Biblical Wisdom For Dealing With Coronavirus

It is written:

“They are unclean the whole time that they have the infection. They are unclean and must live outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:46 ERV)

Over the past few days, I have been reevaluating the government and medical response to the coronavirus. While I have thought through this before, it has been on my mind a lot more recently.

My father suffered a heart attack this past Tuesday. Fortunately, the hospital where he was being treated did a phenomenal job in caring for him; and more to the point, the Lord was watching over him and his situation. However, when I went to visit him, the hospital wouldn’t allow me entrance (due to their regulations regarding the coronavirus pandemic).

On the one hand, I was grateful that they were being so cautious in being aware of the pandemic and were acting accordingly. My wife is a physical therapist with a specialized degree in public health. She has helped me to understand the highly infectious nature of coronavirus throughout this pandemic, and has helped educate me in this (and in related areas).

But on the other hand, I was annoyed. Were these precautions really necessary? Could the measures be examples of government and medical overreach to a pandemic which was perhaps not as serious as I previously had thought?

Also, is it possible that the governmental mandate that discouraged worship assemblies in our country was in error? As a Christian and a Gospel preacher, I am aware of the Bible mandate for not forsaking the assembly of the saints (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Was it therefore erroneous not to encourage my brothers and sisters to assemble during the pandemic?

These were some (and I stress the word SOME) of the troubling thoughts that have been running around my head during the last few days.

Furthermore, while I had previously studied these matters, I always try to make it a policy to restudy and revisit current events in the light of new knowledge and experience.

So, in spiritual confusion, I turned to the Word of God.

And, as has always been the case, God’s Word provided the answers that I was seeking to the questions that I was asking.

Let me share what I found with you.

The Wisdom Of God In Old Testament Quarantine Protocol

In the Book of Leviticus, God teaches Moses how to deal with infectious diseases and infections among the people of Israel. In Leviticus chapters 13-15, Moses informs the Hebrews regarding several important quarantine procedures, especially regarding leprosy.

Moses’ medicinal knowledge was light-years ahead of the medical knowledge and training that he had received from his Egyptian upbringing (Acts 7:22). One author has noted about these principles:

“Was Moses “inevitably a child of his time”? Did he provide the Hebrews with a spell to stop epidemics? Read his ancient prescription: “As long as he has leprosy… he must live alone outside the camp” (Lev. 13: 46). There was not even a trace of superstition. This ancient order clearly states the modern concept of quarantine. One historian notes, “The laws against leprosy in Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of a sanitary legislation.” 5 Indeed, the biblical method makes a radical break from all ancient concepts of disease. No superstition. No leprosy demons. No animal dung salve. Maybe we should seriously consider Moses’ claim to have received these teachings directly from God….“In 1873, however, Dr. Armauer Hansen looked through a microscope at a slide from a leprosy patient. The tiny red dots he saw thrust the world out of the Dark Ages of leprosy. The tiny red dots were the leprosy bacteria. Finally, people realized that leprosy was an infection. It was passed from person to person. Millions of leprosy bacteria live in the nose. 7 You can catch leprosy from a simple sneeze in the face. Leprosy bacteria can even live dried out for several days. 8 Thus you can even catch leprosy from eating off an unwashed plate. After 3,500 years, science had discovered the secret of quarantine. Separating infected patients would stop the spread of leprosy. Norway enacted the Norwegian Leprosy Act, requiring strict enforcement of the biblical precautions. In less than sixty years, Norway’s leper count dropped from 2,858 to 69. Eventually the great discoveries of science allowed Norway to wipe out leprosy. Many countries began to practice God’s command. “As long as he has the infection… he must live alone outside the camp” (Lev. 13: 46). Soon much of the world was free of leprosy—a disease that had ravaged humanity for centuries. Dr. Rosen notes: The church took as its guiding principle the concept of contagion as embodied in the Old Testament…. This idea and its practical consequences are defined with great clarity in the book of Leviticus…. Once the priest had diagnosed leprosy, the individual had to live in protective quarantine, segregated from the community. Following the precepts laid down in Leviticus the church undertook the task of combating leprosy;… [and] it accomplished the first great feat… in methodical eradication of disease. 9 They experienced the promise of God: “If you will give careful attention to the voice of the Lord your God… I will put none of these diseases upon you….” (S. I. MD McMillen & David E. MD Stern, None of These Diseases: The Bible’s Health Secrets for the 21st Century, 271-302 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Revell)

