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Pandemic Lessons from the Scriptures


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Pandemic Lessons
From the Scriptures

    The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi stated, “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Nephi 19:23) The scriptures offer may opportunities to liken them to ourselves and our world. There are even lessons to be learned from the scriptures as we contemplate the “desolating sickness[es]” that are prophesied to cover the earth in the latter days. (D&C 45:31) There are pandemic lessons in the scriptures.

The Children of Israel

    In Exodus 12, we read the Lord’s instructions to the children of Israel regarding the Passover. Those who obeyed with exactness were spared the deadly effects of the destroyer which the Lord sent through the land of Egypt. They were to:

    • Sacrifice an unblemished lamb (Exodus 12:5)
    • Mark their doors as a sign of obedience (Exodus 12:7, 13, 22)
    • Stay in their homes while the destroyer was out (Exodus 12:22)
    • Share their food when there was extra (Exodus 12:4)

    The children of Israel sacrificed an unblemished lamb. What could our sacrifice be when we know the destroyer is coming? Could it be our time to gather, produce and/or preserve our supplies? Could it be the money it would take to purchase those supplies instead of something else we want? Could it be the space it takes to store those supplies which could result in a less then “picture perfect” home?
    The children of Israel marked their doors with lamb’s blood as a sign of obedience. What sign of obedience can we show to the Lord? In 2007, counsel was given to have a 3-month supply of food that is part of our normal diet, a supply of drinking water, some savings, and a long term supply of food. Obeying this counsel could save the lives of our families if we are forced to go unto quarantine or self-isolation during a pandemic just as the marks over the doors of the children of Israel saved them.
    The children of Israel were saved by staying in their homes while the destroyer was passing through the land. During the 1918 flu pandemic, cities that implemented social distancing (limited frequency of and closeness of contact between individuals in a public setting) had a much lower incidence of infection spread than cities that did not. Towns or islands that were able to isolate completely from outside human contact, avoided infection entirely. Voluntary isolation is the best way to avoid contracting any illness.
    The Lord asked the children of Israel to share their extra food. When your own storage obligation is met and you can go beyond it, the Lord would ask you to share with those who need it or can use it. The First Presidency has encouraged us to "store as much as circumstances allow." (See All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage) Be obedient and have faith that your cruse of oil and barrel of meal (1 Kings 17:14-16) will not fail as you share with those in need.

The Word of Wisdom

    Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants holds a promise for those who are obedient to the counsel given in that section. Part of that promise is “that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” (D&C 89:21) During WWI, the people of Denmark were compelled to change the way they ate due to war blockades. The government rationed diet consisted of very little meat, small amounts of butter and milk, large quantities of a whole rye and wheat bran bread, cereals and potatoes. Alcoholic beverages were not allowed. Coffee and tea were not available. When the flu pandemic came to Denmark in 1918, it “was the only non-combatant nation in Europe with a death rate, during the course of the disease, below the pre-war mortality records.” Studies showed that the diet, which followed counsel in D&C 89, was a major factor in reducing the normal death rate and in helping the nation build resistance to the deadly influenza. This would indicate that obedience to the Word of Wisdom can protect from a fatal case of the flu. (see Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation p. 206 by John A. Widtsoe)

Plants and Roots

    In addition to the Word of Wisdom, the Lord has provided other means for caring for our health. Alma 46:40 states “…there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the years were very frequent in the land—but not so much with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject…” It seems wise to research reliable herbal medicines for the treatment of disease and to learn to wisely use the plants and roots which God has provided for our use. In D&C 42:43, the counsel is “…whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food…”

Priesthood Power

    The counsel of the Lord in D&C 42:43, 44, 48 is “And whosoever among you are sick.…the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and…it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.” We must not forget to call upon priesthood power to heal those who are sick. The power of the priesthood may be the only thing that can save some during a pandemic and we must be worthy to receive the blessing. Joseph Smith reported in July 1839 “Much sickness began to manifest itself among the brethren, as well as among the inhabitants of the place, so that this week and the following were generally spent in visiting the sick and administering to them; some had faith enough and were healed; others had not…Sunday 28 – Meeting was held as usual…I spoke, and admonished the members of the Church individually to set their houses in order, to make clean the inside of the platter, and to meet on the next Sabbath to partake of the Sacrament, in order that by our obedience to the ordinances, we might be enabled to prevail with God against the destroyer, and that the sick might be healed.” (see History of the Church 4:3-5)


    As we liken the scriptures to ourselves, we learn lessons that can be applied to pandemics. To survive well, we should:

    • Make the necessary sacrifices to be prepared
    • Obey by having stored food, water, and savings
    • Be willing to go into self-isolation when necessary
    • Share with those in need
    • Avoid coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol
    • Eat meat sparingly
    • Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables
    • Become familiar with reliable herbal medicines
    • Be worthy to call upon healing priesthood power

    May we learn our lessons well.



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Last modified: 07/15/2013