Is Covid-19 a modern-day Exile?

Is Covid-19 a modern-day Exile?  Yes, I’m really asking that question.  But before anyone goes off the deep end, at least read it before reacting.  I believe the answer could be yes.  It’s not like I’ve got a crystal ball or a direct line that God is waiting to pick up and answer everything I ask.  For that matter, I don’t have one to Satan either.

Is Covid 19 a modern-day Exile?Obviously, to examine the possibility, we need to think about the Old Testament exile, when many of the Israelites were forcibly taken to Babylon.  But let’s also think about Job.  He didn’t know what was going on.  Just like we don’t.  But remember, Job acted correctly.  On the other hand, Job’s friends acted anything but correctly.

So ultimately, this is a “what if” scenario for us to evaluate.  And then pray what David did in Psalm 139.  Finally, examine the way we’re acting if the scenario I paint below sounds plausible.

It would be nice if we agree what a modern-day exile is.  And since I’m the one proposing the scenario, that means I get to define it for purposes of this examination.

What is a modern-day exile?

I’m going to base my version of the Covid-19 modern-day exile scenario on the definition of “exile” from the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery.

Exile

Exile is both a plot motif and a character type.

The plot motif is what’s happening.  In our case, it’s the Covid-19 virus going global, affecting everyone.  It’s essential to realize and acknowledge that the virus is affecting everyone.  Yes – everyone.  It’s not a Christian-only virus.  Anyone, in any country, any walk of life, can be a target.

The character type looks at how various types of people react.

So, as we should expect, the scenario is about an event and how we react to it.

The essential ingredient in both cases is a person who has been banished from a native place and is now living or wandering in foreign parts.

In the case of the Covid-19 modern-day exile, the banishment involves being “banished” from our normal way of life.  Maybe it would be better stated as we’re being told, for the safety of everyone, to avoid our normal way of life.  This is also important to notice.  We’re being told to act for the benefit of everyone.  That’s not normal for many people.  Apparently, it’s especially “un-normal” for a number of vocal Americans.

While we ordinarily link the state of exile with judgment against someone for wrongdoing, in the Bible this is by no means always the case. In fact all true believers are pictured as being exiles from their true homeland.

As I said, we don’t know why this virus is hitting the world.  Is it judgment?  Did God do it?  Did God allow Satan to do it?  Only God knows the real reason.  Even Satan doesn’t truly know why God allowed it.  I’ve already written about those topics at If you don’t believe in the devil – part 2 if you’d like to examine those questions.

For purposes of this modern-day exile via Covid-19, we’ll go with the conclusion from that article.  God allowed Satan to do it.  In that light, this is a Job type event.  Satan asked for permission.  God granted it.  Neither we nor Satan know why.  But we’re tied up in it.  The question is – why?

Was it to show how great we are – ala Job’s first test?  Given the state of the world, I’d say that’s not likely.

Job’s First Test

Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

Job 1:9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Or is it like a modern-day version of Isaiah’s remnant of Israel?

The Remnant of Israel

Isa 10:20 In that day the remnant of Israel,
the survivors of the house of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him
who struck them down
but will truly rely on the LORD,
the Holy One of Israel.
Isa 10:21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob
will return to the Mighty God.
Isa 10:22 Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea,
only a remnant will return.
Destruction has been decreed,
overwhelming and righteous.
Isa 10:23 The Lord, the LORD Almighty, will carry out
the destruction decreed upon the whole land.

Wouldn’t that be interesting?  God allowing Satan to spread this virus, thinking he (Satan) is going damage to God’s people?  But all along it’s God allowing His people to not only survive, but to essentially stand up and be counted?  To be the light on a hill that Jesus spoke of?

Salt and Light

Mt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Refining our modern-day exile

Let’s go with that.  As I said – not that this is what’s really happening.  But what if?  If this is what’s happening, are we standing up or are we falling victim to Satan?  Beyond that, are we being a light to others, or are we leading them astray by our actions?

