Possible exposure to the deadly Ebola virus is a sobering reality for which we all must prepare ourselves. Careful attention to a striking truth in Ezekiel 14 reveals a vital aspect of how we should prepare to face the possibility of contracting this potentially life-threatening disease.
Divine Revelation concerning Surviving Pestilence Sent by God
In Ezekiel’s day, many of the house of Israel were profoundly unrighteous people (Ezek. 14:1-11). God sent a stern message to Ezekiel that made known profound truth about who would be able to survive His fierce judgments that He would send on an evil land that had sinned against Him “by trespassing grievously” (Ezek. 14:12-20).
God declared that He would judge the sinful land through “four sore judgments” (Ezek. 14:21), including pestilence (Ezek. 14:19-20) that would “cut off from it man and beast” (Ezek. 14:19). In the midst of this grim message, God specified a remarkable truth about what would be the case if three stellar biblical personages (Noah, Daniel, and Job) dwelled in that land in the midst of such a pestilence:
Eze 14:19 Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
Although these godly men would not be able to deliver anyone else, even their own children, by their righteousness, we should not overlook that this statement directly affirms that they would be able to deliver themselves individually from this pestilence “by their righteousness”! In Ezekiel’s day, therefore, God affirmed that some people, if those people were exceptionally righteous people, would be delivered from a pestilence that He would send upon a wicked land.
Moreover, Scripture explicitly reveals that neither Noah (cf. Gen. 9:21) nor Job (Job 42:1-6) was a sinless person and yet they would have survived this pestilence “by their righteousness” had they been in a land that God would judge in that manner. Being a perfect sinless person, therefore, was not a requirement for surviving such a pestilence through one’s own righteousness.
Applying Ezekiel 14:20 to the Present Ebola Threat
Although Ezekiel 14:20 does affirm that Noah, Daniel, and Job would have survived a pestilence that God would send to judge a sinful land, it does not thereby affirm that people who were less righteous than they were would also survive under such circumstances. This observation suggests that a vital aspect of our properly facing the present Ebola threat is that we should strive by God’s grace to be as righteous as possible in each of our own lives individually.1
For those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ as Lord, let us all immediately turn from all unrighteousness in our lives and seek with all our might to please God in all things at all times. Striving wholeheartedly to obey and please God out of love for Him is not “legalism” (cf. Col. 1:10; Heb. 13:21), and doing so will put us in the best position humanly possible in the will of God to survive exposure to Ebola. (Of course, doing so does not negate the importance of our also making every effort possible to prepare for this threat by following proper guidelines for healthy living, etc.)
If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ as Lord, I urge you to repent toward God and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). To learn more about how you as a sinner (like all the rest of us) can yet be declared righteous by God (after which you would then seek to live righteously before God, even as Noah, Daniel, and Job did), please see my post The Gospel of God and His Christ.
1Although there is no way for any of us to know whether God is using (or will use) Ebola to judge our countries for their evil, as He spoke of doing in Ezekiel 14:19-21, our inability to know this information does not seem to change the applicability of this passage to our circumstances. Even if this passage understood correctly should turn out not to be applicable directly to our situation, seeking to be as righteous as possible before God in our lives would still be a valid and vital way to prepare for this threat, as the account of Hezekiah’s pleading his righteousness before God (Isa. 38:3) shows when he was faced with terminal illness and then received healing in answer to his prayer (Isa. 38; cf. 2 Kings 20:1-11).