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Covid-19 and Isaiah 26

07/04/2020

Covid-19 and the Evangelical Proof-Texters

Well, it didn’t take long before the ‘proof-texters,’ sensation-mongers and the chain-letter writers got their teeth into the present Covid-19 crisis.  The misinterpretation of psalm 91 was sure to happen sooner or later, – without any reference to Psalm 90, of course.  But a recent ‘don’t break this chain‘ scam on social media has been based on a proof-texting use of Isaiah 26:20.  The text reads,
 
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment,
Until the indignation is past.
So, of course, the proof-texters want to find in the words of that verse a prediction of our present state of lockdown and self-isolation.  Some have even claimed that there is more than a coincidence between between the text reference (26) and the date of the Lockdown announcement.  Worse still, the Charismaniacs are urging people to ‘decree and declare’ authority over the virus, and urging people not to ‘break the chain of prayer’ (whatever that is) by posting the deception on their own social media pages as well.
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Break the chain scares!  DON’T FORWARD THEM TO ANYONE!

 
It’s really important not to isolate a single verse and make it mean what you want it to mean or misapply it because t looks vaguely like some contemporary situation or problem.  Not just charismatics, who think that they are receiving direct downloads from God, but evangelicals of all stripes have been prone to proof-texting like this. Our first rule of biblical understanding is CONTEXT.  The context of the book in which the passage is located, the context of the chapter and the context of the surrounding verses.  Context helps us to get to the core of the question, ‘What does this verse mean?’ instead of the more popular subjective alternative, ‘What does this verse mean to me?’
 
Isaiah 26 is a warning to the people of ancient Israel (God’s people) to shelter from the wrath of God.  The nation of Judah had sinned and was straying from God, and he would punish them for their sin, – Jerusalem would fall, and they would be enslaved in Babylon.  By extension, of course we can apply it to the coming judgement of God upon the world, when Jesus shall return and all men of every age and nation shall give account of their lives.  On that day their wickedness will be punished.
 
V21. For behold, the Lord comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.  Even the graves will give up their dead, on the day of judgement.
But what of the believer?  The Christian on that day is SHELTERED!  He/she has taken refuge, fled to safety in Christ and is protected on the day of judgement, from the wrath of a Holy God upon Sin.  Paul calls this being ‘in Christ.’  In Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.
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A shelter in a time of storm!

So, the verse is about God’s judgement (as are the preceding chapters), upon Jerusalem, and upon the godless nations of the world, and about a warning to God’s chosen people (v20 ‘my people’) to flee to refuge.  That refuge is Jesus.  Topylady wrote, ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;  Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save me from its guilt and power.’
Remember… 
John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He [Jesus] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
 
No, it’s got nothing at all to do with the Lockdown or the Coronavirus.    It’s ALL pointing us to Jesus.
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