Facebook led me yesterday to a video of a Muslim Imam doing something of a rant about COVID 19 being a punishment from Allah for women not wearing the Burkha and displaying their ankles and necks in public (most of a woman’s body in stricter sects of Islam being considered to be “private parts“).
I got quite angry, if not amused at points, at the ridiculousness of his statements ……. but it set me thinking.
It is a very unpopular thought in the modern western world that God might have rules and be angry when we break them. It is even more unacceptable that he would punish human beings for their behaviour, even though we readily accept man-made laws and abide by them, most of the time!
In a scripture very well known to Jews and Christians alike God is very clear about the consequences of our behaviour. I quote the verses at the end in full but for now pull out these two elements:-
” At times I might ……. send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people ……. humble themselves and pray …….. I will hear …… forgive their sins and restore (heal) their land.”
Thus SIN in the Old Testament is clearly associated with punishment, even the sending of plagues.
The context of the scripture is where Solomon has finally had his father’s plans for a new temple completed and built and the first services have been held including masses of animal sacrifices for sin.
But note that God is saying that He* actually sends plagues as a punishment! It is not a popular thought, indeed many Christians reading this will disagree with me(!), that a “God of Love”, in an age where anything goes in the name of “love“, would send a virus to punish mankind? Is it possible? Well, I have news for you, a quick read through the book of Revelation might put you straight on that one. We have horrendous days ahead at some point in time that will make the Corona virus look like the hiccups!
*I should add that the reality may be that SIN let’s bad things happen. For instance, our abuse of the planet seems to have caused climatic changes which in turn have led to fire and flood. So it isn’t so much that God is sending as that we are bringing upon ourselves! One might similarly speculate around the Aids epidemic. That could have been stopped in its tracks by behavioural change, just as we see attempts to stop COVID 19.
It is amazing enough that a microscopic organism can kill a person but crazy that at the macro level in enough numbers it can close shops, shut everyone in their homes, ground aircraft and bring whole economies to their knees.
So I’m left wondering, does that Imam have a point. Not about naked ankles and necks, but about just how material and sensual our society has become, how saturated with casual attitudes to relationships, turning a virtue-signalling blind eye to the murder of babies, self-centered greed and consumerism at the expense of the very planet we live on and the enslavement of our fellow human beings.
Has God had enough?
One of the immediate effects of the virus is that people are seriously re-evaluating what life is all about. Whether with a faith or not, what do we want life to be like? How important are family and friends? And of course the age old question ….. who is my neighbour?
I started with some excerpts fro a passage in 2 Chronicles. Here’s the whole thing.
“11 So Solomon finished the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. 12 Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said,
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. 13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honoured forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.”