Biblical Principles for Community Living in a Global
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2022 F. Wayne Mac Leod
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Title Page
Chapter 1 – Plagues in the Bible
Chapter 2 – The Law and Leprosy
Chapter 3 – Addressing Uncleanness
Chapter 4 – Medicine in Israel
Chapter 5 – Community Thinking
Chapter 6 - Respect for Our Physical Bodies
Chapter 7 - Respecting Authorities
Chapter 8 – Traditions and the Law’s True Intention
Chapter 9 – Freedom of Religion
Chapter 10 – Differences between Sincere Believers
Chapter 11 – Living with Differences
Chapter 12 – The Redemption of our Trials
About The Author
s I write, the world has struggled for over two years with the
effects of COVID-19 and its various mutations. Millions of
people have lost their lives to this dreaded virus. Lives and
culture have changed, and our economy has suffered.
Government restrictions have been met with diverse and sometimes divisive
opinions. Some people believe the whole thing to be a conspiracy. Others
see the vaccine as the mark of the beast described in the book of Revelation.
Regulations imposed on us have transformed how we worship or celebrate
holidays. Masks and social distancing have affected the mental health of our
children. Those who object to the vaccination requirements have lost jobs
or been banned from attending social and religious events. There is no
question that COVID-19 has changed our lives.
What is our responsibility as believers in the Lord Jesus? Are there any
Biblical precedents or principles that can guide us through this pandemic?
While I am aware that I am treading on divisive territory here, I want to
base my response to this worldwide pandemic on the clear principles of
I trust that this brief reflection will help us examine what the Bible has to
say. As believers, this is our one true guide in all matters. While not
everyone will agree with my understanding of the passages I will examine,
may the study at least direct each reader to seek the wisdom of the
Scriptures in their response to this difficult worldwide crisis.
God bless,
F. Wayne Mac Leod
hile the Bible does not speak directly about COVID-19, it does
talk abundantly about plagues and contagious diseases.
Consider, for example, the story of the ten plagues inflicted on
Egypt at the time of the exodus. These plagues began as an answer to
prayer. The children of Israel cried out in their bondage, asking for
deliverance. God demonstrated His power and authority through a series of
plagues that brought Egypt to its knees. The intention of God in these
plagues is evident in Exodus 7:5 when God says:
(5) The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I
stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of
Israel from among them.” - Exodus 7:2-5 ESV
Egypt was brought to its knees as God poured out one pestilence after
another upon it. The nation’s economy was devastated. Apart from the
Israelites, no family in the country escaped death and disease. Egypt would
never again be the same.
Plagues were not limited to foreign nations, however. In Exodus 32, Aaron
fashioned an idol in the form of a golden calf. The people then bowed down
and worshipped it. Notice the response of God in Exodus 32:35:
(35) Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they
made the calf, the one that Aaron made - Exodus 32:35 ESV
This plague fell on those who worshipped the golden calf. It was God’s
means of punishing Israel for bowing down to another god.
A similar event took place in Numbers 11. Israel complained about the food
God had given them in the wilderness. In response, God sent flocks of quail
into their camp. Those who had been grumbling gorged themselves on this
meat. Listen to the account of what took place that day:
(33) While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was
consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the
people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great
plague. (34) Therefore the name of that place was called
Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who
had the craving. - Numbers 11:31-34 ESV
According to Numbers 11, the Lord sent a plague among the people,
striking down the discontent in their midst. This was such a significant
event in the nation's history that she named the place Kibroth-hattaavah,
which means “graves of the craving.” This was in remembrance of those
who grumbled about the manna God provided.
As Israel travelled through the wilderness, Moses sent spies into Canaan to
explore the land and bring back a report. When they returned to camp, they
reported that the people of the land were too powerful for them to conquer,
discouraging the people from entering the land God had promised them.
Notice the response of God in Numbers 11:36-37:
(36) And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who
returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by
bringing up a bad report about the land— (37) the men who
brought up a bad report of the land— died by plague before the
LORD. - Numbers 14:36-37 ESV
Once again, the Lord sent a plague to kill these spies who brought back this
negative report.
Later in Numbers 16, a man named Korah led a group to revolt against
Moses and his authority. God responded in anger and sent a plague among
the people. Numbers 16:49 tells us that 14,700 Israelites died as a result:
(49) Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides
those who died in the affair of Korah. (50) And Aaron returned
to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, when the plague
was stopped. - Numbers 16:41-50 ESV
Numbers 25 details how Israel turned from God to sexual immorality with
Moabite women and Baal worship. Once again, the result was a plague that
killed twenty-four thousand Israelites:
(9) Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-
four thousand. - Numbers 25:9 ESV
When David allowed his pride to get the best of him and he took a census
of his people, the Lord determined to punish the nation because of his
actions. He sent a pestilence on Israel, and 70,000 men died as a result:
(15) So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning
until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan
to Beersheba 70,000 men. - 2 Samuel 24:15 ESV
The book of Revelation describes a time of great pestilence on the earth. A
fourth of the world will be devastated by sword, famine, pestilence and wild
(7) When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the
fourth living creature say, “Come!” (8) And I looked, and
behold, a pale horse! And its riders name was Death, and
Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a
fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with
pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. - Revelation 6:7-8
In Revelation 8, John saw a great star falling from the sky to the earth,
poisoning the waters of the earth so that many people would die:
(10) The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from
heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers
and on the springs of water. (11) The name of the star is
Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many
people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. -
Revelation 8:10-11 ESV
Revelation 9 recounts the blowing of seven trumpets releasing plagues on
the earth. According to these verses, one-third of humanity will be
destroyed by the plagues unleashed by these trumpets:
(13) Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice
from the four horns of the golden altar before God, (14) saying
to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four
angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” (15) So
the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day,
the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of
mankind. ... (18) By these three plagues a third of mankind was
killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their
mouths. - Revelation 9:13-15,18 ESV
Finally, Revelation 11 tells us about two witnesses who will come in the
final days. Notice the power they will be given according to verse 6:
(6) They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall
during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over
the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with
every kind of plague, as often as they desire. - Revelation 11:6
These two witnesses will have the power to shut the skies and afflict the
earth with every kind of plague as often as they desire.