It’s really not that far-fetched of an idea.  Let’s continue with the “dictionary definition” of exile.

An exile story is preceded by a scene of banishment and a subsequent journey, and the Bible contains some memorable examples. The prototype is the expulsion from the Garden (Gen 3:24), which in a single moment made the entire human race an exile from its original home. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this banishment, which not only awakens the wellsprings of human regret and nostalgia but is also the starting point of every subsequent human story-the backdrop to all that is recorded in the Bible.

Let’s consider the way we’re reacting.  Are we concerned about others?  Or are we selfish?  Do we say something like we have rights, regardless of what our “rights” do to anyone else?  For a look at that topic, I invite you to check out I know my rights!  (Hard to believe it’s from 9 years ago.)  Then we need to ask ourselves a question.  As Christians, do our individual rights to do whatever we want fit in line with Jesus’ command to love everyone – even people we don’t like?  Oops.  They don’t.

Life conditions during an exile

While banishment is the moment in which a person becomes an exile, being an exile is the condition of life that follows. Exile encompasses a social role involving fringe status and a psychological state that includes as its salient features a sense of loss or deprivation and a longing to return to (or arrive at) a homeland. Whenever an exile is experiencing punishment for a crime, moreover, the state of exile is accompanied by feelings of guilt and perhaps remorse (as in the book of Lamentations). Even more important for Israelite culture would be the sense of shame that attaches to such an exile. Above all, the exile is a displaced person. Moses sounds the authentic note when he calls his first son Gershom, “for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land’ ” (Ex 2:22 RSV).

There’s a lot in there, so let’s break it down.

an exile is the condition of life that follows

As I said, the condition is a lifestyle that’s not normal.  One where we have to consider other people.  Even especially consider the weakest among us, since they’re generally the ones most vulnerable to the virus.  That can be really hard for some people.  Judging from the images on the news – impossible for many people.  The views of packed bars where people neither social distance nor have any kind of protection are, to me, incredibly selfish.  No regard whatsoever for others.  Not even their friends who may be at risk.

That seems to be the condition of life that exists during what may be a modern-day Covid-19 exile.

fringe status

Maybe it’s a feeling of having a fringe status that drives people to act the way they do.  I can’t say.  But they certainly exhibit a desire to have a status above everyone else.  No matter what the cost.  Not even the potential cost to themselves.

features a sense of loss or deprivation

That’s absolutely happening.  People feel deprived.  I feel deprived.  Before the virus, since I’m retired, I used to go for long walks and have breakfast or lunch in the middle of them.  Hours of just walking, meditating, seeing the world, and eating.  It was great.  But not now.  Yes, I feel deprived.  But the reality is that even when restaurants open for dining in where I live – I won’t do it until I know it’s safe.  Yes, I care about my health.  But also my wife.  Neighbors that I talk to while at least six feet apart.  People I will eventually see again from church.  I care about all of them.  And the people that all those people know.  And the healthcare workers who are at risk whenever any of us catches this virus.

So it’s not so much the sense of loss or feeling deprived.  It’s what we do as a result of those feelings.  Do we say to heck with everyone else?  Or do we restrain ourselves for the benefit of others?  For the Christian readers, you may recognize that concept.

Life by the Spirit

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Gal 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Yes, every Christian should be familiar with that passage.  I also have to say, “fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions” most certainly includes doing the selfish things we see on the news.  Going to bars.  Even crowded dine-in restaurants.  To crowded beaches.  And I don’t know if you’re ready for this one – to crowded churches.

That last one is especially disappointing to me.  Here’s why.

Love for Enemies – Matthew

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

OK – lots of people don’t think about others.  When non-Christians don’t care, it’s not always that surprising.  When Christians slip up and don’t love our enemies, it’s hopefully an indication of immaturity, and not outright contempt for what Jesus said.  But when we, as Christians, can’t even take the time to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ – something’s drastically wrong!  What Jesus said above is that we’re not even doing what a pagan would do.  That’s an awful condemnation of our lifestyle.  And our belief.  I have to ask, are we even Christians?