With these thoughts in mind, let’s notice some of the principles from this section of Scripture that teach us about God’s wisdom in dealing with infectious diseases. We will then learn how to better weigh appropriate measures in dealing with the modern day issues (such as the coronavirus pandemic).

Principle One: Quarantine Those Who Are Suffering From Infectious Diseases

The first thing that Moses stresses is the need to quarantine those who are ill from a contagious illness.

Leviticus 13;46 (ERV)-They are unclean the whole time that they have the infection. They are unclean and must live outside the camp.


Numbers 5:2 (ERV)-Tell the people to send away from the camp anyone who is unclean, that is, anyone who has a serious skin disease or discharge and anyone who has touched a dead body.


2 Kings 15:5 (ERV)-The LORD caused King Azariah to become sick with leprosy. He was a leper until the day he died. Azariah lived in a separate house. His son Jotham was in charge of the king’s palace, and he judged the people.

We may think that the idea of quarantine is obvious; and in our day and time, that is certainly the case. However, this simple procedure has not been universally known and practiced throughout the ages!

“X) QUARANTINE FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: “Quarantine” is a well-known and well-proven method for restricting the spread of communicable diseases. Quarantine means: 1. A place or period of detention of ships or persons coming from areas known or suspected of infection. 2. To obtain or isolate on account of suspected contagion. 3. To place restrictions on the entry or leaving of premises where a case of communicable disease exists. The above mentioned ideas and practices became established as having worth only during modern times, but quarantine of contagious diseases was established in Israel as one of the basic rules of health….For contrast, the above should be compared with the present-day practices in India and neighboring countries. Lepers and beggars with infectious skin diseases are allowed to roam on the streets freely. Most swimming-pools do not insist upon a shower before people take a swim. Usually there is no bar for people with skin diseases. When such ignorance is widespread even in the twentieth century, the Biblical laws of quarantine make amazing reading.” (Dr. Johnson C. Philip & Dr. Saneesh Cherian, Bible And Modern Science (Christian Apologetics), 397-417 (Kindle Edition))

During these times of quarantine, there were to be detailed medical examinations and treatments applied (Leviticus 13:1-3, 7-8, 11-12, 20, etc.). Notice that the infected person must quarantine for a period of roughly seven days during his sickness (Leviticus 13:4-6, 21, 26, 31, 33).

Principle Two: Quarantine Those Who Have Been In Contact With Those Who Are Sick From Infectious Diseases

Not only must a person who is sick in Israel be quarantined for several days, but so also must be persons who were in contact with them during a time when they were ill. This is especially illustrated in Leviticus 15. There, the words “clean” and “unclean” (as in chapters 13-14) carry with it the idea primarily of medical wholeness. In Leviticus 15, the text deals mainly with the subject of bodily discharges (such as diarrhea, vaginal bleeding, and emissions of semen) and related health issues:

Leviticus 15:2-3 (ERV)-“Say to the Israelites: Whoever has a genital discharge is unclean. 3  The person is unclean whether the discharge continues to flow or whether it stops.”

Leviticus 15:32-33 (ERV)-These are the rules for anyone with a discharge from the body. These rules are for men who become unclean from a flow of semen. 33  And these rules are for women who become unclean from their monthly time of bleeding. And these are the rules for anyone who becomes unclean by sleeping with another person who is unclean.

