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   When the following discourse took the form of a message delivered before the Assembly a few weeks ago, its secondary title was COVID-19 vs. Romans 13 and particularly, Romans 13:8 and 10, which read:
   Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law … Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.
   Imagine the portraiture of two figures: COVID-19, personified as a behemoth and mankind, featured as an insect unable to find its way out of a wet paper bag. But this writer settled on “Do the Five,” inspired by banners strategically positioned at high-volume traffic intersections in his city, for the purpose of reminding motorists and pedestrians alike, to exercise the precautions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Hands (Wash Them Often)
• Elbow (Cough Into It)
• Face (Mask It, Don’t Touch It)
• Feet (Stay 6 Feet Away)
• Feel (Sick, Stay At Home)

   COVID-19 Protocols, together with an acceptable vaccine, were thought by infectious disease prevention authorities as that vehicle by which the pandemic curve would plummet to ZERO. But perhaps unforeseen, was an attitude of the general population that shelved proven preventative means like “Doing the Five;” social-distancing, and avoiding entertainment and recreational venues of large concentrations of people, while placing greater confidence in – as of this writing – an unapproved FDA vaccine that somehow, should become that panacea by which the coronavirus would be eradicated. Meanwhile, COVID continues to surge forward, sickening people and claiming lives in its wake.
   So, here we are … six months in, the curve neither flattened nor plummeted to ZERO, and instead of an autumn anticipation of a second wave, there has been only a continuation of the first … exacerbated by those who have resisted and defied “Do The Five” by crowding the beaches and planning, scheduling, and attending social, recreational, and entertainment, venues unmasked and proximally-distanced.
   Moreover, political leaders have presented, mixed in their own conduct from seriously regarding COVID as “a lurking, invisible enemy” and the human species as vulnerable to its unseen stealth, to brushing the virus off as nothing more than the common cold. Ironically, those in Government who have responded and reacted trivially to “the plague,” have seen more of their constituencies succumb to the disease. They might instead, and at least, have led by example and, moreover, been more vigorous in issuing Executive Orders or advanced legislation that provided uniform guidance and practice of “Do the Five” and other initiatives to quell the spread of the coronavirus.

Effects of COVID: Fodder for Scientific Research
   Well, short of obliterating “the plague” from off the face of the planet, its effect has provided scientists with an abundance of socio-metric phenomena to research and study, like,

• How have peoples everywhere, changed hygiene practices?
• What about peoples’ attitudes who “Do the Five” toward the non-compliant behaviors of those who “Don’t The Five?”
• And have months of Government imposed stay-at-home directives and lockdowns with the imposition of arrest and/or fines assessed for disobedience – observing “social distancing” face coverings and “self-quarantining” when tested positive – made people feel disconnected; less inclined to be numbered among assemblies greater than ten; less compassionate toward redressing the infirmities, necessities, and distresses of others?
• What do people feel about the shuttering of businesses and industries, and prohibitions against interstate and international travel?
• How do people feel about retailers, sporting enterprises, requiring the wearing of face coverings and social distancing as prerequisites for admittance into stores and events with expulsion enforced for noncompliance?
• How do retailers feel about having to enforce mandatory social-distancing and face coverings of their customers?
• What hardships does the closure of in-person K-12 schools impose upon working parents?
• How has public pre-school and K-12 education that relies on tax support, and parochial schools and private K-12 academies that depend on tuition, been impacted by concerned parents’ home schooling their children as a precautionary means to avert the potential of spreading the infectious disease?
• How do churchgoers feel about perceived Government encroachments upon the so-called doctrine of “separation of church and state,” as churches too, were shuttered during the course of the pandemic and protestors seeking redress to racial inequities were permitted to gather in the public square?
• How do people respond to the “Quantitative Easing” by the Federal Reserve printing trillions of dollars to provide Government monetary support to businesses, corporate enterprises, and individuals?
• And has trillions of dollars given away by the US Treasury in the form of economic stimulus in the amount of $1200 to every adult in America, lulled people into thinking the handout as an entitlement owed them by the Government, or as a trade-off for having to endure the hardships touted as having been produced by the coronavirus or, as an election year gimmick to woo voters to the polls on November 3rd ?
• In the midst of a worsening pandemic, how do people feel about Government’s lifting of restrictions on mobility and social gatherings and people congregating at recreational/entertain- ment events?
• And now, with Government’s lifting of restrictions on mobility and gatherings, with the outcome the pandemic has worsened, how do people feel about Government’s imposition of further infrastructure closures and stay-at-home orders?
• How do people feel about mandatory vaccinations?
• And to what extent have the murders of George Floyd and other high crimes and misdemeanors executed by police, and the reaction of left wing perpetrators of violence on our streets and Government’s high-handed counter-response in an effort, and during an election year, to advance “law and order” colluded with COVID-19 to inspire a paranoia among peoples everywhere?
• And is there any truth to the suspicions the whole affair is more of a “plandemic” than a pandemic as a means to establish Agenda 21’s New World Order?

All these questions, and doubtlessly, many more have, and will, surface as “-ologists” (psychologists, sociologists, economists, etc.) find fresh fields which to survey and study.

