January 15th, 2021

Biblical catastrophes

By Submitted Article on April 18, 2020.

Pestilence and disaster

First of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Biblical and secular history recorded many deadly plagues and disasters. A flood annihilated humans and land animals, except those saved by Noah’s ark.

God gave a timely warning through Joseph to the Pharaoh of Egypt about a seven-year famine. In the preceding seven years of plenty, Joseph stored up grain for the bad years ahead.

In the following four centuries, Egypt forgot about Joseph’s benevolence and started enslaving the Hebrews. By 10 severe plagues, God coerced them to free the slaves, resulting in the exodus and the edification of Israel at Mount Sinai.

Sadly, Israel strayed often, and God disciplined them with disasters, such as consuming fires (Lev. 10:1-2, Num. 11:1, 16:35), diseases (Num. 11:33, 16:46-49, 25:8-9), serpents (Num. 21:4-9), and wandering in the wilderness for 40 years (Num. 13-14). Despite their frequent faltering, God sustained them with manna from heaven and water from rocks.

After ancient Israel had conquered Canaan, they sometimes strayed into idolatry, and God corrected them by subjecting them to foreign nations. When they repented, God called a leader who freed them from oppression. This cycle was repeated over a period of 800 years.

When King David ordered a census without God’s permission, a plague broke out, killing thousands (2 Sam. 24). David met the Angel of the Lord at the threshing floor of Araunah, repented of his sin and so the plague stopped. He bought that piece of land, built an altar and brought sacrifices.

The temple of Solomon was later built on that spot (2 Chron. 3:1). In his infinite mercy and patience, God often turned disasters into blessings.

The 10 northern tribes went into exile at 722 B.C. They never returned. They were replaced by foreigners, who mixed with the left-behind poor and became the Samaritan nation.

Despite several reforms, Judah was eventually exiled, too, in 586 BC. Some of them returned home after 70 years to rebuild the temple and walls of Jerusalem.

In AD 70, Rome destroyed the temple, and the Jews were scattered again. Some of their descendants returned after the holocaust when modern Israel was established in 1948. Despite all the calamities that befell them, Jews continue to exist worldwide and in Israel.

Humanity survived and increased despite many wars, famines and plagues. Jesus predicted devastating pestilences at the end-time (Luke 24:11, Rev. 6:8).

At present, countries apply extreme measures to restrict the advance of a deadly virus that threatens to kill thousands. We are forced into weird lifestyles.

Countries and households are ruined economically. The Antichrist will present himself as an economic saviour (Rev. 13:17). For now, we have to observe survival strategies as if we are at war. And indeed, we are.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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