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TODAY’S WORLD: Coronavirus Pandemic

A sign of the times…..

 

 

 

 

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The word unprecedented is punctuating the statements of many politicians as the current coronavirus continues to spread its influence across the world. While it is true that there have been deadly plagues which claimed thousands of lives in past centuries, Covid-19 appears to surpass all others in terms of its effect. The virus has been officially classified as a pandemic because it has spread in multiple countries around the world at the same time. It is not the only recorded pandemic, but it would appear that it is going to be the most significant economically that the world has known. Unprecedented times have truly dawned upon us.

 

Each day fresh facts and figures are released, revealing the scale of the infection. We are informed of the number of new cases which have been identified as well as the number of deaths relating to the virus that have occurred in the previous 24 hours. Reports from across the world also confirm how the virus has spread in other countries. Predictions are being made as experts seek to determine how rapidly it will spread and when the peak of the infection will be reached.

 

Apart from the illness itself, millions of lives have been affected in numerous ways. International travel has become almost impossible, and non-essential local journeys are prohibited. Older citizens have been told to remain at home for the foreseeable future. Airlines globally have grounded most of their fleets, impacting business and leisure travel. The cost to the world’s economy will be astronomical. Unemployment and inflation will rise while bank interest and shares fall. Governments are responding to the crisis by promising financial aid, but where will the necessary billions come from? Some have compared this pandemic to the Great Depression of the 1930s – but this is undoubtedly worse. Every country upon earth has been touched in some way or other.

 

The Christian believer seeking to understand the situation will, of course, turn to the Word of God for help. Does the Bible offer any explanation for the global spread of this deadly pandemic? Clearly, coronavirus is a curse, but we ought not to be surprised by its appearance on every continent. Nations have flouted God’s decrees which are revealed in His holy Word. Marriage, a divine institution, is held in very low esteem today, and divorce can easily be obtained. Same-sex relationships are not simply condoned but are now promoted. Abortion, the destruction of human life, is increasing – with already some 200,000 being carried out annually in Britain alone, according to The Christian Institute. Should we expect God to remain unmoved by these wicked practices? Covid-19 may well be interpreted as a sign of His divine displeasure.

 

Scripture sheds further light upon current events when we listen to the words of the Lord Jesus in what is often called the Olivet Discourse. Looking into the future, He declared, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Mt.24:7,8). These words are extremely up-do-date when we consider the international unrest, famines, the coronavirus, earthquakes – all of which feature regularly in news bulletins. According to the Lord Jesus they are, collectively, “the beginning of sorrows.” However, He also pointed out “but the end is not yet” (Mt.24:6). A seven-year period of trouble lies ahead for this world, with the second half of that period being a time of great tribulation. It will be a more terrible time than this world has ever known. The events identified by the Lord Jesus are precursors of that tribulation.

 

The verse quoted at the beginning of this article offers hope to the children of God. “And when these things begin to come to pass …” (Lk.21:28). What might “these things” be? Much of Luke 21 appears to relate to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD70, but the latter part of the Lord’s address clearly takes us on to a much later time. He spoke of “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Lk.21:26). It cannot be denied that the hearts of many are filled with fear at the present time as they consider the repercussions of the coronavirus. Nobody knows how long it will continue. But the Lord Jesus told His disciples to “look up, and lift up [their] heads” when they observed certain signs, for those signs were indications that their “redemption” was drawing near. We who rejoice in the redemption found in Christ’s precious blood look for the fulfilment of redemption’s work. Paul wrote of “the redemption of our body” (Rom.8:23) which will take place at the coming of our Lord. The familiar words of 1 Thessalonians 4 assure us of the Rapture when the Lord Jesus will come from heaven to gather His people home. We await that moment which may be sooner than we think.

 

Critics and more cautious believers often take exception to such remarks as these. They will point out that throughout history there has been international unrest, as well as wars, earthquakes, and plagues. The coronavirus, they will tell us, is nothing new and we ought not to interpret it as a sign that the Lord’s coming is near. The fact remains that the Lord Jesus has promised to come again, and one generation will be alive at the moment of His return. Is it right to dismiss the fact that we might be living at such a time? Although events associated with “the beginning of sorrows” may have been witnessed for centuries, so many more signs have appeared before us in recent times. We ought to consider them carefully.

 

Since 1948 Israel, as a nation, has been established in its land once again. There is clear evidence that we are living in the days of Noah as well as in the days of Lot – the former characterized by violence and corruption and the latter by same-sex relationships. The Lord Jesus linked these features with conditions upon earth at His return in Luke 17:26-30. Events among the nations of Europe point to what has been prophesied in the books of Daniel and Revelation. In addition to this, we have witnessed an explosion of knowledge and world-wide travel – perhaps in fulfilment of Daniel 12:4. The coronavirus pandemic is yet another sign to consider, creating problems beyond the ability of any man to resolve. Fear has been spread, and the economic repercussions are likely to remain for many years. Finally, man has now usurped the position of God in attempting to control life, decide upon a chosen gender, and determine who may live or who should die.

 

It would be foolish indeed to ignore all these signs. The Lord Jesus has told us that when these things begin to come to pass we should lift up our heads for our redemption draweth nigh. Living more than two thousand years since His first advent, we are nearer to our Lord’s return than any previous generation has been. However, while we have referred to things happening in the world around that point to the imminence of the Lord’s return, no particular sign has been given in Scripture to precede the Rapture of the saints. We could hear the assembling shout at any time! Truly, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).

 

In his hymn The night is now far spent, Thomas Kelly encourages us by saying, “With such a hope let us rejoice, we soon shall hear the Saviour’s voice”. At such an hour as this, in the words of 2 Peter 3:14 let us be diligent that we may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless, at His coming.