At this writing, early March of 2020, it is unknown if the Corona virus will be a Black Death-like plague or a swine flu (circa 1976) fizzle. Either way, it’s worth contemplating in the context of biblical plagues (since that’s what the media is saying, anyway).
The one that first comes to mind for me is that of Numbers 25 when the sons of Israel “joined themselves to Baal of Peor.” Not only were they worshipping a false god, they were playing the harlot with the daughters of Midian. One of the apostates went so far as to brazenly fornicate with a Canaanite woman in a tent in front of the Tabernacle. He was mocking Moses. He was mocking God.
As punishment, God sent a plague among the people that was spreading fast and was stopped only when Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, killed with a javelin the fornicating couple. His action stemmed the plague and “only” 24,000 perished.
Now this was a pretty clear-cut case. God told Moses what He was doing and why. Phinehas stopped the sin and the plague. It was a wonder.
Today, the wonder is that God has not plagued the nations with punishments for sins committed;sins that we, His church, have not been whole-heartedly fighting. Sins like permitting and promoting drag queens to play with our children. Sins like not only permitting but publicly funding abortions. Sins like living on debt and creating money out of nothing (playing God). Sins like 50% of our children being born out of wedlock. And on, and on.
Is there a single sin at the root of the Corona virus? Is it the weight of many sins? Is it a plague? If a plague, is there a Phinehasor a Phinehas-like action to stop it – boldly and in the name and fear of the Lord?
Look, it’s not “some-one” who needs to be slain, but “some-thing.” We need to slay our uncertainty about standing up for God’s honor. Not personal outrage, not violence, but righteous zeal for the Lord is what we need. Phinehas’ zeal was not misdirected (Rom 10:2). And he slew the uncertainty that was plaguing Israel.
Perhaps this problem is simply another gracious warning from God’s hand to move the hearts of the people back toward Himself. Perhaps it’s more. Either way, the stink of our sins and complacency is great. We need to regain the zeal of Phinehas.