Today as I was reading God’s Word, I came across a truly relevant portion of Scripture nestled away in the book of Isaiah. As does all of Scripture, it speaks not only to its original recipients but also to all those who would take heed to God’s voice today. But before I share some reflections, allow me to provide a brief overview of the passage (Isaiah 39).
A Brief Summary
Israel was in a state of instability at the time Isaiah was written. A few years prior in 721 BC, the Assyrians invaded the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) killing thousands of God’s people and exiling many of them. At this point, Hezekiah was King of Judah (the Southern Kingdom of Israel).
At the age of 39, King Hezekiah was debilitated by a severe illness, and Isaiah prophesied that he would soon die. In his state of infirmity, Hezekiah cried out to God, and out of His grace, God granted Hezekiah another 15 years to live.
To ‘celebrate’ Hezekiah’s recovery (aka. To gain brownie points with Hezekiah and form a military alliance to take down the Assyrian Kingdom in the north), Babylon sent envoys to Israel to present gifts and letters to Hezekiah. Hezekiah boasted to the envoys of his wealth, parading them through his treasure house, hinting at an alliance.
Soon after these events, the prophet Isaiah pronounced some sobering words to Hezekiah: “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left… And some of your own sons, who will come from you, whom you will father, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
And how did Hezekiah respond to this warning of judgment? Not exactly as you would expect. He said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” But it’s not good news if God tells you He’s about to judge your nation. So why did Hezekiah respond so presumptuously and carelessly? The answer is in the final verse — “For [Hezekiah] thought, “There will be peace and security in my days. [emphasis added]” Though Hezekiah was a godly man — as we learn in 2 Chronicles 31:20 — he failed to love God in this particular episode in Biblical history, and we can learn much from his blunder.
Now, what does King Hezekiah have to do with the COVID-19 crisis? There are three things we can particularly glean and apply at this point in time.
1. Hezekiah’s selfish mindset of self-preservation
The reason King Hezekiah didn’t care about God’s prophecy concerning the destruction and exile of Judah was because he wouldn’t live to experience it, and therefore he didn’t allow it to bother him. King Hezekiah was committed to self-preservation — indeed, the only person he seemed to care about was himself.
Likewise, it seems that many today are willing to preserve their own safety and sense of personal virtue in the COVID-19 pandemic at the expense of those who are drastically less fortunate than themselves. There’s no doubt many government representatives initially embraced lockdowns in the belief that they would serve as the greatest protection against community transmission of COVID-19. Nonetheless, this decision has been made in haste by executives whose jobs were not impacted by lockdown, and therefore who would not bear the brunt of the legislation.
Over the past year, countless members of the intelligentsia proclaimed that the only way to contain the COVID-19 virus is through tighter implementation of lockdown measures, enforced social distancing, and the imposition of mask-wearing (the Queensland Government went to the draconian extreme of forcing its citizens to wear masks whilst inside their car). What isn’t being discussed is the devastating impact this is having not only on Australian citizens but on the third world with regards to poverty.
The relationship between lockdowns and increased poverty is as simple as this:
- If you can’t work due to lockdown, you can’t earn money.
- If you can’t earn money, you can’t buy food to feed your family.
- If you don’t have food, you and your family will starve.
This is the harsh reality for millions of people who are day-labourers across the globe, who are the greatest victims of lockdown measures. Therefore, the idea that one either cares about the health of the nation, or its economy, is a false dichotomy.
Back in September 2020, UNICEF reported that 150 million children had been ‘plunged into poverty’ due to the lockdown measures taken by nations worldwide, and this number is likely to have drastically increased since then. World Bank estimates that the ‘increase in the very poor in 2020, compared to 2019, will be between 60 and 86 million.’
Just like the radical environmentalist policies that wreak havoc on third-world economies, the financially secure of the world are least affected by government lockdowns, while those who only recently rose out of destitute poverty will be forced back into a state of deprivation.
Nevertheless, the negative effects of lockdowns are not restricted to third-world nations. One Canadian researcher — Dr Ari Joffe — presented findings revealing that lockdown measures are 10 times more harmful than their purported benefits. Joffe argues that the inflammatory rhetoric of the media, and exaggerated modelling predictions by certain scientists, manufactured a social environment of fear at the outset of the pandemic, leading government officials to impulsively act rather than assess the costs and benefits of their decisions. Joffe argues that some of these devastating impacts of lockdowns include: 1) a drastic rise in deaths caused by recession (especially in third-world nations), 2) a spike in anxiety and suicide, and 3) significance increases in unemployment.
This is not to say that lockdowns are completely useless, but rather a cost-benefit analysis is essential to avoid a rushed implementation that neglects the devastating consequences which may result. Self-preservation can’t be our only consideration when the costs for those less fortunate than us are great.
