Because of the closeness of Passover and Resurrection Sunday on the calendar to the world’s encounter with COVID-19, there are many who are trying to connect the virus as “the eleventh plague.”
It is catchy. It is creative. However, is it accurate? That is the question which should be asked … especially as we approach this 2020 Passover and Resurrection season.
I believe the questions we should ask and answer are — what was the purpose of the 10 Plagues which attacked Egypt those many millennia ago? What did God hope to achieve with the plagues? Were the series of plagues an one-time event or are they repeatable today? And are these questions even important to ask? Am I being too picky for even asking them?
What was the purpose of the ten plagues that God used to attack Egypt those many millennia ago?
I think one of the reasons that I personally have an issue with calling COVID-19 the “Eleventh Plague” revolves around the fact that God used the plagues in Egypt to achieve a purpose — to destroy the power and prestige of the Egypt Empire and its gods. This was a battle between the God of the universe and the gods of Egypt. Those Egyptian plagues were God-ordained and God-orchestrated and so to call COVID-19 the “Eleventh Plague” is to infer/imply that this virus is God’s virus as well.
Ergo we who affirm a faith and relationship in God, when we call COVID-19 the Eleventh Plague, feed into the narrative that it is God’s fault for the almost 900,000 cases and over 42,000+ deaths as of the date of this writing of this blog post (31 March and 8:20 pm CDT). This is not true. Yes, God allowed COVID-19 to begin where it began and then to spread across the world but the Egyptian Plagues in 1446 (or 1290) BCE had a distinct intent to achieve. And we will discuss that truth in the next section, because COVID-19 is shockingly tragic for its randomness.
What did God hope to achieve with the plagues?
I have already indicated one of the two God intended purposes for the Egyptian plagues. The first was to destroy the power and might of the Egyptian pantheon of gods. Each of the ten plagues took down one or more of the major gods of Egypt. By destroying the Egyptian gods, the God of the universe illustrated who was truly the God of the world (click here for a good chart that explains this truth). FYI — it was not the Ra!
However, it is the second purpose that is most important in the scope of history. The purpose of the plagues was to breakdown the power of the Egyptian Empire to the point that they wouldn’t have any choice but to “Let My People, Go.”
The prophecy of Genesis 15 was fulfilled overnight. 400 years of slavery was done. The children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were going home to the Promised Land. This was the purpose and goal of the “Ten Plagues.” It was not to punish the world but to release the Hebrew Children from slavery and to show just who was truly God in the world. Additionally, and if you will remember the plagues which decimated Egypt were never visited upon the Land of Goshen, the home of the Israelites.
So … to call COVID-19 the “Eleventh Plague” does an injustice to the purpose and intent of what God did in Egypt all those millennia ago. We should never mitigate (to borrow another modern word) God’s intentions … correct?
Are a series of plagues repeatable today or a one-time event?
This is an easy one to answer. Of course, a series of plagues are repeatable today. We have seen it from the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages to SARS and Ebola a few years ago to COVID-19 today. I also believe there could be viruses in our future that I dare not think about lest I don’t go to sleep tonight.
However, this is probably not the question that many people are really asking. They are wondering if there is a plague that could destroy us all. I don’t know is my honest answer; but, I do know that I have a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7) because of my relationship in Messiah Jesus. My body can be destroyed by COVID-19 or whatever is the next plague or world threat awaiting us but my ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and not here. And this is why I must answer the final questions…
Are these questions important to ask/answer? Am I being too picky?
These are very important questions to ask and answer. I am not being too picky. COVID-19 is not the “Eleventh Plague.” It is a horrible virus that is doing unimaginable harm and destruction to the world but in no way should it be connected to Passover and/or the Resurrection Story.
Passover and Resurrection are both about liberation, redemption and freedom. As a believer in Messiah Jesus. I see these two stories as inextricably linked. During the first Passover, the ten plagues were to destroy the power of Egypt. The Passover of Jesus’ time which we who believe in Him and know Him to be the reality of the Jewish (and Gentile) Messiah see the story fulfilled (Resurrection) as the overcoming of final death. COVID-19 diminishes this reality and we would diminish Passover and Resurrection if we connect a virus with the story.
For while I am often finicky. I am not being picky at all. Passover is about life/freedom from slavery. Jesus and the Resurrection is about life/freedom from the death and destruction. So … while we still might be “house bound” during Passover/Resurrection morning, we can still sing Dayenu and He Arose for we are free if we know the Messiah of us all.