Flu, Fear & Faith
As the World's Media spreads Fear, the Bible generates Faith.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
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Hello, this is Paul Billington bringing you this week's edition of the Bible in the News. And the news this week has been dominated by the outbreak of Mexican swine flu. TIME had the foreboding headline: "Swine Flu's First Fatality: A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold." A Canadian newspaper weighed in with a front-page alert: "All Humanity urged to Fight Swine Flu Pandemic." The Brits of northern England were assured that a "Million doses of flu drug on way north."
Most of us have probably seen similar news-stories over the past week. I read somewhere that over 40 countries were effected, and according to an article in the Guardian (UK) someone had said that 120 million could die.
Now the Bible does teach us that the end of an age is characterized by Divine judgments. For example, there are some well-known passages in Luke chapter 21. The conditions that were to exist before the end of the Mosaic age can be expected again as Gentile times draw to a close. Jesus said:
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26).
And again, as Jerusalem entered her final days before the Babylonian destruction of 586 B.C. God said through Ezekiel the prophet:
"For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?" (Ezekiel 14:21).
The word "pestilence," according to the Oxford English Dictionary means "a fatal epidemic disease." The Hebrew word here carries the idea of a plague. It would not be surprising then if the modern world were to experience plagues and epidemics--and in our age, the news media ever looking for some dramatic news story helps to spread anxiety and fear, so that men's hearts do fail them for fear as each new disease makes headlines.
Some have suggested that the media is sending people into "a frenzy of fear" over the swine flu issue, just as they did over Sars and bird flu. It has been rather sarcastically called an "aporkalypse." The fact is that at this stage we just do not know whether this flu is a pandemic killer of not. We do not know whether the media is scaremongering or giving us an early warning about a serious life-threatening and contagious illness that is coming to our locality. It has been called "Mad journalism disease" and a global pandemic.
There are some conflicting figures about, but at the time of this writing/broadcast, there seems to have been only one confirmed death in the U.S. and less than a dozen world-wide. No more than with any other flu virus. Time will tell whether the media hit the panic-button too soon on this one!
Whatever the outcome of this news story, the Bible shows us that faith in the Truth relieves us of fears and anxieties, whether over flu or any other death-threat.
The apostle Paul was often in danger of death, and in recognizing our inherited mortal nature, he wrote:
"But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us..." (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).
Our belief and faith in the word of God gives us an assurance which is more powerful than the fear of death. God can raise the dead to life again--and He has said that He will do so as far as those are concerned who believe on His Son. The apostle also wrote this:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
Do we believe that? Are we convinced of the Truth of God's word, placing our trust and our confidence in what He has said?
If so, there is no need to fear swine flu or any other plague. Let us develop the faith that comes from the word of God--let us read and heed that, rather than spend our time trembling at the panic generated by an ungodly media.
Join us again next week, God willing.
Printed: Thursday, April 30, 2009
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