I am writing on the last day of Passover, the last day of the week of Unleavened Break.The Counting of the Omer before the Day of Pentecost is about to begin.It is also the week between the Catholic/Protestant and Orthodox Easter observances.So, no matter where you look, there are signs of celebration.
This spring, we find ourselves in interesting times as the world practices social distancing and people stay home as much as possible. During this Passover, we had no family gatherings.And we did not have any guests on Resurrection Sunday. We have not visited our children for a few weeks. Most of us feel strange and lonely.
At the same time, hundreds of thousands of bloggers and newscasters talk about this pandemic and home isolation. I read the same information over and over again.So, can I write anything new?
The other day, I went to my favourite bakery, hoping to buy a birthday cake for a friend of ours.The store was open with a bottle of sanitizer on a little table at the entrance. The only other person there was the salesgirl behind the counter, wearing a mask. I chose a cake and touched the machine with my credit card to purchase it. Hearing the beep, I put the card back into my wallet.
“Not too many customers,” I said.
“Oh, it is dead.It is like a ghost town,” she answered.Then, she suddenly continued, “I want it back!”
“What do you mean, ‘back’,” I asked her.
“I want traffic jams.I want crowds of people.I want this coffee shop to be full of people drinking coffee and talking, laughing, eating.That is my dream today,” she said sadly.
As I returned home with the cake, I kept thinking about her words.
What is your dream today?What do you want the most?For this pandemic to be over?To be allowed to take off your mask and freely hug your loved ones and shake hands with your friends?
Yes, of course we all desire this.
But let’s go deeper.What is the deepest desire of your heart?Do you want to “go back?”Or maybe you want to “go forward.”
When I was a young believer, my mentor asked me what the deepest desire of my heart was.This question was too big for me.I could not answer it.
Then she explained.“All things are important – your job, money, health – but they will all pass away. Only Jesus, our Messiah, and our relationship with Him will not pass away. This should be the focus of your heart, mind and life. He should be in the centre of your heart.”
Her words sounded too serious for me at that time. But, after many years of faith, I have never forgotten them.From time to time, I still check myself with the question:What is the deepest desire of my heart?Is it to meet Jesus face to face?
So, now Passover has come to an end. We have remembered that dreadful night in Egypt, the night that is “different from all other nights” when the Angel of Death passed through the land, killing every firstborn of men and animals. On that first Passover, the children of Israel applied the blood of the lamb to their doorposts so that death would pass over them.
Today, our Saviour’s blood saves us from the wrath of God.We have protection, assurance and hope. On the morning after Passover, when the children of Israel came out of their houses the whole land of Egypt was mourning the death of their firstborn.But Israel left as a free nation.
Today, we should remember that our redemption on Calvary is not just for the sake of our own freedom.God gave us freedom from death so that we can tell the whole world about the Saviour, the Redeemer, who died on the cross for them. God wants all people to be saved.
Today, due to the corona virus, the whole world has had to stop. Now is a time to think, to pray and to act. Some preachers say this is “the beginning of the end.”However, we still have time.The Lord hasn’t returned yet!
In the midst of this pandemic, a global “digital revival” is taking place around the world.Many who are isolated and confined to home are tuning into the Internet to find answers to the deepest questions of life. Churches and Messianic congregations are seeing an increase in virtual attendance. Bible studies and prayer meetings have become more active and are growing in attendance via SKYPE and other media platforms. People who had left the faith for some other philosophical movement are returning to Jesus.
And let us remember, COVID-19 cannot harm your soul. It is only dangerous to the body, the temporary part of us.
As Rabbi Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, said:
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
Our times are in God’s hands.Let us use every hour to His glory and may Jesus give us wisdom.