Habakkuk 3:5 Plague goes before Him
Recent events have brought many Biblical passages and scenarios to my mind. Admittedly, it has been a challenge for me to discern exactly what needs to be said and when it’s time to say it. The challenge is real because tensions are high.
For those who have been following me now on our church page via Facebook and YouTube (Calvary Pentecostal Church Lindsay), you may know that my family recently returned from Florida. We thankfully were able to head down the week before March break and enjoy Disney before it was closed. We truly had a great time.
While south of the border, we were given a unique perspective of the unfolding crisis. We were able to watch the local news, as well as tune in to CTV News online. The scene in Canada was very different from what we were witnessing in Florida and much of the United States.
Upon returning to Canada, we were relieved that we were not ‘going to be sent to Trenton’ and that we did not receive any ‘date stamp’ indicating our quarantine release date. Such were some of the fears portrayed to us from loved ones in the north. I honestly did not give it much attention. However, it did illustrate to me the atmosphere that I would be returning to. We were not just dealing with COVID-19, we were also dealing with a plague of fear.
In the Bible plagues and pestilences are often associated and linked with a particular event in Israel’s history: the exodus. To put it very simply, the exodus event is a major thing for the people of God. It was a classic showdown down between Yahweh and the gods of Egypt. Some even believe that the specific plagues mentioned in the Bible resembled the pagan deities of Egypt. Regardless, it was indeed a Cosmic clash between the deities of Egypt and the God of the Hebrews. Which deity ruled the known universe and beyond?
I believe that the Bible rightly proclaims that Yahweh is indeed the God of all gods, and that He (Yahweh) has delivered His people from the hands of those who oppose Him. Moses also seemed to have this view. He wrote, ‘For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe.’ (Deuteronomy 10:17).
Psalm 97:9 also says, ‘For You, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted above all the gods.’
The Hebrew people believed that YWH (Yahweh) was indeed God Almighty, and had demonstrated His power over the existing powerhouse of the known world: Egypt. God was delivering His people from the clutches of Pharaoh.
Psalm 77, 78, 95, 105, 106, 114, 135 and 136 all recount and contain explicit references to the exodus saga. Furthermore, the Prophets also mix in Sinai and wilderness imagery into their writings. The result is an array of OT passages, prophecies and poetry that contain vivid imagery pertaining to the earth being shaken, days being darkened, and wonders in the heavens. What else would you expect when the Almighty intervenes into the affairs of the world?
These echos of the exodus and the Sinai encounter are noteworthy and help us better understand the imagery associated with plagues of the Bible. Biblically speaking then, it could be said that plagues are framed with Israel’s exodus, Sinai and wilderness narrative. It could also be said that plagues were understood as a must that accompanied Yahweh’s return.
As in Habakkuk, plagues were often associated as things that would proceed the Yahweh’s return. Similarly, Jesus too alludes to events that also must take place.
‘the disciples approached Him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”4 Then Jesus replied to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you … You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars … See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines[a] and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these events are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24)
I mention all of this for a couple of reasons. Events ‘like’ COVID-19 helps me:
Understand that ‘these things must take place’. Correct me if I am wrong, but Jesus did say that we ought to expect such events. And did He also not send out and commission the 12 and 70 to a journey of hardship, strive and opposition? In other words, Jesus seems to indicate that our starting point would involve tribulation.
Understand that Jesus has overcome ‘these things’. In John 16, Jesus encourages His followers with the following words:
Look: An hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
Do you feel encouraged? Perhaps not. However, the NT testifies that Jesus Himself has overcome everything that humanity and the powers of darkness threw at Him. He and He alone stands in the both realms as King. He and He alone is able to bring perfect shalom (peace) with God, others, within ourselves and the created order. Jesus has conquered everything that opposes God.
Understand my role in ‘these things’. I believes that God desires to partner with all humanity via His Spirit so that we can accomplish His mission and build His Kingdom in the midst of suffering and trials. This perspective helps me understand not only what God is doing in the world today, but my role amidst the chaos, opposition and evil.
Like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia, Jesus is on the move to bring an end to everything that is wrong in the world and within me. We live in a broken world that is in need of His shalom (peace). Until He comes, there is much to do.
C.S Lewis said that “Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
Acts 10:38 says that ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power’, and that Jesus ‘went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him.’
Friends, God is still with us. His Spirit is here to accomplish the same plan and Mission of Jesus. Much is broken. Much is wrong. Much is misaligned. However, the Bible seems to indicate that Yahweh’s plan will not be shaken.
Wherever you are, and whatever situation you find yourself in, my prayer for you will be this verse: Though the mountains move and the hills shake, My love will not be removed from you and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says your compassionate Lord. (Isaiah 54:10)
These days are challenging, and we do not have all the answers, nor do we see all things. There is only One who can.
I pray that we would all come to place our hope, trust and faith in Yahweh, His Messiah (Jesus Christ of Nazareth) and His good plan for humanity and Creation.
I pray that we all would look upon His face and see the love of Jesus.
I will be praying for you. Please also pray for me.