I share these examples for a reason. The Bible speaks about plagues and
diseases that ravage nations and claim the lives of thousands of people.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, sickness and disease have
devastated our world. The Bible speaks openly about plagues and diseases.
It is not my purpose to determine the reason for plagues and disasters. What
is clear from the verses we have examined is that nothing is new. The Bible
has something to say about pandemics and devastation caused by disease
and plagues. If we want to know how to deal with COVID or any other
virus or contagious infection, we will do well to examine what it has to say.
eprosy was one of the most dreaded diseases of Bible times. There
were many reasons for this. It was a life-altering disease because
the infected individual was immediately isolated from family and
society due to its contagious nature.
In Leviticus 13, Moses lays out God’s requirements for anyone diagnosed
with the disease. According to the law of the Old Testament, leprosy did not
just infect people but also their clothing and homes. Consider the words of
Leviticus 13:
(47) “When there is a case of leprous disease in a garment,
whether a woolen or a linen garment, (48) in warp or woof of
linen or wool, or in a skin or in anything made of skin, (49) if
the disease is greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin
or in the warp or the woof or in any article made of skin, it is a
case of leprous disease, and it shall be shown to the priest. -
Leviticus 13:47-49 ESV
The law stated that a garment with greenish or reddish-coloured growth be
brought to the priest for examination. Most Bible commentators believe the
growth on the garment to be a form of mould, fungus or mildew. Leviticus
14 goes on to speak about leprosy that infected a home. Again this appears
to be a case of mould or decay of some kind.
(34) “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you
for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house
in the land of your possession, (35) then he who owns the house
shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some
case of disease in my house.’ - Leviticus 14:34-35 ESV
The leprosy of the Bible was a condition that affected human skin, clothes
or even buildings. The law of Moses was very clear about what was to
happen when such a case appeared in the nation.
Report The Case
Leviticus 13 begins with these words:
(1) The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, (2) “When a
person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or
a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the skin of
his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one
of his sons the priests – Leviticus 13:1-2, ESV
Notice what is happening here. When a person was infected with swelling
or eruption on the skin, they were to report this to the priest. The law of
God was very clear in this regard. All such conditions were to be made
known to the religious leaders. Leprosy was taken seriously.
Realize that it would not always be convenient for the infected to report
their case. These individuals had families, jobs and obligations just as we
do. To report a suspected case of leprosy would have disrupted their routine.
It could impact whether the family had anything to eat that week. Bills had
to be paid; children had to be fed. There would have been many concerns
surrounding a positive diagnosis of leprosy.
Despite the inconveniences and deep concerns about a positive diagnosis,
God expected every person who suspected infection to reveal their
condition to the authorities. Concern for the spread of this disease took
priority over any personal concerns the individual might have.
Examination Of The Infected Person
Leviticus 13 tells us that the priest was to examine those who reported a
suspected case of leprosy. God showed the priest how to diagnose each
instance and the symptoms they were to look for to determine whether the
individual was leprous. The priests were to look for the following signs:
1) White hair (Leviticus 13:3)
2) Swelling in the skin and raw flesh (Leviticus 13:10)
3) Evidence of spreading from head to foot (Leviticus 13:12)
4) Reddish-white spots in a boil (Leviticus 13:18-19)
5) Signs that the infected area was deeper than the skin (Leviticus
6) A burn that turned reddish-white or white (Leviticus 13:24)
7) Thinning hair that was turning yellow (Leviticus 13:20-30)
God takes the time in Leviticus 13 to teach the priests how to look out for
contagious infections among the people. It was the responsibility of each
priest to follow up on every reported case.
Two-Week Isolation Of Suspected Cases
God also instructed the priests in what they were to do if they suspected a
positive diagnosis of leprosy.
First, if after examining the reported case, the priest suspected that the
individual had leprosy, he was to isolate the person for seven days:
(4) But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears
no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white,
the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days.
Leviticus 13:4, ESV
During these seven days, the individual was separated from the community.
Remember that this meant very limited contact with family and friends. It
also required that the person not work for that time.
The second stage came after the seven-day isolation period. At this point,
the priest would re-examine the suspected case. If the disease showed no
evidence of spreading, the individual would proceed to the second period of
isolation for another seven days:
(5) And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if
in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not
spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up for another
seven days. - Leviticus 13:5, ESV
This second week would give the body time to heal and clear up any
infection. Once again, however, this individual was to have no contact with
anyone else.
Finally, after two weeks of isolation, the priest would examine the person
again. If after this second week the diseased area had faded or showed
improvement, he would pronounce the individual clean, and they were free
to go back to their family. Notice, however, that the law required that all
clothes the individual wore be washed to remove all possibility of disease
spreading to anyone else.
(6) And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day,
and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not
spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it
is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean.
- Leviticus 13:6, ESV
If the priest discovered that the disease had spread after the two-week
isolation period, the individual was declared unclean and would need to
remain isolated.
(7) But if the eruption spreads in the skin, after he has shown
himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again
before the priest. (8) And the priest shall look, and if the
eruption has spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce
him unclean; it is a leprous disease. - Leviticus 13:7-8 ESV
Permanent Implications For Those Who Were Not
The implications for those who did not improve during this two-week
isolation period were quite grim:
(45) “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn
clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall
cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ (46) He
shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is
unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the
camp. - Leviticus 13:40-46 ESV
The Law of Moses had four requirements for the leper.
