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Corona Virus and Asclepius Worship


As the corona virus pandemic spreads across the world many governmental leaders are addressing their nations.

Common themes run through each of these addresses. Whether it is the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, The Australian Prime Minsiter Scott Morrison, The American President Donald Trump, or the Dutch King Willem Alexander, the themes are the same:

  • There is not a single reference about turning to our God, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.
  • We are being admonished to listen and follow the instructions of the medical officers. To trust in their ability to steer us out of this crisis…. and to heal us.

Trusting in Man rather than God

  • The Dutch Prime Minister has advocated that relying on the advice of medical specialists is the only sensible way forwards. It is the advice of the medical specialists that has set the course of the Dutch government in dealing with the crisis… and it is important that this course is kept.
  • US President Donal Trump has said that by having the world’s best doctors, nurses and medical researchers “we will heal the sick”.
  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that “we will continue to make decisions based on the best available medical advice”.

The Pool of Bethesda

As the corona crisis unfolds I am reminded of the account of Jesus healing the cripple at the pool of Bethesda in John 5.

The Pool of Bethesda was an Asclepion – a healing center dedicated to the Greco-Roman god of health and wellbeing, Asclepius.

The Worship of Asclepius

Throughout the Roman Empire there were more than 400 Asclepions each functioning as a healing centre – dispensing the god’s grace and mercy towards those in need.

Asclepius’s mythical daughters included the goddess Hygeia. In our modern word “hygiene” we hear the name of this goddess.

In the current corona virus pandemic our leaders are not encouraging us to humble ourselves, to pray, to seek God’s face and to turn from our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). Rather we are being asked to place our trust in the medical professionals. It is they who will steer us through the crisis… and to practice good hand hygiene.

Instead of acknowledging our sins and turning to the one true God in humble repentance, our leaders are invoking the power of the god Asclepius.

I am not disputing the need to practice good hygiene, or to implement quarantine measures. These principles are found in the Word of God. However, true healing is only found when we turn back to God.

Asclepius did not heal the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus Christ healed him, who then admonished the healed man to “sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).

The command to “sin no more” was not implying that the man’s paralysis was caused by his sin. It was the man’s attempt to obtain healing from another god which was sinful.

Jesus admonished the healed paralytic to only worship the one true God. Sin no more… do not search after other gods.

Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One

Deuteronomy 6:4

Passover 2020

The outbreak of the corona virus throughout the world is occurring during the season of Passover. Is there a significance to this timing?

At Passover ancient Israel left Egypt. They left in order to be able to worship the one true God (Exodus 7:16, 8:2…) They could not worship God fully inside Egypt (Exodus 8:28ff), they all needed to go out.

In order to enter into relationship with their God, to enter into covenant with Him, they needed to leave the system that kept them in bondage… they needed to leave it behind.

God requires that we worship Him alone… we are to place no other god before Him.

When the Israelites left Egypt God made a covenantal promise with them. He promised:

If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.

Exodus 15:26

Today we need to leave our modern day Egypt. It is impossible to worship the one true God within a system that actively rejects and opposes Him.

The corona virus pandemic presents each of us with a choice today. From whom will we seek our healing? Will we look to the modern day Asclepius and place our trust in it? Or will we turn in humble repentance to our one true God, seeking His face and holding on to His promise of healing?

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