Trois Minutes about Quarantine!Aug 28, 2021
What a trendy word these days, that word quarantine.
It comes to us all the way from medieval Europe, coined during the black plague to define that period of 40 days when people were to stay away from each other. We didn’t invent social distancing last week.
The word itself comes from the French for “forty,” quarante. A quarantine is a season of 40 days to be separated from the world.
Numbers have symbolic value in Scripture. While seven signifies completion and perfection, forty underscores trial and testing. It rained for forty days and forty nights when Noah entered the very first recorded quarantine. Moses remained on the mountain and in the presence of the Lord for forty days and nights before returning with the Law. It took the spies forty days to scout out the land of Canaan, and to choose to distrust God. This in turn led the Israelites in the desert for a whooping forty years—the longest quarantine ever recorded.
Quarantines didn't stop with the chosen people’s entry in the Promised Land. Goliath mocked the Israelites for forty days before David volunteered to end his nation’s shame for the glory of God. And then, King David reigned for, you guessed it, forty years. Just like his predecessor Saul, and his son Solomon. Even Jonah warned Niniveh that doom was pending if they didn’t repent—in exactly forty days. Forty days, forty years.
Jesus experienced the ultimate season of trial and testing during forty days in the wilderness—all alone. He self-quarantined. Had you realized that Jesus can relate even to this, our self-quarantines? You’re not the first one to go stir-crazy with the enemy of your soul as your only companion.
Satan will delight to join you on your quarantines—your seasons of testing and trial. But you can choose to invite God, instead. What better company?
A quarantine is about separating yourself from the world during a season of refining. We are undergoing the strangest of seasons right now. We have a choice: will we merely endure it, or will we thrive in it? Will we complain and moan, aiming to “make the best of it” with a martyr’s pose of self-pity, or will we truly embrace this season of self-apartness and testing to be refined for what God has in store for us next?
We have actually been in quarantine since Wednesday, February 26, 2020. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Yes, we are right smack in the middle of Lent. Lent lasts, you guessed it, forty days. It culminates with Easter. While not widely practiced among modern-day evangelicals, lent is a self-imposed forty-day quarantine. It is a season of fasting. Some fast from foods—especially rich, fatty ones. Others embrace a different kind of fast—maybe from social media, or from their most addictive TV shows. Some refrain from gossip. Good quarantines. Lent “quarantiners,” like anyone on a fast, aim to seek God’s face, to grow closer to Him through a denial of self.
Quarantines are about creating new, good habits to overcome old, bad ones. It takes about forty days to create new pathways in your cerebral cortex to replace bad ingrained habits with good ones. Quarantine your bad habits. Create new ones. Quarantines are about new beginnings, hope, and maybe even celebration. Yes, quarantines culminate in exultation, like Lent in Easter.
The most celebratory forty-day season ever recorded was ushered on Easter morning, and closed on the Ascension. Hundreds, maybe thousands of new believers met the resurrected Christ in the flesh, and celebrated His eternal life as the perfect God-Man. Thomas was led to worship and wonder as he placed his fingers on his Lord’s stigma. He doubted, yet he reached out—and met faith. Forty days of joy, life, love, hope! That’s forty days I cannot wait to celebrate, once our current season of lent-quarantine ends.
So we have a choice. Will this quarantine, this symbolic season of quarante days of trial and testing, lead us to new growth, hope, joy and intimacy with God? The choice is yours.
I am looking forward to the numberless days of heaven, when the ultimate quarantine will be separation from sin and self, and the ultimate celebration will be worship in full sight of the splendor of our King.
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