THE BIBLE MAKES ONE FACT EXQUISITELY CLEAR; God’s sovereignty is exhaustive. For example, even though the average female has 100,000 hairs on her head, Jesus reminds us that each one is numbered (Matthew 10:30). Neither does a sparrow fall from the bush without God’s permission (Matthew 10:29).
In the same way, the COVID 19 virus and our national response to it are under God’s sovereign control, and he does this without diminishing our responsibility. This is a mystery that we cannot understand. We accept it by faith. Consider the following—
“I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).
“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7).
The conclusion is inescapable; God is the cause of COVID 19. But although he is the author we don’t always know why he allows a particular calamity. We can’t link all tragedies to specific sins. Sometimes God allows troubles just for the sake of discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11). At other times, it is his righteous judgment.
Therefore, for cities suffering from the Coronavirus like New York, Seattle, and New Orleans—God, not the virus, is their besetting problem. In the words of the prophet Amos
“Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has done it?” (3:6).
Sovereign Over Leadership
God also demonstrates his sovereignty by the giving or withholding wise leadership. “The Lord God of hosts is taking away…the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet…And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them” (Isaiah 3:1-3). In addition, for his own purposes God directs our leaders’ decisions in wise or foolish directions. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
All of this means that God has brought to pass COVID 19, the leadership we currently have, and their response to it. Again, he has done this without violating human responsibility. Therefore, our proper response is confession of sin from a posture of humility.
It is appropriate, on behalf of church and state, to confess not only our private, but corporate sins. God wants us to identify with the sins of our church and our nation. As citizens of the United States, and members of local churches, we have solidarity with them. We are part of the problem, and therefore, crucial to the solution.
Daniel is a good example. When God sent Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and deport Israel, Daniel was included. Daniel did not probably commit the sins that led to his nation’s deportation yet listen to how he prays for Israel. I have shortened the text to focus on his use of “we” and “us.”
I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord… we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled…We have not listened to your servants the prophets… To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame…We have sinned against you…For we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God…And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him (Daniel 9:4–11).
Identifying with our church and nation expresses the humility, contrition, and trembling that pleases God (Isaiah 66:2). It acknowledges that, as a member of my local church, and this nation, I also bear some responsibility for our current predicament and its solution.
Here are four national sins to confess. They all deserve God’s wrath. In light of them, we should be grateful that God’s judgment has been so light.
First, we have suppressed the knowledge of God and replaced it with Philosophical Materialism (PM). PM assumes that nothing exists that cannot be detected with our five senses. It is the conviction that there is no spiritual world—no God, no angels, or spirits. PM means there is no ultimate accountability. It means God won’t be telling us what to do, and we like it that way.
Our cultural elites have embraced PM even though “What can be known about God is plain to us” (Romans 18-19). As one Harvard paleontologist answered when asked why he had embraced theism, “where there is something there should be nothing.” Therefore, on the Day of Final Judgment, we will be “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Father, forgive us. Our lust for autonomy has motivate us to exchange you for a false god. We deserve your judgment. Please have mercy. Father, forgo your righteous judgment, and send your Holy Spirit to a needy, rebellious world.
Second, because we can’t live without a theory of origins, PM has led us to the only alternative to creation, Evolution. Even though there is an increasing amount of statistical and scientific evidence that contradict it, Evolution has become an unassailable tower of orthodoxy in the Academy.
Father, forgive us. Our willful blindness is great. We deserve your judgment. We have replaced you and your majestic work of creation with the sterile, empty assumption that life is a function of blind chance. Have mercy. Put away your righteous anger, and send your Holy Spirit to a needy church and nation.
Third, total sexual freedom has become the one non-negotiable value in Western culture. It is the holy grail of secular ethics. In wrath, God has responded by giving us over to the irrationality of sexual perversion.
For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error (Romans 1:26–27).
Our willingness to believe obvious lies is astounding. So great is our delusion that we actually believe we can create our gender. Despite massive evidence to the contrary, we believe that men and women are biologically, emotionally, and mentally the same. Worse, we have embraced same-sex marriage. Has any culture sinned this profoundly?
Father, in mercy forgive. We deserve much worse than COVID 19. But you are “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and mercy.” Send your Holy Spirit to a needy people. Forgive and bless us despite our unworthiness.
Last, we use the sin of abortion to cover up the fruit of our sexual sin. Since 1973 we have murdered over fifty million babies in the womb. But God created all human life, including those in the womb (Genesis 9:6), in his image. Human life is sacred. If the blood of Abel cried out from the ground for vengeance, how much more the blood of fifty million innocents?
Father, forgive. We deserve your righteous judgment, Have mercy on the church and the United States. Forgive and send your Holy Spirit to a needy people.
Because God is “Merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6–7) we have great hope! We can go to him. He will forgive and heal.
In addition, God listens to the contrite. “I dwell…with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit…” (Isaiah 57:15). God listens to the humble. “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). Therefore, it is appropriate for us to approach him in a posture of humility, contrition, trembling, and great confidence.
Last, if you are a Christian, you know that COVID 19 is not your greatest problem. Your greatest problem is God’s wrath, and in your case, because you believe the gospel, Christ has exhausted it at the cross. You have been justified. You are now a child of God, the object of his eternal delight. So, look beyond this immediate problem and rejoice!
We have concluded that God is sovereign over COVID 19, our leaders, and their decisions. We have also admitted that the United States has sinned greatly. God has expressed his wrath by giving us up to our foolishness. We deserve much worse. Like Daniel, God wants us to confess, not only our personal sins, but the sins of our church and nation. Who knows but that God has brought the church to this place for such a time as this (Esther 4:14)?