What does the Bible tell us about the current crisis? A perennial impulse, especially in America, is to search out places in Scripture where the present upheaval, whatever it might be, is specifically mentioned in prophetic writings. This often leads to predictions about what's coming next, predictions that often instill fear and tend to be disproved as time goes by. The Bible does tell us about the future, but this is not its primary purpose. The Scriptures are alive with stories and poetry, laws and patterns through which we can more clearly see our present experience. Here are two reflections that approach the Bible to find not a roadmap for the future, but a Scriptural lens to help us more wisely apprehend these strange days.
Ephraim Radner sees this crisis as a Jubilee moment: "No flying about the globe, no boardroom deals, commercialized sociality, mass political campaigns, pushing to get ahead, or making one’s mark. Instead, this is a time for living with the gift of life God has provided. In doing so, God’s own being and grace is unveiled to the otherwise distracted and self-absorbed creature."
Peter Leithart sees this moment as an apocalypse, which literally means an unveiling. "When God comes near, he strips away the fig leaves, our defenses and delusions, and brings hidden things to light," Leithart writes. "The main thing exposed by any apocalypse is the state of the heart."
Read "The Time of the Virus" and "Apocalypse Now?" over at First Things. More could be said on both counts, but see what happens if you let these Biblical provocations sink into your imagination in the coming days.