Is Coronavirus a Divine Judgment or a Call to Faith?
- Dr. David Kyle Foster Author
- 2020 6 Apr
From Exodus to Revelation it is clear that God does indeed send plagues and disasters upon the earth. This begs the question: Is today’s coronavirus pandemic one of those plagues? Let’s look at some scripture in both the Old Testament and New Testament regarding plagues:
I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. (Exodus 9:14)
The Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. (Deuteronomy 28:59)
A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. (Revelation 9:18)
They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify Him. (Revelation 16:9)
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18)
This historical certainty, and foreseen revelation, leads to even more questions.
Is Coronavirus a ‘Birth Pain’ before Judgment?
Many are also wondering if the current pandemic is one of the ‘birth pains’ that presage the soon return of our Lord, where Jesus will be the final judge. Let’s look at some scripture regarding this as well:
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:6-8)
This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:16)
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead. (2 Timothy 4:1)
We Don’t Know if the Time is Now
The truth is, no one really knows if the current plague is a judgment from God on our unbelieving, immoral, materialistic, compromised world. No one can prove with absolute certainty that indeed, coronavirus is a sign of the final judgment.
But we do know this: sooner or later, the final judgment will come in its fullness.
It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
What About the Prophets?
If you believe, as I do, that the gifts of the Spirit given to the Church at Pentecost were meant to be active until Jesus’ return, then how are we to receive the modern prophetic pronouncements about the origin of the coronavirus that are at odds with each another? Many prophets say it is a judgment from God, while others say that it isn’t.
So how is the average person supposed to know which prophecies are true?
In the Old Testament, the answer was easy. If a prophet prophesied falsely, that was a guarantee that he was not a true prophet. Those self-appointed, so-called prophets either spoke out of rebellion against God and His will, or blindness caused by their sinfulness, imagination, presumption, or self-exaltation. The true gift, therefore, was made an infallible gift. (See Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
In the New Testament era, however, things are different. Prophets today do not have a 100% batting average. Their gift is one of many spiritual gifts that have been given the Church, all of which are given to fallible people and all of which are expressed imperfectly (see Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 13:9-12; 1 Corinthians 14:29-33; Acts 2:17-18).
Prophecy is now for everyone to whom the Holy Spirit deems to give it. And as with other spiritual gifts, the person having it is sometimes wrong.
Consequently, the average believer must ask for the gift of discernment as well as examine the prophet’s accuracy record. Such discernment is developed more accurately in those who have developed an intimate relationship with God.
As in the Old Testament, many so-called prophets today do not have the gift of prophecy. The Bible indicates that they speak visions from their own “minds” and “imagination,” not from the mouth of the Lord (Jeremiah 23:16c; Ezekiel 13:2b).
Why the difference between OT and NT criteria? Spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ are graces that allow believers to participate in the work of the Holy Spirit, or as Scripture says, “participate in the divine nature” and the work of Christ (2 Peter 1:4).
Is Coronavirus God’s Wrath or Nature’s Fallen State?
Sometimes, disasters are simply the exigencies of nature, (which began when Adam & Eve sinned), expressing its own fallenness.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22)
On rare occasions, disasters of one sort or another are God’s attempt to warn us that our time on this earth is but a vapor, a breath.
You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him. (Matthew 24:43b)
You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)
Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. (Psalm 144:4)
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath…. (Job 7:7a)
Our Eternal Fate Involves a Choice
So what is our response to God's offer of eternal life (beyond this vapor) through Jesus Christ? It is a choice we’re offered through trials and tribulations—that we ignore at our peril.
The truth is, all of us were born with a sinful nature.
I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
Through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…. (Romans 5:12)
God’s Holy Fire Consumes
The problem for us as sinful humans is this: God is holy. His holiness is a fierce fire that destroys anything that is not holy.
Our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)
Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? (Isaiah 33:14)
As sinful people, we cannot live in the presence of His holy fire without being consumed. Thus, for us to live in His presence, we must be made holy as He is holy. Unfortunately, our righteousness is as filthy rags.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 54:6)
What Is the Antidote to Our Unrighteousness?
God has mercifully given us the antidote to our sin.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
How does Jesus make unrighteous man righteous? Let’s follow the path through scripture:
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Romans 3:10-12)
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
The Present Darkness of Pandemic Is a Warning Not a Question
So is the current pandemic a judgment from God? In truth, this is an irrelevant question. The pandemic is a manifestation of our present darkness (Ephesians 6:12). It is a warning, if you will, whether from fallen nature or from God Himself, that we must turn to the Lord to be saved before it is too late.
And as we’ve seen, too late for us may be today!
The most important question of all is: When we do go, where will we go? Where will we be spending eternity? And as we’ve seen already, only the Bible has the answer to that one.
It is also a call to those of us who have already been saved by the blood of the Lamb: that the purpose of our lives (whether here or in heaven) is to pursue an intimate relationship with our Creator. That is the purpose of life itself! Why not take that seriously as well, by spending regular, quality time with the Lord.
Whether Final or Not, Choose Christ
The final day of judgment will indeed come as a thief in the night when it will be too late to choose. In such a case, suffering becomes a warning and a hard mercy.
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ (Luke 12:20)
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
No matter if this is a natural plague or one sent by God, whether it is a call to believer or sinner, it reminds us why we are here and what our priorities should be.
Thus, it is truly a lifesaver for those who will believe.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/899429
Dr. David Kyle Foster is the author of Transformed Into His Image and Love Hunger and is the founder/director of Pure Passion Media (www.PurePassion.us). His newest book is The Sexual Healing Reference Edition. You can listen to his twice-weekly podcast by going to: www.charismapodcastnetwork.com/show/purepassion.