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  • Writer's pictureDean Dwyer

Show Love, Not Hatred

When an epidemic or disaster strikes, it is natural to seek somebody to blame. Western nations have been very critical of China and their slow response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Rightly so. China sought to silence brave voices who tried to warn about the virus. Yet, this is where there is a distinct failure of communist governments. Because they hold the erroneous belief that they are all things to all people, when a disaster strikes that they cannot control, they do everything within their power to deny it. Unfortunately, this approach has cost many lives.

Although the Chinese government are complicit in the spread of the disease, we must be careful not to blame the Chinese people as a whole. To do so would be racist and to misappropriate blame can result in even further deaths.

If you cast your mind back to the period of the Black Death, it devastated parts of Europe, ultimately killing an estimated one-third of the population. It was thought that the disease passed from rodents to humans by way of infected fleas. However, in this instance, the scapegoat was the Jewish population. They were accused by local church leaders of poisoning village and city water wells and were tortured to confess their involvement. Over 60 large and 150 small Jewish communities were destroyed in pogroms stirred by these accusations, including in Cologne, Strasbourg, Worms and Zurich. In Basel, with the exception of a few children who were forcibly converted to Christianity, the entire Jewish population (about 600 or more) were herded into a building on an island on the Rhine and burned to death in 1349.

It was alleged that Jews were suffering and dying from the plague at a much lower rate than Christians. It is not clear if this was actually true, but there are several theories explaining the apparent phenomenon. One theory suggests that Jews buried their dead much more quickly than Christians and in separate cemeteries, thus making their deaths less visible. Another theory speculates that Passover was responsible for saving a great portion of the Jewish population.

Preparing for Passover usually begins a full month before the holiday arrives. Since no leavened bread may be eaten during the seven days of Passover, Jews make a special effort to remove leaven entirely from their homes in obedience to the command given in Exodus 12:15: Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. This does not mean they do a quick clean – the process is incredibly thorough. For modern Jewry, they search for bread crumbs in lounge suites, in the pockets of their coats and pants, pantry shelves – every nook and cranny is searched in order to ensure that every crumb of leaven is removed from their house. Of course, the application for us is clear – sin must be searched out and separated from our lives through the forgiveness offered by Christ.

During the time of the plague, according to Dr Martin Blaser, the clearing of leavened bread from homes ahead of Passover deprived rats of food and shelter, helping to stymie the spread of the disease. To support this theory, he adds that the plague peaked in the spring, which is around the time that Passover would have fallen.

If this theory is true, how wonderful is to see that Passover not only rescued the Jews from Egypt, but continued to rescue them throughout history. And, for repentant Jews in the Church age and Tribulation Period, the work of Jesus as Passover lamb has and will rescue them in the future.

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