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Some people wonder how a virus so small we can’t even see it (except with an image created by an electron microscope) can cause illness and even death and so change the world in which we live. This unseen enemy is causing illness, sometimes severe and life-threatening, and wreaking fear and havoc upon our lives. Why?

While I hate to speculate into the unknown or try to understand the workings of the Divine Creator, there are certain things He has revealed to us and we would do well to take them to heart.

First of all, consider the words of Psalm 2: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (verses 1-3).

It’s happening! Our people, our teachers, our leaders are raging against the LORD and His Anointed (Christ means anointed). They deny Him as their Creator, they reject His commandments and they do not look in faith to Christ Jesus. In fact, in so many ways we fight against God and His Word — neglecting to hear and learn His Word or worship and honor Him, killing millions of unborn children He is creating in the womb, rejecting His design for marriage between a man and a woman and flaunting our own wickedness on TV and computer screens.

But, as the psalm says (verses 4-9), “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

People reject the LORD God who created them and gives them life, and they reject God the Son who came into this world to pay the price for their sins and win for all pardon and forgiveness, and so they come under God’s judgment — Christ Jesus will be their judge!

I think of God’s warnings to His own people in Deuteronomy 28:15, 20-21: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee … The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.”

There are the four horses of Revelation 6:1-8: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

Think of how this has been fulfilled over the centuries and even in our own lifetimes. How many millions have died in wars and battles between nations and kingdoms? How many have died from crimes and violence? How many have died from famines and food shortages? And how many have died from disease and famine and other causes of death? Why? The Bible reveals to us that it is a part of the curse of sin upon this world and God permits it to bring us to examine our ways and look to Him for mercy and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, God the Son.

So, why the coronavirus and disease and death? I cannot tell you the specific reasons known only to God, but I can tell you from the Bible that God removes His hand of protection over us and allows us to suffer the consequences of our own sins and of sin in general in an effort to wake us up and make us see our own frailty and our need to repent of the sin and evil in our lives and then look to Him for mercy in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus. And God does judge wickedness and disobedience — consider what happened to the wicked and unbelieving in the days of Noah, at Sodom and Gomorrah, and even to His own people again and again throughout the history recorded in the Bible.

If we do not repent, things will get worse and not better — the four horses will continue their work of vengeance and judgment in this world.

But God also gave this promise to His people: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).

Even if the rest of this world continues to rage against the LORD God and His Christ, it is certainly time for all who call themselves God’s people to examine their ways in the light of God’s Word, humbly repent of their sins and disobedience and look to Him for mercy for the sake of Jesus and His blood, shed upon the cross.

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:10-12).

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Who is the Creator? The Bible, which is God’s inspired account, tells us that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

And, who is this God? The Hebrew word Elohim, which is the plural form of God, is the name used to describe the Creator (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). He is also called by the name Jehovah (some pronounce it Yahweh or Yehuvah), often translated LORD. “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Gen. 2:4).

The Bible further defines God, when it says: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Cor. 8:6). Thus, we see that all things were created by God the Father through Jesus Christ.

God’s creation account also tells us that, in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). And so we see that the Holy Spirit, too, was active in the creation of all things.

The opening verses of John’s Gospel tell us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). And so, we learn that the Word, Jesus Christ, identified in verse 14 as God Himself in the flesh and the only-begotten Son of the Father, created all things and is the giver of life, both physical and spiritual.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the inspired Scriptures say of Christ Jesus, that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:15-17).

So, who is the Creator? It is God, the God the Scriptures identify for us as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Though God is one – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4) – God is also three – thus, the command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

This is why the God of the Bible is often called the Triune (three/one) God, because He is one God and yet three distinct Persons. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Yet, there are not three Gods, but one God.

The Bible also tells us “there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).

Though beyond our ability to comprehend, this is how God has revealed Himself to us – it is His account and His word. And it is this God who has created all things and given us life.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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While some are quick to criticize Christians for celebrating Easter and point to ancient pagan observances in spring and to worldly customs involving such things as Easter eggs and the Easter bunny, Christians celebrate Easter for none of these things. They have an entirely different reason to observe the festival and to celebrate. Christians observe Easter to remember and celebrate the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion just outside the walls of Jerusalem.

For the critics, it is true that Easter Sunday, set on the first Sunday immediately following the Paschal full moon, does not always fall on the third day after the Jewish Passover. But since Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, Christian churches observe the day of His resurrection on a Sunday each year. Eastern Orthodox churches usually observe the festival on a different Sunday than Western churches because of their use of the Julian Calendar to calculate the date of Easter rather than the Gregorian Calendar and the astronomical full moon rather than the Paschal or ecclesiastical full moon. Yet, all of this is neither here nor there. It wouldn’t be an issue if Christians celebrated Jesus’ birth in July and His resurrection in November because it’s not about the date of the observance but the event that is remembered.

