"Bright Upbeat" by Olexandr Ignatov
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This is one of the strangest moments I’ve ever lived through. The entire world is on lockdown, all because of a microscopic parasite called the Coronavirus. Whether the disease is dangerously contagious or horribly overplayed, it has devastated the economic landscape of our world and reshaped how everyone lives life. Many are more scared than they’ve ever been—and that includes Christians. The world is turning to medical research or government legislation for answers. Christians are turning to the Bible. Many are wondering what God has to say about something like the Coronavirus, and a chapter in the Bible Christians are frequently turning to is Psalm 91. It is there that we read something that sounds awfully like the pandemic we are facing:
For [God] will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalm 91:3 ESV)
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (Psalm 91:5–7 ESV)
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. (Psalm 91:9–10 ESV)
Psalm 91 may be the most common “spiritual pill” Christians are taking for the Coronavirus, because it seems to promise immunity from pandemics, like the Coronavirus. But there are two serious problems with this approach.
First, God never promises immunity from disease in the Bible. If Psalm 91 is promising Christians protection from getting deathly sick, it is standing all by itself in the Bible. But not only does it stand all by itself, it actually stands against the rest of the Bible. For example, Jesus promised His disciples that they would experience suffering in the world (John 16:33). Epaphroditus, a faithful minister alongside the Apostle Paul, was sick almost to the point of death (Philippians 2:27). The truth is that since Christians are followers of Christ and He suffered, they will suffer too (1 Peter 4:1, 12–19). Don’t buy into the popular lie that Christians can be immune from a virus, if they simply have enough faith. On the contrary, God often takes His children through the pain and uncertainty of disease to increase their faith. While not everyone will experience the same degree of suffering or suffer for the same reasons, God always takes His children through pain and turmoil to make them more holy like their Savior (James 1:2–4).
Second, Psalm 91 is not promising immunity from pandemics in this life. That may not sound right at first, but that’s because the psalmist is envisioning a moment beyond this life when pandemics will no longer exist. Psalm 91 is picturing a day when Jesus finally returns and every wrong is made right. No more sickness. No more death. No more sin that would warrant such tragedy. In other words, Psalm 91 is about heaven. Now, I realize that’s a bold claim and it deserves a fair amount of biblical support. So, I want to ask three questions about Psalm 91 that will demonstrate that this chapter is, in fact, projecting the hope of heaven:
WHO IS PSALM 91 TALKING ABOUT?
At first glance, Psalm 91 appears to be talking about the person reading the psalm. But that is actually not the case. Rather, Psalm 91 is talking about Jesus, the Messiah. How do we know this? There are a series of verses in Psalm 91 that describe experiences the rest of the Bible applies only to the Messiah.