“And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.” Exodus 15:26
Way back as a student, whenever there was an outbreak of conjunctivitis (locally referred to as Apollo) in the campus, the President of the Fellowship would say, “brethren, there’s something in the air; it’s time to sanctify your eyes!” He meant that we should specially pray to fortify our eyes against the disease. Interestingly, it worked. I don’t remember any member of the fellowship ever going down with the infection. To a large extent, that experience has defined my attitude to any epidemic or pandemic. But with COVID-19, it’s not just a matter of ‘sanctifying’ the eyes but the entire body!
The children of Israel had just crossed the Red Sea. They had experienced a great victory over the Egyptians. There was singing, dancing and celebration in the camp. Then they journeyed for 3 days in the wilderness and didn’t find water. Their joy was turned into sadness. They began to murmur and complain. When they eventually found water, it was bitter. God instructed Moses to throw a piece of wood into the water. The piece of wood made the bitter water sweet!
Sickness or disease can turn people’s joy to bitterness. God was letting Israel know that just as He healed the bitter water, He can also heal their diseases. If they listened to His instructions and obeyed Him, God promised them: “…I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.” The promise is twofold: preventative and curative. He would preserve them from disease but if they come down with it, then He would heal them. We see the outworking of this promise throughout the Scriptures.
God introduced one of His covenant names on this occasion: Jehovah Rapha. Jehovah simply means Lord; Rapha means “to mend (by stitching), also to cure, heal and make new again.” It meant that whenever their life was falling apart because of sickness He would stitch them back together again, he would make them whole again. Rapha can also be translated as ‘physician.’ God was saying to Israel, “if you live right and obey me then I’ll be your doctor.” He would even elaborate this further: “So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.” Exodus 23:25.
DEALING WITH INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Solomon said that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastics 1:9. The world may be dealing with a ‘novel coronavirus’ but it is not new to God. Over three millennia ago, God had given instructions that modern science is only just realising. Some of the words that have now become commonplace are there in the Bible. Words like ‘quarantine,’ ‘isolation,’ and ‘decontamination’ are all described in Leviticus chapters thirteen and fourteen. Those two chapters describe in details how Israel was to deal with infectious diseases. It should be noted that the word ‘leprosy’ was a generic term for most infectious diseases in the Bible.
When a person is showing signs of infection, the priest was to examine him after seven days to see if there was a change. “The priest must then examine it on the seventh day, and if, as far as he can see, the infection has stayed the same and has not spread on the skin, then the priest is to quarantine the person for another seven days.” Leviticus 13:5 NET. When it is certain that a person has an infection then the next step would follow: “The whole time he has the infection he will be continually unclean. He must live in isolation, and his place of residence must be outside the camp.”Leviticus 13:46 NET. The person would be in isolation until such a time that he is certified to be free from the disease. Meanwhile, measures were also taken concerning the house where the infected person lived. “Then he is to take two birds, a piece of cedar wood, a scrap of crimson fabric, and some twigs of hyssop to decontaminate the house.” Leviticus 14:49 NET.
Just imagine if the above procedure was observed at Wuhan where the novel coronavirus was said to have been first observed. The world wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. God’s way is always the best way; when we follow our own ways, we create problems for ourselves and others.
The priest does the inspection and examination to confirm if there is an infection and its severity. We do not see anywhere in the Bible where the priests contracted the disease. The priests seemed to have enjoyed divine immunity! There must be something that insulated them from the harmful effects of the contagious diseases they dealt with.
Today, medical workers appear to be one of the most endangered groups in the ravages of COVID-19! Despite wearing their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), many are testing positive for COVID-19 or are dying from it. But the priests, who played similar role and handled similar situations were safe. There must be something more potent than the PPE.
So, what was it that set the priests apart? Was it their consecration rite? Or the anointing upon their lives? Or the special garment they wore for ministry (Aaron couldn’t die until they removed the priestly garments from him. Numbers 20:26-28)? Whichever, the priests seemed to have enjoyed the promise of “none of these diseases.”
Jesus also enjoyed similar immunity when He was on earth. He stretched forth His hand to touch a leper and had no concern whatsoever about being contaminated. (Matthew 8:1-3). Whatever we see in Scripture is an indication of what is available and what is possible. We also are priests – every believer in Christ is a priest. He said “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (I Peter 2:9 NKJV); “And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:6 NIV. As priests, we are to be different from the rest of the world.
Throughout church history, when people have realised who they are in Christ and what is working in and through them, they lived differently. John G. Lake was such a man. During the bubonic plague that happened between 1908 and 1913, Lake and his assistants were found to be immune to this contagious plague that had almost 100% fatality rate. When the doctors dropped the pathogens (disease-carrying organisms) on Lake’s hand and viewed it under the microscope, they observed that the germs died as soon as they touched his body. When he was asked why the pathogens could not thrive in his body, his response was: “The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the Law of Sin and Death. I believe that just as long as I keep my soul in contact with the living God so that His Spirit is flowing into my soul and body, that no germ will ever attach itself to me, for the Spirit of God will kill it.”
THE SPIRITUAL NATURE OF DISEASES
We shouldn’t only see disease as organic, there is a spiritual dimension to it. If we fail to understand the spiritual nature of diseases we won’t know how to deal with it. When you see the description of COVID-19 and it’s activities, what comes to your mind is that this thing is demonic. It’s a typical demonic behaviour that this virus exhibits. Therefore, it cannot be defeated by mere medical solution. We must first defeat it in the spirit and then it will have no effect on us.
In some of Jesus’ healings, He handled affliction as a spiritual thing. He diagnosed the spiritual nature of what troubled the people. If it were today, the woman who was bent over would have been diagnosed with the curvature of the spine, but Jesus saw the spirit of infirmity; the young man that was writhing and foaming in his mouth would have been diagnosed with epilepsy, but Jesus knew that a spirit was troubling the man and cast it out.
Let the scientists continue with their research to get a vaccine, let the different agencies saddled with the responsibilities concerning COVID-19 continue with their efforts, let us observe all the precautionary measures not to expose ourselves to coronavirus infection. However, let us note that we need to defeat this pandemic spiritually as we did Ebola. What is needed now is intense spiritual warfare to contain and eliminate this virus from the earth.
This is a time that those who know the Lord must live differently. We won’t allow fear or be intimidated by the statistics about those who tested positive or are dying from the disease. “A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.” Psalms 91:7 NKJV. We have a promise, we can enjoy divine immunity like the priests. This is a time to declare over your home, your family and everything that pertains to you that this disease would not come near you. Declare that COVID-19 is an outlaw in your sphere of influence.
I recently became aware of an insect that is able to survive in the deadly lake where it is found. The brine fly has the power of surrounding itself with a film of air, encompassed in which it dives into muddy, stagnant pools, and remains unhurt. It makes no contact with the water at all. The air acts as a ‘submarine’ that protects it from the extreme salinity of the lake. That is how we should view God’s presence upon our lives. We should be conscious that we are enclosed in the invisible covering of the Divine Presence. We are enveloped in the glory of God where no disease can touch us. Jesus said “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:19 NKJV.
God is not asking too much from us. He wants us to live like covenant people, to obey His word and serve Him. He wants us to know that we are priests. We are not at the mercy of COVID-19 or any other disease. He has promised that ‘none of these diseases’ would come on us. Let’s trust Him, He keeps His promises. He will keep us safe from the present pandemic and anyone that may happen in the future. Let’s continue to stand on the promises of God: “We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.” 1 John 5:18.