The first requirement was that they wear torn clothes and let their hair hang
(45) “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn
clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, - Leviticus
13:45a, ESV
In those days, people would tear their clothes as a sign of mourning and
grief. This is what is happening here in Leviticus 13:45. Those who were
not healed of leprosy were to live and dress like those who grieved. Their
appearance would notify the citizens of their community that they were to
keep a distance from them.
The second requirement for the leper was that they cover their mouth:
he shall cover his upper lip – Leviticus 13:45, ESV
Notice that the verse specifically commanded the leper to cover the upper
lip. In other words, the leper was to cover his entire mouth. This was done
with a cloth and would prevent the spread of germs to people in the
Third, lepers were to announce their presence:
he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ -
Leviticus 13:45, ESV
Lepers were to cry out: “Unclean, unclean,” when they approached
someone in their community. This assured that there would be sufficient
social distance between the infected person and anyone else in the
community and prevented infection from spreading.
Finally, lepers were to remove themselves from the community and live
outside the camp of God’s people in isolation:
(46) He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He
is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside
the camp. - Leviticus 13:46 ESV
The implication of this was quite severe. There would be limited social
interaction with family and friends. Lepers would become dependent on
others to provide the necessities of life. They would even be excluded from
worship at the house of the Lord. We have a clear reference to this in the
case of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:
(21) And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and
being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded
from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the
king’s household, governing the people of the land. - 2
Chronicles 26:21 ESV
What did God expect from His people in the event they suspected they were
infected with a contagious disease? He required that they take it seriously
and report their symptoms to the priest, who would examine and isolate
them for two weeks. Remember that the isolated individual was only
suspected of having leprosy –the official diagnosis would only come after
isolation. However, they were to distance themselves as a precaution lest
they spread the disease to others. Those diagnosed with a contagious
disease were to remain isolated, cover their mouths and announce their
condition to all who approached them. Infectious diseases existed in the Old
Testament among the people of God. God required that they take every
precaution lest they spread the infection through the community.
ne of the responsibilities of the priests as God's representatives
was to teach Israel the difference between clean and unclean.
Whole chapters of the Bible are devoted to instructing God's
people in this important matter. The consequences for ignoring these
regulations were often quite serious. In many of these commands, God's
concern was for the nation's physical health.
The Lord God taught His people what they could and could not eat.
Leviticus 11 details the kinds of animals that could be eaten and which were
to be avoided. Generally speaking, an animal with a parted hoof that
chewed the cud was edible (Leviticus 11:3). Only sea creatures with fins
and scales were eaten (Leviticus 11:9). Leviticus 11:13-19 details the list of
birds to be avoided. Israel could eat crickets, locusts and grasshoppers, but
all other insects were unclean (Leviticus 20-23). All rodents and reptiles
were avoided (Leviticus 11:29-30). By establishing these dietary laws, God
demonstrated His concern for the health of His people.
The laws of Leviticus 11, however, go farther than this. Unclean animals
were not to be eaten, but the Law of Moses also cautioned against even
touching these animals.
(24) "And by these you shall become unclean. Whoever touches
their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, (25) and
whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes
and be unclean until the evening. – Leviticus 11:24-25, ESV
Sometimes the carcass of an unclean animal needed to be removed and
carried somewhere to be discarded. The individual who disposed of any
part of an unclean body would also become unclean. These individuals
were to wash themselves and the clothes they wore and self-isolate for the
rest of the day.
Sometimes the body of an unclean animal or insect fell on an object in an
Israelite home. The law of God required that if the body of any unclean
animal or insect touched a garment or container of skin or wood, then these
objects were to be washed and would be unclean for the rest of the day:
(32) And anything on which any of them falls when they are
dead shall be unclean, whether it is an article of wood or a
garment or a skin or a sack, any article that is used for any
purpose. It must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until
the evening; then it shall be clean. – Leviticus 11:32, ESV
If the body of an unclean animal or insect fell into a food container, oven or
stove, these objects in which that body fell were destroyed
(33) And if any of them falls into any earthenware vessel, all
that is in it shall be unclean, and you shall break it. (34) Any
food in it that could be eaten, on which water comes, shall be
unclean. And all drink that could be drunk from every such
vessel shall be unclean. (35) And everything on which any part
of their carcass falls shall be unclean. Whether oven or stove, it
shall be broken in pieces. They are unclean and shall remain
unclean for you. - Leviticus 11:33-35 ESV
Unclean animals carried diseases and germs of all kinds. It was the heart of
God to prevent the spread of any infectious sickness. For this reason, He
required that His people bathe and wash their clothes every time they came
into contact with such animals or insects. He also expected that they avoid
contact with anyone else until the evening. The bowls and jars touched with
this uncleanness were destroyed in certain cases. All of this was for the
health of the community. While this would have meant some
inconvenience, Israel would bear this inconvenience for the community's
In Leviticus 14, the Lord describes His requirement for a home infected
with "a case of leprous disease." Most commentators see a reference to
mould, mildew or fungus growth in an Israelite home. Such cases were
reported to the priest who ordered that the house be emptied of its
belongings. It was then put under quarantine for seven days. After seven
days, the priest would re-examine the infection. The infected stones and
plaster were removed if it had spread, and the entire house scraped down.
The scrapings were brought to a dump outside the city (see Leviticus 14:36-
42). If, after all this work, the infection reappeared, the whole house was
pulled down and carried out to a dump outside the city (see Leviticus 14:43-
45). Anyone who entered that home was to wash their clothes and self-
isolate until the next day (see Leviticus 14:46-47).
The Lord also cautioned His people about bodily discharges in Leviticus 15.
