Standing in the Gap between the Living and the Dead

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IT was 22nd March 2020 and Malaysia was experiencing the first Sunday since the Movement Control Order enforced from 18th March. Masland Methodist Church in Sibu conducted live streaming of worship services in 3 languages, to enable church members from all the Methodist Churches to tune in to worship from their homes.

President Rev. Dr Tie preached from Numbers 16:46-50. The President started by asking, “Is 2020 a good year or a bad year?”

This year, a well-known basketball figure, Kobe Bryant together with his daughter, perished in a helicopter crash. Another basketball player, Ruby Gobert, who had claimed that he could not contract COVID-19, was also infected with this disease.

Wawasan 2020 was aleady out the window. Yet in the midst of a Pandemic, we had a change of government. We are under Movement Control Restriction until 31st March (first phase). It may take up to one and a half years to fight this pandemic.

This Pandemic is a time for all of us to come before God. In verse 49, Moses urged Aaron to hurry to the assembly because the plague had started. The book of Numbers recorded 38 out of the 40 years that the Israelites spent in the wilderness. There were seven incidents of grumblings and complaints which the Israelites made. The passage today was grumbling against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Despite their grumblings, Moses and Aaron still cared for the people.

How do we stop the Pandemic? How does one turn 2020 from being the worst to the best year? The key words are, “ran”, “offered” and “stood”.

Aaron ran, Aaron offered, and Aaron stood. Verse 49 recorded that the plague stopped. But before it stopped, he had to do something.

(1) Ran: God loves you

“So Aaron…ran into the midst of the assembly…” (verse 47)

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, upon the return of his son, the father saw him from afar and ran to his son (Luke 15:20). This parable reveals the heart of God the Father for us. God runs to us through His Son Jesus Christ. God runs to us and accepts us just as we are.

In this period of time, God shows His love through the medical doctors. Dr Li Wenlian in China died while saving patients. We need to appreciate the medical doctors and nurses, the medical equipment suppliers and helpers in funeral services. The first person to die in Malaysia was Pastor David Cheng, from Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kuching. He wrote a song which reminds us that “God is over all. He is the Lord over all, and my life in Him is secured.”

(2) Offered: Jesus saves you

Aaron offered the incense, “but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them” (verse 47). It was like what Jesus had done. “But when this priest (Jesus Christ) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrew 10:12).

Jesus came to die for us. He offered Himself as the incense for us all. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us. Sin brings eternal death but God came in Jesus Christ to redeem you and me.

What does our nation need to do? The daughter of Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, led a day of prayer in the USA last Sunday. She said, “This is the time to look up from our knees!”

We can use this time during the lockdown to offer up our prayers on behalf of others. The Pandemic is a time for us as individuals, as a family, as a church, as a nation to pray.

Today is a day of prayer for Malaysia. Now is the time we can not have more money and more power. What we can do is to kneel down and call upon God.

(3) Stood: Be Bold

Aaron stood between the living and the dead.

After we have experienced the love of God and accepted His salvation, we stand to see the work of God. “Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again” (Exodus 14:13).

Be still and know that God is in control. About 100 years ago in England, there was a group of people in Eyam who stood still when they were facing the plague (Black Death). William Mompesson, the pastor, urged the people to self-quarantine to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of England. On 24 June, the people of Eyam quarantined themselves. By the start of November, the disease was gone from England. At the start of the plague, Eyam had 350 people in self-quarantine. By the end of the summer, 260 people had died. They stood still to stop the disease, just as Aaron stood still to stop the plague.

Today, we stand still at home. And God will let you see His glory and His deliverance.

If we find it difficult to be quarantined at home, think about Noah and his family in the ark. There were no phones, no video calls, no windows; there was only movement of the waters and the sound of rainfall, but God took care of them. Let us not doubt God because He is always with us. Our winning ground is our home.

President Tie ended his sermon by reminding us that the COVID-19 is a fore-shadow of the virus in hell which will never die. Together, let us stand and fight the virus. Together, let us turn this year into the best year.

Summarized by Rev Candy Liong
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