By Revd. Dr. Idowu Ibitoye
I have tailored most of my write up in recent time on Biblical response to COVID-19 and the reasons why people must anchor their hope in Christ, However, I focused on national issues such as rape, corruption, building great nation etc. As I was preparing to write again God ministered to me “Beauty for Ashes in the midst of COVID-19”. The fact remains that COVID-19 has come and it shall vanish through the power of God.
Looking at coronavirus dashboard at a glance, as at the time of this write-up Nigeria has recorded 136,836 confirmed cases, 23,949 active cases, with 110,449 discharged. The country has also recorded 1,632 fatalities with COVID-19 complications. Nigeria has a lot of reasons to appreciate the almighty. A look at other countries’ death cases will confirm that Nigerians must always appreciate God.
Beauty for ashes means that all who mourn will be given a beautiful adornment instead of the ashes thrown on the head while in a mourning mood. Likewise, perfection and wisdom are ascribed to beauty (Ezek. 28:12). We must all know that everything created by God is beautiful. The contemporary world is facing the scourge of Coronavirus where many have succumbed to the call of death. God is telling us that, He will favour our contemporary world with beauty instead of COVID -19 ashes.
Biblical Symbol of Ashes
1. Ashes symbolise sorrow- wherever ashes is mentioned in the bible it is usually associated with sorrow, agony. Indeed COVID-19 has brought sorrow to many families, homes and nations of the world. “And Job took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes” …So, they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” Job. 2:8:13.
2. Ashes also symbolise unrepentant sinners or nations – Any unrepentant sinner is likened to ashes which cannot turn a new leaf. Jesus declared: “Woe to you, chorazini woe to you Bethsaida! for if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” Matt. 11:21
3. Ashes symbolise shame- Whenever the Israelites’ discovered themselves before God they put ashes on their head to represent that they are shameful of the sinful action. However, sackcloth and ashes are worn as a sign of repentance from sin. Simply, putting on sackcloth and ashes was an external demonstration of an internal condition. The Bible recorded that “Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing, she put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went” II Sam. 13:19. Tamar was ashamed of what happened to her and she put ashes on her head.
4. Ashes also symbolize poverty- Oftentimes ashes represent poverty, Hannah declared “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and make them inherit a throne of honour” I Sam. 2:8. God raises the poor from ash heap to prosperity.
5. Ashes signify old things, while beauty stand for new things, old thing will pass away and God will do a new thing, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland,” Isaiah 43:19
Beauty for Ashes
Truly we are living in the time of ashes experience because COVID-19 has claimed several lives all over the globe and many have been murdered in their cold blood through the insurgency, blood bath everywhere. However, God is saying all these will become history and there shall be a new dawn of beauty.
i. Beauty for ashes means that time of celebration has come – the time of sorrow and mourning has gone, time for full celebration has arrived, because the Lord has “anointed you with the oil of joy” Ps. 45:7
ii. Beauty for Ashes means time of victory has come. Surely the Lord shall give the present generation victory over all her challenges. The death and the resurrection of Christ gave us victory and through this we can access our daily victory even over COVID-19. Jesus has overcome for us, (John. 16:33).
iii. It also means freedom and liberty have come – God giving us beauty instead of ashes means that freedom and liberty is already at our door steps, over the present travail. In Christ is the only freedom and liberty. The freedom in Christ must be exercised unto His glory. “For you were called to freedom, brothers, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another,” Gal. 5:13.
iv. Beauty for ashes can also connote blessings – When God removes someone’s shame, He uses blessings to replace it. The time of abundant divine provision has come.
v. Relevance – Beauty for ashes can also mean relevance because ashes is no longer relevant, the time of believers’ relevance has come, and believers will begin to make tremendous impact for God.
When God visited someone and gives him/her beauty for ashes, it means such a person is experiencing divine turn around, and instead of death one will live, because at the burial site it is “ashes for ashes…” God has erased death and given us victory over the power of death. We shall all live to fulfill our God given destinies.
By Revd. Dr. Idowu Ibitoye