The definition of quarantine is placing restraint upon activities or communication. It also involves forced separation for a determined period of time or purpose.
In the season of coronavirus, with rampant speculation, fear, and conflicting views, quarantine has been encouraged. The initial thought has been that if people don’t gather or mingle, they won’t pass along the virus. Yes, most everyone has a personal, political, and conspiracy view. However, if we apply the concept spiritually, we find God also quarantines His followers.
The current quarantine condition involves painful complexities of anxiety, loneliness, fear, and disruptions of daily routines. As made in God’s likeness [Genesis 1:26], we are relational beings who flourish in human interaction. In the absence of such, our emotional and physical health tends to deteriorate. This, in turn, affects our mental and spiritual health. So, our views on forced quarantines may lean toward negativism and avoidance.
And yet, God calls His followers to His own times of quarantine. Several times in Scripture, He identifies His people as called out, separated, chosen, different, peculiar, and not of this world. Though residents of this world, we are citizens of the world to come. In that regard, He calls us to stand out, be separate, be different—even to be non-conformists [Romans 12:2].
But there are three distinct times when God calls His followers to be quarantined, separated, called away, insulated from this present world.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.” [1 Corinthians 6:14-17, bold text added for emphasis].
This call to quarantine refers to spiritual, not physical, separation. It is not a call to a monastic lifestyle requiring complete isolation from the outside world. Jesus said although His followers are in the world, they are not of the world. Meaning, while physically here, we are (or should be) different.
How different? As much difference as between night and day, light and darkness, righteousness and lawlessness. We are called children of light [Ephesians 5:8]. Our lifestyles are in God’s light [1 John 1:7]. Additionally, we are to let our light shine in this dark, sinful world [Matthew 6:16]. We are to have no fellowship with this world’s darkness [Ephesians 5:11]. As filled with God’s light, we are incompatible with darkness [1 John 1:6].
This is a quarantine of righteousness.
And He said to them, “Come aside (away) by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” [Mark 6:31, bold text and parenthesis added].
This call to quarantine refers to physical separation. In the middle of His ministry, Jesus called His disciples away to a quiet place of rest. Imagine that—there were still countless people to feed, heal, teach, and lead. But Jesus knew the frailty of our humanity. We need occasional times of detachment and rest to optimize times of active engagement. Face it, spiritual warfare is a battle!
We all need to disconnect periodically from the busyness to recharge our batteries. This may be a temporary removal from social media, a silencing of phones and emails, or a full-blown getaway vacation. Time away helps to refresh mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. After all, how can we help, equip, or encourage others when our tanks are empty? How can we minister to others when we are frazzled and at wits end?
This is a quarantine of renewal.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this” [Revelation 4:1, bold text added for emphasis].
Oh, glorious day! This call to quarantine refers to the ultimate isolation—the Rapture of all genuine believers at the end of the dispensation of grace. It corresponds with 1 Thessalonians 4:13 through 5:11 where we find the “catching away” of the Bride of Christ to Heaven.
For the end-times enthusiasts, after Revelation 4:1, the Church is not mentioned again until chapter 19:14. There it is implied the Church returns to earth with Christ to reign. Beyond that implied reference, the Church as the Bride is mentioned in Revelation 22:17. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” During the Tribulation, the horrific series of seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments happen on earth while the Bride is in Heaven.
Before leaving this earth, Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” [John 14:2-3]. Based on His promise, this quarantine is the ultimate, permanent call for genuine believers in Christ.
This is a quarantine of removal (Rapture).
How comforting to know God’s ultimate purpose is to separate His followers to His righteousness, renewal, and removal. He is sovereignly in control as our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. Our purpose is to be conformed into the likeness of Christ [Romans 8:29]. He sustains us with His Spirit, His Word, and periodic times of rest. And one day soon, He will call us away to be forever united with Him!
This inspires us to live separated from the world in ways that honor Him. It compels us to be transformed by the aligning of our minds to His mindset [Philippians 2:5]. It encourages us to live with the urgency and immediacy of His soon return for us! When He does, may we be found faithful!
Yes, God does quarantine His followers—for our good and His glory! Let’s not grow weary along the journey.