“For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.”
As more and more people become emboldened to resist being locked down, we’re beginning to see signs of life going back to “normal.” Granted, it may take a long time for that to happen, especially for some hardest hit economically. Yes, we hear people say that COVID-19 will change forever the way people look at life, but will it? That’s what we said about 9-11, but that memory has significantly faded. In fact, changes in the winds of political correctness have altogether stopped us from discussing Islam as a potential national security risk.
It seems to me that events change a person only if you actually make a change. If college is going to change my life, I need to attend, participate, learn and APPLY that knowledge. Otherwise, it is something that I did simply to pass the time, as many do. Same with 9-11. For a whole new generation, their most noticeable impact is security searches on airplanes.
Will COVID-19 have a meaningful impact in my life? I sure hope so. For me, the air was so thick with the presence of God that I could taste it. It was like the ninth plague, a “darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” (Exodus 10:21) God, indeed, was making his presence known to the entire globe with this virus so that all might acknowledge him, repent of their wicked ways, and obey him.
How many times did that happen, yet did Pharaoh change? Nope. Did Egypt? Nope. For that matter, did the Hebrews? Well, God DID deliver them from bondage, as he said he would, but the Israelites did not remain faithful. Sure, there were a couple bright spots in their history; but even to this day, they remain apostate.
Did God fail in all this? Certainly not, but it would seem so if we think his objective is to change hearts. If what the prophets said came true for the Israelites during the Babylon invasion, then horrors of horrors did not change their hearts collectively or permanently. So, what was the point? What was the point of Egypt’s plagues? Well, God hardens hearts.
Exodus 7:3-4a But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.
Isaiah 6:9-10 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the hearts of this people dull, and their eyes heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Romans 11:25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Revelation 16:9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.
Folks, these things are very difficult to understand. One might try to explain this by saying that those God targets are so against him that even the most violent actions only make them hate God all the more. But God doesn’t just use bad things to get our attention. Even good things harden our hearts.
Romans 2:4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
John 10:36-38 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’ If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Then we have stuff like this:
Matthew 13:10-14 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says….
Jesus then goes to quote the passage of Isaiah that I listed above.
You tell me, is this what you learned about Jesus in Sunday school? This stuff bewilders me, folks, but how can I possibly ignore it when it is written ALL OVER in my bible. It’s not just in one place or two; it’s all over the place!
So, how do I deal with the current plague that is almost over? Well, first, I need to realize that almost the entire world will harden their hearts towards God even more than it already has. The fact is, we can’t even imagine how hard a heart can get, but we’re seeing the process unfold right before our eyes. The truth of the matter is that no one comes to saving faith in Jesus unless granted to him/her by the Father, and no one comes to the Father except by Jesus.
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Salvation is difficult to understand. Why? Because it’s God’s business, not ours.
Romans 9:14-18 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
All this is quite confusing. It’s meant to be.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
I’m one of those being saved. How, then, will COVID-19 change me? Well, I have seen the plague and God’s finger, just as if I was in Egypt. But, unlike the Israelites, he has given me a new heart. COVID-19 won’t change me unless I change. Do I want to change?
Luke 12:41-44 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
Everybody already thinks I’m crazy. I may as well push it even farther!
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Father, I’m in. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers