Introduction Michael Ngubane
We thank the Lord for this day, the day of the Lord. Due to Covid-19 we are separated from one another but God has allowed it. We thank the Lord for leaders like Reverend Stegen who have the insight and have provided technological means so that we can continue in this manner today. Let us draw close to God and say, “Lord, You are the Creator of heaven and earth. You knew that a day like this would come.” We thank the Lord that, although COVID-19 has struck us – forcing people to be scattered, we can still worship Him.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
We will now get a medical perspective on all these matters.
Presentation on COVID-19 Dr Albu van Eeden
Brothers, sisters and friends, there is an extremely urgent need to inform people about the COVID-19 epidemic and its implications for our communities. There are still people who have no idea how serious or dangerous this epidemic is.
Allow me to begin with a text from Jeremiah 14:11-12
11 The Lord said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”
The Lord is speaking to the prophet Jeremiah. This COVID-19 epidemic is a pestilence in the language of the Old Testament. It has paralysed the world. When I was a medical student it was said that medicine has become so powerful that there is no danger of any disease that we will not be able to control, but 30 years later God has just blinked His eye and there is pestilence which has resulted in the whole world being at a loss.
13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord God, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them. 17 “You shall say to them this word: ‘Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound, with a very grievous blow. 18 If I go out into the field, behold, those pierced by the sword! And if I enter the city, behold, the diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land and have no knowledge.’”… 20 We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you. 21 Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonour your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us. 22 Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.
Friends, I do not say that a person who contracts this disease has sinned but we cannot get away from the fact – we have ignored God; we continue viewing pornography on the internet; we continue drinking, with wild parties and orgies. We ignore the Lord and then, just say I am trusting the Lord to protect me. It is not enough.
In what direction is the epidemic going in this country? The graph depicts how the disease is exploding. Today is 29 March and there are between 1000 and 2000 cases. If the present trend continues, on 30 March between 2000-3000 cases can be expected. By 31 March between 3000 and 4000 cases can be expected and in 4 days from now 4109 cases are expected. Simply put – the handbrake is loose. When you brake to stop a car, the driver first uses the footbrake and if it fails, the handbrake is used to stop the car. This graph is what you call, in mathematical terms, exponential growth – it doubles and triples from day to day.
This next week or two is critical. I cannot emphasise enough the protocols we have been teaching you. Please heed the laws and the regulations which the government has put in place. Stay at home. Do not leave your home unless it is absolutely critical. Whenever you leave your home wear a mask and throw it away at the end of the day.
This disease is transferred by inhaling infected, invisible air droplets which an infected person has breathed, coughed or sneezed out. Keep a social distance of 2 metres between you and the next person. If a person has the disease and he sniffs and rubs his nose then the germs are transferred to his hand. He then rubs his other hand and his clothes and so it is spread. The disease spreads by touching and breathing the germs.
Masks: Most people wear surgical masks. This mask does not protect you; it prevents the infected person from spreading germs to you. The reason it does not protect you is because you breathe in air through the sides, from below and from the top of the mask which can contain germs. These masks are worn by doctors in surgery to prevent them from infecting their patients. In order to protect ourselves we should wear the N-95 mask which adheres to specific standards, however, they are virtually unobtainable in the country. We use these masks (shows a sample) which protect us. Wear masks whenever you go into town or are amongst other people. It affords some protection.
Hands and gloves: Wash your hands 10 times a day. You cannot wash them too often. Use hand sanitisers. Take this seriously. We do not suggest that people wear gloves except if their work requires them to, such as nurses or doctors in hospitals, cleaners, toilet cleaners and so on. Why should you not wear them? Without gloves you are more likely to wash your hands more frequently and your hands will remain clean but you will probably not wash the gloves you wear and in the end your gloves will be covered in germs and you will spread the disease with gloves. Leave the gloves off and constantly wash your hands.
Some incidents regarding the epidemic in South Africa: Between 9 and 11 March a church gathering in Bloemfontein was attended by 5 overseas delegates – 2 from Texas, 2 from Israel and 1 from France. (This was before the President announced a National State of Disaster on 15 March and 18 March when foreigners from high-risk countries were prohibited from entering the country.) Mr Angus Buchan and his wife from Shalom Ministries who attended the gathering have tested positive. Reverend Kenneth Meshoe of the ACDP and MP Steve Swart who also attended the gathering have tested positive. At this stage 67 of the people who attended that meeting have tested positive. Over 1000 people have already been tested. This meeting alone caused the Free State’s infection statistics to skyrocket.