What is a person to do who has had contact with someone who may have contracted an infectious illness through another person’s bodily discharge?

Leviticus 15:7-8 (ERV0-If you touch him, you must wash your clothes and bathe in water. You will be unclean until evening. 8  If he spits on you, you must wash your clothes and bathe in water. You will be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:11 (ERV)-If he touches you, you must wash your clothes and bathe in water. You will be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15;18-19 (ERV)-If a woman has sexual relations with a man, and he has a flow of semen, both the man and the woman must bathe in water. They will be unclean until evening. 19  “If a woman has a discharge from her monthly time of bleeding, she will be unclean for seven days. Anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:24 (ERV)-If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly time of bleeding, he will be unclean for seven days. Every bed he lies on will be unclean.

In all of these passages, we see that God required quarantine for anyone who was in contact with a person who may have transmitted an infectious illness.

I believe that speaks volumes of the wisdom of God.

It also speaks powerfully to our modern day issues.

Principle Three: Quarantine And Cleanse Objects That May Have Been Exposed To Possibly Infected Objects From Infectious Diseases

We also see that any objects which may have been contaminated by someone with an infectious disease was to be quarantined, observed, and/or destroyed it if showed signs of being a carrier of sickness. This is especially illustrated in Leviticus 14 and 15.

For example:

Leviticus 14:37-45 (ERV)-He will look at the mildew. If the mildew on the walls of the house has holes that are a green or red color, and if the mildew goes into the wall’s surface, 38  he must go out of the house and lock the house for seven days. 39  “On the seventh day the priest must come back and check the house. If the mildew has spread on the walls of the house, 40  then he must order the people to tear out the stones with the mildew on them and throw them away. They must put these stones at a special unclean place outside the city. 41  Then the priest must have the entire house scraped inside. The people must throw away the plaster that was scraped off the walls. They must put that plaster at a special unclean place outside the city. 42  Then new stones must be put in the walls, and the walls must be covered with new plaster. 43  “Maybe someone took away the old stones and plaster and put in new stones and plaster. And maybe mildew again appears in that house. 44  Then the priest must come in and check the house. If the infection has spread in the house, it is a disease that spreads quickly to other places. So the house is unclean. 45  The house must be torn down. All the stones, plaster, and pieces of wood must be taken to the special unclean place outside the city.

Leviticus 15:4-6 (ERV)- “If a man with a discharge lies on a bed, that bed becomes unclean. Everything he sits on will become unclean. 5  If you touch that bed, you must wash your clothes and bathe in water. You will be unclean until evening. 6  If you sit on anything that he sat on, you must wash your clothes and bathe in water. You will be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:9-10-If that man sits on a saddle, it will become unclean. 10  If you touch or carry anything that was under him, you will be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:12-“If a man with a discharge touches a clay bowl, that bowl must be broken. If he touches a wooden bowl, that bowl must be washed in water.

Leviticus 15:17-If the semen is on any clothing or leather, that clothing or leather must be washed with water. It will be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:20-23-Everything she lies on during her monthly time of bleeding will be unclean. And everything she sits on during that time will be unclean. 21  Whoever touches her bed must wash their clothes and bathe in water. They will be unclean until evening. 22  Whoever touches anything she has sat on must wash their clothes and bathe in water. They will be unclean until evening. 23  It doesn’t matter if they touched the woman’s bed or if they touched something she sat on, they will be unclean until evening.

