If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemies besiege them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands toward this house, then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind, that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers.
2 Chronicles 6:28-31
Many people have been asking the same question in these days of crisis. “What is God saying to us in this pandemic?” Some venture to say plainly that it is a sign of God’s judgment and others are equally sure of their answer: “This is not God’s judgement!” Both factions have been scouring the Bible for references to confirm their position.
One thing we can say with certainty is that God is always speaking to us, whether in a pandemic or not. It was Martin Luther who said that the saddest man in the world is the man who believes that God does not speak to him.
This chapter (2 Chronicles 6) tells the story of the inauguration of the Temple and Solomon’s prayer where he enumerates various circumstances in life when the people of Israel need to turn to God. It’s worth reading the whole chapter – the first paragraph (vs 1-21) teaches us about God’s greatness, his glory, and his desire to meet with his people.
Verse 28 makes specific reference to plague – there you go, I can hear you say, we’ve found the reference! But notice that in the next verse (29) he talks about another plague – the plague of the heart, in other words, the plague of sin. The message is a simple one. We need to turn to God constantly. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8) and repentance should be a constant feature of the Christian life. Repentance is often thought of as something that happens at the start of our spiritual pilgrimage. Of course, to become a Christian in the first place, you must repent and believe the gospel. But having the proper view of ourselves, as poor and needy sinners, should be a constant characteristic of a healthy Christian life.
In the next chapter, 2 Chronicles 7:14, God himself utters a promise – if there is genuine repentance, then God will forgive the plague of the heart. This is a wonderful truth. If we confess the truth and repent, then God will repair our relationship with Him and forgive us! In the words of the Welsh hymn he calls “those who have sadly slipped away, back to Jesus Christ”. But, take note of the instructions – the person praying must “come to this place”, the temple in Jerusalem. This is thousands of miles away from where we live in Wales (in any case the temple that now stands in Jerusalem is a different one). But here is the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – “God’s dwelling place is now among the people” (Rev. 21:3). The Lord Jesus Christ says that the temple is just an illustration, a shadow of himself (John 2:19). The place where we meet with God is now in the Lord Jesus Christ. In his person and in his work for sinners on the cross, He is the “Tent of meeting”, He is the “Mediator between God and men – the man Christ Jesus”. And we can meet God through Jesus Christ anywhere.
What is God saying to us in this pandemic? He is telling us to repent and to ask Him to restore our relationship with him if needs be. He is calling us back to him and saying, “Come to me”!
Stay safe – in every sense.
Dewi Tudur (Ardudwy Evangelical Church)