A man from the Ladysmith area tested positive and was told to self-quarantine in order to avoid infecting others. He continued working at his hair salon and attended some religious meetings. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder. He was told that he knew he could cause the death of others but he wilfully continued and was therefore charged with attempted murder.
A man in Gauteng tested positive but he refused to isolate himself and fled to Limpopo where he was arrested.
In India, a man known as a ‘virus super spreader’, has not only spread the virus to one or two people but to thousands. This man had been in Italy and Germany for meetings of the Sikh faith. On his return to India he attended a festival attended by about 16 000 people every day for 10 days. He has passed away because of the virus but 40 000 people are in quarantine in the Indian state of Punjab because they may have been infected by him.
A beautiful, blonde 21-year old girl from Nashville, Tennessee posted a video on social media where she said, “So, I’m aware that we’re supposed to be self-quarantining and social distancing, all these things to keep everyone safe. Cool. I get it. I just don’t think that I’m going to get the virus.” Two days later she tested positive. Her chest closed up. She could not get air. She felt as if someone was sitting on her chest and she felt she could climb the walls in order to get air. She coughed until she started bleeding from her throat. She contracted it after going out with a group of young people who were intent on defying the city’s directives about group gatherings. She has since posted another video in which she apologises for what she said.
Italy: On 21 February an Italian doctor said that they had 4 beds ready for patients who would contract the disease in Italy. 3 days later, 11 people were hospitalised. At another Italian hospital they have patients everywhere – even on the floor. The hospital staff are absolutely exhausted. Nobody, nobody realised the seriousness and severity of this pandemic. Some doctors do not leave the hospital, they sleep in their offices. A doctor said that this is not just a wave, it is a tsunami which is burying the nation. In one town where there are 5 doctors; 2 have been admitted to hospital; 3 are in isolation. Young people think they cannot contract the disease; this is a mistake. Doctors do not touch their own families anymore because of the risk of infection.
UK: PM Boris Johnson has tested positive for the disease. He sent a letter to 30 million British households this week. If too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to cope. This will cost lives. We must slow the spread of the disease, and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment in order to save as many lives as possible… That is why we are giving one simple instruction – you must stay at home (www.telegraph.co.uk). The health system is supposed to protect the people but Boris Johnson is appealing to the people to protect the health system.
Lord willing, a call centre will soon be set up where people can phone in if they have questions about the disease. Listen to Radio Khwezi and watch the KSB website where the number will be advertised. May God bless you.
Thank you, Dr van Eeden, for presenting these truths to us. Unfortunately, humans are a different breed. The truth is very difficult to believe and people are drawn to lies. We will save ourselves and the people around us if we obey the protocols. We often listen to sermons on Sunday but this sermon must be practised. There is no choice but obedience. You have often heard preaching about sin and pornography but now there is something much worse that can kill you if you do not take things seriously. Is God not speaking to us? Let us forget everything else. What is God saying to us? If you do what you are told, you will save yourself and the people around you. If you do not obey, there is a danger that you will be part of the infected group of people. That American girl still had the chance to apologise but you might never get that chance.
A while ago when I walked through the fields and past the greenhouses, a thankfulness sprang up within me and I thanked the Lord. As I did so a word came to me: 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this… but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 This struck me. I asked the Lord, “Is my name written in that book?” This is a time when you must ensure that your name is written in the book of life. You do not know what your end will be. You do not know how long you will live. I live with my parents at home and I pray, “God help me that I can protect my parents to the best of my ability.” I thank God that their names are written in the book of life – that is the difference.
The text for today:
5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. Revelations 3:5
The one who conquers. How will you conquer this virus? By avoiding it. Wash your hands but you can wash your face too. How will you conquer things in your life? We must confess our sin and wash our garments. When I meet Christ, who died for me and saved me from my sins – when I accept Him into my life, follow Him and wash my garments, my name is written into the book. The Lord listened to His disciples and saw them rejoicing over what they had experienced. (We often neglect the joy. In Nehemiah 8:10 it says: And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” This joy comes from a heart that is totally committed to the Lord and where there is victory. When we experience difficulties and headwind, we find ourselves down and out which is where the devil wants us to be. With this virus around, it does not mean that we sit around and do nothing. There is something we can do to look after ourselves and help others look after themselves. We do not know where this will end – maybe some of us will have to help others but our lives are there to help others.)
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20
The Lord said something interesting to His disciples as they told Him about their experiences, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Remember we are in a spiritual battle. We think – it is the virus – but maybe there is a battle up there which we do not understand- something which is out to destroy what God wants to do.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job 1:6-8
When Satan was in heaven God asked him whether he had seen His servant Job? We know what happened. The devil shot down like lightning saying, “I’m going to get him!” We know what happened to Job – it was reality, it was not a fairy tale.