These discharges were of various kinds and might include a bleeding sore,
emission of semen, or blood, as in the case of a woman on her monthly
period. These bodily discharges were unclean. The Law of God was very
specific when it came to anyone who had such a discharge:
(4) Every bed on which the one with the discharge lies shall be
unclean, and everything on which he sits shall be unclean. (5)
And anyone who touches his bed shall wash his clothes and
bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. (6)
And whoever sits on anything on which the one with the
discharge has sat shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in
water and be unclean until the evening. (7) And whoever
touches the body of the one with the discharge shall wash his
clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the
evening. – Leviticus 15:4-7, ESV
Every bed or chair upon which an individual with a discharge sat became
unclean. Anyone who came into contact with something that this person
touched was to bathe and self-isolate until the evening. They were also to
wash all the clothes they wore that day. If the unclean individual touched
another person without washing their hands, that individual was to go
home, wash their clothes, bathe and self-isolate until the evening. Any
earthenware vessel that a person with a discharge touched was destroyed.
(11) Anyone whom the one with the discharge touches without
having rinsed his hands in water shall wash his clothes and
bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. (12)
And an earthenware vessel that the one with the discharge
touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be
rinsed in water. - Leviticus 15:11-12 ESV
These laws of God were not optional but mandated. Anyone unclean person
who came to the temple defiled the temple and risked being struck dead for
their blasphemy:
(31) "Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from
their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling
my tabernacle that is in their midst." - Leviticus 15:31 ESV
Anyone who ignored the laws regarding uncleanness and refused to cleanse
themself was cut off or banished from the people of God.
(20) "If the man who is unclean does not cleanse himself, that
person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, since he
has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. Because the water for
impurity has not been thrown on him, he is unclean. - Numbers
19:20 ESV
The disobedient were banished because they defiled the sanctuary of the
Lord. In other words, they showed contempt for God and His people by
living in their impurity.
From these verses, it is clear that the Lord God required that His people
understand how disease and infections spread. As a people of God, they
were to do everything possible to prevent the spread of germs, infections
and sickness. They were to do this despite the inconvenience this caused
them personally. The housewife was to destroy her oven or stove if there
was a risk of uncleanness in it. Families would lose their homes because
they were infected with disease-carrying mould or mildew. Families would
do extra loads of wash or self-isolate for a day or a week to not spread any
disease to another person.
Sin has brought sickness and disease to this world. None of us are immune
from this. God expected that His people battle the spread of disease and
infection in their society. They would do so by carefully observing the
regulations regarding clean and unclean objects.
Please understand that I am not saying that we are under the Old Testament
law in our day. The Law of Moses, however, does give us a better
understanding of the heart of God and our obligation to do all we can to
battle the spread of contagious disease in our day as well.
hat does the Bible say about sickness and how to treat it? How
did God's people in Bible times view disease? To answer this
question, let's begin with the words of Exodus 15:26:
(26) saying, "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the
LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and
give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will
put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I
am the LORD, your healer."- Exodus 15:26 ESV
Exodus 15:26 are the words of the Lord God to His people. Notice what He
tells them here. If Israel did what was right, God would not put diseases on
them. In other words, God would use sickness and disease to teach or
punish His people.
This idea is confirmed in what the Lord said to Israel in Deuteronomy 28:
(15) "But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God
or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I
command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you
and overtake you. (16) Cursed shall you be in the city, and
cursed shall you be in the field. (17) Cursed shall be your
basket and your kneading bowl. (18) Cursed shall be the fruit
of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your
herds and the young of your flock. (19) Cursed shall you be
when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
(20) "The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and
frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are
destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your
deeds, because you have forsaken me. (21) The LORD will
make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off
the land that you are entering to take possession of it. (22) The
LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever,
inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight
and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. -
Deuteronomy 28:15-22 ESV
Once again, the Lord God tells His people to be careful to follow His
commandments. If they did not do so, God's curse would be upon them.
The evidence of this curse would be their fruitless fields and the disease,
fever, drought, and mildew that infected their bodies, homes and land.
This was the understanding of the disciples of Jesus in John 9. Notice the
question they asked Jesus when they encountered a man who was blind
from birth.
(1) As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. (2) And his
disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his
parents, that he was born blind?" (3) Jesus answered, "It was
not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of
God might be displayed in him. - John 9:1-3 ESV
The disciples assumed that this man was born blind because of some sin he
or his parents had committed. The answer Jesus gives is important. He told
them that this man was not born blind because of sin but rather that the
purpose of God might be displayed in him. In saying this, Jesus shows us
that not all sickness is a punishment from God for sin. The goal of some
illnesses and diseases is to reveal the power and work of God.
Paul had to learn this when he prayed three times for God to remove a
physical affliction from him.
(7) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the
surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me
in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me
from becoming conceited. (8) Three times I pleaded with the
Lord about this, that it should leave me. (9) But he said to me,
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in
weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - 2
Corinthians 12:7-9 ESV
God told Paul that it was His purpose for him to bear this affliction so that
His power would be revealed in Paul's weakness. There was a reason in
Paul's ailment, and God would use it in Paul to glorify His name.
While we don't have time in this chapter to examine this more fully, what is
clear is that the Bible teaches us that God uses sickness and disease for
various purposes. First, He uses it to get our attention and correct behaviour.
Second, as in the case of the man born blind, God used physical affliction to
demonstrate His power to heal or strengthen.
What was clear in the minds of God's people was that God was not removed
from sickness. Certainly, sickness and disease resulted from the fall of
humankind into sin. But God would use this to accomplish His purpose in
their lives. What was important for the people in Bible times was to discern
what God was doing through sickness and submit to His purpose. If this
sickness was intended to correct their behaviour or attitudes, then they
needed to submit to God for their healing to take place. If God wanted to
demonstrate His power to heal, they needed to allow God to use their
sickness to manifest that power. If He wanted them to rely more fully on
Him in their weakness, they needed to surrender to God and learn what He
had for them.
