps that is what God really wants from us right now – since He allowed this…

If you are with me to this point, may I suggest we start here – that we take a hard look at ourselves and the spiritual trajectory of our lives, then “stop, look and listen”, as the old rail road crossing signs announced. We need to stop panicking, or blaming. We need to look up toward Heaven, from where our salvation originates (Luke 21:28). And we need to listen to the clear word of God that announces His authoritative rulership and that there is no deliverance but by Him (Isaiah 43:11).

Remember, His word says this… “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:6, 7

Yep, He’s gracious, patient and forgiving BUT, He needs to be asked and we need to be sincere, as John the Baptist, who said; … “Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with your repentance” Luke 3:8

And this is why – when God had, had enough of Israel’s wanton, idolatry and immortality, He acted judicially. He wasn’t fast or cavalier – instead He was patient extending time and grace to give Israel time to see the error of their ways and repent; that is to turn from their bad behavior and improper faith in order to turn back to a relationship with their Sovereign, Holy God.

But, when they refused, then He – well you can read all about it in the book of Jeremiah. But essentially His final intrusion in the matter was to send 3 things – War, Famine and Pestilence. Note these words…” Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; …. 10 For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good,” declares the Lord. What an awful thing to be on that side of God’s displeasure…

Now, if the Eternal God did this to His “chosen” people Israel, of the first Covenant – would He not do this to His Chosen (elect) of this Second Covenant? Would God possibly allow war (9/11), or famine (2008) or Pestilence (2020) to get our attention; that we might repent and be reunited in fellowship with Him? Sound corny, doomsdayish? Fine, then let’s take it as it comes, that this is routine and happens in our world – so here it is. Shall we not, still, bend the knee and ask for His overwhelming mercy to be focused on our behalf in this hour of incredible need?

American Christians; there are vast, serious, consequences to ignoring His authority and disbelieving God’s word. His revelation demands a humble, believing, response, as Zacharias found out. We are free to respond how we please, but the consequences are established in the courts of heaven. They are severe, automatic and unmitigated because God demands respect.

Perhaps we elect (1 Peter 2:4-10) ought to set aside some time to reflect on our spiritual health and welfare and renew our commitment to God. Then perhaps we could pray for our neighbors to catch on and follow our lead to the Lord of glory, for forgiveness, deliverance and peace – a spiritual health and welfare that supersedes the material? Perhaps this is what we need today?