Responding To An Anti-Vaxxer Pastor’s Eschatological View

In response to my short piece about vaccination, the end times, and antichrist, I received a message on my Facebook page from a female pastor. Her remark drew my attention since I feel this is a problem that not only she, but other pastors and believers face. I’d like to respond to her explanation, but I’d like to do so with love, gentleness, respect, and kindness, knowing that she, too, is a brethren in Christ. My goal in responding isn’t to demonstrate that I’m an expert on everything. This isn’t what I’m going for. I’d want to offer you a different interpretation and explanation so you can decide who has more scriptural evidence. As pastors, it is our job to guard and safeguard our flock from every wind of doctrine. So keep in mind that we, as shepherds and teachers, will be held accountable one day for how we spiritually and doctrinally guide our flock.

Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, – Prov. 27:23

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. – Rom. 14:12

… for they [church leaders] are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Heb. 13:17

After I’ve mentioned these verses, I’d like to share this female pastor’s comment with you. I’m including the entire context here. Wala akong tinanggal sa kaniyang mga sinabi dito. This is what she wrote,

“On the end times, even the very elect will be deceived. Pastors, leaders, giant leaders will be deceived. But those people who are led by the Holy Spirit and the scripture will be 10x wiser than bible experts. “The old serpent deceives the world” Rev. 12:9. Sabi ng ibang Kristyano: paano kung yung vaccine ay di pa talaga 666? Edi ano? Nari-risk yung health mo, ng family mo at ng church. Eh what if hayan na talaga? Tapos nakapasok na sayo, tingin mo pa ba maliligtas ka? MAY MAWAWALA BA KAPAG DI NATIN TINANGGAP ANG VACCINE? WALA NAMAN. “Kailangan dito ang karunungan: maaaring malaman ng sinumang matalino ang kahulugan ng bilang ng halimaw, sapagkat ito’y bilang ng isang tao. Ang bilang ay 666” Pahayag 13:18. Hindi ito tungkol kung gaano karami ang tagasunod ng mga leaders, o gaano kalaki ang church, at kung gaano karami ang members. Hindi ibig sabihin na marami, sila ang tama. The book of Revelation also say, in the end times only a handful will be saved. So, everyone brace yourself to your most Holy Faith. Ask yourself first, this day, this hour, am I only depending on men’s wisdom? Or am I depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.” – Pastor Ruth

Marami siyang mga nabanggit na kailangan nating sagutin. Let’s see if her interpretation is correct.

Malimit kong mapakinggan at mabasa ang mga taong ang tingin sa mga Bible experts ay hindi sa Diyos. This is truly sad. Actually, ang challenge ko sa mga mananampalatayang ito ay mag-publish sila ng kanilang sariling Bible from scratch. Sila kaya ang mag-aral ng Hebrew at Greek. Tingnan natin if they can come up with their own Bible. HIndi ba nila alam na kaya lang tayo ng nagkaroon ng mga Tagalog at English versions nga mga Bible ay dahil sa mga Bible scholars na ito na nagbuhos ng kanilang panahon at buhay para lamang maisalin ang Hebrew and Greek sa ating modern languages and dialects upang maintindihan natin ang kaligtasan at kung sino si Jesus Christ? Ngayon at naiintindihan na natin ay para bang alam na natin ang lahat na kaya na natin itong i-explain by means of our little knowledge using Strongs lexicon online. Allow me to give you an idea na para matuto kang umintindi at mag-interpret in a scholarly way ng biblical languages ay kinakailangan ninyong makapagtapos ng tatlong taon ng pormal na pag-aaral sa Biblical Studies degree that focuses Hebrew 1, 2, & 3, and Greek 1, 2, and 3 for three consecutive years. Hindi naman natin sinasabi na kailangan ninyong mag-aral ng tatlong taon sa seminary para maintindihgan ninyo ang basic na teaching ng BIble about salvation in Christ and Christian living. Pero, may mga turo sa Bible na kailangan ninyo ng tulong ng mga experts sa languages at theology. Kaya nga reminder ni Peter sa mga believers about some of Paul’s epistles sa 2 Peter 3:17,