For the emotions that accompany exile we can turn to several psalms. Psalms that recall the banishment of the nation by conquering forces include Psalms 74 and 137. The spiritual longing that accompanied exile for a person whose religion centered around pilgrimages to worship God in the temple in Jerusalem is captured in Psalms 42–43, the song of the disquieted soul.

During the times when I was most angry at God, I used to copy Psalms.  I don’t even remember doing it.  But when I was cleaning out some old stuff one time, I found spiral notebooks full of Psalms.  And it was my handwriting.  I can’t say for sure why I did it, but I suspect it was a search for comfort.

No matter what was happening in David’s life, he was incredibly honest with God.  When he was mad, he put it in a Psalm.  Same for when things were going well – lots of praise for God.  The thing is, no matter how bad things were, David always included praise for God.  And thanks.  Something we really should remember and try to do.

The Psalms mentioned above obviously aren’t from David, but they have the same ingredients.  Since it’s short, here’s Psalm 43.

Psalm 43

Ps 43:1 Vindicate me, O God,
and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.
Ps 43:2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?
Ps 43:3 Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Ps 43:4 Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

Ps 43:5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

As I said – not from David.  But the whole range of emotions is in there.

It’s an important lesson for Christians.  Anger and hatred towards other people is wrong, since Jesus makes it perfectly clear that we are to love each other.  Even our enemies.  But if we’re angry at God, it’s OK to tell Him.  He already knows, so it’s not like we’re keeping it secret from Him.  May as well just let it out.

But when we do, how do we do it?  Something I finally realized is that when I was so angry, even mad, at God – something else went along with it.  It meant that I also believed God had control over things.  Including me.  Get it?  In the process of being angry at Him, I was acknowledging that He existed.  Either that or I was crazy.  But even more than His existence, I was acknowledging His power.

God knows that He exists.  And that He’s God, with all the characteristics that go with being Him.  But have you ever thought about the fact that when we pay attention to Him – even through anger – we are also proclaiming that He exists and is God?  So why don’t’ we admit it to ourselves?

Really, we may as well go on and admit it.  Then we too can have all the other emotions we see in Psalm 43.  And we can be on our way to a better relationship with God.  Let me restate that.  For some of us, the first step to having, or regaining, a good relationship with God is to merely admit to ourselves that we have been acting like He does exist – so why not just admit it and move forward?

What did that section on Psalm 43 have to do with a Covid-19 modern-day exile?

Actually, Psalm 43 has a lot to do with this possible Cocid-19 modern-day exile.  Once we have a good / better relationship with God, we can begin to recognize that God actually can, and does, allow bad things to happen in order to bring out good results.  Of course, whether or not things turn out good often has something to do with us.  How we deal with those bad things.

Like all the people who feel deprived because of the stay at home orders for preventing a bigger outbreak.  If we realize the orders are for the benefit of others, maybe we can begin to realize that it’s right for us to give up some things out of love for others.

If we have a better relationship with God, maybe we can begin to recognize that our reactions and outbursts over the limitations is very much not Christ-like.  Being more like Jesus is our goal as a Christian, right?  Can you imagine Jesus insisting that people had to go to the beach even though it puts a lot of other people at risk for getting sick or dying?  If you’re not sure, remember the passage below.

An Eye for an Eye

Mt 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

So, fellow Christian, how do you feel after reading that?

The final piece of the Covid-19 modern-day exile definition

We’re coming to the final piece of the puzzle to define our (my) Covid-19 modern-day exile scenario.

The imagery of exile reaches its metaphoric climax in Hebrews 11, which portrays people of faith as “strangers and exiles on the earth” seeking “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb 11:13, 16 RSV). At the physical level, the state of being an exile retains its negative qualities in this passage, as we read about people living in tents rather than houses, sharing ill-treatment with the people of God, suffering for Christ, being tortured and wandering over the desolate parts of the earth.

Yes, some of us are literally living in tents now, after losing jobs.