We can blame others for what is happening but God says, “Do you see what my servant is busy with?” The devil, like lightning, wants to destroy what God wants to do. Let us never forget that. This does not strip our authority or power that God says He has given us so that we can overcome by His grace. Lightning is very dangerous. If you are struck, you are killed but lightning also starts fires. When an area is dry there is a high probability that a lightning strike will start a fire. Has that lightning struck your tongue? Your tongue is like lightning. The Bible says the tongue is like a little match that lights a massive fire. Your talk, criticism – your words are as sharp as lightning. Be careful! The Bible says that he who washes himself and is clad in white and is victorious, in no way will that name will be erased. What have your words done? They shoot like lightning and hurt the next person. It does not matter to you as long as you feel what you are saying is right. Who says that what you are saying is right? Maybe it is your own conviction and not what God expects? Think of that person you cannot stand; that person who you think is so slow; that person who you think is not the right person for that place. Remember your words! Remember what you have said! If someone would say to you that you are not good enough for a particular job, even if you were in charge, and that someone else should be put there, how would you feel? Such words are worse than this virus – a million times worse! The Bible says, 12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, Matthew 7:12 Be up-building! Reverend Stegen has often said that even if a child should speak to us and if that child was sent by God, we must have an ear to hear. God will come to you through a person you least expect. What has not been burnt to ashes in the last few months because of words that have been spoken?
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “I have heard what you said. I know what you have experienced. I know the heartaches and the difficulties but rejoice, it is not the end, your names are written in the book of life.”
The danger is, your name can be erased.
31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” 33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. Exodus 32:31 – 33
Moses knew there was a book. He knew that sin would erase him from that book. Do you understand why the Lord said to the disciples that they should rejoice about the right thing? We are often moved to the core because we do not understand that it is by His grace that our names are written in that book.
In John 6 we read of another group of disciples who were together with the Lord and one day He spoke to them.
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offence at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. John 6: 60-66
The Bible says that it was hard for them to accept what the Lord said. The Lord knew that in their hearts they criticised and grumbled. It is so difficult to thank and rejoice but to criticise and find fault –anyone can do that. If you do not do the one, you will do the other. 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. John 6: 53 The disciples discarded what Jesus said and opposed it.
Dear friends, much has been said and shot down like lightning, words have hit like lightning! What does it look like today? The disciples could not accept what Jesus said and you could not accept what God said through his servant, His prophets. You rejected it and said that cannot be – it is corrupt! What does your spiritual life look like today? You say things are going well. The fire has started.
What have you not already said behind doors, in houses – is it really all true? Is it truly exactly as it was said? And what does it look like today? We rejoice about what God is doing in our midst. If you see what God is doing on the mission you will be astounded. But what do you say? God is helping us here, come and see for yourself. What do people say? It will be destroyed. That is why I say beware of this lightning that has hit. God teaches us that what is the most important – above all else – is that our names are written in the book of life.
Friends, there is so much a person could say. The devil will never accept anything that God is doing and that is why he destroys. All those disciples who criticised the Lord; (you say you do not criticise the Lord but you break down the ones sent by the Lord) where are they today? You can be living on the mission and claim that what you say is constructive but there is no constructive lighting. Lightning destroys and kills. Nobody understands it better than those who live here. We are like a family and we must protect each other and do as we are told. If we are told not to go out then we should not. Why? We want to protect, help and build one another up. God possibly wants to teach us anew what it means to love and care for one another.
This morning I spoke to someone from Europe and he said, “Do you know what God has done in my family in the past year? How my children have changed? Our family is a different family. Yesterday we could work together and clean our yard. God has done something new and we are experiencing God in such a different way.”
Are we building one another up? When you take a chance, you are killing the person next to you. Do not say it’s my life. We are a family. There must be a unity. You should not break people down with your words. What is best for the next person? That person might think of something you never considered. Do not be offended, God works like that. You will only enrich yourself if you listen. Now is the time we will be tested to see whether we care for each other. Now is the time that you must overcome that sin that you struggle with. You have no choice. Garments are white because they are washed – that is true. You must not only wash, you must overcome.
