Ebola and Other Infectious Diseases on the Rise

Why is mankind facing so many deadly diseases? Will the medical community gain the upper hand in this battle for health? What does the Bible predict?

Over the past year many have followed the news of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The most recent contagion began in December 2013 and is currently concentrated in the nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

According to the World Health Organization’s Ebola virus disease fact sheet, the virus is transmitted from animals to people and then to other people via body fluids. The average fatality rate for this disease is 50 percent; and so far 3,091 people have died in the current outbreak in West Africa, with another strain of the virus killing 41 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

On Tuesday, Sept. 30, the first case of the Ebola virus to be diagnosed in the United States was reported. After diagnosis the patient, a man who had recently flown from Liberia to Texas, was placed in an isolation room in Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was unlikely that any passengers who had flown with the man would contract the virus since the man was not contagious at that time. A small number of family members and those he came into contact with, however, may have been exposed after the man became ill. Medical personnel are investigating the case and taking precautions to prevent the transmission of the disease.

In addition to the Ebola case, the CDC is also monitoring another rare virus, called enterovirus D68, which has now sickened over 400 Americans in 40 states. In Denver several children with enterovirus D68 have experienced paralysis. Doctors are not sure whether this limb weakness is temporary or permanent.

Sadly, these are not the only infectious diseases currently plaguing mankind. For a quick look at some of the others, see the report by Live Science titled 7 Devastating Infectious Diseases.

While some people don’t like to bring God into the picture when it comes to science, the reality is that mankind’s Maker knows not only the science behind diseases, but also the causes and cures.Another front

Health officials deserve our deepest appreciation for working diligently to treat those who have contracted these viruses and to prevent their spread. But there is another front that needs to be considered in this battle for health. While some people don’t like to bring God into the picture when it comes to science, the reality is that mankind’s Maker knows not only the science behind diseases, but also the causes and cures.

Approximately 3,500 years ago God told the ancient Israelites that they would be cursed by various diseases if they disobeyed His laws. “If you do evil and reject the LORD, he will bring on you disaster, confusion, and trouble in everything you do, until you are quickly and completely destroyed. He will send disease after disease on you until there is not one of you left in the land that you are about to occupy. The LORD will strike you with infectious diseases, with swelling and fever” (Deuteronomy 28:20-22, Good News Translation, emphasis added).

And the opposite is also true. God told Israel that if they would “listen to these commands and obey them faithfully, then the Lord your God will continue to keep his covenant with you and will show you his constant love, as he promised your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 7:12, GNT). That would include this promise: “And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you” (verse 15).

(Note that the Bible doesn’t teach that the people who get sick are always responsible for their illness, as Jesus showed in John 9:1-3. Sometimes, as Ecclesiastes 9:11 explains, the innocent suffer from events due to time and chance.)

This little known ancient history isn’t generally considered relevant in today’s technologically advanced world. Most think of health as simply a matter of biology, diagnosis, treatment protocols and medicines. But God’s instruction to ancient Israel is still applicable to nations and people today. God’s intent was for ancient Israel to set an example for other nations of obedience to God’s laws, which would yield physical benefits, including good health.

Bible prophecy

The prophecies of the Bible indicate that troublous times will come prior to the return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. The fourth of the infamous four horsemen of the Apocalypse is described as a rider named “Death,” mounted on a pale horse. His ride represents death by disease and from wild animals—which are believed to carry diseases such as the Ebola virus (Revelation 6:7-8, compare Matthew 24:7).

Sin always exacts a price. As the proverb explains: “A curse without cause shall not alight” (Proverbs 26:2).

Although God will allow the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to wreak havoc upon the earth because of mankind’s disobedience, He will soon send Jesus back to earth to put down all opposition and set up His wonderful government. As God’s plan for mankind plays out, there will eventually “be no more curse” (Revelation 22:3).

In the meantime, outbreaks of strange diseases like Ebola are warnings to us to consider God and His Word. Whether He allows or causes these diseases to come upon us, we could prevent them by turning to Him and doing His will. Our prayer is that all people will repent and not have to experience any of the punishments destined to come.

For further study, see:

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: What Are They?

The Kingdom of God

Repentance: What Does Repent Mean?

Photo by EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection/CC BY-ND 2.0

About the Author

David Treybig

David Treybig

David Treybig is a husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife, Teddi, have two grown children and seven grandchildren. He currently pastors the Austin, Texas, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He has served in the pastoral ministry for over 40 years, pastoring congregations across six states.

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