Listen to the words of the apostle James in James 5:
(14) Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of
the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil
in the name of the Lord. (15) And the prayer of faith will save
the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he
has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (16) Therefore, confess
your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may
be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as
it is working. - James 5:14-16 ESV
The apostle tells his readers what they should do when sick in this passage.
They were to call on the church elders to anoint them and pray for them.
Notice also that he goes on to say, "if he had committed sins, he will be
forgiven." While James understood that not all sickness was the result of
sin, he knew that there was a possibility that God was correcting the person
who came for prayer. For this reason, he reminded believers in this passage
to confess their sins to one another so that they could be healed.
The responsibility of the elders was to help the sick discern what God was
saying through their sickness. Was God using the affliction to correct a
behaviour or attitude? Was He using their condition to reveal His presence
more deeply? By coming to the spiritual leaders, the sick were seeking to
discern the purpose of God in their illness.
In our sickness, God captures our attention. While not all illnesses and
diseases result from sin, we need to understand that God is not silent in
these times. He uses our sickness to speak to us. Even sickness has a
purpose. It can readjust our priorities or teach us lessons we would never
have learned in any other way. Our ears need to be opened more than ever
in our pain to understand what God has for us. This appears to be the
mindset of the Old and New Testament believers.
Another important understanding in the Old and New Testaments was that
the true healer of diseases was the Lord God. Consider the words of the
Psalmist in Psalm 102:
(2) Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
(3) who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, -
Psalms 103:2-3 ESV
The Psalmist praised the Lord because He forgave sin and healed all his
diseases. Believers of the Old Testament would seek the Lord for their
It is quite surprising how little the Bible speaks about the profession of
physician. The word "physician" occurs only eleven times in the Bible.
Joseph had Egyptian physicians embalm his father (Genesis 50:2). Job calls
his friends "worthless physicians" when they could not heal his pain (Job
13:4). Jeremiah grieved over the condition of his people because of their sin
and asked, "Is there no physician there?" (Jeremiah 8:22). The Gospel
writers speak about a woman who had a flow of blood that no physician
could heal (Mark 5:26; Luke 8:43). Colossians 4:14 tell us that Luke was a
physician, but we have no record in Scripture of him ever practising his
profession. Jesus responds to the objection of the religious leaders about
eating with sinners by reminding them that it was those who were sick who
needed a physician, not those who were well (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17;
Luke 5:31). He presented Himself here as the physician for the sinner in
Luke 4:23. Jesus quotes a proverb commonly used in His day: "Physician
heal yourself" when the people of his day questioned His interpretation of
Scripture (Luke 4:23). The final reference to physicians in the Scripture is
found in 2 Chronicles 16:12, which says:
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his
feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he
did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2
Chronicles 16:12, ESV
Here we have the story of King Asa, who refused to seek the Lord when
his feet were diseased but chose to consult physicians instead. The very
next verse tells us that he died as a result. It appears that the sin of Asa
was not that he consulted the physician but that he refused to seek the will
and the purpose of the Lord in his disease. He turned from the Lord and
what He was trying to say to Him in his affliction.
While physicians were present in those days, they were not the only ones
to be consulted in times of illness and disease. God's people sought the
Lord in their sickness and pain. While some did very likely consult the
physician, first and foremost, they were to place themselves in the hands
of the Lord. One of our great errors as believers today is not seeking the
Lord in our afflictions, for He has much to teach us through these
ailments. He wants to meet us in these times.
We must understand that the Bible is not against physicians and medical
treatments. Consider the words of Jesus to the church of Laodicea:
13 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you
may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe
yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and
salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Revelation
3:18, ESV
The Lord counsels the church of Laodicea to buy salve to anoint their eyes
so that they could see.
Timothy was a faithful servant of God who often suffered from poor health.
Listen to Paul's counsel in 1 Timothy 5:23:
23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the
sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 1 Timothy
5:23, ESV
Paul could have prayed that God heal Timothy of his "frequent ailments,"
but he did not. Instead, he encouraged him to take a little wine to settle his
One day, God sent Isaiah to King Hezekiah to tell him he would die.
Hearing this word from God, the king immediately repented of his sin and
pleaded with God to extend his life. God sent Isaiah back with another word
for the king:
21 Now Isaiah had said, "Let them take a cake of figs and
apply it to the boil, that he may recover." - Isaiah 38:21, ESV
Isaiah told the king's servants to apply a "cake of figs" to the king's boil so
that it would heal. God's remedy was not instant healing but the application
of medication to the wound.
Jesus told a story about a man robbed, beaten and left to die at the side of
the road. Luke 10:34 describes what a hated Samaritan did for him:
34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil
and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him
to an inn and took care of him. - Luke 10:34, ESV
The Samaritan bound the wounds of the wounded man. Notice also that he
poured oil and wine on him as well. The wine would have killed the germs,
and the oil aided the healing. Jesus commends this man for applying this
medication to the wound of an enemy.
Consider also the words of the writer of Proverbs to those who were in deep
6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, And wine to
those in bitter distress; (7) let them drink and forget their
poverty and remember their misery no more. - Proverbs 31:6,7
The strong drink given to the perishing would ease their pain. Wine given to
those in bitter distress would help improve their emotional state.
We see from this that Scripture is not against easing suffering through
remedies of various kinds. It also encourages the use of treatments to help
the body to heal. Remember, however, that the believer's confidence is not
in the remedies and medication but in the Lord who heals.
There is one more final point I want to make in closing. Consider what The
Tyndale Bible Dictionary has to say about the contribution of the Hebrews
to medicine:
The most significant contribution the Hebrews gave to medicine
was in the hygienic measures outlined in the Law, particularly
Lev 11-15. While these had primarily a religious significance,
they undoubtedly improved the general level of health and
physical well-being of the people.