I wonder about the sharing ill-treatment with the people of God part though.  I often feel like it’s the other way around.  Like it’s often the people of God sharing ill-treatment with others.  The anger and hatred that is seen for those who say churches aren’t essential.

Truth is, I don’t believe churches should be having large gatherings for services either.  For the most part, it’s just not necessary.  There’s lots of technology available to provide the Word of God over the internet.  It’s not so expensive that lots of churches can’t afford it.  Maybe even most or all of those affected, since the really small ones are under the limits for the size of an allowed gathering.

I do my classes via Zoom – and it works quite nicely.  In fact, I can now do more things since I have my computer and everyone is looking at my screen.  Can’t do that when it’s a bunch of people sitting around a table.  If anything, it’s a better presentation.  But maybe that’s because I don’t look at it as something that can’t be overcome.  It’s not something I need to protest.  It’s something I can embrace and even get better because of it.

BTW – I’m also one of those “others” that I keep mentioning.  Over 60.  Get pneumonia very easily, ever since I was a kid.  And have cancer.  But even if I wasn’t, I’d still be doing what I’m doing.  Stay at home unless it’s unavoidable.  I can exercise by walking in my neighborhood.  Don’t need a park or the beach.  I walk our dog, a few times a day.  I cook.  Read and study.  Write.  Teach.  Life goes on.  And one other thing that I’ll get to in a moment.

Yet the chapter implies that the state of exile is the inevitable lot of all who follow Christ, who was himself an archetypal exile-a person who in his life had nowhere to lay his head (Mt 8:20) and who in his death “suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood” (Heb 13:12 RSV).  1)Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. (2000). In Dictionary of biblical imagery (electronic ed., p. 251). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

And there’s the killer phrase.

the state of exile is the inevitable lot of all who follow Christ

The Covid-19 modern-day exile – is it inevitable for those of us who follow Christ?

Is this modern-day exile I” defining, or something like it, inevitable for those of us who follow Christ?  What if I said it is?  At least that it’s reasonable that it is?  Or not surprising if it is?

Exiles in wars

Look at it this way.  For large parts of the world, an Old Testament exile isn’t likely.  Yes, it happens all too often in too many parts of the world.  But in essence, it’s smaller, underdeveloped countries fighting each other.  But how?  They do it with the arms and expertise that they get from the so-called developed countries.  We fight proxy wars via the smaller countries.  We have to, in a way.  A World War type scenario these days would likely wipe out the countries that would be fighting it.  So we use others to fight our wars in their countries.

That’s just as true for allegedly Christian countries as it is for self-stated atheist countries.  It’s impossible to tell the difference between them anymore.  So what if God’s tired of this?

Exiles in exile

Remember I said I was going to come back to something from the final piece of my Covid-19 modern-day exile definition?  Let’s do that right now.

The imagery of exile reaches its metaphoric climax in Hebrews 11, which portrays people of faith as “strangers and exiles on the earth” seeking “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb 11:13, 16 RSV).

Let’s look at that verse in Hebrews.  It’s in a section the NIV calls By Faith.  It’s a list of various things that show faith – so I’m going to just show that one verse.  As always, you can use the link below to view the entire section if you want.

By Faith


Heb 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Of course, that passage applies only to Christians.  So this question is for us.  For those who claim to be Christian.

What are we looking for in terms of our “country”?

Are we looking for what God prepared for us?  Or are we looking to make our country here on earth be like what God promised us?  I ask because, you have to know, nothing on this earth is ever going to be like what God has for us if we live by faith.  Nothing.  No matter how “great” someone says America can be – it will never be what God promised us.  In fact, it seems that the harder we try to make America into what we think God promised us – the further we get from His promise.

In terms of the exile, here’s the question.  Are we trying to make it so comfortable here that we won’t feel like we’re in exile?  That’s a bad thing for Christians.  It seems dangerously close to taking God’s place.  Or replacing Him.  If we love things here too much, that’s cause for never getting to our “promised land” of Heaven.  You do remember that, don’t you?

