By Stephen Cauchi
18 January 2022
God has a COVID-response plan – that is exactly the same as his plan to use Abraham to bless the nations, a Church Missionary Society Victoria conference has heard.
Speaking to Summer Under the Son attendees Derek Brotherson said that in the same way that governments and businesses had COVID-response plans, so too did God.
The principal of Sydney Missionary and Bible College, Dr Brotherson said he had the plan with him, and could read it out.
“Genesis 12 verses 1-3 record a remarkable moment in the history of the world where God speaks to Abram. In these three verses, we discover what God’s COVID response is and what part we have to play in it,” he said.
Dr Brotherson said the state of the world now, ravaged by COVID, was similar to that of the world at the end of Genesis 11: humanity trapped in a broken world, they were unable to fix.
At that point in Genesis, humanity had recovered from the devastating global flood of Genesis 7, it had unsuccessfully tried to build the Tower of Babel to reach the heavens and make a name for itself.
“A world filled with strife and suffering selfishness and grasping death and loss. Does that sound familiar? Does that sound a little bit like the COVID-ravaged world we live in?” Dr Brotherson said.
He said that after all the pain, suffering, death and loss of Genesis 3-11, Genesis 12 introduced a “massive, unmerited” outpouring of blessing.
Dr Brotherson said humanity tried to fix its problems with the Tower of Babel, but God responded by blessing the nations through Abram, who he later renamed Abraham.
“What we tried and failed to grasp by our own design and initiative, God freely gives by his own initiative. This is good news. Very good news,” he said.
Dr Brotherson said humanity’s response to COVID-19 was similar: big, but it wouldn’t work.
“COVID-19 has created problems we can’t fix. Genesis 12 is good news because it says God can,” Dr Brotherson said.
He said God’s plan in Genesis 12 was to bless all the peoples on earth, and his response to COVID-19 would be the same.
Dr Brotherson said this was what all Australians – and all the world – needed to hear right now: that God had something bigger in mind, a plan to bless.
But he said, Abraham needed great faith to carry out God’s plan, and Christians too needed great faith in their response to COVID-19.
He said the promise that Abraham would found a great nation, blessing all people on earth was hard to believe. And the command was hard to obey, given Abraham was from a family that owned no property, was married to a barren woman, and had to move to a land he had never seen.
“Faith is hard. Believing the promise is hard. Obeying the command is hard. Why isn’t faith easy?” Dr Brotherson said.
Likewise he said anyone undertaking missionary work also required great faith. He said his own missionary work in southeast Asia had been no exception, as his family left many securities behind.
“That first year in southeast Asia was probably the hardest in my life. But it was the year I learned faith, learned to depend on God, more than I ever had before,” he said.
But Dr Brotherson said the rewards of faith made up for it.
He warned that because faith was hard, it was tempting to settle for something small and to focus inward.
For instance, it would have been easier for Abram to stay in Ur instead of migrating to Canaan, he said.
Dr Brotherson said, in the same way, it would be easier for Christians not to get involved in God’s plan to bless all peoples.
He asked attendees if they were prepared to make hard decisions in faith.
“Will you make those hard decisions in faith? Decisions to step out of your comfort zone? To leave behind the securities you’ve relied on? Will you give yourself to something bigger?” he said.