Much is being written and said about the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19. It is being regarded as an imminent global threat and perhaps a forerunner of further emerging infectious diseases.
One recent article written by a Clinical Professor and Associate Director of Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, cited three reasons for this particular outbreak. Firstly, rapid urbanization which concentrates 200 million people in East Asia into areas that were once rural habitats. Secondly, the indiscriminate butchering and eating of all types of animal species as seen in the animal markets of Asia and Africa, and thirdly, the crowded conditions and the intimate mixing of multiple species, including humans.
The law and way of God provides us with guidelines for all three causes.
The system God intended man to live by was an agricultural space. Each tribe and then individual family unit was given land to live on. “You shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess. And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families …” (Numbers 33:53-54). The Jubilee year ensured family continuity of possession of land. (See Leviticus 25). The land was God’s and by tending and keeping it, a relationship with God was built and maintained.
Isaiah captures this concept when he said, “Woe to those who join house to house; they add field to field till there is no place where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 5:8). Concentrated urbanization disconnects man from his environment. Mankind has an inherent need to bond with his physical surroundings. It is therapeutic to work with animals and the land. It’s the Garden of Eden concept. Mental health professionals encourage people to get outdoors – hike, play and generally soak up the natural environment. People and families were not intended to crowd on top of each other. We don’t thrive that way.
Another factor that contributes to illness in a major way is what we eat. Not everything considered food is good for human consumption. God’s law defines clean and unclean food which prevents, ”the indiscriminate butchering and eating of all types of animal species.” If the animal market is in fact the source of this outbreak, under God’s law the market would not have provided an animal-to-human bridge (Leviticus 11 – “This is the law of the animals”).
And here’s another point: The one efficient disease suppressor that is near impossible to effectively implement in large urbanized areas is quarantine. It’s an ancient practice that actually works – when it is able to! The biblical nation of Israel lived by many health-related laws including quarantine. “Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse. You shall put out both male and female; you shall put them outside the camp …” (Numbers 5:2-3). A sick person was isolated “outside the camp” for a period of time until they were deemed “clean”. This practice is much easier to implement if families are in contained areas independent of urban “stacking.”
If the cause is addressed more directly, the effect can be better controlled. God’s law addresses the cause and regulates a positive result. “My son, do not forget My law, but let your heart keep My commands; for length of days and long life and peace will they add to you” (Proverbs 3:1-2).