Do Not Love the World

1Jn 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Yes – that’s really in the Bible.  It’s a danger that comes from getting so comfortable here that we fall in love with the “promised land” we made – and then we miss out on the Promised Land that God made for us.

Is there a Covid-19 modern-day exile wake-up call?

So here’s where I’m going with all this.

We look at the Covid-19 virus as a bad thing, many people thinking it’s a bad thing from God.  However, those who have read the Bible know that sometimes God allows bad things in order to bring about better things.  Or to wake up His people.  That was the case with the slavery of the Hebrew people under Pharaoh.  It was also the case of the Israelites in exile in Babylon.

So, what if this is God’s way of showing us that we need to wake up?  We’re supposed to be living in this world as if we’re in exile – right here, wherever we are.  In exile from our Heavenly home.  But we’re too busy turning this into a false “heaven on earth” kind of thing.  And we’re falling in love with it.  And by doing that, we’re at risk of losing our real Heavenly home that God created for us.

What if that’s even a part of what’s happening now with this virus?

As I said, we don’t know why it’s happening.  Only God knows that.  But you know what?  He gave us a mind.  He gave us warnings about things getting in the way of us following Him.  We really should use that mind and pat attention to the warnings.

I’m doing a series on the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation right now.  It’s here, if you’d like to check it out.  I mention it for a couple reasons.  First, because it talks about the warnings given to the churches and the people in them as the End Times approach.  But the other reason is because it also talks about what we’re going through now.  The difficulties that we’re having with the Covid-19 virus situation.  And it asks, if we can’t even handle this as Christians, how are we ever going to get through the tribulation when it comes?

Conclusion – The Covid-19 modern-day exile

I hope this made you think.  One more time – I’m not saying this is what’s happening now.  But what if it is?  And even if it’s not a Covid-19 modern-day exile – even if it’s something entirely different – does that change the way we should be acting?

It’s not like Jesus told us to behave certain ways at certain times, but it’s OK to do whatever we want at other times.  Remember this:

Ask, Seek, Knock – Matthew

7:7-11 pp — Lk 11:9-13

Mt 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mt 7:9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Remember that last verse:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

That’s everything.  Not some things.  Or many things.  Not even most things.  Every thing.

And while we’re out there praying for things like open beaches, open bars, open churches, also remember this passage.

Jesus the Way to the Father

Jn 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Jn 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jn 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Do the things we pray for come under the description Jesus gave us?

3 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

It’s hard to see open bars being asked for in Jesus’ name.  And yet?

The same could be said for open beaches, since they could bring risk to other people, although it’s not as obvious as open bars.

But even open churches.  I hope you take to heart what I’ve written about that as well.

Ultimately, even if this isn’t a Covid-19 modern-day exile – maybe we should live like it is.  It seems like the loving thing to do.  Loving for our neighbors.  And also loving towards God.  We’d show more love and less anger and hatred.  Less love for the things of this world and more love for the things promised in the next.

We’re supposed to be different – not just like everyone else.  We’re supposed to be a light on a hill, that draws others to God.  Not an out of control fire that turns people off.

Consider when Jesus prayed for His disciples.  And remember one last thing – that as Christians, we are all modern-day disciples as well.  At least, we should be.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

Jn 17:6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

Jn 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

For this topic, especially notice the last part.

15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

We are in this world, and Jesus prayed for our protection while we’re here.  Not that we’d try to make the world or even our country into a sort of heaven.  Jesus didn’t do that while He was here.  Jesus taught us to fish for people and teach them to be like Him.  Not to remake countries into our vision of what Heaven is like.  Instead our goal is to bring people to Jesus so that we can all see for ourselves what the real Heaven is really like.  That’s the only way to bring glory to God.

Please – don’t make Jesus’ prayer go in vain.  If you’re really trying to live like Jesus – latch on to His prayer for us – and then pray Psalm 139.  So let’s close with the relevant excerpt from that Psalm.