What is especially interesting in this matter is the subject of an infected person covering their mouth. Kyle Butt has written:

“Moses detailed measures to prevent the spread of germs from dead bodies to living humans long before such was understood and prescribed in modern medicine. But the Old Testament record added another extremely beneficial practice to the field of medicine in its detailed descriptions of maladies for which living individuals should be quarantined. The book of Leviticus lists a plethora of diseases and ways in which an Israelite would come in contact with germs. Those with such diseases as leprosy were instructed to “dwell alone” “outside the camp” (Leviticus 13: 46). If and when a diseased individual did get close to those who were not diseased, he was instructed to “cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!” (13: 45). It is of interest that the covering of ones mustache would prevent spit and spray from the mouth of the individual to pass freely through the air, much like the covering of one’s mouth during a cough. Concerning such quarantine practices, S.E. Massengill wrote in his book A Sketch of Medicine and Pharmacy: In the prevention of disease, however, the ancient Hebrews made real progress. The teachings of Moses, as embodied in the Priestly Code of the Old Testament, contain two clear conceptions of modern sanitation—the importance of cleanliness and the possibility of controlling epidemic disease by isolation and quarantine (1943, p. 252). In regard to the understanding of contagion implied in the quarantine rules in the Old Testament, McGrew noted in the Encyclopedia of Medical History: “The idea of contagion was foreign to the classic medical tradition and found no place in the voluminous Hippocratic writings. The Old Testament, however, is a rich source for contagionist sentiment, especially in regard to leprosy and venereal disease” (1985, pp. 77-78). Here again, the Old Testament exhibits amazingly accurate medical knowledge that surpasses any known human ingenuity available at the time of its writing.” (Kyle Butt, Behold! The Word of God, 1345-1364 (Kindle Edition); Apologetics Press; Montgomery, Alabama)

This makes me think of my wife. When she comes home from work, she actually changes her clothes and shoes before leaving the hospital, as a precaution from bringing any potential coronavirus infection outside. Once home, she immediately throws her clothes into the wash.

Isn’t it incredible how modern day science confirms and “backs up” the teaching of Scripture?

Furthermore, this reminds me of the way that facial masks have been advised for people in our world.

Principle Four: Public Safety In Dealing With Infectious Disease Was Considered More Important Than Regular Assembly For Worship

In the Bible, there is the principle of “greater law.” Jesus taught that all of the laws of the Old Testament hinged upon two commandments, which were the “greatest” commands:

Matthew 22:36-40 (ERV)-He said, “Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?” 37  Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38  This is the first and most important command. 39  And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ 40  All of the law and the writings of the prophets take their meaning from these two commands.”

When rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus said:

Matthew 23:23 (ERV)-It will be bad for you teachers of the law and you Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You give God a tenth of the food you get, even your mint, dill, and cumin. But you don’t obey the really important teachings of the law—being fair, showing mercy, and being faithful. These are the things you should do. And you should also continue to do those other things.

There were some commandments that were considered to be of greater importance than others, although all were important (cf. Luke 11:42).

With that in mind, notice that the Hebrews were commanded to gather together periodically for worship:

Exodus 23:17 (ERV)-So three times each year all the men will come to the special place to be with the Lord GOD.

Exodus 34:23 (ERV)- “Three times each year all your men must go to be with the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.

Leviticus 23:3 (CEV)-You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to me. No matter where you live, you must rest on the Sabbath and come together for worship. This law will never change.

Now, corporate worship was a regular occurrence in Israel (every Sabbath, as Leviticus 23:3 demonstrates).

Yet a person who was in quarantine due to an infectious disease, or those who had been in contact with those who had an infectious disease, were not to gather together for corporate worship (see Principles One and Two above).

Stop and let that sink in.

During times of infectious disease, those in Israel who had come into contact with those who were infected were not to gather together for worship.

People in these situations were forbidden to gather together for worship.

