Category Archives: Christian Life

Christian Life or Bible personal application related

The Exodus and the Corona Virus

I’ve been thinking about parallels between the Exodus account in the Old Testament and the Covid-19 pandemic today. A question may come up in people’s minds, “Is the Corona virus pandemic a judgement from God?” I think the answer is no, though I can see how some could think so. It affects people all over the entire world! We’ve never experienced anything like it. Many Americans are inconvenienced in ways for the first time in their lives. And people are dying. It is astonishing to me how it has turned a very mobile modern society into a very immobile society! But there are things we can do to lesson the deaths and the suffering. I think Psalm 25:8 is an important clue for understanding our current situation. I think the Corona virus is more of a test, it is more of a hard lesson, not a judgement. The God of the Bible does hold in his hands the lives of every human being. Psalm 25:8 says

“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (NIV, 1984)

I say God is not judging, he is instructing. But there are hard lessons in this time. God does not just instruct his own people who believe in him. He sometimes instructs sinners who do not believe in him, using action in the world. The account of the Exodus does have some parallels to today. I would not equate the plagues of Egypt to the Corona virus, mainly because the Corona virus does not discriminate. The plagues of Egypt for the most part did discriminate between the Israelites and the Egyptians. Starting with the third plague in Egypt (see Exodus 8) it says the plague would not affect the land of Goshen where the Israelites were. Also it seems to me from descriptions of God’s judgement in the Bible, such as Noah’s Flood and the book of Revelation, that God’s judgement would be even more severe than the virus outbreak we are experiencing. Also, we think of viruses as a bad thing because of all the attention that has focused on those viruses that threaten our health. But there are also many beneficial viruses that fight against harmful bacteria in our bodies. Viruses such as Covid-19 are examples of viruses that likely no longer serve the function they had in the beginning. We live in a fallen world that is corrupted by sin, and that includes corruption of viruses. But we can use science to fight corrupted viruses.

The Egyptians were prosperous and they were one of the most powerful nations in the world at the time of the Exodus. They had their own beliefs, their own religion with multiple gods that they worshiped and served. But Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh and told him to obey God. Pharaoh was told he would see that there was no god like the God of the Israelites. The plagues demonstrated miraculously that the God of Moses was really in control of what was happening. There are a number of specific ways that the plagues of Egypt specifically refuted the beliefs in the gods of Egypt of the time. But that is another story.

Today many people, including many scholars, would not think of the biblical account of the Exodus as a description of real historical events. But there is now some new evidence coming to light through the “Patterns of Evidence” video programs that make a good case for the Exodus being a real historical event. There is good evidence for the Israelites being in Egypt and good evidence that they moved to Canaan. What happened in between Egypt and Canaan is controversial when you deal with the historical evidence. But in Scripture we have an account of what actually happened to real people.

What are the parallels between today and the Exodus? First, the God of the Bible is still in control, though this is something not everyone would acknowledge. We may not have as much miraculous evidence of this today as like what happened in Egypt in the past, but there is all the evidence of good in people’s lives from faith in the God of the Bible throughout history. Many hospitals actually had their founding from the efforts of Christian organizations. Christians have built hospitals for the treatment of all people because of the Christian concept of the uniquely high value of human life! We are glad to have those hospitals today, regardless of who owns or manages them. Christianity also had a role in the founding of modern science and the discovery of principles that are very important today in dealing with the Corona virus. Like the work of Luis Pasteur and Joseph Lister for example, who were both Christians. Science has come a long way since the work of Pasteur and Lister but that is also thanks to God I believe.

In a time like this I think it is key that people put aside differences and cooperate with each other and with authorities. So I think the virus outbreak is for teaching people good lessons about good health and about cooperating with each other. It is also a challenge to people who are first responders and who work in health fields, to treat all types of people equally according to their need. Doctors and nurses and other health care workers are real heros right now. There is another passage in Psalm 32:8-9 I like very much that seems relevant right now. We should learn the lessons we need to learn from times like these.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” (Psalm 32:8-9, NIV, 1984)

Another parallel between the Exodus and today is about what the ancient Israelites experienced compared to people today. The biggest challenge for the ancient Israelites was not so much about surviving the plagues, because God protected them. It was about their journey to the promised land. They couldn’t see what was ahead or know what would happen next. They were given manna and quail in such a manner that it forced them to trust and obey God in a daily manner. They could not horde manna. They had to collect only one day’s worth, except the day before the Sabbath. It was a lesson about trusting God every day. You can’t horde enough for your whole life, or even for all you need for a couple of months. The way to face it is to trust God for every day. Jesus taught something very like this as well in Matthew 6:34.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV 1984)

So, we are told we should live with more understanding than a horse or a mule. But Scripture gives a lot more guidance than just this. Trusting God for every day does not mean you don’t make reasonable plans and preparations. But we should be able to be content and not anxious. We feel like asking, “What’s going to happen next?” But perhaps we should be asking the question, “How can I help?” At the very least, we who believe in God can pray.

