It is no laughing matter.
For some, it was easily politicized. Some linked it to a racial conflict; classic xenophobia. Could it be a power play between two leaders vying for dominance? Whatever its origins, if the situation scaled to the level that was predicted, pandemic would not be the term with enough weight to capture the gravity of the impact on the population.
Lift your view from the constantly-updated headlines of 2020; run the clock of history back nearly 3500 years. The political firefight was not between Trump and Xi Jinping – or, Trump and Biden – but, rather, Moses and Pharaoh.
The conflict had been underway for nearly two months. What began as a policy dispute – after 400 years in Egypt, as a non-indigenous population, had the Jews lost their freedom to leave the country? – had become a game of chicken; a show of force.
In Egyptian culture, the Pharaoh figures had claimed god-level status; for the Jewish family, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would not tolerate the delusion of polytheism. Moses had history with Pharaoh, dating to their respective childhoods. Their life paths had diverged, four decades earlier; now, Moses was back in town and carrying a message to Pharaoh from the God-without-equal.
“Let my people go” sounds simple enough, but – in a country of 4 million Egyptians (estimate) – losing 2 million subjected people was consequential. Reduced to a slave class in Egypt, the Jews had become the labor force allowing massive public works projects and the elevation of the Egyptians to be a privileged and served population. Let them go, with no compensation? Not at all likely…
Ten plagues – delivered in succession over a period of nearly two months – had been ordered by God, and articulated by Moses. The resistance of Pharaoh through the tumult of ten terrifying displays of God’s power – all of which could be dismissed as natural phenomena by the deceived skeptics – caused the 10th Plague’s devastation to be declared: the firstborn of every household – both people and livestock – would die the same night, as God Himself executed the sentence He had pronounced. Estimates of the deaths among the Egyptians hover around 400,000 people, plus the animal assets…
God gave His people their opt-out action: each Jewish family was to take a lamb from their personal flock, slaughter it, then swab its blood on the top and side frames of their front doors as the sun went down. Prepare the evening meal using that select lamb, shelter in place until morning, while packing for travel.
Today, Passover remains an annual reminder to the Jews of God’s protection for them from the death-sentence that was delivered on Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. Pestilence is a tricky issue: it can be dismissed as yet-another evidence of life in a fallen world, or – on occasion – it is a manifestation of God’s supernatural selection, blessing some and cursing others. Some purport to speak for Him when hardship is unleashed, though – through history – His thoughts and ways are above ours, and remain a mystery.
Coronavirus: we’re all becoming amateur know-it-alls in a complex matter that is still defying the experts. Is it just yet another reminder of our mortality? Or, is it something put in motion with a message from Heaven? Be careful of anyone claiming an inspired answer…
Here’s a sure bet: the Passover lamb was a precursor for the Lamb of God who would someday die to provide His blood as the solution to the inevitable sentence of death from sin. And, that would be done for the entire human family on Earth.
Wash your hands; avoid unnecessary social contact… and do what God has prescribed as the ultimate antidote for death: accept the blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus, to escape His wrath.