In America, state and local official have issued many mandates in an effort to combat the spread of the Chinese virus (COVID-19). While some mandates appear to make some sense, there are some officials who overstepped reasonableness in their mandates. One recent example pertains to restrictions on church services by the State of California. A pjmedia.com article entitled ‘This Is Insane!’ Church Leader Blasts Newsom’s ‘Tyrannical’ Order Closing California Churches by Tyler O’Neill (July 13, 2020) reads [in part]:
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) issued a new order closing all “INDOOR OPERATIONS” for fitness centers, hair salons, malls, “non-critical” offices, and places of worship including churches, in 30 California counties that include roughly 80 percent of the state’s population.
A similar situation exists in Nevada. One article by Fox News (“Supreme Court denies Nevada church’s appeal of attendance restriction amid coronavirus pandemic” by Caitlin McFall of Fox News describes Nevada’s restrictions:
Nevada has placed a 50-person cap on all places of worship, no matter the capacity of the building, as a part of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
But casinos, along with other businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters, may permit up to 50 percent capacity, allowing casinos to grant access to hundreds of patrons at a time.
What is surprising is that recently (July 24, 2020) the Supreme Court of the United States denied the church’s application for injunctive relief from the restrictions. In other words, the SCOTUS sided with the government in its restrictions against religion. A short dissent in Calvary Chapel v. Sisolak, 591 U.S. __ (2020) by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch sums up the anti-Christian bias:
This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10- screen “multiplex” may host 500 moviegoers at any time. A casino, too, may cater to hundreds at once, with perhaps six people huddled at each craps table here and a similar number gathered around every roulette wheel there. Large numbers and close quarters are fine in such places. But churches, synagogues, and mosques are banned from admitting more than 50 worshippers—no matter how large the building, how distant the individuals, how many wear face masks, no matter the precautions at all.
In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.
The restrictions placed on churches in California and Nevada should give every Christ-follower pause. One has to wonder about will happen after the Chinese virus has passed and the next “health crisis” some governmental leaders will use to try to shut down the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While there are many appropriate Scriptures, from the Day 159 reading Psalm 9:20 (ESV) seems relevant and it reads:
20 Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
Another translation of Psalm 9:20 (GW):
20 Strike them with terror, O Lord. Let the nations know that they are ⌊only⌋ mortal. Selah
Many of the first 19 verses of Psalm 9 (ESV) describe a wicked people who are enemies of God’s people and the disastrous end of the wicked:
3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence.
5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. 6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.
15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught. 16 The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah 17 The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
One commentary (Tesh, S. E., & Zorn, W. D. (1999). Psalms. Joplin, MO: College Press) points out the mortality of the word “men” in verse 20, which the God’s Word translation spells out:
Let the nations know they are but men. Of the four Hebrew words usually translated “man,” the one used here is אֱנוֹשׁ (’ənoš), meaning “mortal,” marked for death! Supermen? A super race? The most highly exalted will be brought low. Spurgeon has expressed it well:
Crowns leave their wearers—but men, degrees of eminent learning make their owners not more than men, valor and conquest cannot elevate beyond the dead level of “but men”; and all the wealth of Croesus, the wisdom of Solon, the power of Alexander, the eloquence of Demosthenes, if added together, would leave the possessor but a man. May we ever remember this.
With this lesson in humility the psalm closes.
For 21st Century Christ-followers who worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the time has come to lift up our voices in unison and cry out to God to show these tyrannical governmental leaders that they are but men, and that we worship Jesus Christ and not Caesar.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day. For Day 158, Psalm 9:20 was the passage that stood out.
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
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