We have received many requests for our perspective on what is happening in Israel (especially) and in the nations concerning the virus which first reared its dragon-like head in China nearly a year and a half ago. Both political and medical communities have been overtaken by surprise regarding the nature, source, intensity and antidote to this problem. Everyone is scrambling to catch up. Those considered to be authorities have been extremely frustrated due to the time lag between fast-paced events and the accuracy of their official declarations. Fairness, accuracy, pastoral wisdom and humility are prerequisites for all of us at this juncture in time.
Luke 2:34-35 describes Yeshua as “a sign to be opposed . . . to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” In the same way, God speaks prophetically to the world “so that the secrets of men’s hearts are disclosed” (1 Corinthians 14:25). Both believers and secular folk are having ample opportunity to see the truth of Paul’s words as battle lines are drawn over these issues: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are . . . hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions” (Galatians 5:19-20). His exhortation to us all – “If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit as well. Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another” (Galatians 5:25).
Peering through the fog of war
Solomon shares two nuggets of wisdom with us:
- “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).
- “A lazy one sees himself as wise in his own eyes, more than seven who know how to give a discreet answer” (Proverbs 26:16). Someone has paraphrased this last proverb: “A fool can ask more questions than seven wise men can answer!”
The unprecedented speed and virulence of this recent plague has brought with it ‘the fog of war’ (German, Nebel des Krieges). “War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth” (General Carl von Clausewitz). The intense pressure and scrutiny under which politicians, medical authorities and the media find themselves – “Solve the crisis yesterday!” – has resulted in some unfortunate rushes to judgment. These may well have skewed people’s ability to make sense of events.
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” (attributed to Mark Twain)
The push for leaders to access and present accurate analyses of the disease pandemic has resulted in a measure of haste and inaccuracy in some public declarations.
One of these concerns the ‘infection fatality rate’ (IFR) – what percentage of people die after catching the disease. In early March, the World Health Organization announced that “about 3.4% of reported Covid-19 cases have died” and that “by comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.” This 3.4% figure was widely reported. Former U.S. President Trump disagreed, saying , “I think the 3.4% is really a false number,” and “I would say the number is way under 1%.” The Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford now estimates that the infection fatality rate for C-19 is “somewhere between 0.1% and 0.41%.” This is well below 1% and within range of the flu’s infection fatality rate of 0.15%.
The present pandemic has led to millions of deaths and much suffering. At the same time, it is important for people get an accurate read on what the dangers and fatality rates are, in order to be able to assess the threats without unnecessary panic. It is sobering that one survey revealed that “31% of Americans say they believe the number of Americans dying is lower than the number reported.” One of the factors which has influenced countries around the world to grind to a halt economically and socially, has been based on what seems to be a somewhat exaggerated read of the dangers.
Another example involves confusion resulting from public health guidelines being reversed. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in a March 8, 2020 interview stated that “right now in the United States, people [who are not infected] should not be walking around with masks,” but “if you want to do it, that’s fine.” On April 3, the Center for Disease Control (and Fauci) reversed course and advocated for wearing non-surgical masks to reduce community transmission. This reversal weakens the believability of those responsible to guide their own nations.
A third example involves governmental agencies being less than transparent regarding the numbers of fatalities, whether undercounting or overcounting them. In a December 31, 2020 article entitled “Covid-19: Russia admits to understating deaths by more than two thirds,” the reporter states: “Russia’s true death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic is not about 57 000, as official figures claim, but more than 180 000, the country’s deputy prime minister, Tatiana Golikova, conceded at a press conference.”
The need for clarity, accuracy and non-fear-based reporting is summed up in the following quote from The Hill: “How the data on coronavirus is presented and discussed is a serious problem, as efforts to contain the pandemic . . . are based on the math of transmission. Far-reaching public policy decisions are made based not only on data but on public demands as shaped by the data presented to the public. The public needs to know the truth to have confidence in those policy decisions, even if the truth means that there is a great deal of uncertainty which will not be resolved for some time. Fundamentally, the problem is that people – and the news media – don’t like uncertainty and demand exact answers even when there are none to be had. The result too often is bad numbers, bad reporting and a disillusioned public when the numbers turn out to be off-base.”
Is haste always a bad thing?
There is a traditional Arabic proverb which states that haste is satan’s creation (‘al-ajaleh min ash-shaytan’). This novel pandemic has rushed into the world like a lion, and the responses of the medical community have been to create a medicinal antidote as quickly as possible. Working under immense pressure, top vaccinologists and epidemiologists have applied cutting-edge technology using different active principles and mechanisms than the standard ‘killed vaccine’ inoculations. Standard vaccines inject people with a dose of inactivated or killed virus particles, bacteria or other pathogens that have been grown in culture and then killed to destroy disease-producing capacity. The immune system of each inoculated person then produces broad-spectrum antibodies with NK (natural killer) cells in reaction to the killed virus. This gives the vaccinated individual a resistance to the disease which may last for a certain period of time. The newly developed vaccine uses an mRNA technology, causing the inoculated person’s immune system to be able recognize and destroy the unique spike protein barbs typically studded across the surface of each coronavirus cell.
This vaccine is new on the market. In light of the pandemic-related emergency there was need for speed in its development. The traditional lab tests (which usually last over 5 years) were thus compressed into an intensive three-month laboratory dash. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the vaccine emergency approval based on its limited but strenuous tests. However, it is obviously true that usual procedures have been hot-wired in order to quickly get a vaccine out into the world, with the goal of saving lives and reducing collateral damage from coronavirus and its often accompanying cytokine storm.
Testing positive or negative?