Philip W. Comfort, Ph.D., Walter A. Elwell, Ph.D.,
"Medicine and Medical Practice," Tyndale Bible Dictionary,
Electronic Edition, L A R I D I A N: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2001,
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
The Law of Moses promoted healthy living and lifestyle. God taught His
people the kinds of food they should avoid. He encouraged the isolation of
the sick and gave them rules of hygiene that prevented the spread of
diseases and infections.
What does all this have to teach us? Sickness, disease and ailments ought to
bring us to God. In these times, we are to listen carefully to Him. We are to
learn what He wants us to understand. Scripture does not discourage
physicians and remedies to promote healing and ease pain, but these
solutions do not replace our need to seek God in sickness, nor should they
keep us from recognizing that the healing we need is from Him. The Bible
speaks more about the sick seeking the prayers and counsel of their
religious leaders than it does about physicians. This is because God wants
us to seek Him in times of need.
As I write this, the world faces a pandemic that has taken millions of lives.
We have become focused on how to cure and curtail this virus. While this is
as it should be, Scripture teaches us that we also need to seek the Lord and
what He is telling us in times such as these. I suspect that there are many
lessons God is teaching us. Are we ready to listen? He has allowed our lives
to be disrupted. He has challenged us to step out in new ways and re-
examine our priorities. The one thing worse than going through a pandemic
is coming out the other end the same. We must allow God to refine us
through it. He will do so if we trust in Him.
od required that His people demonstrate compassion and concern
for one another. The apostle Paul confirms this in his words to
the Philippians:
(3) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility
count others more significant than yourselves. (4) Let each of
you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests
of others. (5) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours
in Christ Jesus, (6) who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but
emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in
the likeness of men. - Philippians 2:3-7 ESV
According to the apostle Paul, it was the responsibility of every believer to
consider others as “more significant” than themselves. That is not to say
that we should see ourselves as insignificant or of no value. Paul is simply
telling the Philippians that they needed to look out for the interests of those
around them. They were to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who
willingly emptied Himself and became a servant.
It is easy for us to become so focused on ourselves and our interests. We
push ahead with little concern for others. We become so focused on
achieving our personal goals that we step on people to get where we want to
be. Paul reminds us that God expects us to consider others when making
our decisions. Many of life’s problems originate with people who do not
consider the impact of their choices on friends and neighbours.
In Romans 14, the apostle Paul addressed a difference of opinion among
believers over food and the celebration of holy days. He ended this
discussion with the following words:
(13) Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any
longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or
hindrance in the way of a brother. - Romans 14:13 ESV
According to Paul, the Romans were to allow differences on minor matters
and commit themselves never to do anything that would cause a brother or
sister to stumble in their faith. We obey this principle when we consider the
view of our brother or sister when making our decisions. In other words, we
must ask ourselves how our choices and actions will impact others?
Listen to what Paul told the Corinthians:
(31) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to
the glory of God. (32) Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or
to the church of God, (33) just as I try to please everyone in
everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of
many, that they may be saved. - 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 ESV
According to Paul, we are to “try to please everyone in everything we do.”
We must understand here that Paul was a people pleaser in the sense that he
was governed by what people thought of him. This is not what the apostle is
saying here. He is telling the Corinthians that the Lord God expected them
not to seek their own advantage above that of others. We are not to climb
over people to get what we want. Instead, we must be willing to consider
the impact of our actions on those around us. We need to do what will
benefit the larger community and not just ourselves.
The apostle demonstrated this principle in his life. Consider how he
described his ministry and that of his coworkers in 2 Corinthians 6:
(3) We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be
found with our ministry, (4) but as servants of God we
commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in
afflictions, hardships, calamities, (5) beatings, imprisonments,
riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger - 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
Paul ministered in such a way that he put no obstacle in the path of another.
The apostle endured hardship, beatings, imprisonment, hunger and sleepless
nights so as not to burden those to whom he ministered. He willingly
suffered to bring the message of hope to the communities where he worked.
He considered the needs of others as more important than his own.
This concept of community thinking is laid out clearly in the Law of Moses.
An Old Testament law that has always intrigued me is found in
Deuteronomy 22:8:
(8) “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for
your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your
house, if anyone should fall from it. - Deuteronomy 22:8 ESV
The law of Moses included regulations about how an individual could build
their home. In Bible times, the flat roof was living space. The problem with
a roof was the risk of falling off the edge if someone went too close. The
law required a “parapet” or wall around the edge of the building to prevent
anyone from falling. Notice that the “guilt of blood’ would be brought upon
a home if someone fell from their roof and died. The homeowner was to
take on the expense of building this wall on his roof as a precautionary
measure. He was to do all he could to protect anyone visiting his home from
potential harm.
Exodus 21 describes the responsibility of a man whose ox gored someone
to death:
(28) “When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox
shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner
of the ox shall not be liable. (29) But if the ox has been
accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned
but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox
shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. -
Exodus 21:28-29 ESV
If the ox killed a man or woman, it was stoned to death, and the meat could
not be eaten. If, however, the ox owner knew the animal was violent and
left it loose when it killed someone, then both the ox and the owner were to
be put to death. The owner was put to death because he did not take the
necessary precautions to restrain his violent animal. In this case, he was
responsible for his animal’s actions.
Exodus 21 explains the requirement of God for the owner of a pit into
which someone’s animal fell:
(33) “When a man opens a pit, or when a man digs a pit and
does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, (34) the
owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to
its owner, and the dead beast shall be his. - Exodus 21:33-34
If a neighbours animal fell into a pit that was not covered, the pit owner
was to pay full price for the animal to his neighbour. He was responsible for
this accident because he did not take the precaution of covering it up.