And there are those who claim that the very name “Easter” comes from the name of a pagan goddess or a pagan celebration — and many blindly accept this assertion — but a far better explanation is that the name Easter comes from the old German word “Oster” or “Ostern,” which means “the rising of the sun.” Oster comes from the old Teutonic of auferstehen (or auferstehung) which means resurrection. This comes from two words: Ester, which means first, and stehen, with means to stand. And these two words combine to form erstehen, an old German form of auferstehen, which is the modern German word for resurrection (Nick Sayers, “Why We Should Not Passover Easter,” http://www.easterau.com).

In a 2011 article published by Answers in Genesis, Roger Patterson adds the following information: “When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German (New Testament in 1522), he chose the word Oster to refer to the Passover references before and after the Resurrection. William Tyndale translated the Bible into English from the Greek and Hebrew. His New Testament (1525) uses the word ester to refer to the Passover. In fact, we owe our English word Passover to Tyndale. When translating the Old Testament (1530), he coined the term to describe how the Lord would “pass over” the houses marked with the blood of the lamb (Exodus 12). The usage of ester was retained in the 1534 revision of the New Testament, and it was not until later that it was known as Easter, adding that Luther and Tyndale were the first to use a translation of pascha rather than a transliteration.”

Whether called Easter or Resurrection Sunday, we as Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the crux upon which Christianity either stands or falls. If Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead, His death on the cross for the sins of the world would have been insufficient and there could be no promise or certainty of forgiveness of sins, of our being accepted by God or of our own resurrection and eternal life when we place our faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:14-19): “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

But the Bible goes on to say (1 Cor. 15:20): “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Jesus’ resurrection proves that His death was a ransom accepted by God for the sins of the world and that God, for Jesus’ sake, reaches out to us lost and prodigal sons and daughters with the promise of mercy and forgiveness upon all who look to Jesus in faith (cf. Rom. 4:23-25). His resurrection proves that Jesus was true to His word that He would rise again on the third day, and it gives us the assurance that He can and will raise up unto everlasting life all who have believed in His name.

How do we know that Jesus really did rise from the dead? By eyewitness accounts.

Again, St. Paul summarizes the evidence for us (1 Cor. 15:3-8): “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”

If anyone had doubts about the bodily resurrection of Jesus in the first century, there were plenty of living eyewitnesses who could attest to seeing Jesus alive again following His crucifixion. Our faith rests upon the testimony of those witnesses recorded for us in the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament, as well as in the Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s death and resurrection. Compare the resurrection accounts in the four Gospels — Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20-21.

Without the bodily resurrection of Jesus, Christianity would be no different than other religions of the world which tell people all the things they must do or not do to be accepted by and at one with their god and maker.

Christianity is the only religion that teaches that man does not and cannot measure up to God’s perfect standards because we are all fallen sinners. Instead of man somehow reaching up, the Bible teaches that God reached down to us in the person of Jesus Christ and redeemed us from the guilt and condemnation of our sins by the innocent sufferings and death of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in our stead (cf. Rom. 3:21-26). Jesus’ resurrection is proof that we indeed have been redeemed to God! And it is proof that we who have placed our hope in Him will be raised up from our graves on the Last Day to the eternal joys of His kingdom!

And yes, this is cause to celebrate and rejoice! It is a reason to join together and sing God’s praises for accomplishing the salvation of lost and condemned sinners, for winning for all pardon and forgiveness, and for offering and giving the blessings of forgiveness and life eternal through faith alone in Jesus’ name!

“I know that my Redeemer lives; what comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives, my ever-living Head” (Samuel Medley).

Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3-5

Dear fellow-redeemed sinners, ransomed by the shed blood of Jesus, grace, mercy and peace be unto you through faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

True repentance has two parts. One is that we see our sins against God and sorrow over them because we have broken God’s holy commandments and justly deserve His eternal wrath and punishment (contrition). The other is that we trust in God to be merciful to us and forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake (faith). And, where there is true repentance, there will also follow the fruit of an amended life.

The Augsburg Confession, in Article XII, confesses this truth when it says: “Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.”

We see this in David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. David acknowledged his sin and guilt and he sorrowed over his transgression. He said (v. 3-5): “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight — that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me….”

But David also looked to the LORD God to show him mercy. He prayed (v. 1-2 ): “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” David trusted that God would deal with him in mercy and grant him forgiveness for the sake of the promised Messiah and Savior who would “redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Ps. 130:8).

