by 鍾卓權牧師 (Rev. Bernie Chung)
以色列民族有一個傳統，就是在哭牆前祈禱。撒母耳記下第二十四章記載當年大衛王數點百姓是出於驕傲自大，但一旦他認清自己所行的是愚昧時就極其自責，主動向 神認罪，神欲管教犯罪的百姓。因此，神讓大衛在「三樣災」中選擇其一，最終，大衛選擇了「瘟疫」，他情願與百姓一同受罰，因為「瘟疫」讓大衛和百姓同樣「落在耶和華的手裡」(24:14)，末了，大衛自己也帶領以色列子民謙卑地在神面前獻燔祭和平安祭。燔祭是祭司把祭牲宰殺，不僅賦有洗淨罪的意義，也象徵把自己裏裏外外都敞開給 神，全然獻上自己。當瘟疫流行的時候，大衛王教導猶太人要知道感恩，謙卑、悔改、更新，於是瘟疫就停止了。平安祭是預表人與神和好，與神相交，成就了和平，猶如感恩奉獻。今天無數以色列民(猶太人) 來到哭牆，為中國這次新冠狀(武漢)肺炎疫情獻上虔誠的祈禱！今早(2/26) 新聞報導說疫情已蔓延至全球三十多個國家，讓我們在禱告中記念人類所面臨的疫情，求神賜醫治、安慰陷於疫情和因而失去親人的民眾，也求神幫助我們知道如何防止感染，並使瘟疫能早日得到控制。
哈該書 1:4-5 節說：「這殿仍然荒涼、你們自己還住天花板的房屋麼？ 現在萬軍之耶和華如此說、你們要省察自己的行為」。先知哈該並不是批評以色列民不應該住在有「天花板的房屋」裡，而是說他們對自己住宅的重建既沒有耽延，也已經完工了，但敬拜和禱告的殿仍然是荒涼的，因為建設殿的工程已經停頓了，表示百姓體貼自己過於尊重神，著重地上的事過於屬靈的事，以致生活中的優先次序本末倒置。倘若我們今天要省察自己的行為，我們會得到什麼樣的結論呢？無可否認，現今整個社會風氣都趨向物質主義，我們自身也受到影響。更糟糕的是，我們對屬靈的事也陷入了模稜兩可之中。這就是為什麼萬軍之耶和華要以色列民省察自己的行為，今天施恩典憐憫的 神，同樣要我們省察自己的行為。正如我們竭盡所能地要防止病毒的感染，我們也需要以同樣的態度來防止對屬靈復興無動於衷之感染。讓我們虔誠地來到主前禱告，求神幫助我們誠實地省察自己的行為，並賜智慧和力量復興我們的靈命。阿們！
The nation of Israel has a tradition of praying at the Wailing Wall. 2 Samuel chapter 24 records that King David decreed to count the number of able fighters under him out of pride and arrogance. This was against God’s will. Once David realized his foolishness, he reproached himself and confessed his sins to God. God wanted to discipline sinful people, and He asked David to choose one of three options as punishment. David chose “the plague”, and he was willing to be punished along with his people because David wanted to “fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is great” (2 Samuel 24:14 NIV). Finally, David himself led the people of Israel to humbly offer burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. A burnt offering involves the priest's slaughtering of the livestock. It has the meaning of cleansing sin and symbolizes that the person making the offering reveals and offers himself completely to God. When the plague spread, King David taught the Jews to be thankful, humble, repentant, and to be renewed. Then the plague stopped. The peace sacrifice is a sign of reconciliation and communion with God, and peace is achieved and thanksgiving expressed. Today countless Israelis (Jews) come to the Wailing Wall and offer sincere prayers for the new coronavirus COVID-19 (from Wuhan) pneumonia epidemic in China! This morning (2/27) news reports state the epidemic has spread to more than 40 countries around the world. Let us remember in our prayers this epidemic we are facing and ask God to heal and comfort the people who are suffering in this epidemic, especially those who have lost their loved ones. May God help us overcome this infectious disease and to keep this plague under control soon.
Haggai 1: 4-5 says, “‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’ Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.’” The prophet Haggai was not criticizing the Israelites for living in a “paneled house”. Rather, it was the fact that the reconstruction of their home had not been delayed while the temple of worship and prayer remained desolate. People often place self-comfort over their respect for God. We focus too much on earthly matters and ignore what is spiritual. Our priorities have woefully reversed. What conclusions would we draw if we were to “give careful thought to our ways” today? It is undeniable that our society has been consumed by materialism and we are affected by this tendency as well. To make matters worse, we may also have been ambivalent about spiritual things. God of Heavenly Hosts wanted the people of Israel to give careful thought to their ways in the past. Merciful God wants us to give careful thought to our ways today also. As we strive to do everything we can to prevent the infection of the virus, we must have the same determination and diligence to prevent the indifference to our own spiritual revival. Let’s pray and ask God to help us to examine our own actions honestly, and to grant us wisdom and strength to restore our spiritual life. Amen!