Worse than Ebola

November 19, 2014 — 2 Comments

These past months, the news has been filled with tragic stories about Ebola and how the deadly virus has moved rapidly through families and communities. We’ve seen how constant vigilance and sometimes drastic measures are required to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Health workers who treat Ebola victims wear ten items of personal protective gear, including inner and outer gloves. They need to follow 14 steps when putting on the gear, and 24 steps when taking it off which they do under the watchful eye of a trained observer.

Step 16:
“Remove the N95 respirator by tilting the head slightly forward, grasping first the bottom tie or elastic strap, then the top tie or elastic strap, and remove without touching the front of the N95 respirator. Discard N95 respirator.” US Center for Disease Control

I imagine brave health workers pay very close attention to these steps. They know that one little slip can result in getting the disease.

God’s drastic measures
In the past when I’ve read Old Testament instructions for dealing with unclean things, they have seemed excessive to my modern sensibilities. But as I’ve learned more about a virus like Ebola, I’ve come to a better appreciation of God’s approach.

I recently read Numbers 19, where God tells the Israelites how to make water of cleansing to purify people who have touched dead bodies. Like the instructions for using Ebola-resistant protective gear, His commands are specific and hard to summarize. Let’s just say they involve blood, burning, and a lot of washing.

And if a person fails to comply? “Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the Lord’s tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel.” Numbers 19:13

When you see how contagious a disease like Ebola is, God’s method of purification suddenly makes a lot more sense. His requirements, whether for physical cleanliness or spiritual holiness, have one goal in mind. He wants to save life. He wants to protect us from death.

Battling spiritual Ebola
And the spiritual virus which infects our world is far more potent and lethal than physical Ebola. Created by Adam and Eve’s disobedience, sin has spread fast and furious through communities in every age, fueling a spiritual pandemic that thrives from one generation to another.

The sin virus sometimes retreats through moral living. There have been times and places in the world where the deadly effects of the spiritual disease have been reduced. But the virus always comes back, bringing hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy [Galatians 5:19-21].

Deadly serious
In the first months of the current Ebola outbreak, people didn’t always recognize the seriousness of the disease or how deadly it was. We can do the same with sin. We can pretend this spiritual pandemic is a myth, or that we are immune from its effects.

We can think the warnings we hear about it aren’t really true, that they’re just scare tactics. Or that we’re too enlightened to catch it. Or that it’s a problem for someone else, but we’re safe because we’re extra careful. Or that we should be rewarded for decades of good behavior. But sin remains rampant, toxic, and 100% fatal.

The glorious cure
Every person had been infected and there is only one permanent cure. Just like the blood of Ebola survivors is used to save new victims, the blood of Jesus is the ultimate vaccine for the sin virus. In the most drastic measure of all, God had His son die to save us. It was the only way.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people–free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeed. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!” {Ephesians 1:7-8, The Message]

What great news! There’s a cure for all the sin-sick. The scourge of the earth has been beaten back. “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” [I Corinthians 14:54] No one has to stay in quarantine. God welcomes each of us back to take our place in His holy household. We’re free forever. Hallelujah!

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
      may I never forget the good things He does for me.
He forgives all my sins
      and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
      and crowns me with love and tender mercies.”
Psalm 103:2-4

2 responses to Worse than Ebola

    Habib and Ruth Iskander November 20, 2014 at 5:32 am


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