What is Pestilence in the Bible?

The Bible mentions something called a pestilence, and although the word itself may seem archaic, its meaning and consequences are profoundly relevant today. First, I want to address what pestilence is in the Bible, and then we will explore why it comes. And finally, I’m going to offer the anecdote that comes directly from the living Word of God.

What is a pestilence?

Because we are looking at this from a Biblical standpoint, it is essential to approach the definitions from the translation of the original Hebrew and Greek words. We do this using a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance along with our Authorized King James Version of the Bible.

Pestilence –H1698 – the Hebrew word ‘deber’ (In the sense of destroying); a pestilence: – murrain, pestilence, plague.

Pestilence is an infectious disease that has the potential to result in death. Pestilences include viral and bacterial infections like influenza, bubonic plague, tuberculosis, AIDS, and Covid 19. And there are many instances of pestilence in the Bible.

Why has pestilence been released?

Deuteronomy 28 clearly addresses the cause of pestilences in the earth. But before I go there, I know some of you are saying to yourself, “But wait! I thought the Old Testament isn’t relevant for today!” or, “I thought the law passed away with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.” I’d like to briefly address this point because it is a valid question that requires evidence from the Word.

Let’s look at some New Testament scriptures that reference the Old Testament and bridge the gap between them.

1 Corinthians 10:6-11 says:

6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as [were] some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1 Corinthians 10:6-11 KJV

Admonition is G3559 in the Strong’s Concordance, which is the Greek Word, ‘nouthesia.’ It means: Calling attention to something, a rebuke or a warning.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: 16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Doctrine is G1319 – the Greek word ‘didaskalia’ meaning: instruction, (the function of information): – doctrine, learning, teaching.

Deuteronomy is solid doctrine. It teaches Godly principles that will not pass away with time. It’s also for our admonition; it warns us about the consequences of following ways that are not God’s ways.

The question remains: Why do we have plagues in our land like influenza and covid 19?

Deuteronomy 28:15 and 21-22 says this:

15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: … 21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. Deuteronomy 28:15, 21-22 KJV

Consumption – H7829 – the Hebrew word ‘sahepet’ meaning: emaciation – consumption.

It is wasting away, being thin, anemic, or anorexic.

Fever – H6920 – the Hebrew word ‘qaddahat’ meaning: inflammation, i.e., febrile disease: – burning ague, fever.

Inflammation – H1816 – the Hebrew word ‘dalleqet’ meaning: a burning fever: – inflammation

These are specific to a fever due to bacterial inflammation with a temperature under 103 degrees.

Extreme burning – H2746 – the Hebrew word, ‘harhur’ meaning: fever (as hot): – extreme burning

This is a high fever over 103 degrees.

All of these things are called a curse here, and it says these curses come as a direct result of not hearkening to God and observing to do all His commandments and statutes. In short, we do not understand or follow His Ways.

Hearken – H8085 – the Hebrew word ‘sama’ meaning: to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.…) diligently discern, give ear, hear, listen, regard, understand, witness.

This isn’t just passive hearing; this is diligent searching to know and understand what God says with the intent of applying it to our lives.

What is a curse?

Let’s do a word study of the word ‘curses’ in the Strong’s concordance following the example in Dr. Henry W. Wright’s book, Exposing the Spiritual Roots of Disease (pg. 39):

Curses – H7045 – the Hebrew word ‘qelala’ meaning: vilification: – curse, accursed, cursing.

If we break down the word vilification, we have the word ‘villain.’

Jesus Christ said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Dr. Wright further explained it this way, “That thief, Satan is the enemy, the villain of our lives. Then I drilled further down in the word study, and I ran across this: a curse is an abatement of the blessings. The word abatement means “lessening” or “reduction.” So the villain, who is Satan, comes to abate, reduce, or take away the strength of our blessings from God. The curse is the work of this villain. Vilification is when the villain vilifies our blessings!” (Exposing the Spiritual Roots of Disease by Dr. Henry W. Wright, pg. 39-40)

Are curses conditional?

According to Deuteronomy 28: 15, curses are conditional upon our obedience or disobedience to God’s Word and His ways. If they come from disobedience, it’s time to recognize, take responsibility, repent and then pray for healing from God’s judgment.

How do we get this curse off our country?

This curse can end on the condition found in 2 Chronicles 7:14:

 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

The prophet, Nehemiah, set the example of exactly how to do this in Nehemiah 1:5-7:

5 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: 6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Nehemiah 1:5-7 KJV

Nehemiah confessed the iniquity of his generations. He did not repent for his forefathers’ sins – he acknowledged them and renounced his agreement with them. Repentance is only for personal sins. However, he confessed the sins of his generations and acknowledged that iniquity was in him as well.