Truth That Changed My Life

‘To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”’ John 8:31-32 (NIV)

I have been a Christian for what is now going on 38 years. I’ve been thinking about the changes in my life over these years. I’ve been asking myself how does my life bear out this passage from John 8? My life has not followed a typical course like grow up, go to college, get married, raise a family, succeed in a career, except perhaps for the college part. In fact, I had to drop out of college for a while and get a lot of psychological counseling. My life was a wreck and my future was very uncertain. Even college was not really a “normal” path, because I started college in engineering, switched to physics, did not go to my college graduation, and spent a lot of time unemployed after finishing my bachelor’s degree in 1982. I was out of college and then went back to college twice after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. So I was in and out of college for a long period of years. I went back to college in 1984 to study education with the goal of getting certified to teach in a public school. But becoming a public school teacher didn’t work out because I failed as a student teacher twice. That was a very hard time in my life. I then worked as a church janitor for a while until a surprising thing happened. I was given the chance to be a teacher in a Christian school in Wichita, KS. The principal of the school was an amazing man who gave me a chance and stuck with me. So I became a teacher in spite of major failures that made it look like I would never be a teacher. God has a surprising way of working things out in spite of us sometimes. The God of the Bible often has a very non-intuitive way of working in our lives. I was a teacher at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, KS for four years. Then I went back to college again, this time to get a Master’s degree in Physics. Those two years were a great experience and I finished my Master’s degree in 1994. I did some part-time teaching as an adjunct faculty for a few months. I intended to become a teacher after that but again it didn’t work out as I had envisioned. I tried to find a position teaching physics but ended up in Dallas teaching high school math. After a mission trip to Russia in the Summer of 1995 I moved to Dallas for a teaching job. The school in Dallas had some problems and I left late in 1995. After that I changed directions again and got into computer technical support. For a while I supported Compaq computers while Windows 95 was new. But I didn’t like the schedule so I found another technical support position in Fort Worth for a company called PPC. I worked for PPC for about 7 1/2 years. After that I was unemployed again for a while but eventually found a job in Dallas where I still work to this day.

It seems my life has been a long fight. It has been a fight to get my life straightened out. I’ve found that we really cannot straighten out our life on our own, we need God’s help. Without having become a Christian in 1979 I don’t think life would have worked out well for me. I was close to being suicidal for a while before I became a Christian. A pastor who knew me in those years once told me that I had been the most unhappy person he ever knew. God repaired my broken life, but it was not a quick or easy process.

There have been many changes in my life since I became a Christian. How many of these changes might have happened anyway, if I had not become a Christian? I suppose there is no way to be sure, but there are many things about me now that would not have been like the ‘old me’ from prior to 1979. I was a very troubled and insecure young man. I had a problem with anger, with relating to people, and with handling money. I had little concept of my own self-worth as a young man and I was afraid of responsibility. Now I am a software manager and I can safely say I have significant responsibility at my company. I’ve found the Lord has been with me and helped me through many challenges of various kinds in my life. Becoming a Christian led to me losing friends. But God provided me some wonderful friends in my life, friends better than most people ever know. I needed a stable foundation to build my life on as a young man. My faith in Christ gave me this. It might not appear that my life was more stable because of my faith. There were times I moved around a lot and I did not seem to have much stability. But the uncertainties of that motivated me to seek God’s answers. I found God’s answers are the right answers that we need, as given in the Bible. I had much emotional pain to work through in my early years as a Christian and it made me hungry for answers. My father (who was an atheist) also challenged my faith when I was a new Christian. But I found that there is evidence for the truth of the Bible that is apart from my feelings. It’s not that the Bible is true to me, it’s that it is objectively true. It is true to our life experience and true to the real world.

Here are some Scripture passages that have meant a lot to me. These are bits of truth that have pointed me in the right direction.

On Anger James 1:19-20
On fear of responsibility Exodus 3:1-4:17, and 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
On self-image Romans chapters 5 & 8, and Psalm 91:14-16
On Anxiety 1 Peter 5:7
On money Luke 16:9-11
On our need of a savior John 3:16-18, and John 10:10

We are all born lost and in need of a savior, and Jesus is that Savior. I would say there are four key things that you receive as a Christian that enable you to have an improved life. It is never a perfect life. But it is improved because it means you are not just being helped, you are being transformed by God into a different kind of human being.

  • We can experience what it is to be forgiven of our sins
  • We can know the truth that is true for all
  • We can experience being loved perfectly by God
  • We receive power to change

The best indication of change in your life is to observe how it lasts. What does it mean when it says the truth will set you free? I think it means that without a relationship with God in Christ, you are a prisoner and you don’t know it. You don’t know what you’re missing without God. It can appear as a nonchristian that the Christian life is too restrictive, but the kind of freedom you tend to be attracted to as a nonchristian is often not good for you anyway. In following Christ you find that the thing that may have seemed restrictive before is actually more free because it doesn’t enslave and spoil the good that God provides in life. So if we continue believing and obeying what Jesus taught, we find life more as it should be and this is a kind of freedom. We cannot do this on our own, but what is impossible for us in and of ourselves is possible with God.

Wayne Spencer