“He talks about this subject in all his letters. Some things in his letters are hard to understand. Ignorant people and people who aren’t sure of what they believe distort what Paul says in his letters the same way they distort the rest of the Scriptures. These people will be destroyed.” (God’s Word Translation)

Ang sabi dito ay “some things” lang naman sa epistles. Now, imagine kung ang pag-aaralan na natin ay eschatological books tulad ng kay John. Lalo na nating kailangan na mag-ingat kasi maraming symbolism dito. At ang nakakalungkot ay sasabihin pa nila para mag-mukhang espirituwal ay they depend lang daw sa Holy Spirit. If they do, then huwag silang magbasa ng King James Version, at iba pang mga Tagalog at English versions kasi ang mga nagsalin ng mga iyan ay mga scholars din naman. Let’s see them depend on the Holy Spirit as they read the Hebrew and Greek languages. Let’s see them come up with their very own translation. Let’s see them say they are “ten times wiser” than Bible experts. Actually, mali na naman ang pag-quote niya dito kasi galing ito sa Daniel 1:20 kung saan nai-compare si Daniel at ang kaniyang mga kaibigan with the magicians and psychics of their kingdom.

Whenever the king asked them about things that required wisdom and insight, he found that they knew ten times more than all the magicians and psychics in his whole kingdom.

So ang tanong natin ay ten times better kanino? Sa mga Bible experts nga ba talaga? I believe the good pastor is twisting the meaning of this passage. She also concluded, “May mawawala ba kapag di natin tinanggap ang vaccine? Wala naman.” Actually, merong nawawala. Ang nawawala po sa atin ay ang pagtitiwala sa Panginoon na Siya ang nagkaloob ng mga doktor at mga medisinang ito para sa ating proteksiyon. Wala kang dapat ikatakot. Tandaan ninyo na si Luke ay isang doctor. Marami siyang mga istorya na may koneksiyon sa healing. Naalala niyo ba yung story ng isang bleeding woman for twelve years sa Matthew 9:18-26? Ginawa na niya ang lahat ng kaniyang magagawa by going to all the experts in the medical field but nothing happened. Then when she heard about Jesus Christ. Siya ay pumunta sa Kaniya at lumapit siya dito then nakaranas siya ng kagalingan because of her faith in Him after touching the hem of His garment. Parang ganiyan din sa case ng mga nagpapagamot ngayon. Maaaring ginawa niyo na ang lahat ng bagay by observing proper health protocol and vaccination, then pumunta ka na sa mga medical experts pero hindi ka pa rin gumagaling. Dito na papasok ang pagtitiwala ninyo ng lubos kay Lord na Siya talaga ang dapat ninyong pagtiwalaan sa lahat ng nangyayaring ito. Pero never Niyang pinagsabihan ang babae kung bakit siya pumunta sa doktor para magpagamot.

