In December 2019, a new strain of virus was reported to the World Health Organization. Originating in Wuhan, China, scientists called it the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as COVID-19, or the “novel coronavirus.” The virus was likely transmitted to humans in close proximity to bats given its similarity to the family of coronaviruses borne of bats. Since discovery of the virus in China, no vaccine has been readily available resulting in uncontained spread to nations on all continents.
Coronavirus has become the global pandemic that took the world by surprise. While producing exponential numbers of infections not dissimilar to plagues of times past, this enigmatic virus was unseen and unperceivable until it was too late. Despite living in the era of advanced medicine and scientific knowledge, a cure has remained elusive. The many sophistications of man have failed to stop an enemy of this magnitude. Really, everyone is at risk until a vaccine is discovered. Even those without health-related issues face grave economic losses as the clock continues to tick. How is a Christian to interpret such events? To unveil answers, by necessity we dust off our bibles and peer into the everlasting truth of Scripture.
Beginning with John 3:16, it plainly states that God desires all would receive eternal life through His Son. We can be sure this epidemic didn’t originate with God (in the age of grace) because punishment would not be consistent with His character. God takes no pleasure in death. He isn’t against us in the here and now, nor those who don’t yet know Him. How can we be sure? For starters, Psalm 145:8 tells us: “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” Notice the emphasis on “slow to anger?” A gracious and compassionate God whose Son paid the ultimate price to atone for all sin, has no need to satisfy His wrath now. The consequences of sin occur all by themselves. God does not need to add extra punishment on top of sin; “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, emphasis mine). Christ’s perfect sacrifice already satisfied the holy requirement; this is crystal clear in Hebrews 10. Still, some will say…
- But God is judging people for their disobedience!
- God is disappointed with His rebellious children!
- God is punishing the wickedness of the people!
Though a loving, holy God detests sin, the concept of judgment should first be defined by keeping all of His attributes in view. If we isolate one attribute from the rest and try to make the Word say whatever we want, eisegesis and misapplication ensue. It is too easy to devolve into a very “un-systematic” theology of sorts, so let’s not go there. Judgment may very well be a complete drought of options, by exhausting every opportunity to turn in the right direction, and ignoring the signs and warnings of impending consequences. It is analogous to an array of clearly displayed signs warning of a cliff ahead. Now, picture an individual who ignores all the warnings and blindly wills, against all sensibility, to mash the accelerator to 87 mph in a 15 mph zone. Can anything prevent the sudden new flight path and crash below on the rocks? If we don’t pause long enough to listen to His graceful guidance, we can’t fault Him for that. The good news is that He wants to prepare us and does, even despite our deafness and/or blindness. In fact, He has been trying to get our attention all along. He is rich in love, He is patient with us, and He empowers us with His grace.
God’s goodness and everlasting kindness toward His children are like an open spigot of grace, interrupted only by human volition when we refuse to receive it. So what could He be doing in the midst of a pandemic you ask (philosophically)? The answers begin to appear upon further scriptural study, juxtaposed against humanistic attitudes commonly mistaken for acceptable norms. The prophet Isaiah, whose name means “the Lord is salvation”, (Isaiah: hebrew YESHAYAH) said this:
“Who foretold this long ago,
who declared it from the distant past?
Was it not I, the LORD?
And there is no God apart from me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none but me.
“Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.
They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone
are deliverance and strength.’”
(Isaiah 45:21-24 , emphasis mine)
Isaiah’s cogent words foretold the coming of a Savior with a decisive declaration. Like a shout from the rooftops, it would be hard to miss. Christ, the Savior King is coming for His Bride! Normally this is wonderful news. Like opening a hand-delivered wedding announcement, it tickles the senses. There’s just one very important, usually overlooked detail in the ancient press release. The Bride must be ready for His arrival. The Bride, which is the universal global Church of faithful, authentically committed believers, needs to undergo a grueling preparative process. The Church is instructed to be holy and blameless for the wedding (Eph. 5:27). As Isaiah prophesied, one day everybody will bear witness to this supernatural, celestial ceremony. As far as the timing, eschatological perspectives en masse resemble hurricane projection models and spaghetti charts. Still, the imperative to fully prepare for our Lord’s purposes and imminent arrival remains ever the same.
