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Missionary Survives Deadly Ebola

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:51 PM

The deadly Ebola Virus has been contracted by more than 2,400 people with over 1350 victims in Western Africa. There is no drug or vaccine for Ebola, which can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and fatal organ failure and system-wide haemorrhage.

Dr BrantlyHowever, two American missionaries, Doctor Kent Brantly, and Nancy Writebol, who contracted the dangerous Ebola virus while working in Liberia, have overcome the disease and been released from an Atlanta hospital. “God saved my life, a direct answer to thousands and thousands of prayers,” Dr Brantly testified.

While it has been established that Ebola comes from contact with infected animals and fruit bats, plagues like this always raise the question whether this is a form of divine judgement.

The Bible has plenty of cases where plagues came as a result of sin and rebellion. The plagues on Egypt were caused by Pharaoh refusing to bow to God’s demand through Moses to release the Hebrews from slavery. The Israelites themselves incurred a plague as a result of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16). The people of Ashdod suffered a plague of tumours after capturing the Ark from Israel (1 Sam 5:6)

Individuals also were struck with disease as a result of sin. Gehazi incurred the leprosy of Naaman as a result of his greed (2 Kings 5:27), King Jehoram suffered a bowel disease because of idolatry (2 Chron. 21:18) and there is the graphic case of King Herod who was struck down and eaten by worms when he allowed people to liken him to God. (Acts 12:23)

But does this mean all sickness is caused by sin? In the general sense, this is true. If there was no sin in the world, there would be no sickness.

However, we cannot say that when an individual becomes sick this is a judgement from  God as a result of their sin. There is no doubt that a sinful lifestyle contributes to sickness. But what about the godly, clean-living person who contracts cancer?

In Luke 13:1–5, some people raised the issue with Jesus. They told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus responded,

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (NIV)

Jesus was saying that all tragedies, plagues and sickness are a warning and a call to repent. Because we live in a sinful world we cannot escape these trials but we can call on the Lord to help us through them. This is what Dr. Brantly did when he contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients with Ebola.

Jesus followed his comments with the parable of a man who planted a fig tree but when it failed to produce fruit, went to cut it down. He was persuaded leave it for another year to see if it produced fruit. If God sends sickness (presumably because of our life-style) and we refuse to see this as a warning for us to repent then there is a limit to God’s mercy.