Naalala niyo din ba na nagbigay ng advice si Paul kay Timothy na umiinom siya ng kaunting alak para sa kaniyang karamdaman sa tiyan sa 1 Timothy 5:23? So, walang masama kung tayo ay magpapa-bakuna sapagka’t ito ay ginagamit ng Panginoon upang proteksiyunan lamang ang ating mga sarili. Isa pa sa nawawala ay ang wisdom na ipinagkaloob sa atin ng Diyos kapag hindi natin ito ginamit. Huwag tayong mag-border sa hyperfaith dahil delikado po ito. Maraming mga miyembro ng mga cults ang hindi umiinom ng gamot sa kadahilanang ito daw ay nagtatanggal ng ating faith kay Lord. Kung ganiyan rin lang naman ay wala palang pananampalataya si Pablo dahil pinapainom niya si Timothy ng kaunting wine para sa stomach ailment niya. Sana ay nakukuha ninyo ang gusto kong sabihin. Ang isa pang nawawala ay ang ating kakayahan para magpaliwanag ng Bibliya in the right way. Tandaan ninyo sana na ang Bible ay isinulat mostly sa Hebrew at Greek kung kaya’t sa pagpapaliwanag ng mga medyo malalalim na teachings katulad ng eschatology ay talagang kailangan natin ng tulong sa mga believers na expert sa biblical languages, culture, history, practices, at familiar sa ancient Near East background. Isa pang kailngan ninyong maintindihan na ang mga letters na isinulat ng mga apostles ay hindi naka-address sa atin kundi sa mga primary recipient ng mga panahong iyon. If this is the case, ang rule ng thumb sa Bible interpretation ay kailangang intindihan muna natin ito sa kanilang kapanahunan bago natin i-apply ang mga bagay na ito sa ating buhay. Ang tawag po dito ay proper exegesis or ang tamang pagpapaliwanag ng Bible based sa historical and grammatical setting. Maraming mga tao ngayon ang nagpapapanggap na marunong daw sila sa pagpapaliwanag ng Bible. Okay lang sana kung sila lang ang iintindi sa sarili nila kasi sila lang ang maaapektuhan kung mali man o tama ang turo nila. Unfortunately, ang spiritually dangerous dito ay nagpapanggap sila na mga mangangaral or teachers na akala niyo ay alam nila ang kanilang mga sinasabi at hindi pinapansin ang mga turo ng mga gifted na mga Bible teachers and scholars. Puro lang pala self-study sa internet at YouTube at walang pormal na pag-aaral sa isang seminary or Bible school kung kaya’t marami silang naliligaw at nade-deceive na mga tao sa kanilang mga baluktot na paliwanag. Nakakalungkot talaga ito.

The one that the female pastor quoted in Matthew 24:24 na “they shall deceive the very elect” must be interpreted based on the context of the passage. Hindi ito nangangahulugan na na yung mga nagpa-vaccine ay na-deceived kasi may microchip daw na laman ang mga ito na ipinasok na sa kanilang mga katawan. Malayong-malayo po ito sa gustong sabihin ng verse. Again, consider the context of the passage. If you will just pull-out those words of Jesus from that particular verse out of context ay talagang puwede ngang i-interpret ito ng kahit na sino base on their subjective understanding. Ang hindi alam ng marami ay yung deception na niri-refer dito sa passage na ito ay may koneksiyon sa mga false Christs and false prophets showing great signs and wonders katulad ng sinabi ni Jesus,

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

So, mag-ingat tayo sa pagpapaliwanag and make sure na faithful pa rin tayo sa context ng biblical passage. Kaya nga ang paalala ng mga biblical language teachers sa atin ay always observe the three important rules in biblical interpretation: 1. Context, 2. Context, and 3. Context. Nakakatawa lang dahil inulit lang ng tatlong beses ang salitang context. Ang ibig lang nilang idiin dito ay context is very very important para hindi tayo magkamali sa ating pagpapaliwanag ng Bible. May nakapagsabi nga na, “A text out of context becomes a pretext meant for error.” And for us to understand the context we need also the help of the Bible scholars to know the background, history, practice, and proper grammar ng Scripture passage na ating pinag-aaralan.

May binanggit din siya na hindi dahil sa malaki ang church or mega-church ay tama na sila sa kanilang pagpapaliwanag ng Bible. May point naman si pastor dito. Actually, maraming mga kulto na milyon-milyon ang members pero mali pa rin ang kanilang pang-unawa at paliwanag sa Bible. On the other hand, hindi din naman natin puwedeng sabihin na dahil sa maliit ang church niyo ay tama na ang pagpapaliwanag ninyo ng Bible. Kasi marami din namang kulto na ang members nila ay mga twenty to fifty people lamang at ang gamit lang ay Bible at wala nang iba pang mga Bible references pero mali pa rin ang kanilang mga teachings. So sana tanggapin natin ang kaloob or ibinigay ni Lord sa church or sa body ni Christ na mga believers who are spiritually gifted in the aspect of teaching. At kasama sa Kaniyang kaloob ay ang mga pastors-teachers na tumutulong sa atin para tayo gabayan sa tamang pag-aaral ng Bible. Sabi nga ni Paul sa Ephesians 4:11-14,