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

Ps 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

Ps 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

Ps 139:3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Ps 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; 

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.


Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay


References   [ + ]

1.Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. (2000). In Dictionary of biblical imagery (electronic ed., p. 251). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

9 thoughts on “Is Covid-19 a modern-day Exile?”

  1. I always enjoy your articles for several years now. Perhaps I missed some of what you were trying to convey but I got side-tracked on the individual “rights” versus a collective rights because I do love my neighbor. I understand that you have health problems AND if I were you, I would do exactly what you are doing by not going out unnecessarily and, if you needed to go out, to protect yourself as best as you can but at this moment I, thankfully, do not have health problems. I feel that masks perpetuate needless fear and I wanted to empower my neighbors, especially when I am not ill!!! I am afraid that if I do not show a brave front my neighbors will definitely be candidates to take the “mark of the beast” and be lost forever because they are becoming fearful and would trade the freedom in Christ with worldly “safety” and “security” that only God can provide for us. In addition, I believe that wearing cloth masks do not protect you from a virus and that only the hospital type masks will accomplish that.
    You will be remembered in my prayers!!! Our family has had to endure a cancer diagnosis, too. Our son, Mike, was diagnosed as having a liposarcoma in his calf muscle last May. They removed the tumor. He will be going for his 1 year scan this June. He is doing well!!! I pray that the scan comes back negative. Mike is only 32. Mike has visited and none of us wear a mask and never really thought about it because we are not ill.
    One final thought, I thought that after we survived that cancer scare hitting our son, the year 2020 would be a wonderful year. I guess that I don’t have all the correct answers. Perhaps, it “will be the worst of times and the best of times” depending on your perspective.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments and the question. But first, I’ll also be praying for Mike and your family.
      The mask issue is tough, I know. The way I see it, there are two sides to wearing one. One is to protect ourselves – and the other is to protect others. The problem with this virus is that we don’t really know for sure if we have it or not.
      We keep hearing about how we can be without external symptoms, but still be contagious. With something like the common cold which is also a form of a coronavirus, although obviously much less deadly, we know we’re actually most contagious before we show symptoms. It’s the same with Covid-19, except that it may be a week to 2 weeks before we show symptoms. Maybe it’s because I’m more susceptible to having a severe case, but I like to err on the side of thinking I might have it and could possibly be infected. Could also be because the county I live in has a lot of cases. I never try to tell anyone what to do or think – it’s very personal. My goal, as you probably know, is just to get people to think about what we do and why.
      Cloth masks don’t protect as well as the N95 ones, but they are better than nothing, especially when social distancing. But I think they’re also more helpful from protecting others than protecting the wearer. I have some N95 masks from before this all started, because that’s we used to be able to buy from Home Depot for doing woodworking – a hobby I don’t have much time for now. They’re definitely stronger.
      As for the mark of the beast – i don’t think a mask is it. It does have something to do with whether or not we can buy or sell – depending on where we live. But it’s not on our hand or forehead. Mostly though, the mark will be something that’s obviously something a Christian should not take. Given the aspect of wearing a mask to protect others, especially the more vulnerable, it seems to me like it something that some of us view wearing one as an act of love for others.
      BTW – that reminds me of something else. Here in California, I think it’s something close to half the cases here in my area are from nursing homes and the homeless. Some of the most vulnerable. And that’s where it’s striking the most. We don’t really know if anyone we come in contact with works or volunteers with either of those populations. I also know several hospital nurses and administrators, so I think about the first responders that are at risk every time someone goes to a hospital.
      Anyway – as I said – it’s a personal decision and is made by each of us for our circumstances and our lives. It seems like it’s reasonable for people to have varying responses depending on where we live – hard hit areas or ones with little to no cases. It’s interesting what you said about the signal you might give by wearing a mask where you are. Here, most people do wear masks, and you tend to be looked at for not wearing one.
      I pray that whatever you do, it’s something you live at peace with your decision, based on prayer and the Bible. If we can’t have God’s peace, as you know with your son, life can be so, so hard.
      Continuing prayers for Mike and for you and your family.

