THE COVID19 VACCINATION AND BELIEF

alternate textThere is currently a heated debate as to whether it is acceptable for believers to take some or any of the available types of vaccines that are currently being offered worldwide as an antidote to the Coronavirus. Because of the sensitive and very emotional nature of this issue I was initially not so inclined to talk about vaccinations in public. At this stage of the vaccination process in our country, however, (about 6 months after the start of the vaccination program in Feb 2021), it has become clear that there are still many people objecting vigorously against the vaccination program, many times for reasons related to belief and the Bible. Social media platforms regularly feature Bible-related viewpoints — either to condemn or to encourage vaccinations. Believers I have talked to about this, are confused and uncertain about the matter and do not quite know who to believe and who not. Some quote the Scriptures to defend a certain point of view. Others quote the same Scriptures to defend the exact opposite view. We have no other choice. We MUST help each other to interpret and live out the guidelines of the Word on this matter, in this time, as honestly and as accurately as possible. I’m not going to try to tell anyone that he or she should be taking the “jab” or not. Nor am I going to try to examine the medical and scientific accuracy of all the facts on the table. I am not qualified for it. I will simply try to examine and evaluate the arguments that have to do with Scriptures and belief. And I would like to talk to fellow believers about this and hopefully make a contribution to removing some of the confusion and haziness surrounding this matter.

One of the most frequent ethical objections to COVID injections, concerns the use of aborted human fetuses within the manufacturing process of some of the vaccines. Many people who are against abortion feel that they do not want to be injected with a drug that was manufactured by making use of aborted fetal cells. What are the real facts in this regard? The facts are that about 50 years ago cells from 2 aborted fetuses were used (and then preserved for future use) and that over the past 50 years millions of doses of vaccine have been, and are still being produced using this cell tissue – under more vaccines against hepatitis, rabies and chickenpox. No vaccines today contain physical fetal material, but in the case of some vaccines, fetal cells preserved in laboratories are used as environment for bringing about a virus that may be used in the manufacturing process of a vaccine that is able to kill the harmful virus of the disease. Because these original cells multiply, almost indefinitely and exponentially, it is not necessary for more abortions to take place, in order to provide enough vaccines for the global need. Large companies dealing with genetic, ethical, and law-regulating matters, as well as Scripture-based and religious institutions around the world, recognize today that 50 years ago – rightly or wrongly – aborted human fetuses were used to prepare and manufacture medical vaccines (because human fetuses are much more suitable for this purpose than animal fetuses). However, most (if not all) of these institutions point out that one should not object to the practice of using fetal cell-lines, that originated 50 years ago, as part of the process of manufacturing modern-day vaccines. Especially so, if one bears in mind that, quite literally, millions of lives have been saved using vaccines produced in this way. The clear principle of Scripture has always been that the preservation and protection of human life should enjoy the highest priority for every believer. From time to time it may even be necessary (and legitimate) to set aside the observance of other commandments, for the sake of the preservation of life. In Jewish sources this principle is called “pikuach nefesh” (“the protection of a soul”) and in Scriptures it is mentioned, among others, in Lev 19:16 (“Thou shalt not act against the life of thy neighbour”). Y’shua demonstrated this principle when He argued that the urgent healing of a sick person may in some cases dominate or “override” the Sabbath commandment (Luke 14: 1-6).

The next major objection to COVID19 vaccinations is based upon the perception that the worldwide vaccine drive is operating in the spirit of the Anti-Messiah, the mark of the beast (in the form of a “chip” that is implanted or injected), the symbol of 666 and the evil plans of Satan. The claims and suggestions in this regard are widespread and often border on the most imaginative “conspiracy theories” that have ever been published. But what are the facts concerning this matter? The facts are that most of the generations throughout history, since the time of the cruel Roman Emperor, Nero, have identified so-called “Antichrists” in their own times. It should come as no surprise that this is once again the case during this time of the global Coronavirus pandemic. However, John, the only writer in Scriptures who uses the term “Antichrist” or “Anti-messiah”, tells us that the spirit of the Anti-messiah is first and foremost revealed in those who deny the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22) – not in the efforts of those who are involved in the manufacturing of medicines. Revelation 13, with references to the mark and the number of the beast, is one of the most difficult passages in Scriptures to understand. This prophesy may be one of those in Scriptures that may have more than one “fulfillment”, the last of which may be a fulfilment that is yet to come. The first fulfillment of this prophetic word in Rev 13 may have taken place during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, who was in power when the book of Revelation was written. Like Nero, one of his predecessors, Domitian (who saw himself as part of the “Imperial Divinity”) introduced extremely harsh and unheard of measures to gain the absolute loyalty of the people of Asia, the very region the book of Revelation was aimed at. One well-known historian described this period as follows: “Every Asian had to stamp himself openly and visibly as loyal, or be forthwith disqualified from participation in ordinary social life and trading.” Throughout the COVID19 vaccine campaign, different companies and organizations have been involved, different countries, different timelines, different processes. There is no single, central base or brain behind it all. There is even strife and jealousy and competition among the various role players. But there is a mutual, transparent goal of making an antidote that can save people’s lives. From a neutral point of view, it is extremely difficult to believe that this wide-ranging and multi-dimensional process can be reduced to the “him” or the “he” that is frequently mentioned in Revelation 13 and is normally understood to be an “Antichrist” personality.