Pestilences are also found in the New Testament as a sign of the times:

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. Matthew 24:7 KJV

This is one of the signs that Jesus gave that is going to happen in the last days. Are we in the last days? We don’t know for sure exactly when it is. But we are seeing more and more signs of the times come to pass as well as Biblical prophesies. These are exciting times indeed!

Sadly, much of the Christian church at large, is experiencing the consequences of the curse. I believe that is because they don’t acknowledge why we have diseases, nor are they willing to seek God for the reason that disease has a right to their lives.

Proverbs 26:2 says this:

As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come. Proverbs 26:2 KJV

If pestilence is a curse, there is a reason it is in people’s lives. There has to be a cause. There is a difference between knowing God’s ways and seeking Him for wisdom on how to apply it to our lives. Obedience is only fulfilled by action, not knowledge. Just as faith without works is dead (James 2:20 KJV).

What does fear have to do with pestilence?

I will tell you one root reason that pestilences like Covid 19 have a right to people’s lives. It is fear. How does fear break God’s commandments? God commands us 365 times, in the Bible, to not be afraid. Fear is putting our faith in the enemy’s ‘hope’ for our lives and our future. It is in opposition to faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV) So faith is trusting God and having full assurance in our hearts that He is greater than the works of the enemy and believing that He will fulfill His promises in our lives.

Fear puts us in opposition to God because the Bible says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6 KJV

Fear causes stress in our bodies. If we continue to agree with Fear’s evil projections into our lives, our bodies will release stress hormones into our bodies. When we continue in this state of un-ease long term, the stress hormones will weaken and compromise our immune system, either causing disease, or making us more susceptible to the pestilence. Then, when we encounter a threat like a virus, our body’s defenses are down, and it can more easily infect us.

A specific fear that’s been incited over the whole world this past year is fear of death. People are so concerned about taking precautions to protect themselves that they’ve laid down their rights and freedom. They’ve withdrawn from church even though the scripture commands us not to forsake the assembling of the saints. They are, in essence, serving a spirit of fear over serving God. It has become an idol.

Pestilence is here. Now, what do we do?

The easy answer is, keep God’s commandments! Perhaps you recognize that you’ve agreed with fear. Acknowledge it before God, repent to Him, and then ask Him to help you overcome it. God does not condemn us; He faithfully provides a way of escape when we ask for it. And when we repent, He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, [so] great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him. Psalm 103:11-13 KJV

Scriptures about getting rid of pestilence

The Bible even offers an anecdote to fear. Do you want to hear it?

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 KJV

This brings us back to God’s greatest commandment:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:37-40 KJV

Here’s the harmony of the scripture. Jesus just repeated His original commandment, from thousands of years prior, in the Old Testament admonition to the Israelites:

13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul… Deuteronomy 11:13 KJV

God’s greatest commandment is to love Him, love yourself, and love others.

How to apply the greatest commandment to your life

I challenge you today: seek God. Ask Him to reveal areas that you have been separated from love through the deception of the enemy. He may help you root out areas where the enemy has used the lies of bitterness, offense, rejection, envy and jealousy, and the likes to keep you in bondage and vilify your blessings. Ask Him to teach you how to walk in love with the help of His Holy Spirit. Then diligently seek His Word for a deeper understanding of who He is, His will, and His ways.

It’s okay to acknowledge that our own ways have not gotten us anywhere fast. In fact, the Bible says to lean not on our own understanding but in all our ways to acknowledge Him.

5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 KJV

If you want to move forward in faith instead of fear, it’s time to lay down your ways and pick up His. Fear cannot stand in the presence of the love of our Heavenly Father working in us and through us by the power of His Holy Spirit.

And by that love, all the law of the prophets is fulfilled!

 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 28:2 KJV

We set ourselves up to be overtaken by blessings and defeat the curse when we learn how to receive and freely share God’s love!

Be blessed,


Would you like to read more articles related to this topic?

Uncovering the Spiritual Causes and Roots of Disease

How to Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Fear in Your Life – By Pastor Benny Parish

The #1 Block to Healing


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Pestilence is a very real problem in our world, today. What is it? Find Biblical answers to your questions and real solutions to remove the power of pestilence from your life.  Pestilence- an old word with very real effects in our world today. What is it? What causes it? and how can we overcome it's effects in our lives?  When there is pestilence on the land, or famine the likes, who holds the answers? God knows why and has the solutions to deliver us and heal our land, if we, His people, will humbly seek His face.

By Be in Health| 2023-02-05T13:13:12-05:00 February 3rd, 2023|Disease|0 Comments