How does the Bride prepare? Each and every believer was called to embark on the journey of conformity to Christ upon salvation. The problem is that many Christians have ignored the invitation to grow up to a level of functional, productive maturity. The unfortunate misconception is that we are groomed throughout life for the sole purpose of self-fulfillment. That the Church exists singularly as a framework for ‘me’ to receive personal blessing is not, at least for fully grown adults, its transcendent purpose. We are all summoned to live for something much bigger than ourselves.
Culturally acceptable norms block true spiritual development. And they bear uncanny resemblance to the satanic will for believers, to retard and stunt all progress. Like a spoiled kid who demands to be in the center of attention, nothing positive happens until told “no”, given responsibility, and made accountable for his actions. Obnoxious narcissistic traits are at some point the pattern of every person per a spectrum of severity on the scale of emotional intelligence. Inward patterns containing no eternal value simply must die before Christians are useful in the Kingdom of God. The heart of these words is not to jolt or offend anyone, rather, to exalt God’s definitions for true life. Correction is God’s love! “For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12, emphasis mine) (Also keep Rom. 15:4 in mind). Let us stop cherry-picking the portions of Scripture subjectively determined ‘suitable’ to our human preference.
We bow and defer to the Word by choice because it is the standard for all life!
The Bible exhorts believers to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). The implication here is a transformative process of work, growth, deference, reverence, and trajectory. What is the goal of that hard work? It is bearing spiritual fruit via sincere obedience (John 14:15), process by which the believer will see a metamorphosis. Categorically and substantively distinct, he will no longer need the old chrysalis. It is akin to changing an old, burnt-out light bulb with a bright incandescent light for all to see. Christ in me is that bright light! Genuinely hard, self-sacrificial work produces perseverance, and eventually, a beautiful payoff. In Peter’s second letter, he lists the Christian qualities all should be developing: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
The ultimate purpose will manifest corporately: the formation of a functional, supernaturally powerful Church that looks, talks, acts, and sounds just like Christ, His design. Up to every individual in the Body, growth occurs through training and mentoring, by obediently facing challenges, and overcoming. At times very difficult, this workflow transforms lives and fosters genuine preparation at the heart-level. Honestly, who would not want to be known for the following traits in abundance? Since they are too important to ignore, here they are listed again:
- Brotherly kindness
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11, emphasis mine). The whole idea is one of readiness to execute the divine will in the earth and after that in eternity. Only equipped, fruit-bearing Christians can crush the serpent’s head and build things of enduring Kingdom value. The time to get ready has not passed; that time is now. In Joel 3:9-12, the verses shout at the hearer, urging immediate action:
Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare for war!
Rouse the warriors!
Let all the fighting men draw near and attack.
Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weakling say,
“I am strong!”
Come quickly, all you nations from every side,
and assemble there.
Bring down your warriors, LORD!
“Let the nations be roused…”
We should emphasize the following from the above verses:
- “Rouse the warriors”,
- “Prepare for war”
- “All you nations”
This coronavirus epidemic has forced systemic evaluation, applicable to every level of human life from the macro level all the way down to the smallest nanoparticle of existence. No nation or individual is exempt! The plague reveals who is truly prepared, who is not, and who is ready to lead in wartime. “Bring down your warriors, LORD!” Without question, it is a worldwide wakeup call to the purposes of God in the earth toward the finish.
Judgment Begins with the House of God
The apostle Peter boldly asserted: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). Now that the reminder is upon us that Christ is coming, He is already judging the Church, and will soon judge nations and the world at large. Great events of eternal import are on the near horizon, culminating in a final Day where our lives will be assessed for all we have done to further the purposes of God during our time on earth. As noted in the article When Christ Comes for the Church:
The central truth of the judgment seat of Christ is stated in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” As this text makes clear, this is a judgment for Christians only, as the issue of salvation was already settled…
This judgment is not concerned with the sins of Christians, as the words “good or bad” are words relating to value, not morality. The question is whether a Christian’s life included things of eternal value in God’s sight.