It was then that David prayed (v. 10-13): “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.”

Judas, when he realized what he had done — that he had betrayed “innocent blood” and that Jesus was now “condemned” — was remorseful. He saw his sin, was sorry for what he had done, and even tried to return the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. Judas had sorrow over his sin, but did he trust in God’s mercy? The answer is quite obvious. He did not!

And how the chief priests, as servants of God, failed Judas! When Judas confessed his sin to them, they should have proclaimed to him the Gospel — the good news of God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the Messiah and Savior who would be offered up as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. But, since they did not believe in the Messiah themselves but rejected and condemn Him, they cared nothing for the eternal welfare of Judas and told him, “What is that to us? You see to it!” So, Judas despaired of God’s mercy and “went and hanged himself.”

Could Judas have received mercy? Consider the examples of David in the Old Testament, and Peter in the New. David committed adultery and murder, yet God forgave him. When David, after being confronted regarding his sin by Nathan the prophet, acknowledged, “I have sinned against the LORD,” Nathan told him, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Sam. 12:13; cf. 2 Sam. 11-12; Psalms 51 and 32).

Peter three times denied even knowing Jesus, and he too received mercy and went on to serve his Savior. Jesus had told him in Luke 22:32: “When you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” And Jesus, asking Peter three times if he loved Him, recommissioned him to feed His sheep and His lambs (cf. John 21:15ff.).

Could Judas have received forgiveness? Certainly; for Christ died for the sins of the whole world, “the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18; cf. 2 Cor. 5:19,21; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:3,4). As John the Baptist had said of Him, Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)!

But Judas thought his sin was too great. He did not believe that God could or would forgive him. He despaired of God’s mercy and died in his sin and unbelief. How tragic!

What about you? Have you ever betrayed or denied your Lord Jesus? Have you ever turned aside from following Him and broken His commandments? You know that you have — we all have! The Bible tells us that “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6a).

Have you felt sorrow over your sins? Are you saddened over the fact that you have broken God’s holy law? Do you fear God’s judgment and wrath? Does it bother you to know that it was because of your sins (and mine, too) that Jesus was condemned to suffer and die on the cross?

Have you ever felt like Judas must have felt? Have you ever felt that your sin was too great or that you have sinned too many times for God to forgive you yet again? Do you fear that this time God will not forgive you and that you are hopelessly headed for hell?

If so, you are despairing of God’s mercy! You are forgetting the fact that “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b); that Jesus has paid in full the penalty for our sins and that, when we turn in faith to Jesus, we “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

Remember the truth expressed by the Psalmist in Psalm 86:5: “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.” When we look to Jesus and His cross for mercy, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” because “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 1:9 and 2:1,2).

Remember also that our Lord Jesus tells us in John 6:37: “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” Look to Jesus and receive God’s mercy, pardon and forgiveness.

Dear Lord Jesus, we know that we have denied and betrayed You by our sins. By Your Holy Spirit, bring us to see our sinfulness and repent, having true sorrow over our sins and the just punishment we deserve, but also true faith in You, trusting that for the sake of Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, we have pardon, forgiveness, and the eternal joys of heaven. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” 3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. 8 Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. 14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

Some questions to consider

1) How does one dwell in the secret place of the Most High? See v. 1-2. Gal. 3:26-29; John 1:12-13; 3:14-18; Mark 16:16; Col. 1:19-23.

2) What does God promise to those who trust in Him? See v. 3-8.

3) Do Christians have any reason to be afraid of disease and pestilence, of wars or other dangers?

4) What are the believer’s shield and buckler? Where do we find this? See Psalm 119:160; John 8:31-32; 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:14-17.

5) See. v. 8. What does God call the disease, pestilence and bloodshed which come upon the world? How is this true?

6) How do we make the LORD our dwelling place? See. v. 9; cf. Prov. 3:5-6; Acts 16:31.

7) What does God promise to those who trust in Him? See, v. 10ff.

8) Do Believers, too, suffer from disease and violence and even die? Has evil triumphed when a believer dies? See John 11:25-26; Job 19:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 14:13.

9) What promise does God make to believers in regard to His holy angels? What does this mean? See v. 11-12.

10) What does God promise in v. 14?

11) Does God hear and answer the prayers of His children who call upon Him? What does He promise? See v. 15; 1 John 5:12-15.

12) What special promise does God give to those who trust in Him? See v. 16. What will God reveal and show to them through His Word and, finally, through the fulfillment of His Gospel promises?

O almighty God, grant that I hide under the shadow of Your wings through faith in the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Grant to me Your protection in the midst of troubles and preserve me in the true faith unto life everlasting, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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