QUESTION: Is the current COVID-19 pandemic addressed in Scripture?
ANSWER: In other words, are the Tribulation passages in Scripture being lived out before us?
When the apostles asked Jesus to reveal to them the signs of His coming, our Lord began by warning them: “Take heed that no man deceive you.” In other words, “Don’t be deceived by sensationalism.” Many men are going to take advantage of some of these things to establish a following and make money.
So, having been warned, the coronavirus itself is not specifically named in the Bible. Among the things Jesus tells us is going to occur in the end times is “pestilence” (Luke 21:11). The dictionary tells us that a pestilence is “a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating.” Given that definition, COVID-19 most certainly applies.
There have been many such pestilences in world history since Bible times. The worst and most devastating was the Black Death in Europe in the 14th century. A very modest estimate is that 25 million died – 1/3 of the population of Europe. They dealt with that nightmare for five years as each spring the infected fleas woke from their winter dormancy.
Since then, many other epidemics have been recorded throughout the world: Smallpox, with over 400,000 casualties annually at the end of the 18th century in Europe. In 1918, the Spanish influenza epidemic killed 17 to 50 million worldwide (this was on the heels of WWI). SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the Bird flu, Ebola, leprosy, polio, typhoid, etc.—there is no end to the horrible suffering of humanity due to disease throughout history.
Obviously, none of these earlier pandemics took place in the Tribulation Period (we are still here). So what is going on?
Many men will consider this as nothing more than nature taking its course. And the Bible tells us they would do just that: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
But the Christian can learn some powerful truths to build his faith. First, how quickly the world can be brought to hysteria by the news media. Is there any doubt that the Antichrist will be able to control the entire world at his whim? This entire episode has been similar to a military exercise or “dry run” just to see what works and what doesn’t work. To learn that Satan’s entire army of angels is indeed working to that end you only have to read Daniel 10 and Ephesians 6:12.
Secondly, the Christian has been reassured that God is on the throne. The rapture of the church will take place before the Tribulation-class pandemics occur. As serious and as horrible as any epidemic is (especially to those who have lost loved ones in it), can you imagine how devastated the world will be when God’s tribulation judgment actually falls?
The answer to the question is “No.” Sin is the cause of evil and sickness in the world, but Christ died to save us from its power and penalty. Christian, don’t make more of this than it is. Others will be drawn to Christ by calm faith and an un-sensationalized response.