The Fourth Seal

“When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living being say, “Come!” I looked up and saw a horse whose colour was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and disease and wild animals.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭6:7-8‬ ‭NLT

Now the fourth living being gets involved, with another shout of “Come!” And in John’s vision a fourth horse appears. This one was a pale green in colour, perhaps an appropriate shade, as his rider would be introducing sickness and disease into the world. This rider had a name, “Death”. And he had a friend with him called “Grave”. And his mission was to create havoc in a quarter of the world’s population by stirring up war and fighting, introducing food shortages and diseases and, almost as though for good measure, unleashing wild animals to attack and kill people. What a dire and dismal prognosis. 

We are just emerging from a global attack of disease in the form of Covid. Millions have died in spite of extraordinary attempts and spectacular successes to mitigate and reduce the impact of this rampant virus. But in previous centuries we have seen similar plagues such as Spanish flu, Black Death, and so on. Has this horseman already been active in our world? Surely we would have known and people everywhere would be aware that God is judging the world in response to its evil and sin?

Jesus gave us a few clues about the end times in Matthew 24. And one thing he did say was that in spite of the signs, people would effectively ignore them. In Matthew 24:37-39 we read, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realise what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes”. Sadly, in spite of extensive evangelising and spreading of the Good News, most people don’t want to change their ways. And one day, all of a sudden, it will be too late for them to respond.

So we pilgrims keep picking away, sharing our messages of hope, not just by our words, but also with our deeds. Sharing our love of God with those around us. Being kind and caring to one another. So that when Jesus returns He will find us doing what He has asked us to do.

Dear Father God. Thank You for giving us such a tremendous message of hope for the wicked and sinful world within which we live. Please increase our opportunities to share what we have. And we pray that You continue to resource us for the tasks You want us to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Illness

“You know what I long for, Lord; You hear my every sigh. 
My heart beats wildly, my strength fails, and I am going blind. 
My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease. 
Even my own family stands at a distance.”
Psalms‬ ‭38:9-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

David, the Psalmist, is ill. And it sounds pretty serious. Serious enough for people to keep well out of his way. We don’t have any clues from Scripture about what he was suffering from, but he was complaining well. 

How do we react in times of illness? Of course it depends on how serious the situation is. Some people are positive and stoical. Others see the Grim Reapers coming up the garden path with the first snivel. I’m the worst when it comes to illness, complaining and ruing the injustices in life before whatever I have caught even takes a hold. In this Covid pandemic, however, we’re reminded once again of the frailty of human life and how vulnerable we are to the damage microscopic organisms can do to us. Unless we lock ourselves away to avoid contact with the people and the environment around us, we will always be at risk of catching something. 

But in His wonderful design, our Creator God has provided two defence mechanisms. One is the natural process our bodies go through to deal with infections, our immune systems, boosted by the vaccines and drugs provided by modern science. The other is the power of prayer and the importance of our relationship with Father God, particularly when the illness is more serious and as yet beyond what medical science can treat. 

What was it about the great missionary doctors and nurses, who in past ages deliberately ignored the risk of infections, instead to minister compassionately to those with horrible illnesses like leprosy? Or those Christians in the Middle Ages, who stayed behind to nurse plague victims while everyone else did a runner? These were dear people who often died at a young age from illnesses caught from those they were ministering to. They had that realisation that our time here on Planet Earth is finite and our lives as Citizens of Heaven has to be lived in accordance with God’s will and purposes; they dedicated their lives to the care of others. 

But David also made the association between his feverish state and his sins and guilt. Is there such a connection? Many people have argued that there isn’t but others, even the medics, have found that an uneasy and guilt-ridden conscience can impact our bodily functions. Personally, I think there is a link, because God has designed us with something called a conscience inside of us; the violation of it will upset our physical and mental well-being and equilibrium, as our Psalmist David knew well.

David finished his Psalm with the prayer, “Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Saviour.” There are two significant words and sentiments here – “help” and “Saviour”. God is always our Helper; He is only a prayer away from our predicament. And He is also our wonderful Saviour. What a wonderful God He is!