1 Apr 2020. Panic Pandemic. Nehemiah 8 & 9.
These things happened to them as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. … and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come (1Cor 10:6, 11).
“God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God. I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles, and spend some time with our families.” — Mike Lindell, My Pillow CEO, spoke at the White House briefing on Covid-19, 30 March 2020.
“It seems crazy to me that everyone’s still taking them [Trump’s Coronavirus Daily Live Briefing] when you’ve got the My Pillow guy getting up there talking about reading the Bible.” — Chris Hayes, MSNBC “All In” host, 30 Mar 2020.
The extended-to-April-30 Stay-at-Home exile may be God’s biding for us to feel deeper our helplessness before Him, to reflect more on where we have gone astray, to seek more intensely His forgiveness, and to amend more heartily our life. Those who are “politicizing” the crisis are castigating God-believers for “spiritualizing” it. Does it hurt too much our pride for trying it–even if desperately? We hope that God might commute our death sentence. Any drowning victim flailing desperately would grab at anything solid to try to pull himself up.
FAST BACKWARD. In Israel’s return from her Babylonian exile, the liberator King Artaxerxes of Persia authorized the priest and scribe Ezra to preside over Israel’s spiritual reorganization. The people were so hungry for the Word, they asked Ezra to read and interpret the Law for them.
“The whole people gathered as one in the square in front of the Water Gate, and they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had commanded for Israel. … Ezra read out the book from daybreak to midday, in the presence of the men, women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law (Neh 8:1, 3).
Throughout the reading or the law the people stood attentively. They wept as Ezra read the Law. After the reading, they knelt down, their heads bowing to the ground.
To the seven long hours of reading, another, possibly, five more hours explaining the reading, followed. From sunrise to sunset, the people were absorbed with the Word. They did not mind it was the longest day of the week. It was the Lord’s Day, a holy day, a full day of rejoicing. For rejoicing in the Lord is their strength.
The longest day reading the longest Word stretched even longer. The second day the law was read and explained to the leaders. It was read some more to the people throughout the month. The time was capped by fasting and wearing of sackcloth and the public confession of sin.
“Too long!” Many of us would sneer, itching to end the Liturgy of the Word and the Day of the Lord. “Those people had nothing more productive to do so they had the whole time to worship the Lord.”
What did we do on Sunday, the Day of the Lord, other than going to Worship Service and the Holy Mass? Shopping? Eating? Playing? Games? Movies? Concerts? Errands? Other than amusing us, did these activities strengthen us, or drain us, for the coming workweek? Did we gain a more meaningful life with more secular time rather than with more spiritual time?
Now, during our Covid-19 Exile, we are beckoned to make up for the Lost Days of the Lord. Shall we not use this time wisely to absorb the Word we had ignored? When the Word convicts us enough, we may repent in time for the Lord to relent from executing our death sentence. VSS
Picture credit: Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com