Tag Archives: plagues

A Letter of Martin Luther During a Plague

In a letter to Rev. Dr. John Hess, found in Luther’s Works, Volume 43 p. 132, as “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague,” Luther writes:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”


Posted by on March 25, 2020 in plagues


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A Theologian Looks at Ebola (Part 2 of 5)

One hundred and sixty-nine times the term “plague” is used in the BibleScreen Shot 2014-10-27 at 6.29.16 AM (109 in the OT, 60 in the NT).  There are the famous plagues in Exodus (blood, frogs, gnats, flies, plague on livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, plague on the Firstborn), found in chapters 7-11.

In fact, God sends the plagues one after another after Moses and Aaron had gone to Pharaoh and said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.” (Ex. 5:3).  Pharaoh’s stubbornness to release God’s people earns him a whole series of nasty plagues.

Apart from the plague of boils (Ex. 9), these afflictions did not directly involve disease.  Some were of the pest variety:  a super-abundance of frogs, gnats, flies, and locusts.  One caused water to turn to blood; another attacked livestock.  One (hail) involved the weather; another a darkness “that [could] be felt.”  The plague on the Firstborn was the coup de grace and revealed a God who could execute His command with great finality.

God has His means of getting His will accomplished.  He shows (at times) shockingly little concern for man’s health, comfort, or safety.  He uses the animal world to afflict the creation made in His image (man), controls the weather as a weapon of His will, and does not hesitate to execute swift judgment by taking the lives of Egypt’s Firstborn sons.

My, what a different God we appear to believe in today.


Posted by on November 1, 2014 in plagues


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A Theologian Looks at Ebola (Part 1 of 5)

What has theology to do with disease?  What insights might a Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 7.12.13 AMteacher of theology have on such a heart-wrenching, tragic plague like the Ebola virus?

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 7.14.11 AMIf one’s theology, or worldview, does not include disease, it is incomplete.  A theology does not only summarize all the teachings of the Bible; it also reflects upon reality and seeks to account for both the pleasures and pains of life.

Webster’s defines a plague as: “a disease that causes death and that spreads quickly to a large number of people.”

Facts from CNN:
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by one of five different Ebola viruses. Four of the strains can cause severe illness in humans and animals. The fifth, Reston virus, has caused illness in some animals, but not in humans.

The first human outbreaks occurred in 1976, one in northern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Central Africa: and the other, in southern Sudan (now South Sudan). The virus is named after the Ebola River, where the virus was first recognized in 1976, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ebola is extremely infectious but not extremely contagious. It is infectious, because an infinitesimally small amount can cause illness. Laboratory experiments on nonhuman primates suggest that even a single virus may be enough to trigger a fatal infection.

Instead, Ebola could be considered moderately contagious, because the virus is not transmitted through the air. The most contagious diseases, such as measles or influenza, virus particles are airborne.

Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.

While the exact reservoir of Ebola viruses is still unknown, researchers believe the most likely natural hosts are fruit bats.

Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Additional experiences include rash, red eyes, chest pain, throat soreness, difficulty breathing or swallowing and bleeding (including internal).

Typically, symptoms appear 8-10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span two to 21 days.

Unprotected health care workers are susceptible to infection because of their close contact with patients during treatment.

Ebola is not transmissible if someone is asymptomatic or once someone has recovered from it. However, the virus has been found in semen for up to three months.

Deadly human Ebola outbreaks have been confirmed in the following countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Republic of the Congo (ROC), Guinea and Liberia.

According to the World Health Organization, “there is no specific treatment or vaccine,” and the fatality rate can be up to 90%. Patients are given supportive care, which includes providing fluids and electrolytes and food.

There are five subspecies of the Ebola virus: Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV), Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV) and Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)

To think about:  If God is sovereign over disease, how can we fight disease without fighting God?


Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Ebola


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