Some time ago we were in Israel and we visited an olive press used 2000 years ago. The olives are picked and put into baskets and these baskets are taken to the press. The guide said that if the olives are together in the basket and press each other, oil is pressed out there already. That oil is the best oil which is used in the temple. Other grades of oil are pressed out from the olives in the oil press. My prayer is, “Lord, help me to be a person whom you do not need to press but that the oil will flow out of my life which You can use.” Do we not want to be that oil, that first-grade oil? Do you want God to press you in a way that hurts because of your disobedience? It may happen, it will happen and we must bow and allow it to happen. Friends, may this be a time when quality oil is produced in our lives, not a time when sin reigns but is conquered. It is time when every effort, through God’s grace and guidance, is put into overcoming.
Why does sin rule in your life? Because you are lazy. We are in a fight. We are in a war. Look at Italy. They took the virus epidemic lightly and the result? 1000 dead in a day. We take our spiritual lives exactly the same, we take it lightly. I think I can go to the doctor, he will help me and I will go back. When I get sick spiritually, I can go to the doctor. Be careful that when you get to the hospital it is not too full and there is no place for you, you cannot come. It is time that we take what God is teaching us seriously, knowing that everything comes from and is allowed by Him. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. Revelations 3:5
27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelations 21:27
Has your life been a falsehood, something that you are not? You present yourself as a spiritual person but at home, in the room, you defile yourself, do unclean things and touch yourself. When will it stop? Only those whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life will enter.
Christ came to forgive our sins. We cannot kill the corona-virus, but the virus in our hearts the Lord has long ago given the antidote for. That vaccine has been on the market for a long time. Why does it not work in your life? It is not because it does not have the power to do so because all power is given unto Him the Lord says. Go onto your knees and find out from the Lord what is it in your life that stops His power? It is more important that you do not contract the virus of sin than any other virus.
Some people are troubled by doubt. They say, “I cannot make it. It is impossible. I have tried so hard. How often haven’t I gone?” That lightning is close by to tell you that it is hopeless, it is not for you. If a laying hen that has been caged for months is removed from the cage and put onto the ground, it sits there as if it were still caged. The cage has been destroyed. Believe it! Doubting caused Peter to sink. I have seen a Guinea fowl running up and down behind a high fence trying to escape. All the bird needs to do is look up. They have got wings. They are there. Just fly up! Spiritually – fly. It is not that you do not have wings. It is not that you cannot. Trust the Lord. Reverend Stegen told us to throw the laying hen into the air and it will do something it did not think it could do – fly! There is grace to fly. Lift your head and see your Creator, your Redeemer and live for him with all your heart. Get rid of laziness, especially you young people. Instead of sitting at home doing things that revolve around you and your little room, get out, do things, help others.
When a water source is dirty it becomes pure once it starts running over rocks but water in a puddle only worsens. Stand up, stand up! The Lord said that all power is given to Him. That is why the disciples came home rejoicing.
Allow me to close with an example I have used lately. (Opens a handkerchief in the palm of hand) The handkerchief is the Lord. (Puts a ring into the centre of the handkerchief) This ring is me. If I follow Christ and become His disciple, He takes me and puts me into Christ. That is not the end – God puts us into His palm (Closes hand over the handkerchief with ring inside handkerchief). Can you imagine such a life? Can you imagine such a victorious life? You only remove yourself from this hand because you follow your own hard head and will. Many people struggle because they do not bow to God’s will. They cannot listen to their parents and grandparents. They do their own thing, thinking they know what to do. The quicker you trust this handkerchief in that Hand that can hold you, the quicker your life will change. We have our own ideas. Your family might be known as hard heads or irritable people. Families are known. Can Christ not change that and make it new? I want to be there in His hand by His grace. That is the safest place we can be. Nothing can get to you unless it passes this hand. There are things that God will allow in our lives but I must rejoice because I am in that hand and my name is written in the book of life. Make sure that you conquer and your garments are washed then you can also freely believe your name is there.
Conclusion Albu van Eeden
The fact that we are called to live together closely together with one another for 21 days was touched on. Paul speaks about the evil of factions and the damage that factions can do within the body of Christ.
Richard Wurmbrand said that before persecution came through communism, all the churches were like ducks within their own ponds. The Baptists in their little pond. The Orthodox in their little pond. The Reformed church in theirs but when the wave of persecution came it washed everyone into the same pond. May God address the curse and cancer of factions in our midst with this pestilence. May we stop criticising one another saying he is doing this, they are doing that, this is what they are like. This is a curse that some people persist in. It is a shame before God and a blemish on the church of Christ. This applies even to us here.
Finally, a person confronted a dear child of Christ who is serving the Lord and told him that he had had a vision of heaven. “I saw many people in heaven but you were not there,” he said. He answered, “Maybe you did not see me because I was in Christ. In Christ ‘I’ does not exist, it is all about Christ.”