A third argument that is often raised within the context of the vaccination process is that believers should rather trust in Yahweh to protect them against the virus – NOT rely on the process of vaccination. Every believer should place his or her trust in Yahweh – not just for protection against the virus, but for every aspect of our existence here on earth. But when we are speaking about trusting Yahweh, on the one hand, and about using medicine, doctors, and medical science, on the other hand, we are not speaking about opposing forces. Belief and science are not opposed to each other. Many scientists and academics and doctors are serious believers who do not trust Yahweh any less than believers who are suspicious and skeptical about certain medical methods. Personally, I think that the majority of believers who state that their trust in Yahweh is the reason why they do not want to be vaccinated, have simply lost their trust in the whole process and in certain organizations. One can understand that. Many mistakes are being made. There are factors such as discord, jealousy, prejudice, self-centered rivalry, unacceptable agendas and even corruption that come up frequently. And meanwhile, we are all, to our core, affected by the pandemic and sometimes almost overwhelmed by it. Uncertainty and the fragility of human life and the destructive reality of sickness and death have come closer to each of us than ever before in our lives. Time and time again, over the past few months, I have asked myself: How do you survive COVID19 if you do not have Yahweh to hold on to? Let us remember that the whole world has been caught off guard by this pandemic. No one planned for it. And no one orchestrated it, despite the fact that many people are making such claims. I honestly do not think so. We’re in the same boat. We may have our own reasons why we do not want to take the vaccine. But let’s come to a decision today to abandon the “I would rather trust in Yahweh” argument. Because by that I am saying that my brother or my sister who feels differently and DOES decide to take the “jab”, DOES NOT trust in Yahweh. And so the dilemma within which we all find ourselves, becomes even bigger. We should rather move closer to one another during this time (although for now we still have to keep our masks on!) – not drift away further from one another.

There is nothing in Scriptures, either directly commanding or directly prohibiting vaccinations. Therefore we should not approach this matter in a prescriptive manner. Deciding whether or not you want to get vaccinated is still your own decision, and for many people it may be a very difficult decision to make! But it is not advisable, or Scriptural, or an act of love, to try to win people over to your own point of view from a position of insensitivity or ignorance or with any other questionable motive. And if we do decide to use Scriptures and belief to support our own point of view, let’s make sure that we are using Scriptures correctly. We should never adopt a public or popular view, without testing it thoroughly. Let us be consistent in applying certain principles that we believe are important in this matter. And more importantly, let’s accept our fellow believer who holds a different position than what we do. Let us look at this person as a true brother and a true sister in the Messiah, as someone who struggles and suffers and makes mistakes just like us, but also someone who now needs my support and compassion and love more than ever before!

IS THERE A PRINCIPLE IN SCRIPTURE ON HOW TO GET A RESOLUTION ON DIFFICULT DECISIONS / CHOICES AFFECTING ALL THE PEOPLE OF MY GROUP / COMMUNITY / NATION?

Parashah Shoftim: Deut 17:8-10 When any matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, or between stroke and stroke – matters of strife within your gates – then you shall rise and go up to the place which Yahweh your Elohim chooses, and shall come to the priests, the Lewites, and to the judge who is in those days, and shall inquire. And they shall declare to you the word of right-ruling, and you shall do according to the word which they declare to you from that place which Yahweh chooses. And you shall guard to do according to all that they instruct you.

Eccl 7:10 Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not wise of you to have asked about this.

Rom 13:1 Let every being be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from Elohim, and the authorities that exist are appointed by Elohim.

Dan 2:21-22 Elohim changes the times and the seasons. He removes sovereigns and raises up sovereigns. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who possess understanding. He reveals deep and secret matters. He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.

1 Pet 2:13-14 Be subject to every institution of man because of the Master, whether to the sovereign as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of doers of evil, and a praise for those who do good.