Consider also the law of God in Exodus 21:18-19:
(18) “When his men quarrel and one strikes the other with a
stone or with fist and the man does not die but takes to his bed,
(19) then if the man rises again and walks outdoors with his
staff, he who struck him shall be clear; only he shall pay for the
loss of his time, and shall have him thoroughly healed. - Exodus
21:18-19 ESV
We have a case here of two men who quarrelled, and one of them hit and
wounded the other. As a result, the wounded man was confined to bed or
had to walk with a staff. The law required that the man who wounded him
pay for the loss of his wages until he was completely healed.
The law required that slaves be freed if they lost an eye or tooth because
their owner or representative struck them:
(26) “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female,
and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye.
(27) If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he
shall let the slave go free because of his tooth. - Exodus 21:26-
27 ESV
For the sake of a tooth, the owner would lose a slave. God required that
slave owners consider the wellbeing of their workers. They were held
responsible for injury
Listen to the law of God concerning a person who injured their neighbour:
(19) If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be
done to him, (20) fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for
tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to
him. - Leviticus 24:19-20 ESV
If you broke your neighbours arm, then the law required that your arm be
broken in punishment. If your neighbour lost his eye or tooth, then yours
would be pulled out as well.
What does all of this teach us? The Bible obliges us to live lives that take
the wellbeing of others into account. Old Testament believers were required
to take precautions against potential danger. They were to build a wall
around their roof, fence in their violent animal, and cover any pit they had
dug lest they cause harm to another human being or their animals.
God also expected that His people be responsible for any harm they did to
the health or physical wellbeing of another human being. If I caused the
loss of a tooth, I would lose my tooth in punishment. If I injured someone
so that they lost work, I was responsible for paying their wages until they
were well enough to work again.
As believers, we are called to be community thinkers. We are to strive for
the ultimate good of our community. As the apostle Paul said to the
(3) We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be
found with our ministry - 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 ESV
Believers are to lead the way in community concern and wellbeing. We are
to take the precautions necessary lest our actions negatively impact the
health and wellbeing of those around us.
riting to Ephesian husbands about marriage, the apostle Paul
(25) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her, (26) that he might sanctify her,
having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
(27) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be
holy and without blemish. (28) In the same way husbands
should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his
wife loves himself. (29) For no one ever hated his own flesh,
but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
(30) because we are members of his body. (31) “Therefore a
man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.” (32) This mystery is
profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the
church. - Ephesians 5:25-32 ESV
While Paul challenged Ephesian men to care for their wives in this passage,
the heart of his argument comes in verses 29-30, where he says:
(29) For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and
cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, (30) because we are
members of his body. – Ephesians 5:29-30 ESV
There are some key points I would like to underline in these words of Paul.
“No One Ever Hated His Own Flesh”
I have always been perplexed by this phrase in Scripture. There was a time
in my life when I did hate myself and wished I could die. Consider Job,
suffering on the ash heap, cursing the day of his birth. Numerous
individuals in Scripture just wanted to die. However, what is interesting is
that behind each of these complaints and death wishes is a sincere love and
desire for physical and emotional well-being. Job agonized because of the
pain in his body and longed to be relieved of this terror. The prophets of the
Old Testament grieved over the response of the people toward them and
longed to be free from rejection. A desire for physical and emotional health
drove them to seek relief through death.
I don’t know many people who long to inflict their bodies with pain and
suffering. When I hit my finger with a hammer, my first reaction is to seek
relief from that pain. If I cut my finger with a knife, I want to stop the
bleeding. When something is heading directly for my face, my first impulse
is to duck and avoid it. God has created us with a need to protect ourselves
and a desire for wholeness.
“But Nourishes And Cherishes It”
Paul goes on to say that within each of us is a need to nourish and cherish
our flesh. When our body is hungry, we seek food. If we are cold, we
pursue warmth. When we are tired, we lay down to rest. These tendencies
are hard-wired into our makeup. We will go through great efforts to satisfy
these physical needs. The word cherish means “to make warm” in Greek. I
have a pet cat that seems to be able to find any source of heat he can. When
he discovers it, that is where he will lay down and rest. It is in his makeup
to seek out comfort. We are like that. We want our bodies to be comfortable
and enjoy the good things God has given. God has created us so that we
naturally protect, nourish and care for the bodies He has given us.
“Because We Are Members Of His Body.”
Paul tells the Ephesian men that they were to care for their wives in the
same way. He gives them the example of how Jesus cared for the church.
Paul concludes his argument with the statement: “because we are members
of His body.” We nourish and cherish our bodies and those of our partners
because we are members of the Body of Christ. In other words, because we
belong to the Lord Jesus and our bodies belong to Him, we nourish and
protect them for His glory.
Speaking out against sexual immorality among the Corinthians, the apostle
Paul said:
(15) Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them
members of a prostitute? Never! - 1 Corinthians 6:15 ESV
Paul reminded the Corinthians that their bodies were members of Jesus
Christ. Therefore, they had an obligation to respect these bodies for His
sake. In this case, by engaging in sexual activity with a prostitute, they
defiled their bodies. As believers, we must keep our bodies pure and
undefiled before God.
The apostle told the Corinthians that their bodies were the temple of the
Holy Spirit:
(19) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy
Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your
own, (20) for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in
your body. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
These frail bodies house the presence of Jesus Christ. He has chosen to
work through these human frames. We dare not defile the temple in which
He has chosen to dwell. Paul tells us we are to glorify God in our bodies. In
the case described here, the Corinthians were to do this by resisting sexual
immorality. There are, however, many other ways in which we can defile
our human bodies.
