The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
I have been listening to discussions concerning the Coronavirus and why it is inflicting the world. It seems that everyone is looking to place the blame on some one or something. I’ve heard all kinds of conspiracy theories blaming the Chinese, the President, scientist, medical researchers and a host of other sources. What has disturbed me more than anything are those, particularly preachers who are attributing this to God and judgement. One day the Savior will clothe Himself in the robes of the Judge. On that day every person who did not receive God’s salvation will be judged for their sins. Their punishment won’t be a virus, their punishment will be hell. The truth of the matter is that every human deserves death and hell. Paul tells us that there are none good, no not one. It is arrogant of us to feel we somehow we have escaped the virus due to some goodness or righteousness. So does God judge us or punish us now. I know there will be those who will find times in the OT where God judged. Let me point out that the OT people first of all were under law and we are under grace. But let’s look for a moment at Job. Job is the oldest book of the Bible. I believe it tells the story. Satan comes before God with the angels. God is bragging on Job and Satan says the only reason Job serves you is because you bless him and protect him. But let him suffer and he will turn away. So God says ok I’ll let you touch him with evil but you can’t have him. We read that Satan went out from the presence of God and Job began to experience calamity. Please notice that God DID NOT cause the calamity, He simply withdrew His hand.
I want you to read the verses above again. These are the words of Jesus. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. O beloved hear me, this is why we need to share the gospel. God is not in the business of bringing death but giving life. There are no records of Jesus ever bringing suffering on anyone including those who beat Him and pulled His beard out and scourged Him and crucified Him and not even the soldier who pierced Him with the spear.
Read those verses again. I am the good shepherd and I lay down my life for my sheep. Christ received stripes for our healing. Read Isaiah 53:4-6. Now if God put the punishment of our sins upon Christ then somebody tell me please why He would also punish us. Christ took the penalty of sin upon Him, all of it.
So hear Jesus again, I am come that they might have life and life more abundantly.
I believe the the true source of this virus is the devil. His purpose is to steal. He comes to steal our peace, our joy, our health and more importantly our walk with God. He comes to kill. To kill our bodies, our spirits, our faith. He comes to destroy. To destroy God’s people, God’s church and if possible God’s plans.
So let’s be Job. Let’s say to the devil, do your best but my trust, my hope, my faith is in God who has never failed.
Now I do believe we are in a time of testing. I believe the devils plans were to stifle the church, to limit its effectiveness, to slow down its aggressive invasion of darkness with light and to attempt to prevent it from rescuing sinners from the future of hell with him.
So when someone says to you God has sent this upon us because we have rejected Him, because we have sinned, tell them no that’s not my God. My God is gracious, my God is merciful. My God is kind, not willing that any perish. Tell them to run to the only safe place, the city of refuge, the strong tower, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me be clear, I may be one of those who get the virus, I may be one of those who succumb to it. It may be the thing that takes me out of this world, but I testify unto you that I know that first of all the disease is from the devil and even if that disease takes me out of this world, it will take me home to heaven to be with my God, safe from all harm and danger. What the devil means for bad, in the end God flips it on him, to God be the glory. The Bible says in Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for the good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. That good may not be experienced this side of heaven, but it will be experienced. I’ve heard many say that everything has a purpose and my response is that it only has a purpose when we ask God to use our situation for His purpose. When Joseph was put into the pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, and put in jail, we hear him say to his brothers, what you meant for evil God has used for His purpose. You see Joseph could have had a bad attitude, he could have just complained, but instead he sought ways to allow God to work through him in adverse circumstances. It’s obvious from his story that once Potiphar bought him, he was a willing worker for before long he is managing the household. Now Satan again tries to steal God’s promise through Potiphar’s wife, but Joseph keeps his integrity so Satan moves Potiphar to jail Joseph. He could have thrown up his hands and said well I must be out of favor with a God and He is punishing me but instead he kept seeking God. How do we know? Because he gives prophetic words to the baker and the butler. Again he’s let down for the butler promised to present Joseph’s case to Pharaoh but he forgot and Joseph remained in jail. He could have given up but he kept seeking God. How do we know? There came a moment when Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret and the butler remembered Joseph. You know the story, Joseph is given by God the meaning and Pharaoh elevated him to second in the kingdom. When the famine comes and Joseph’s brothers come seeking food, God has placed Joseph in the place where he can bless those who did evil to him. And he did. So he said to his brothers, what was meant for evil has worked in me the purpose of God. Like the delay of Jesus visiting Lazarus when he was sick but still alive, God often has greater purposes if we will seek Him. What Satan means to harm or destroy, when given to God works heaven’s purposes. Let’s not be Adam and say to God, this woman you gave me has caused this. Let us not be Eve and say to God, this serpent you created deceived me. Let us look to God who did not condemn without hope but with the consequences of sin provided a savior. He still does. Rather than trying to discover who’s at fault let us instead ask God how He can use these times to work His purpose in us. Rather than asking why, let us ask what. What can God do through these things and how can the devil once again fail to accomplish his goals of steal, kill, and destroy.
I believe if we stay true, stay on our knees, keep serving and trusting, that we are going to be like the Phoenix rising from the ashes and shining with the glory of heaven.
Dr. John Thompson