      Stay healthy and rest in His peace,
      chris

  2. Thank you for the very caring answer!! I will pray on this while praying for you. But my husband was an “essential” worker and had jobs going at both nursing homes and hospitals and all that administration and staff did was to take his temperature! Now, I am older and “old school” and as far as I have been taught – a temperature is a symptom!!!!! If I have a fever, I am fighting off some kind of a bug and if I felt “under the weather”, I would not go out. Now, he must not have been ill (thank God) because we are still here and we have not heard of a spike in illness since he worked at those places. I don’t know. AGAIN, thank you for the KIND reply and the reassurance as to the “mark of the beast” because that is my biggest concern. Take care of yourself!!!

    Your sister,
    Lisa

  3. Thank you for the kind reply and I will ponder it while praying for your return to good health. My husband was considered an “essential” worker and has worked in several hospitals and a nursing home. He did not really want to do those jobs! Anyway, all that the staff did was to take his temperature before letting him in. Now, I am older and old-school and as far as I was taught, a temperature is a symptom (not asymptomatic). If I have a fever, I am probably fighting off a bug of some sort. I would never go out if I felt that I may be ill!!! Well, we did not hear of a spike of illness in any place where my husband worked and we both are still hanging in there so it appears that everything worked out.
    Thank you for the reassurance as to the “mark of the beast” because that is my real concern. I sure don’t want to mess up at the end of my story because I got frightened! I would be heartbroken not to be with my Lord. Thank you again for answering in such a kind way!!!

    Lisa

      1. My husband, Alan, and I also have a daughter, Shannon, and son-in-law, Andrew (who is really resistant to our Lord). You bring your family and I will bring mine and I can only imagine the joy and celebration at that wedding celebration!! Gonna be a good time!!!

        The best is yet to come!

        Love from your sister,
        Lisa

        1. Sounds good! Just me & my wife, Irene – unless dogs really do go to Heaven. Then we’re have at least 5.
          I’ll add Alan to my prayer list. I remember the times I wanted an alternative to God – and look where I am now.
          Yes – the best is surely yet to come!
          chris

  4. There was a “Twilight Zone” episode written by Earl Hamner of “The Waltons” fame. It was called, “The Hunt” and the man and his dog both died during a hunting accident. The man and his dog were walking along a road and the man didn’t really realize that they were both deceased until he came to a gate and the “angel’ there told him that it was Heaven. The man was eager to go in but the “angel” said that dogs weren’t allowed and the man replied that if his dog wasn’t allowed to go in there, then he didn’t want to be there either. They keep on walking down that road and the man and the dog come to yet another gate and a young man there tells them that they are about to enter Heaven. The man replies that they passed Heaven’s gate up the road a bit but that they didn’t go in because his dog wasn’t allowed in. He asked if his dog was allowed in this gate and the young man says that the previous gate was actually Hell!!! Thank God that he didn’t go in that gate!!! The end of the episode states: Travelers to unknown regions would be well advised to take along the family dog. He could just save you from entering the wrong gate. At least, it happened that way once—in a mountainous area of the Twilight Zone.
    We have had several dogs and expect that they will all be there to celebrate our arrival Home!!! Our current dog is Brenna.

    P.S. I would also not be surprised to see that the “trees will clap their hands” I sometimes imagine that on a windy day because I am goofy like that.

    1. So that’s where the story came from. I’ve heard it somewhere – maybe even seen it on Twilight Zone. I know you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, but don’t know if you’ve seen everything I wrote about our guys. I have a section on Learning from dogs – at https://www.godversusreligion.com/category/learning-from-a-dog/ One of them is another story of dogs and Heaven that you might know – All dogs go to Heaven. It also includes why I hope for that – from Genesis to Romans. Is it true? We’ll find out.
      I expect that a lot of the good things we imagine will be there, along with so much more that we couldn’t even imagine now.

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