We have examined the dietary laws of the Old Testament. In these laws, the
Lord instructed His people to care for their bodies by what they ate. Some
creatures could make them sick, so they were forbidden to eat them. We
honour God in our bodies by eating healthy and keeping them in good
The abuse of food and drink is seen in the Bible as sinful. Consider the law
of God for parents of a rebellious son who lived a life of gluttony and
(20) and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is
stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a
glutton and a drunkard.’ (21) Then all the men of the city shall
stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from
your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. - Deuteronomy
21:20-21 ESV
Proverbs 28:7 is more specific when it says that the companion of gluttons
shames his father:
(7) The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but
a companion of gluttons shames his father. - Proverbs 28:7 ESV
Excessive eating and drinking are discouraged in the Bible. Moderation was
the standard for the believer.
Scriptures also encouraged an active lifestyle. Writing to the Thessalonians,
the apostle Paul said:
(6) Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is
walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that
you received from us. (7) For you yourselves know how you
ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were
with you, - 2 Thessalonians 3:6-7 ESV
The apostle would go even further to say:
(10) For even when we were with you, we would give you this
command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (11)
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at
work, but busybodies. - 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 ESV
The idleness spoken of here is an unwillingness to work and a decision to
live off others. Believers are encouraged to provide for their own needs, the
needs of our family and their community. Scripture rebukes the sluggard:
(14) As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his
bed. (15) The sluggard buries his ho and in the dish; it wears
him out to bring it back to his mouth. - Proverbs 26:14-15 ESV
The lazy person is humorously compared to a door that turns back and forth
on his bed. He is also compared to a man who puts his hand into a food dish
but doesn’t have the energy to bring it up to his mouth.
While there is a reference to games and sports in the Bible, these were more
part of Greek and Roman culture than Jewish culture. The active lifestyle
the Bible describes is not so much a life of sports and recreation as it was of
work and godliness. Writing to Timothy, who was at times quite sickly, the
apostle Paul would say:
(7) Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train
yourself for godliness; (8) for while bodily training is of some
value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for
the present life and also for the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:7-8
The apostle recognized the value of physical training, but this was
secondary to training to be godly. In his godliness training, Paul disciplined
himself as an athlete, keeping his passions and body under control to the
service of God:
(24) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but
only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (25)
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to
receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (26) So I
do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. (27)
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after
preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. - 1
Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV
The apostle Peter challenged the woman of his day to be less focused on
their external appearance and more on the beauty of their spirit:
(3) Do not let your adorning be external—the
braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or
the clothing you wear— (4) but let your adorning be
the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable
beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s
sight is very precious. - 1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV
Scripture encourages us to eat healthy foods and live an active lifestyle, but
the focus is not looking good and competing against our neighbours.
Healthy living and lifestyle have more to do with the fact that our bodies
are the temple of God, and we take care of them, so they are healthy and
strong vessels through which He can work.
There is an interesting passage in Luke 4:9-12. In this passage, the devil
took Jesus to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, telling
him to throw himself down from there:
(9) And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle
of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw
yourself down from here, (10) for it is written, “‘He will
command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ (11) and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot
against a stone.’” (12) And Jesus answered him, “It is said,
‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” - Luke 4:9-
12 ESV
Notice what is happening in this temptation of Jesus. The devil wanted
Jesus to risk physically harming His body to prove that God would send His
angels to protect Him. He reminded Jesus of Scripture from Psalm 91:11-12
that said that God would protect Him so that his foot would not strike a
stone and get hurt.
Notice the response of Jesus to the temptation of Satan: “It is said, ‘You
shall not put the Lord your God to the test’”- Luke 4:12 ESV. In other
words, Jesus refused to put his body in danger to prove that the Father
would protect Him. He had been entrusted with this physical body, and He
would not endanger it for some fruitless temptation of the devil. It should
also be noted that the Lord Jesus, who would not risk harm to his physical
body when tempted by the devil, willingly laid it down to be crucified when
asked by the Father to do so.
What do these things teach us about God’s expectations? The Creator has
given us a natural impulse to nourish and cherish these bodies for a reason.
They are the temples of His Spirit through which He has chosen to do His
work. We must glorify God in and through these mortal frames. Just as
Jesus refused to foolishly risk harming His body through the temptation of
the devil, we too must be careful to protect and care for the bodies God has
given us until He calls us to give them up to Him.
What the application of these principles looks like may differ from one
person to another. What is clear is that we are not to recklessly endanger the
bodies God has given us but care for them as temples where He dwells and
through which He accomplishes His purpose.
o far in this study, we have examined the teaching of Scripture
about sickness and medicine. We have seen how the Bible teaches
about self-isolation, face coverings and respect for each other. In
times of pandemics, our civil and religious leaders must address many
serious questions. The responsibilities of leadership demand that they do all
they can to protect society from a life-threatening illness. Decisions made
by our leaders sometimes involve sacrifice and require a change of lifestyle.
This is not always appreciated. In some cases, there is pushback from those
who feel their leaders are going too far. This is a delicate issue to address,
but let's examine some basic Biblical principles that may help us determine
our response to these restrictions.
The Call To Obey Authorities
The apostle Paul challenged the Romans to be subject to governing
authorities. Consider his words in Romans 13:
(1) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.
For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist
have been instituted by God. (2) Therefore whoever resists the
authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who
resist will incur judgment. (3) For rulers are not a terror to
good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one
who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive
his approval, (4) for he is God's servant for your good. But if
you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.
For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's
wrath on the wrongdoer. (5) Therefore one must be in
subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake
of conscience. - Romans 13:1-5 ESV
Paul told the Romans that they were to subject themselves to the authority
of Rome because God had instituted that authority. Understand that this did
not imply that every decision Rome made was godly. Rome put Christians
in the arena to be torn apart by lions. Under its rule, Christians were
crucified and burned to death for their faith. Despite this, Paul told believers
in Rome that they were to do all they could to respect the rules and
regulations put into effect by Roman authorities. He went as far as <