A new virus and a new vaccine – and both have a pretty much unknown reputation. Since the medical world has only a smidgen of experience in dealing with this coronavirus, and since there is precious little information on what might or what might not be the side-effects of this vaccine, the playing field of debate is wide open. Anyone can suggest what might be the potentially damaging side effects here, and they could be right – or wrong. Anyone can champion the vaccine and declare that there will never be negative side effects, and they could be right – or wrong. Most of the debate can only focus on possibilities and likelihoods. So little water has gone under the bridge here regarding verifiable results, that most discussion cannot even begin to build a solid bridge over the flowing waters of these heated arguments.
One new development has made the Israeli headlines during the second to last week in April 2021 – some verifiable connections (though the percentages are small – less than 1/10 of 1%) between the administration of the Pfizer vaccine and occurrences of myocarditis (infection of the heart muscle) in Israeli males ages 18-30. These numbers have been documented by the Israeli Ministry of Health. Similar though rare occurrences in the U.S.A. are being investigated by the Pentagon, while the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been monitoring similar and possibly related occurrences. The Israeli People’s Committee has published a more comprehensive list that that of the Israeli Ministry of Health in early April 2021, documenting what seem to be over 280 vaccine-related fatalities.
The propagandistic nature of the debates I have seen underscores the need for some people to learn how to think and speak more clearly. It is not right to attack people’s character or motives in order to win an argument. It is not fair to compare the best of one side’s arguments with the worst arguments of the other side. It would not be accurate to simply ‘fill in the blanks’ when one is lacking sufficient information for a strong defense of one’s own position. There is much left to discover and uncover. Let us not lose our souls in the journey or our love in the debate.
A good name is to be chosen over great riches (Proverbs 22:1)
Hollywood knows how to recognize a good story. Many blockbuster films have zeroed in on the themes of industrial sin and greed – how large companies how attempted to destroy competition or whistleblowers in their ambition to corner the market. In 2000 Julia Roberts played the role of Erin Brockovitch in a movie about Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)’s cover-up of the Hinkley, CA groundwater contamination incident. Al Pacino and Russell Crowe starred in The Insider (1999), based on whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand’s fight to give testimony against wrongdoing in the tobacco industry.
In the rough-and-tumble of free market capitalism, powerful companies often try to band together as cartels in order to crush and swallow smaller competitors. It is possible that this dynamic has occurred regarding the attempt to suppress and downplay innovative medical solutions and alternative treatments for coronavirus. Every few weeks Israeli papers carry positive and encouraging articles about local testing of potential anti-coronavirus wonder drugs. Here are some of those links from local media – ENOVID, EXO-CD24, ALLOCETRA, BUDESONIDE, IVERMECTIN, BAMLANIVIMAD, Spirulina seaweed, MOLNUPIRAVIR, Vitamin D, etc.
The fear of man brings a snare (Proverbs 29:25)
There are some people who are strongly convinced that within the thoughts and strategies of wealthy industrialists lurk deep and dark conspiracies. The way some of these people see it, a handful of men are bringing about a reset of the entire planet, establishing a dictatorship which will enslave mankind while simultaneously turning the human race into an advanced synthesis of part robot, part human. The notoriety of the individual personalities is not as important as their supposed adherence to this purported world conspiracy. Names are frequently mentioned – Gates, Soros, the Illuminati, Davos and the Great Reset – all send the same shiver down the spine, conjuring up the same Hitlerian-Stalinist shadows.
A pandemic of fear
A dear and departed prophetic friend spoke nearly ten years ago of a pandemic which would come upon the earth. He said that “the first one would prove to be little but fear,” but that a second one coming after that would be serious. There is all-too-evident fear spreading across the globe, and it is certainly doing great damage.
The current spread of the coronavirus has caught many unprepared and at a disadvantage. Proper awareness of the virus’ origins and design, proper emergency hospital treatment, proper evaluation of potentially promising anti-viral medicinal solutions, accurate appraisals of the effectiveness of masks and social distancing, accurate communications to the public regarding what the vaccine can and can’t do, and clear explanations about its development process, a clear-eyed appraisal of whether or not there is a need to vaccinate children – in so many cases medical, scientific and political authorities have been struggling to keep abreast of the fast-moving changes and developments. And their consumer audiences (both of media and of vaccines) have been shocked to discover that sometimes and in some venues the emperor has no clothes.
Do not give the devil a foothold
We are aware of how some dear friendships are breaking down, how other relationships are fracturing, and social media wars are being conducted by believers in full public view, with drawn and bloody swords – just over these issues. Fear, anger, mutual accusations of conspiracy theories – is this what we signed up for, dear brothers and sisters? What do we need to do to be able to stand in the evil day? Paul reminds us that “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming, but speaking the truth in love… (Ephesians 4:14-15).
In the midst of this media maelstrom, it is important to remember the humanity of those with whom one disagrees, on both sides of the aisle. All of us must honor each other’s right (both ethically and legally) to hold our own perspectives and opinions. Those who would suppress or suspend the civil rights of people who in good conscience cannot or will not receive vaccination (the ‘green passport’ currently available in Israel, allowing only vaccinated people access to cinemas’ sporting events, enclosed restaurants, etc.), are potentially leading their people down a slippery slope, one which could easily lead into dark cellars.
I have always found encouragement from this apostolic command, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil a base of operations/ a foothold/ an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27). The Greek work here is topos (τόπος), and the language conveys the sense of a helipad, where a demonic helicopter can land an unload troops.
Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any god word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Ruach HaKodesh of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
How should we then pray?
- Pray for all those working on developing and applying medical solutions to receive God’s wisdom and strategies
- Pray for governmental leaders to receive divine revelation and courage how to best handle the challenges and make the wisest decisions
- Pray for all who are attempting to understand God’s ways and wisdom and obey His voice amidst the roaring storm of competing voices
- Pray for those who are attempting to shine a spotlight on any hidden strategies – that they would be given divine balance, truth, clarity and humility