Beware the Naysayer
   And before proceeding, a word about “conspiracy theories.” Presently, conspiracy theories abound and receive more attention from those curious to know of them who claim to “be in the know.”
   And, yes, Yahweh is wanting His children neither to be ignorant, nor deceived, and has therefore charged them to be vigilant (interpreted to mean, watching) and diligent (interpreted to mean, praying) – and as much, incidentally, to preclude entering into temptation (Matt. 26:41) and falling into sin, as hoping to be accounted worthy to escape all that is coming upon the earth (Luke 22:36).
   But we should appreciate that the revelation of Scripture discloses there are four particular arenas in which Yahweh exacts judgment upon peoples everywhere for their lawlessness and their evil come of reprobate minds (Rom. 1:28) whose imaginations (Gen. 11:6) and inventions of evil (Rom. 1:30) are unrestrained, and that what is witnessed and experienced now, is but fulfillment of Yahshua’s reply to His disciples’ query, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3.

These are:
• the sword (wars);
• pestilence (in our time, the COVID-19 pandemic with its secondary appendages of diverse infirmities, necessities, and distresses);
• famine (and a real famine of bread and water together with a famine of preaching and hearing the Word of Yahweh); and,
• an increase in wild beasts

Conspiracy theorists, incidentally, are silent on these points, their purpose to espouse questions, surmising, doubts and instilling in peoples everywhere, the spirit of fear which comes not of Yahweh (2 Tim. 1:7) and which has torment (1 John 4:18). They would have people to be anxious about everything … walking by sight, instead of by faith (2 Cor. 5:7).

As It was, So It is
   The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:2b: “For All Men Have Not Faith,” and certainly not all people are on the same page concerning all the appendages attached to COVID-19.
   Among believers even, who are suspicious of anything with which the Government is involved, conflicts are beginning to surface with understanding the Apostle’s discourse in Romans, Chapter 13, with them concluding with the Apostles Peter and John’s defiance of an order forbidding them to preach in the Name of Yahshua. “Whether it be right in the sight of Yahweh to hearken unto you more than unto Yahweh, judge ye. … We ought to obey Yahweh rather than man” (Acts 4:19, 5:29).
   And we’ll start right there. For if we believe and teach – and we do believe and teach – that “All Scripture Is Given Inspiration of Yahweh …” (2 Tim. 3:16), then Romans 13:1-7 should surely qualify as Scripture inspired of Yahweh.
   The question is, “How to rightly divide Romans 13:1-7?”
   On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented to the Continental Congress, the cherished document, The Declaration of Independence, on display in Philadelphia’s Constitution Hall. The preamble to that document reads:
   “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s G-d entitle them, a decent respect requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
   “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.
   “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
So, now, let’s read Jefferson’s, “foundation on such principles.” We begin with 1 Peter 2:13-15, and conclude with 1 Timothy 2:1-4:
   Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Master’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and the for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of Yahweh, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
   I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all piety and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of Yahweh our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
   Far more observed among men, is a readied criticism and demonism of those in civil authority than readiness to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks” for, and on their behalf, that they, too, might “be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the Truth.”
   In fact, it would not much occur … even to us who purport to have knowledge of the Truth, that the reason for the Apostle’s exhortation is not at all that Government should get off our backs and out of our lives but rather, that those in authority might, as we, “be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the Truth” therewith, evoking from us thanksgiving as it is written: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice” (Prov. 29:2a.)

Cause and Effect
   We should not wonder the cause of this coronavirus and every other evil that has made its way into the institutions of men, both in this country and abroad, as well:

• abortions of the innocents;
• pornography;
• human trafficking of girls and women for the purpose of sexual exploitation;
• queerism (LGBT-QA);
• the opioid crisis and the substance abuse pandemic;
• suicides;
• physician-assisted euthanasia;
• men putting asunder what Yah has joined together (divorce);
• child abuse and neglect; social welfare and vagrancy;
• the love of money which is the root of all evil,

and the list goes on and on and is directly related to We The People NOT, making “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks.

   May I submit to you therefore, rather than trying to decide whether mask wearing, social distancing, lockdowns with police arrest and fines for disobedience constitute more than Jefferson’s “light and transient causes” we should instead, consider that it is “right in the sight of Yahweh to hearken … to obey Yahweh.”
In Matthew, Chapter 22, Verses 24-40 we read an account in which a certain lawyer (of the Torah) approached Yahshua with a question – a question to which    Yahshua responded well, and an answer that will help resolve the COVID dilemma.
   The lawyer, though surreptitious in his motive, nevertheless asked a good question:
   Master, which [is] the great commandment in the Law (Torah)? Yahshua said unto him, “Thou shalt love Yahweh thy Elohim with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law (Torah) and the prophets, Matthew 22:36-40.
   We end this discourse, as we began. We are content and unmoved with science working out a vaccine. We’re resolved instead, to obey “these two commandments,” and expressed as well in Romans Chapter 12, Verses 8 and 10:
   Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law … Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.

• Hands (Wash Them Often)
• Elbow (Cough Into It)
• Face (Mask It, Don’t Touch It)
• Feet (Stay 6 Feet Away)
• Feel (Sick, Stay At Home)

   Just as a “four-way” stop at an intersection, or a traffic signal where green means go; amber means proceed with caution; and red means STOP – just as Jefferson’s “such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness” – ’tis about “Public Safety, as in, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor … Right in the sight of Yahweh … Fulfilling of the Law” and hardly thought, “a light and transient cause!”

-Elder John. W. Reece

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