(Bible.org, emphasis mine)
God is not done with us. The coronavirus pandemic is merely the beginning. Even pausing the whole world cannot slow down the divine plans unfolding before our eyes. He has not stopped His eternal objectives, nor put His purposes on pause. He didn’t send this plague, rather, as Heaven draws nearer to earth, man’s motives are invariably purified, and hearts are cleansed. The King is coming! This pandemic is ushering in a chain of unstoppable events before His imminent return. His current task consists of inescapable exposure, fully redemptive in nature. Revealing the actual reality of all things, behind every mask of falsehood there is an actuality. It is His will, throughout these current events, to expertly unmask falsehoods that were formerly hidden. Many will confess to having never seen such (divine) activity, much less on such a massive scale, at least during our lifetimes.
His method includes dismantling the arrogance of all those who think they don’t need Him. He is also exposing the pride of those who rely on an unreformed mind, and carnal, pride-filled knowledge above God. Those who have built their lives on fake foundations (1 Cor. 3:12-15), believers and non-Christians alike, will stumble and struggle, unable to live on unchallenged as before. Christian ministers whose message and lives don’t reflect Christ to the core, even those with massive followings, will struggle to encounter words of wisdom and accuracy in the crisis. They will be strongly encouraged to reset and redefine life as they know it. Profound losses will continue, just as we have observed during this crisis until the curve flattens. Yet, a brightly shining Church is arising to take its rightful place of governing and leadership in world events. Through an outpouring of unmistakable power and holiness, lives will be radically redefined to match Christ’s intended design.
“See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you” (Isaiah 60:2).
A plague exposes who truly worships God with the fragrant offering of Christ in their lives or, conversely, the ashes of fraudulence. The false church will be revealed (Luke 3:17) and compared publicly with the true church. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22, 23).
Events of this magnitude and incontrovertible consequences illumine (before our eyes) a far more powerful God than originally pictured. He is an “ever present help in times of need,” involved in the affairs of man, saving all who will be saved, the One whose work extends to all nations. He leads the multinational effort to build a “City on a hill” and positions the Church for certified power delivery. The lost will turn to Him in droves, and be saved. His power knows no bounds and nothing can stop Him. He is holy. From the macro vantage point, He permitted this pandemic only to ensure His people are prepared and adequately warned. Consider the following verses, to be fulfilled at a future time, warning of the coming Day of the Lord:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (Malachi 4:5, emphasis mine).
“I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has promised, among the remnant called by the LORD” (Joel 2:30-32, emphasis mine).
A Micro View: Consider How You Can Engage
We must all choose how we will respond all the while negating panic. Here are some ways to engage:
- Worship Him and hear from Him clearly
- Spend quality time in the Word, and spend time with those you love
- Repent for not serving others and mitigating against God’s plans
- Disengage all self-serving mindsets and attitudes. Consider your ways!
- Purify and cleanse the heart, receive His abundant grace and forgiveness
- Assess your level of readiness, plan how you will adjust to be made ready
- Align with His purposes on earth for the Kingdom; write down your vision and make it plain
- Ensure God’s supernatural protection is over your household (see Exodus 12)
- Contribute your part, making sure to help others, acting consistently with purpose and divine calling
- Realize your purpose to empower others; help your neighbor!
Heroes have begun to emerge in the midst of the war. In Italy, Spain, and the United States, stories are being told of sacrificial servants who have gone above and beyond to help others. On the front lines, and in places like New York City where tens of thousands of cases have been reported and thousands more succumbed to the disease, great numbers are volunteering their time and energy. Medical professionals continue to put themselves at risk, working around the clock to save lives. To combat the shortage of doctors and health workers, thousands of former nurses and doctors have come out of retirement to help! As Julia Marsh of the New York Post wrote on its website:
“In just a single day, one thousand retired and private practice doctors and nurses answered City Hall’s cry for help, volunteering to join the Big Apple’s medical reserve and help treat their fellow New Yorkers stricken with coronavirus.”
