The sanctuary was a place of healing for the human patients who suffered from infectious diseases.
Your COVID-19 test results are positive,” my wife gasped as she broke the news to me two days before our yearly family Christmas trip. I froze in utter shock and dismay. It all made sense now. The “scratchy” throat sensation, the fatigue, the dry cough, the joint pains and muscle aches that I had experienced over the past few days—it suddenly all made sense! Being an infectious diseases physician, I had treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients over the past two years of the deadly pandemic. Now it was my turn to be the patient.
The doctor becomes the patient. This will be interesting.
Being infected with the highly transmissible COVID-19 Omicron variant meant that I had to isolate myself from my loved ones to avoid infecting them. This meant that I could not spend time with my parents and grandparents over Christmas, as has been my family’s tradition. For the first time in my life I spent Christmas in bed, feeling down in the dumps physically and emotionally. Feeling alone, in despair, and isolated from others was even harder to bear than the body pains I was enduring. As is the case with many patients all over the world, the impact of COVID-19 on one’s mental health cannot be overstated.
Suffice it to say, I had been fully vaccinated six months prior to my diagnosis, and this played an enormous role in my rapid recovery from the disease once I contracted it. Within seven days my isolation period ended, and I was on my way to full recovery. Peer-reviewed scientific literature has confirmed the role of vaccination in reducing the severity of symptoms, preventing death, as well as hastening recovery in COVID-19 patients.
So this is how the vaccine works. Long before I had the disease, my body had been prepared to heal.
Long before humanity was diagnosed with the deadly disease called sin, God had already created the vaccine for this pandemic—the plan of redemption. This well-thought-out plan had been established through Jesus Christ for us “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). When Adam and Eve fell, God explained to them His vaccine offer for their healing. Thousands of years later Christ Himself would crush sin and Satan forever (Gen. 3:15). The way this plan was to be carried out was explained to Adam’s descendants, the Israelites, through the blueprints of the sanctuary. As David put it: “Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary” (Ps. 77:13). The procedures, ceremonies, and structure of the sanctuary pointed to Christ’s ministry, which was to come.
Furthermore, the sanctuary was a place of healing for the human patients who suffered from infectious diseases. When the sick had been isolated from their families and community for a minimum of seven days (as was my case), they would go to the sanctuary and present themselves to the priest, who would declare them healed and fit to reintegrate into society (cf. some examples regarding skin diseases in Lev. 13).
These thoughts were of great comfort to me during my illness, and even afterward as I sought my COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. Knowing that despite my feeling of isolation, I had a High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary who promises never to leave nor forsake us as He intercedes on our behalf (Heb. 4:14-16; 13:5). Being the vaccine to the deadliest disease of all—sin—Christ seeks to declare our healing, even before we fall. How did He accomplish this for us? “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Our Great Physician became the patient.