2. Hezekiah’s disregard for future generations
One of the chief evils of Hezekiah was his disregard for future generations. He was willing to sacrifice the liberty, prosperity, and safety of Israel’s posterity on the altar of his own comfort. “Nothing is new under the sun” — King Solomon’s words ring true as we consider Hezekiah’s blatantly unwise and selfish leadership. We see the same pattern of behaviour emerging today amongst elite health experts, government officials, and social media giants who seem to care only for those who live in the current era.
Firstly, it seems that we have forgotten the reality that money doesn’t grow on trees. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice if an infinite amount of money could be printed by the government to solve every public crisis! However, the government cannot leave the economy shut forever, and it cannot continue to print and hand out billions of dollars we simply do not have. By doing so, we will witness one of two inescapable conclusions: 1) our currency will inflate to the point where it isn’t worth anything, or 2) we will rob our future generations by placing an unbearable tax-burden upon their shoulders. Either way, the ‘peace and security’ we are enjoying in our days will come at a high cost.
Secondly, impulsively surrendering control to the government during times like these is an implicit refusal to acknowledge and appreciate the immeasurable sacrifices our fathers have made for our liberty. Wars were fought against communists, fascists and tyrants all last century, all so that we could live as a nation where the government does not have supreme control. Mindlessly supporting increased government lockdowns disregards the liberty of future generations because it makes a mockery of the sacrifices that were made to get us where we are today.
3. Hezekiah’s lack of trust in God’s sovereignty
Rather than trusting in the sovereign God of the universe to sustain and preserve His people, King Hezekiah saw a military alliance with Babylon as a means of increasing His own power and military security. Hezekiah bent his knee to foreign leaders rather than standing firm in His trust that God would secure Israel, all because he knew that peace and security would prevail in his days.
We see this same pattern amongst many world leaders today. It is particularly evident in a disproportionate hatred for leaders of the free world — in particular, Donald Trump — and a lack of criticism of actual tyrants that threaten both our domestic and international security.
Rather than confronting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its deceitful and malicious practices both domestically and abroad, mainstream media outlets, celebrities, and politicians in the West have repeatedly attacked Donald Trump as the archnemesis of international relations. When they could have spent their time and energy holding the CCP accountable — as Trump did — they spent the last two years fuelling and abetting the BLM riots, vilifying Republicans as racist, and constantly nit-picking Trump for his every move. All the while, it was revealed yesterday that at least $88 million USD were ‘funnelled…into U.S. universities’ over the last six years by ‘Chinese military-linked entities,’ and yet this will undoubtedly be a footnote in mainstream news. The bottom line is this: Nations in the West are sacrificing their national security for short-term economic gain, and thus we are repeating the sin of Hezekiah.
China’s covered up COVID-19 on a scale that dwarfs the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. And yet it never ceases to amaze me that many leaders are praising China as the model nation in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The stark difference was made abundantly clear in the November 2020 debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. When asked about their respective positions on China, Pence repeatedly held the CCP to account for their actions. Meanwhile, Harris used this question — as with all questions she was asked — as an opportunity to slam President Trump. She finished her remarks by suggesting that allied leaders have more trust in Chinese President Xi-Jinping than they do in President Trump.
Putting this in perspective, not only did the CCP intentionally cover up its knowledge of the COVID-19 outbreak back in late 2019, it continues to refuse to take responsibility for the virus, even going as far to shift responsibility to the US military. Working as a puppet for China, the World Health Organisation (WHO) assisted in suppressing China’s knowledge of the virus, and repeatedly sought to exculpate China from global accusations, even though the writing was on the wall. Nevertheless, the tables have turned, and investigators from the WHO are now being refused access to Wuhan — the centre of the outbreak — and most world leaders don’t seem to be batting an eyelid.
To top this off, social media tyrants — Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey — are upping the ante by participating in medieval book-burning, except this time on their social media platforms. They shadow-banned news of President-elect Joe Biden’s dishonourable dealings with Ukraine through the proxy of his son, Hunter Biden. More recently, these same executives have launched fully-fledged attacks at conservative social media outlets such as Parler, completely banning them from the Google Play and Apple stores. As Thomas Jefferson once said:
“When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant.”
This is all to say that it’s often easy to distance ourselves from those who lived in the past and to pretend that we are somehow more advanced and superior to those who lived before us. However, God’s Word is abundantly clear that while many things change with time, human nature is an exception to the rule.
The temptations Hezekiah faced are the same temptations faced in the 21st century, and unless we realise this, we will continue to exchange the objective truths of God’s Word for the empty promises offered by world leaders.