Sunday, 5 April 2020

The Earth Rests

Scripture: Zechariah 1 v 10 - 11: "And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.
11  And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest."

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic let us count our blessings.  Without diminishing from the intense struggle of the afflicted in hospitals, and the incredible dedication of those doctors, nurses, helpers, testers, lab technicians and volunteers, there is another phenomenon taking place.

The Earth is at rest!  I have just watched a video from a patio over a beach in the Western Cape of South Africa, showing huge flocks of birds chasing anchovies into the shallows, as if they have not tasted them for years.  Dolphins have returned in huge schools because there are no boats, ships, bathers, jetskis or other disturbance of their habitat.

In the Millennium to come, the thousand years of rest and restoration of the Earth, it will be like this!  The Lord is putting down His markers in preparation of the work to be done.  Of course, many things must happen before those glorious years begin, things which will determine the people who will escape the "second death" to live twice.

Rev 20 v 4 - 6: "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

So although we are in the midst of a great plague, remember that Jesus said these would come shortly before He returns to Earth.  They would be part of the Tribulation that will last seven years and trouble the whole world.  

The first resurrection is not only for the martyrs that were beheaded or died for their faith, but also for the faithful believers who are committed to living the way Jesus expects them to.  The millions upon millions who are with Him as He joins the battle of Armageddon, will be with Him for the 7th Millennium to follow.

This pandemic is a bit like the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.  A shock to the whole world.  People are crying out to God to stop this plague.  Videos on social media of doctors and medical staff praying in corridors for God's protection and healing abound for all to see.  People are mourning their dead, and were unable to be with their loved ones when they passed.

We are isolated in our homes.  Roads are empty.  No parties, blaring music, protesters, concerts, sporting events.  Our status is being reset.  Economic change is coming to this planet.  There is no other subject on news bulletins than this plague.  No planes fly above.  The Earth is at rest.

We do not know how long this lockdown will continue.  We have to adjust to the new lifestyle to survive.  The growing list of victims scores our minds.  We are revisiting the horrors of plagues like the Black Death, Bubonic Plague, of the Middle Ages.  They went into lockdown.  That was their only hope of survival against a disease spread by fleas on rats.

This is another virus that began in an animal and without warning mutated to transmit from animal to human.  Then mutated again to transmit from human to human.  It spreads fast, killing some, but not all.  There are many survivors.  

Governments worry about a second wave, and what the economic, business and social landscape will be like when it ends.  Everywhere people are finding ways to unite on Skype and Zoom and video calls.  There is a new awareness of others in need.  A new desire for family togetherness because of enforced estrangement.  

We are reverting to the desire in God's heart for us to love one another.  Just before this hit us there was so much hate, anger, protests, anarchy, riots and random terrorist attacks.  Suddenly, this has all gone quiet as we have a common deadly foe to overcome.

So in whatever way you can, set aside time today to fellowship with our Father and Jesus, His Son.  Worship our God in Spirit and in truth.  Give praise and thanks that we are here today to enjoy whatever He has prepared for our protection and blessing.  Let us take our eyes off the enemy out there and turn them on Jesus, the King of Kings, and be grateful for His healing power at work within us.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we have no other option but to be housebound until the danger is past.  Teach us to pray effectively for those in dire need, especially those afflicted, and the frontline of those who care for them.  We are blessed to see the Earth quiet and at rest for the first time in our generation.  Thank You, Lord.  In Jesus' name. Amen.