Sunday, 19th April 2020
Rev Daniel Xi An Poon
The origin of the word ‘quarantine’ is from Italian that means ‘to set apart for 40 days’. This is referenced back to the Book of Deuteronomy, when Moses went away to pray for 40 days and nights, then God decided not to destroy the Israelite by a plague.
“Thus I prostrated myself before the Lord; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the Lord had said He would destroy you.” (Deuteronomy 9:25)
“As at the first time, I stayed in the mountain forty days and forty nights; the Lord also heard me at that time, and the Lord chose not to destroy you.” (Deuteronomy 10:10)
In 1374 when the Black Death struck the world, the king of Italy also did the same by spending 40 days and nights with his army on an Island. Today as we are in the lockdown, we should be asking the same question, “what is God’s heart in this?”
“I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:1-4)
During the time of Habakkuk, the King of Judah, Jehoiakim, was relying too much on his army and his own strength. In order for the people to repent and turn back to God, Prophet Habakkuk wrote his vision and display it on the rampart so whoever walked past can see it.
Because our ancestors, Adam and Eve, sinned, we all have the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil embedded in our DNA, and therefore we are easy to judge and to be self-righteous. But today Rev Daniel reminded us to use our discernment wisely and chose what is godly. God has given us the ability to examine ourselves and to following the right path.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
“Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38)
No one is righteous and no one can finger point to others, therefore we should stop comparing and judging, instead, live in the ‘just’ ways by faith – believe in the Gospel, share the Gospel, live out the Gospel, and the Gospel will sustain our lives.
Jesus is the best example. He lived on earth for 33 years, He didn’t seek entertainment but always seek the Father’s heart. Paul was a prisoner, but he preached about Jesus freely until the end of his days. They knew the Father’s Heart, so even in the worst situation, their lives were sustained.
1. Go and Make Disciples
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
There are so many people need Jesus and have not received the love of the Father. That’s also why God asked Habakkuk to write down the vision so people can read. The Father’s heart is for us to go and preach the Good News, tell others that Jesus died for our sins so we can live!
During the lockdown, there are so many things we can do to share the Gospel, to become a network satellite church, to talk to people about Jesus through social media and the internet, and to connect with others to show them the true hope in Christ!
2. Reveal the Merciful God
And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
God is a merciful God, so many times people against Him but He still showed His love and mercy toward us. Even now when we are in the lockdown, we can still see how God has protected us and delivered us through all the worries and hardship. We are the ones who brought the plague to ourselves, but God still shows us a way out.
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” (Hebrews 10:35)
So what we need to do is to use all our effort to save souls and to produce the fruits of the tree of life. Like what it says in Hebrews, we should never give up on seeking God, praying to Him, receive the rewards and God will welcome us in heaven!