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Basahin ninyong mabuti dahil ang sinasabi dito ay the Lord gave us shepherds and teachers to equip the believers para hopefully tayo ay magkaisa sa pananampalataya at sa pagkaunawa tungkol kay Jesus para hindi tayo madala ng kung anu-anong klaseng mga doktrina. So para hindi tayo madala ng kung anu-anong mga turo ay let us humble ourselves to receive the right teachings from these learned believers para naman maging properly guided tayo sa pag-aaral ng Scripture. Marami kasi ang nagkakamali tungkol sa pag-iinterpret ng signs of the times. Kesyo ito na daw ang panahon ng antichrist, 666, the beast, at rapture. Kung pag-aaralan niyo lang ang Bible ng mabuti sa perspective ng pretribulationist at premillennialis ay hindi pa oras at panahon upang mangyari ang mga bagay na ito. May mga kailangan munang mangyari bago mangyari ang kanilang mga inaasahan pero given the scenario na nakikita natin sa panahong ito ay wala pa tayo sa panahon ng antichrist, 666, the beast, at possible rapture. Sabi nga ni John sa sulat niya sa Revelations 13:16-18,

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Basahin ninyong mabuti na ang sabi diyan ay marked on the right hand or the forehead, hindi sinabing marked inside the right arm.1 Wala pa naman akong alam na nagpa-bakuna sa kanang kamay at noo. At the same time, ang marka na ito ay isang panlabas na marka kung magiging faithful lang tayo sa sinasabi ni John.2 At ang isa pa, ang mark na ito ay may relation sa pagsamba ng isang tao sa beast dahil kapag hindi siya nagpa-marka ay nangangahulugan ito na sinusuway niya ang utos nito sa kaniyang establish na government. Is this what’s happen ing today? Maganda din ang paliwanag ni Dr. John Walvoord tungkol sa passage na ito. Ang sabi niya,

“Enforcing his control over the human race and encouraging worship of the beast out of the sea, the second beast required everyone… to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, and without this evidence that he had worshipped the beast no one could buy or sell. The need to buy or sell sucj necessities as food and clothingh would force each person in the entire world to decide whether to worship the beast or to bear the penalty. Apparently the great majority worshipped the beast.” (John Walvoord, “Revelation,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pp 962-963)

Nasa panahon na ba tayo ng antichrist? Nasaan ang beast na kailangang i-worship kung talagang konektado ang pagpapa-vaccine sa 666? Pinipilit ba ang mga tao na pabakunahan to the point of death? Many believers who are anti-vaxxers could not really explain this. Wala silang masabi dahil sa alam nilang suntok sa buwan lang ang kanilang interpretation. Alam niyo ba kung nasaang panahon tayo? Oo nga’t tayo ay nasa last days na kasi ito talaga ang nakasulat sa Hebrews 1:1-2.3 Tayo din ay nasa panahon ng pandemic kung saan kinakailangan ang lahat ay mag-ingat na mahawa or makahawa dahil siguradong maaapektuhan po ang kalusugan o ang buhay natin o ng mga loved ones natin. Of course, hindi pa natin tinatanong ang mga ibang Bible experts na naniniwala din naman sa post-millenium at amillennium perspective kasi may ibang paliwanag din naman sila patungkol dito sa mga bagay na ito.

Tama din naman na kaunti lamang ang maliligtas. Pero ang kaunti na ito ay in relation to billions of people who actually live on planet earth. Huwag naman nating isipin na ang church ninyo lang ang mase-save dahil masyadong prideful naman ito. Sabi nga ni Jesus sa Matthew 7:13-14,

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

How many kaya ang few na ito? Ito kaya ay 10, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000, or 10,000,000, 100, 000,000 or 1,000,000,000 in relation to the billions or thrillions of people for the next hundreds of years if the Lord has not yet returned? We have no idea. Only God knows. Yes, we should not depend on men’s wisdom but God has given us believers with the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to guide us so we will not be deceive by these false teachings about the so-called vaccine with microchip. Meron pa ngang dahilan na ang sabi ng iba ay iba daw ang vaccine na ito kasi mas mabilis ang pag-develop compared sa ibang mga vaccines. Maganda ang mga paliwanag ng isang Kristiyanong doktor na si Dr. Mark Schlapobersky, a virologist who works at Barzilai Medical Center in Israel tungkol sa mga bagay na ito. These are excerpts from Amir Tsarfati’s interview with Dr. Schlapobersky:4

Amir: Well, while we have, some vaccines that it took dozens of years to develop, COVID vaccines lasted less than a year. In fact, less than 10 months. It that something we need to be worried about?