Some states have shipped expensive ventilators directly to the most vulnerable hot zones. Military personnel and the U.S. National Guard have rapidly built complete, functional hospitals in major cities. And small businesses across the nation have stepped up to produce hand sanitizer and deliver it free of charge. Many others have donated face masks, meals for healthcare workers, and personal protective equipment. Countless examples of selfless acts are reported with each passing day in the war against this invisible enemy. The many volunteers and professionals who have risen to the occasion demonstrate that crisis also brings out the very best in people.
A Warning That Can Save Us
Though only a tiny, invisible particle, the coronavirus has had a shocking capacity to penetrate every structure of human life. In these dire moments, protecting against the threat of harm necessitates an effective shield. Fortunately, such a protective shield is already available, and afforded all believers. To see it in action, we turn to the book of Exodus, where Moses instructed God’s people to mark every doorframe with the blood of the Passover lamb.
“Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and told them, “Go at once and select for yourselves a lamb for each family, and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin, and brush the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the LORD passes through to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway; so He will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down” (Exodus 12:21-23).
Following the instruction like a military order, all those who obeyed were spared the lives of their firstborn. This Mosaic account is the biblical “type” for supernatural protection. But some believers have fallen to sickness; while others battle a different, equally formidable foe—panic. Who can we trust if not in God who is above it all? We should be taking time to hear God by remembering and agreeing with biblical promises, like Psalm 91:
“Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly plague. He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the calamity that destroys at noon. Though a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, no harm will come near you” (Psalm 91:3-7, emphasis mine).
Is the coronavirus a sign of judgment? The fallen world we live in and the sinful human condition, unfortunately signify sickness and disease, at times resulting in epidemics. A more reasonable conclusion to the question of divine judgment may be this: the coronavirus serves as an epic warning of things to come, including future, pending judgment(s). Warnings and present-day judgments are not the same as the final Day of Judgment; they are permeated by God’s grace and great love, extending to and intending to save the lost. John R. Schroeder says it this way in his article, How Will God Judge the World?:
This is true judgment—godly evaluation of human existence with righteous discernment and great mercy (see Isaiah 11:3-4; James 2:13). Unlike a human judge of this world, our Judge loves us! He gave His life for us!
An omniscient God knows how to command our attention. By issuing a worldwide warning He prepares the Church, and all those with a capacity to listen will hear the command. As the terminal point in time nears, God’s last day plans—Heaven’s call—is clearer than ever. That call is to “be ready!” A beautiful Bride will be completely transformed, and spotless, “just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27, emphasis mine). The purified Bride will be married and united with Christ the King when He returns, victorious!
As the clock continues ticking and time winds down for the King’s return, we all must choose a course of action. Massive satanic opposition is manifesting in parallel, albeit forever inferior to God’s purposes. This counter-narrative choreographed by the prince of cowards, Satan, was strategically formulated long ago to prevent as many as possible from knowing God correctly. Consider Revelation 12, after Satan was banished from Heaven:
“…the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).
Your role in building God’s kingdom, in a broad sense, is to be the salt and light of the earth, right now. If you are not sure what your specific function is in the Body of Christ, it is time to start that process of becoming equipped in truth and in Spirit, right now. Join a strong biblical church, find a mentor, and begin obeying God with your whole life so you can start growing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Fully equipped, fierce warriors—all those who would follow Christ sincerely—are desperately needed as God prepares to publicly humiliate Satan again on the global stage (Ez. 28:15-18; Is. 14:12-15, Lk. 10:18). From this place every eye will observe and irrevocably know who is in charge of the cosmos: God!
And if you don’t yet know Jesus Christ personally, it is never too late to accept Him into your heart, to make Him your Lord and Savior. Simply say: “I repent of all my sins; I invite You to live in me and govern my heart. Use my whole life to bring You glory. I choose to follow You. I want to be made into a warrior for Your purposes.” When you invite Him in, receive the full knowledge of a merciful, incomparable love and true strength; then you will be saved by the only One who can save, just as Isaiah echoed long ago…
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).