The example of the famous Reformer Martin Luther comes to mind here:

“Martin Luther was a theologian and the father of the Protestant Reformation, but he also had some practical advice that is applicable to today’s pastors and communities dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The deadly bubonic plague hit Martin Luther’s town of Wittenberg, Germany, in 1527, setting off a shock wave of panic. Many drastic actions were taken, including the closing of Wittenberg University. (That should sound familiar.) Remember, the bubonic plague wiped out somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of Europe’s population. In the face of the plague, Luther was urged to flee, even by many of his best friends and supporters. Believers in Germany debated how they should respond. Luther was besieged by pastors who wanted to know his thoughts on dealing with the plague and wanted him to make a statement. In response, Luther produced a paper titled “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague” or, as the printer titled it, “Whether one may flee death.” Luther wrote, I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God. 3 This text drips with prudence, wisdom, and practicality. It reads like scriptural, sixteenth-century CDC guidelines. We could call it prudent boldness. God wants us to trust in Him, but He also honors real-world, concrete steps to love our neighbors as ourselves. He wants us to do all we can to protect ourselves and others. God never blesses foolish, reckless behavior….Concerning reaching out and loving and helping others in need, Luther called believers to look upon people in need as though they were Jesus. What would you do if it was Jesus? This I well know, that if it were Christ or his mother who were laid low by illness everybody would be so solicitous and would gladly become a servant or helper. Everyone would want to be bold and fearless; nobody would flee but everyone would come running. . . . If you wish to serve Christ and to wait on him, very well, you have your sick neighbor close at hand. Go to him and serve him, and you will surely find Christ in him.4 If Christians adopted that attitude, think of how drastically it would change our ministry to others at all times, but especially in times of crisis and calamity. Let’s ask God to help us see our friends and neighbors as Jesus sees them. To love our neighbors as ourselves. To love them like Jesus and on behalf of Jesus.” (Mark Hitchcock, Corona Crisis: Plagues, Pandemics, And The Coming Apocalypse, 115-117 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; W Publishing Group)

One sister in Christ told me about how her home church condemned her for not going to church during this time of pandemic. There were others in the congregation who had been exposed to the illness and refused to quarantine. How many people in that congregation were infected because of the decisions of those who were sick and refused to quarantine? If such persons would have followed the simple procedures described in Leviticus, perhaps this sister would not have been so unjustly condemned to Hell.

Principle Five: Lessons In Government From Those Who Lived During Dangerous Infections During The Bible Times

A final principle that comes to mind in this study regarding biblical wisdom during times of pandemic deals with the subject of governing authority.

In Leviticus 13-15, God had instructed the priests to take charge in Israel when dealing with infectious diseases. This makes sense, because Israel was a theocracy (i.e., their government was completely dependent upon Gods leadership).

As such, the priests were imbued with Divine authority regarding matters of quarantine and infection.

The Bible also teaches that government has been Divinely placed in this world to provide for the welfare of mankind (Romans 13:1-7). Christians are called upon to submit to the governing authorities, except when such would be a violation of the Word of God.

1 Peter 2;13-14 (ERV)-Be willing to serve the people who have authority in this world. Do this for the Lord. Obey the king, the highest authority. 14  And obey the leaders who are sent by the king. They are sent to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do good.

Acts 5:29 (ERV)-Peter and the other apostles answered, “We must obey God, not you!

With that being said, I am grateful to see in our day and age that there are some governing and medical authorities whose decrees and advice during the pandemic have been somewhat biblically centered, at least more so then others. I have also been displeased to see some governing and medical authorities whose regulations have not been as much inline with biblical teaching. (I will not name names here, as such would be counterproductive in the light of a day and time during which a global pandemic has been used by some as a weapon to further political interests. May God grant us all the wisdom to see through those who would endanger others for political agendas).

In conclusion, I will simply reiterate that my study of the Bible has answered many of my questions regarding the “powers that be” and the doctors’ policies and their regulations during this time of pandemic. This study was not brought about in response to any one person or group, nor was it to defend any position; it was simply what God helped me to see when studying His Word.

Hopefully, this study has been a help to you as well.

To my brethren: this study has been an indicator of our need (myself included) to study more from the Old Testament Scriptures.

One more thing should be mentioned: the Bible continues to be vindicated as the Word of God, relevant in every way for every culture. How wise we would be to make it our goal to build our lives upon it!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: