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The Bible and Pestilence 

Second Chronicles 7.12–16 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • March 15, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2020 


  1. Should I or shouldn’t I? 
    1. Should I address the thing that is most on people’s minds right now? 
    2. Or should I not address it? 
      1. I am compelled to address it. 
        1. Whether right or wrong, 
        2. it has been made the current crisis. 
          1. What shall be the next crisis? 
          2. Anyway, the Bible does address pestilence, fatal diseases. 
      2. I do not want to add to the great fear that the world has right now. 
        1. Lord willing, next Lord’s Day 
        2. I will speak on some things that we need to hear right now. 
  2. What I would like to say to everyone is this: 
    1. Welcome to my world! 
    2. For 22 years this month, 
      1. I have lived with immunosuppression, 
      2. leaving myself vulnerable to all kinds of danger. 
        1. Last Summer, I got C. diff. 
        2. Ten years ago, I got the Swine Flu. 
        3. A few years ago, I got MRSA. 
        4. In 1999, I got CMV, cytomegalovirus. 
        5. I have had other potential deadly problems. 
    3. Yet, I travel out of the country, 
      1. I go to potlucks, 
      2. I visit people in the hospital, 
      3. I shake hands, 
      4. I hug, 
      5. I eat almost everything, 
      6. I eat everywhere, because 
        1. my Mother did not give me her kidney that I might quit living. 
        2. I exercise precautions, but 
          1. I make the most of life, and 
          2. I want you to do the same. 
            1. I listen to medical advice, but 
            2. more than that I listen to the Scriptures. 
    4. We only get one shot at life, 
      1. therefore, I give it everything I’ve got. 
      2. I do not live in fear. 
      3. I do not let others live my life for me. 
        1. When I need help, 
        2. I get it, but 
          1. I do everything I can for myself. 
          2. That is not bragging, but 
            1. it is encouragement for you to do the same, 
            2. especially now as you get a taste of what I deal with everyday. 
  3. The Bible mentions pestilence, and 
    1. much of it as punishment from God, 
    2. in fact, one reference shows pestilence as one of four of God’s judgments. 
      1. Does that mean we are experiencing punishment from God? 
      2. No, because God has not and 
      3. will not communicate with anyone to say one way or the other. 
        1. God has used fire for judgment, but 
        2. you know that fire happens for other reasons too. 
          1. Sometimes we just cannot know. 
          2. Mordecai said to Esther, “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a times as this?” 
          3. Paul said to Philemon, “For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose…” 
            1. There are countless dangers in this world, 
            2. including other diseases 
              1. that kill many more people than the current one has, but 
              2. no one sees those as punishments from God. 
                1. We understand that after Adam and Eve’s sin, 
                2. disease is part of living in this sin-cursed world. 
  4. Let us assume that God is punishing the world. 
    1. What should we do? 
    2. REPENT! 
  5. Let us assume that God is not punishing the world. 
    1. What should we do? 
    2. Second Corinthians 13 has timely words:

      5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

      – 2 Corinthians 13.5
      1. What then does that mean you should do? 
      2. REPENT! 
  6. Whatever crisis is going on in the world or in your life, 
    1. use it to make sure that you have not wandered from the Lord. 
    2. Let it wake you up, 
      1. just as the tsunami of December 26th, 2004 
      2. woke up India and other places. 
        1. Brother Don Iverson said that the area where he was trying to evangelize in India had been fruitless for a long time. 
        2. Then a tsunami wiped out that area in the 2004. 
          1. Suddenly, thousands upon thousands of people are being converted, being baptized into Christ, 
          2. still to this day, and 
            1. many men are giving up their occupations to preach. 
            2. Read the reports in the bulletin from brother Iverson, 
              1. all of that is the result of the tsunami, and 
              2. he was ready to teach them the Way. 
  7. VII.All right, let’s see what the Bible says about pestilence. 


  1. Israel and Pestilence 
    1. Exodus 5 records what Moses and Aaron said to Pharaoh, and 
      1. why they said that it was urgent 
      2. for Pharaoh to release them:

        3 So they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days’ journey into the desert and sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”

        – Exodus 5.3
      3. When I read this passage, 
        1. my first thought was 
        2. that the fearful thing about pestilence 
          1. is that you cannot see it coming. 
          2. That increases the anxiety. 
    2. Exodus 9 shows 
      1. that pestilence upon the animals of Egypt 
      2. was one of the plagues that God put on Egypt 
        1. to persuade them to let Israel go.

          3 “…behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence.”

          – Exodus 9.3
        2. Verse 6 says that all the livestock of Egypt died. 
          1. Do you see the fear that is in our nation now? 
          2. Just think if we were experiencing what the Egyptians experienced. 
      3. Two plagues later in Exodus 9, 
        1. the Lord referred to the pestilence and said:

          15 “Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth.”

          – Exodus 9.15
        2. Here the Lord let Pharaoh know 
          1. that He showed Pharaoh and his people mercy, for 
          2. if He had put the pestilence on humans like He did the animals, 
            1. the Egyptians would have been wiped completely. 
            2. However, verse 16 says:

              16 “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

              – Exodus 9.16
              1. In other words, God wanted the Egyptians alive 
              2. that He might use them to show the world His power. 
    3. Having seen what the Lord did to Egypt’s livestock and 
      1. having heard what He could have done to Egypt’s human population, 
      2. you would think that the children of Israel 
        1. would not do anything to bring pestilence from God upon them. 
        2. However, in Leviticus 26, 
          1. the Lord revealed what He would do to them, 
          2. if they were not reformed by other measures that God would take:

            25 “And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.”

            – Leviticus 26.25
  2. What God Wants to See 
    1. Second Chronicles 6 shows Solomon’s magnificent prayer to God 
      1. at the dedication of the temple that he had just built. 
      2. God was impressed with Solomon’s work and prayer. 
    2. Therefore, in Second Chronicles 7 
      1. the Lord appeared to Solomon later one night and 
      2. said what He would do, 
        1. note specifically the reference to pestilence and 
        2. what God said He would want to see:

          12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

          – 2 Chronicles 7.12–16
    3. Later, during the reign of King Jehoshaphat, 
      1. Judah faced a huge problem. 
      2. A massive army came their way, 
        1. ready to wipe them out and 
        2. the king prayed to God, 
          1. quoting from King Solomon’s prayer that:

            9 “If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.”

            – Second Chronicles 20.9
          2. He ended his prayer by saying:

            12 “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

            – 2 Chronicles 20.12
      3. God heard Jehoshaphat’s prayer and defeated the army. 
  3. The Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel 
    1. Not surprisingly, the Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel 
      1. address pestilence more than any other Bible Books. 
      2. Not surprising because in the Law, 
        1. as I showed you earlier, 
        2. the Lord had said that when they forsook Him, 
          1. He would send pestilence against His people. 
          2. That is what happens when a city is besieged for many months. 
    2. In Jeremiah 14, 
      1. because of their impenitent sin, 
      2. you will even hear the Lord tell Jeremiah this:

        12 “When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.”

        – Jeremiah 14.12
    3. Although in Jeremiah 21, 
      1. He did reveal how they could escape the pestilence 
      2. once their impenitence had brought the Babylonians against them:

        8 “Now you shall say to this people, Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. 9 He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him.”

        – Jeremiah 21.8–9
    4. Twelve more times in the Book of Jeremiah, 
      1. the Lord spoke of pestilence upon His people who refused to repent. 
      2. Sure enough, it happened just as He had said that it would happen. 
    5. Then there is the Book of Ezekiel, 
      1. speaking to the same generation of Jews and 
      2. in Ezekiel 6, the Lord told Ezekiel to do something, 
        1. which I also must do 
        2. that we might listen to the Lord:

          11 “Thus says the Lord GOD: Pound your fists and stamp your feet, and say, Alas, for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. 12 He who is far off shall die by the pestilence, he who is near shall fall by the sword, and he who remains and is besieged shall die by the famine. Thus will I spend My fury upon them.”

          – Ezekiel 6.11–12
    6. Ezekiel 12 has an interesting insight 
      1. as to why God would let some of the Jews survive the pestilence:

        16 “But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”

        – Ezekiel 12.16
      2. Everyone needs to know the Lord but sometimes it takes tragedy. 
    7. Ezekiel 14.21 is the reference I made earlier to the four judgments of God:

      21 For thus says the Lord GOD: “How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it?”

      – Ezekiel 14.21
    8. Ezekiel 28 again stated why the Lord would send pestilence:

      23 “For I will send pestilence upon her,
      And blood in her streets;
      The wounded shall be judged in her midst
      By the sword against her on every side;
      Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”

      – Ezekiel 28.23
      1. He had said in the Law He would do it. 
      2. They believed that their new found gods controlled everything. 
        1. Yet, their new gods could not stop the pestilence. 
        2. And He did when they repented. 
          1. By that they would know who He is. 
          2. They would see again that Yahweh is their God. 
    9. Habakkuk 3 uses pestilence 
      1. to magnify the awesomeness of our God.

        3b His glory covered the heavens,
        And the earth was full of His praise.
        4 His brightness was like the light;
        He had rays flashing from His hand,
        And there His power was hidden.
        5 Before Him went pestilence,
        And fever followed at His feet.

        – Habakkuk 3.3b–5
        1. Kind of like God on Mount Sinai 
        2. when lightning, thundering, and fire emanated from His presence. 
  4. Is This the End? 
    1. In Matthew 24, 
      1. Jesus said something about pestilences and the end. 
      2. Is the sign of pestilence showing that the end is near?

        7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.”

        – Matthew 24.7
    2. As I tell you often, 
      1. do not let the manmade verses restrict your thinking. 
      2. Jesus had said just before that:

        6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

        – Matthew 24.6
        1. He said that it is not the end, but even then, 
        2. He only meant the end of Jerusalem in ad 70. 
      3. Note especially that He said not to be troubled. 


  1. Possible Good 
    1. Please pray that this will bring people to God, 
    2. even as the 2004 tsunami brought people to God. 
      1. Sometimes a slow death can be good, 
      2. if it awakens you to your need for salvation. 
        1. Hezekiah prayed when Isaiah told him that he was going to die. 
        2. The thief on the cross went from reviling to Jesus to asking to be remembered by Jesus. 
  2. Why are you a Christian? 
    1. You are showing the world how to live, 
      1. that is why Jesus said 
      2. you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. 
    2. That includes showing the world how to live during high stress times. 
      1. Like the woman on a ship about to wreck during a storm in the 1800s, 
      2. who, while others panicked, continued to nurse her baby in peace. 
  3. Here are two passages for your meditation: 
    1. Philippians 4.6–7

      6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

      – Philippians 4.6–7
    2. Infuse Psalm 91 into your soul, your mind, your heart, and your spirit:

      1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
      Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
      2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
      My God, in Him I will trust.”
      3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
      And from the perilous pestilence.
      4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
      And under His wings you shall take refuge;
      His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
      5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
      Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
      6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
      Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

      – Psalm 91.1–6