Dr. Schlapobersky: I don’t think so. I think that with the COVID, we already had experience with two other viruses which are very close to COVID, SARS 1 and MERS…

Amir: So they use that knowledge and they just adjusted it to the new information they had on that speificic Corona virus?

Dr. Schlapobersky: Right! And we have to understand that this regulatory long process has a lot of bureaucracy. They cut all the bureaucracy. They had to use all the human resource that they had. But basically there was the same process, very detailed included all the data that needed to be approved.

Amir: You know there’s a lot of theories that are running online on social media all the way from microchip that is going to be injected in to us to turning us into human antennas for 5G, all the way to women being sterilized throughout the process of this vaccine. And of course, bottom line is I wanna ask you as a virologist and someone who develop vaccine. And someone also who worked for a daughter company of the same manufacturer of vaccines that came to Israel right now. Let’s go over one by one and conclude whether they are safe or not. Coz people are afraid. A lot of people are afraid. Can you see the possibility of a vaccine company that will insert a microchip into the vaccine. Is it even possible?

Dr. Schlapobersky: Well, I don’t think so. I know the technology very well. I worked on the development of these type of vaccines. It’s impossible to insert anything that would trace people at least in this technology. Second, the development of the vaccines is regulated very closely by FDAs. So I don’t think there’s anything you can insert without being detected. So to answer your question. I don’t think so.

So mag-ingat po tayo at huwag magpapadala sa mga Kristiyanong hindi tama ang kanilang paliwanag sa eschatology at nagpapaliwanag tungkol sa vaccine kahit na sila ay hindi matatawag na expert sa field ng medisina, infectious disease, at virology. Marami na po ang napahamak dahil sa ganiyang paniniwala kung saan maraming buhay ang namatay pati na ang buhay ng kanilang mga anak. Ang importante nating dapat gawin sa panahong ito ay magpabakuna at mag-observe ng proper health protocols habang ang pag-asa natin ay nasa Diyos para unti-unti tayong maka-recover bilang isang bansa at patuloy nating ipahayag ang salita ng Diyos tungkol kay Jesus. I hope that we will not be divided as a nation because of these kinds Bible interpretation.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:14

Footnotes:

1 Notice John carefully writes, “marked on the right hand or the forehead” not injected through the arm nor inserted under the skin. I understand that for the premillennialist pretribulationist believers, they believed the invention of microchips and the move of science towards nanotechnology is a setting of the stage for the future literal antichrist to use these things. As Dr Ron Rhodes, a premillennialist and pretribulationist scholar explains, “The mark, which the Scripture says is ‘on’ the right hand or forehead, not ‘in’ or ‘under’ the skin (Revelation 13:16), will identify allegiance to the antichrist. But that is separate and distinct from the technology that enables him to enforce his economic system.” (Ron Rhodes, End-Times Super Trends, p. 195) Even Dr. Mark Hitchcock, a prominent evangelical eschatologist also explains, “The word mark appears throughout the Bible. For example, it is used many times in Leviticus as a reference to a mark that renders the subject ceremonially unclean, usually related to leprosy. Clearly, in these cases the ‘mark’ is external and visible.” (Mark Hitchcock, The End, p. 336)

2 Some would argue that in the King James Version, it says, “a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.” In numerous places in the King James Version and modern Bible editions, the Greek word “epi” is translated as “on.” The same goes even with the Literal Version that says, “And the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, it causes that they give to them all a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads.” However, even if the word “in” in Revelations 13:16 of the King James Version means “inside the right hand” or “inside the forehead,” it is still incorrect to claim that this vaccination has anything to do with the said passage because it is administered through the deltoid muscle in the upper arm. Furthermore, it has nothing to do with buying or selling in connection with the antichrist worship from a premillennial perspective.

3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV

4 See “Amir Tsarfati: Covid Vaccines, Faith, and The End Times” <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWPkGh1rzx0>

Photo Courtesy: The Guardian

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