COVID-19 originated in China in late 2019. Many scientists say that it originated in a laboratory, specifically a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Some scientists doubt that COVID-19 is a natural coronavirus, but they stop short of saying that it is manmade. China could have stopped the coronavirus in China, but the Chinese let it spread throughout the world. According to this site, about 25 million COVID-19 cases and 842,000 deaths have been reported in 214 countries and territories since December 2019 when the first cases were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Scientists and medical personnel have made great progress in understanding how the coronavirus spreads and how to treat it. At this point, the coronavirus is still rampaging through the world with no agreement as to the best way to treat it. However, even as the number of cases continue to climb, the rate of death is decreasing. High percentages (in the 99.9 percent range) in each age group that get the disease seem to get over it with no ill effects. However, some people develop long-lasting health problems, and some people die from it.
Nations throughout the world have used various degrees of isolation, physical distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks. These practices seem to have some affect on keeping people healthy, but there is no certain cure for the disease. Knowing what you know about COVID-19, how willing are you to do something simple to be healed from this terrible disease? Numbers 21:6-9 tells of an experience of the Israelites where they faced a serious problem and were promised healing if they did one simple thing.
6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
The people were experiencing a difficult time because poisonous serpents were biting them. The Lord, through Moses, provided a way to heal them. The only thing that the people had to do was to look at the brass serpent on a pole that was created by Moses. If you were dying from a bite by a poisonous serpent, would you be willing to look at the brass serpent on a pole?
Nephi, a prophet in ancient America, taught his people that the brass serpent on a pole represented the Savior hanging on the cross. (See 2 Nephi 25:20.) Just as the Israelites would be healed if they looked at the brass serpent, we can be healed of whatever afflicts us if we will look to Jesus Christ.
20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.
Nephi was not the only ancient prophet who taught that the brass serpent represented Jesus Christ. Alma taught the people in his day of Jesus Christ, and he also taught why some Israelites would not look at the brass serpent. (See Alma 33:19-22.)
19 Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live.
20 But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them.
21 O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting bout your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?
22 If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise gain from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.
At a time of great wickedness in his society, another prophet with the name of Nephi also taught his people to look to the Son of God with faith. He added that “all the holy prophets” testified of Jesus Christ. (See Helaman 8:13-16.)
13 But, behold, ye not only deny my words, but ye also deny all the words which have been spoken by our fathers, and also the words which were spoken by this man, Moses, who had such great power given unto him, yea, the words which he hath spoken concerning the coming of the Messiah.
14 Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
15 And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.
16 And now behold, Moses did not only testify of these things, but also all the holy prophets, from his days even to the days of Abraham.
Nephi continued by saying that many prophets since Abraham have also testified that Jesus Christ would come to redeem His people. Nephi used this story about Moses and the brass serpent to emphasize that we “should look upon the Son of God with faith” and live (Helaman 8:15). Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He overcame the poisonous venom of Satan for all people who would look to Him and repent.
Another man who I sustained as a prophet, seer, and revelator spoke about the experience of Moses. Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles clarified the symbolism of the brass serpent as retold in the Book of Mormon.
Divinely deliberate and serious symbolism is involved. Without this needed elaboration, the Old Testament episode of the fiery serpents does not give us a fulness of spiritual insight that can clearly be “for our profit and learning.”(1 Nephi 19:23.) The symbolic emphasis in this episode is upon both the necessity and the simpleness of the way of the Lord Jesus. Ironically, in Moses’ time many perished anyway. The promise for the future is as follows: “And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.” (Helaman 8:15. See also 1 Nephi 17:41; Alma 37:46.)
Thus, now we have the verified and amplified analogy, thanks to the precious and plain things given to us in “these last records.”
The whole episode points toward the need to look upon Jesus Christ as our Lord, likewise a simple but unwaivable requirement. How plain and precious in any age! (Plain and Precious Things , 22, as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual – Religion 121-122 ).
How much faith in Jesus Christ do you have? Do you have enough faith to follow the counsel of the living prophet of God – even if it sounds too simple to be true? President Russell M. Nelson counseled us in the April 2020 General Conference to hear Jesus Christ.
Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son.
Because when we seek to hear – truly hear – His Son, we will be guided to know what to do in any circumstance….
As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truth.
President Nelson told us that we can find peace and safety in these uncertain times by hearing the words of Jesus Christ. He suggested several places that we can go to hear the Savior.
We can go to the scriptures. They teach us about Jesus Christ and His gospel, the magnitude of His Atonement, and our Father’s great plan of happiness and redemption. Daily immersion in the word of God is crucial for spiritual survival, especially in these days of increasing upheaval. As we feast on the words of Christ daily, the words of Christ will tell us how to respond to difficulties we never thought we would face.
Daily scripture study is a simple thing – much like having faith to look upon a serpent made of brass, but it can bring peace and comfort to our souls. President Nelson had other suggestions as to where we can hear the Savior: attending the temple, doing family history research, indexing, and heeding the words of prophets, seers, and revelators. In all we do, we should “refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost … [and] … know how the Spirit speaks to you…. do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.”
President Nelson gave us counsel to do several small and simple things that will help us to hear the words of the Savior. Do we have enough faith to listen to his counsel? If so, we will be better prepared to look to the Savior, be completely healed, and receive eternal life.