By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
Many in our nation and in the world are being frightened and disturbed by the threat of a new plague: Ebola. It is devastating the countries of West Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. People are aware of the history of plagues that have killed tens of thousands and even millions.
The Bible warns of them.
“And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and the rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him; and they were given power over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)
Sicknesses, diseases, and plagues can become much worse if the desirable processes of cleanliness are neglected. Human irresponsibility can contribute to disaster. Thus, plagues may result from human neglect, or they may be used by God as judgment upon those who reject his teachings. Regarding hygiene, God gave to the Israelites extensive teachings and directions. For example, read Leviticus 15:1-15. There are many such passages in the Old Testament, more than a thousand years before Christ, that teach the importance of hygiene.
“Thus says the Lord of Hosts, behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence…because they did not heed my words, says the Lord, which I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets.” (Jeremiah 29:17 & 19)
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken and he will bind us up.” (Hosea 6:1)
In the United States, and in most of the countries of the world—at the present time—the greatest problem is fear and panic which may lead to actions which exacerbate the danger. It may cause us to take excessive measures for ourselves, and to neglect those who really need help. Especially in times of danger, we need to keep our heads. After we or others have taken prudent measures of prevention, it is important that we pray to God, not just for ourselves but for all others. It is also important that we trust in God to deliver us. Disasters or threats to our health or safety can shake us up and cause us to think of and renew our relationship with God. It can draw us away from things that are wrong or useless, so that we can attend to the study of God’s word and worship him.
We must remember that we should pray for and care for many people; both those who are nearby and those who are far away. Regarding the present threat of Ebola—it is in our interest to help the people of West Africa lest this disease spread to the rest of the world. We are to call upon the Lord and seek his guidance. We are to come close to God that he may deliver us from fear. Finally, we are to reaffirm that our hope is in Heaven—that God awaits us, and has prepared a place for us.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. (Psalm 27:1-3)