When I started meditating on what the Bible might have to say on LOCKDOWN and Lifting the LOCKDOWN, I immediately thought of Noah in the Ark and then the Jews being delivered from slavery in Egypt. But those are not the only lessons we find in scripture.
When we continue reading the Bible story, we see that the people of Israel, like Noah and his son, also did not manage to get their ‘new normal’ right in the way God intended. The ‘new normal’ reverted to the ‘old normal’ after not so many years. God had to warn them again – and again. He sent many prophets to remind them of the lessons that they had learned at Sinai, but still they did not listen. In the end, they lost their precious land and spent 70 years in Exile in Babylon. That was their next LOCK-DOWN period. It was lifted only after Daniel prayed and fasted and confessed that they had messed up very badly. He pleaded for God to act – and God did – by sending Zerubbabel, to lift the LOCK-DOWN and lead the people back to Israel. But, as they returned, we notice first, that it did not happen all at once and secondly, that they had to relearn the lessons of Sinai. God did not want them to go back to the bad ‘old normal’ that they had known in the times of the kings of Israel. He wanted them to have a better ‘new normal’ for the future. They started off well by rebuilding the temple, as the new focus for their worship, but sadly, they got side-tracked until the prophets Haggai & Zechariah gave them a fresh wake-up call. Even then, it took further warnings and challenges from Ezra and Nehemiah before they made the necessary changes in their relationship with God and their family and community interactions.
But that is not the end of the story (only the end of the Old Testament section). God still had more he wanted to do for his people. However, once again the ‘new normal’ became the ‘old normal’. Until, that is, Jesus came. And Jesus not only taught but also exemplified God’s ‘new normal’. He said things like:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21)
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matt. 7:12)
After his crucifixion, the despairing and terrified disciples experienced a short period of LOCK-DOWN until the resurrected Jesus appeared to them on the Sunday.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:19-22)
Despite this, and further subsequent appearances over the following 7 weeks, their LOCK-DOWN relief was only partial until Pentecost, when God sent his Holy Spirit and they were no longer afraid to venture out and tell people the good news.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4)
A couple of weeks ago, I was meditating on the virus plague and turned to the book of Joel, which, you may recollect talks about the future invasion of Israel from the empires of the east in terms of a plague of locusts. Joel tells the people what they should do. That challenged me also to listen not only to the news, but to God, to wake up and pray and fast and return to the Lord in the way he wants me to. Now, the possibility of the lifting of LOCK-DOWN has brought me back to Joel’s prophecy, which goes on to talk of Israel’s future blessing in terms of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. Now that is giving me confidence to pray on that the Holy Spirit will himself usher in the right kind of ‘new normal’ for us.