God Or Satan?

Without trying to be too dramatic, and yet wading into controversial waters, I think it’s accurate to say we are in the midst of a pandemic. Most of the countries in the world are reporting verified cases of The Virus, along with a percentage of deaths. The number is growing exponentially, which is why the US has a “shelter in place” policy and some counties have shut down places like the beach or hiking trails. It’s all with the intention of keeping people from infecting each other.

The natural question is, why? Is God bringing this pestilence upon the world? Is Satan using this virus and the near panic that spurred the hoarding we’ve seen in order to close down churches and prepare the world for the anti-christ? Or is this just a result of the laws of nature and the inevitable mutation of the virus, of humans living in close proximity to disease-carrying animals?

I think the answer is, Yes.

Yes, I believe God works in and through things like earthquakes and wars and pestilence. We see this in Scripture. The first occurrence of God saying that He would do something cataclysmic that would cause devastation is in Exodus when God lays out His plan to free His people from slavery in Egypt: “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.” (Exo. 7:5; emphasis mine) This phrase is repeated throughout the period of the plagues, either to Pharaoh or to Moses or to the people of Israel.

At other times, of course, God told Israel that they were delivered from an enemy so that they would know He is Lord, or that they received needed food or care, and even His choice of them as His people, the apple of His eye.

But when we reach the books of prophecy, God begins to declare His judgment upon His people, and upon other nations, all with the purpose of letting them know Him. Take this passage in Ezekiel:

“Behold, I Myself am going to bring a sword on you, and I will destroy your high places. So your altars will become desolate and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will make your slain fall in front of your idols. I will also lay the dead bodies of the sons of Israel in front of their idols; and I will scatter your bones around your altars. In all your dwellings, cities will become waste and the high places will be desolate, that your altars may become waste and desolate, your idols may be broken and brought to an end, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be blotted out. The slain will fall among you, and you will know that I am the LORD.” (Eze. 6:3-7; emphasis mine)

There are many other such passages throughout the book and in other books of prophecy. Besides these explicit statements, we have an example when God brings judgment to Israel because of David’s sin. God actually gave him a choice between a period of famine, war, or pestilence. David chose pestilence because he said he wanted to be in God’s hand. Yes, in God’s hand:

Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. (2 Sam 24:14-15)

Because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I think it’s safe to say that God can send pestilence.

But what about Satan? Well, the most obvious example of this from the Bible is Job. First Satan destroyed his belongings, then he killed his servants and his kids, and finally he gave him an illness—something horrible like boils spreading all over his body.

Satan’s plan was to bring Job to the place his wife tempted him to go: “Curse God and die.” He wanted Job to be an example of a person who only worshiped God when things were going well. As soon as life was unbearable, Satan reasoned, Job would turn against God.

I dare say, the majority of people today don’t think either God or Satan has anything to do with the rapid spread of a mutated virus. Rather, it’s just the natural course of things, and all we need to do is “flatten the curve,” which we can do with social distancing.

Of course there is some truth to that way of thinking. We can and should be careful and wise, but in no way can we bypass God’s plans. Satan’s? He may mean evil for us believers, but God means good.

This was the case when God put Joseph in place to deal with a seven year famine.

I can’t help but think God has put each Christ-follower in place for “such a time as this.”

Bottom line: God is a righteous Judge. He may well be bringing judgment on the world—not in flood proportions, but in a way that we will know He is God. All the plans we had—for March Madness or attending conferences or even graduating from school or buying toilet paper in the grocery store—are as nothing. All are changed, and we are foolish if we don’t understand that God’s hand is behind it.

He actually may use Satan’s schemes, or the work of evil men, such as Joseph’s brothers; He may even use the natural way things work—the way viruses mutate and spread. But be clear: God is at work in the world. He wants us to see Him and to know Him.

It’s almost become a politically incorrect thing among Christians to say that God is a Judge, that He exercises justice against people. A pandemic gives us the opportunity to recognize God and His role as a just Judge, that His justice is real, just as His love and mercy is.

Featured image by Our World in Data, dated March 19, 2020.

This article is a reprint of one I wrote at Speculative Faith this past Monday.

Published in: on March 24, 2020 at 5:00 pm  Comments (23)  
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23 Comments

  1. Hey Rebecca! I completely agree that our God is just and that He uses all of satans evil schemes to bring about His goodness. (Beauty for ashes). It is my belief that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever in that He abides by His covenant to us. That covenant changed from the old testament to the new. In the old, man could never pay the debt of their sin, regardless of the law and sacrifices (the wages of sin=death).God poured out his judgement upon them because that was justice. But then He sent His Son…a new covenant of blood paid for all our sin for all time. Wasn’t He enough?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sure, riley, God’s Son is enough: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1). But not everyone is in Christ. As we see in the world today. God’s judgment will one day be upon the whole world because of the sins of those who turn their back on Jesus. That actually is The Sin. His sacrifice is not efficacious—beneficial—for those who are not in Christ. Romans 8 again: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (vv 6-8).

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly Becky, how on Earth can any rational thoughts consider Satan and God as the perpetrators of such things of disaster when we have the science that explains why and how this happened including how every pandemic and every other world disaster has occurred.

    Running off to read bible passages claiming punishments and sickness bought down on masses of people by God does not make it an actual evidential fact, in fact it only highlights human gullibility in believing such things.

    “A pandemic gives us the opportunity to recognize God and His role as a just Judge, that His justice is real, just as His love and mercy is.”

    This will do nothing to recruit Christians and this in fact just highlights your God’s justice, love and mercy is simply a fanatical dictatorship that destroys people. Of course you can decide your own biased political opinions about God’s loving intentions and confirm this from his voice that guides you within your mind.

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    • I think it’s hard for this generation to understand God’s loving discipline and His just judgment because we no longer believe in either of those. “Love” is giving people what they want and “justice” is a slap on the wrist. If you really wanted to stop rape and murder and abuse, you would be thanking God for His justice, not finding a way around His work in the world. But sadly, that’s where much of the world has landed.

      Becky

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      • I think all generations understand love, fairness and justice. Rapists and murderers often get away with their crimes. Many people do not consider God to be loving in any way simply because of the Biblical depictions of mass killings, therefore there is nothing to like about God’s loving discipline.

        Liked by 1 person

        • No, Steve, that’s not true in this generation in western society. I’m guessing you live in a country that has outlawed the death penalty. So justice no longer includes “an eye for an eye.”

          I’ve told you more than once that the “mass killings” as you describe them, were God’s judgment on people, always through war, by the way, who were doing reprehensible things, and had been doing them for years and years. His love is demonstrated by His patience and His continued warning of the truth. Like now. We can see God warning us to turn from our wicked ways so that He will relent from the final judgment we deserve. The loving thing is to stand at the end of a road that leads to a catastrophic sink hole, and warn people to turn around. God did that. But people who persist in driving straight ahead, will fall. They will, and it’s not God who’s doing it. It’s them because they are so prideful they don’t want to listen.

          Becky

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  3. Really? So this is either god doing this or your scapegoat Satan? REALLY?

    THIS IS A VIRUS, just like the virus that killed millions during the Black Death. Funny how you Christians handled that huh? Imagine if we were back in those days and this Coronavirus was happening.

    Christians? First blamed the Jews for the Black Death and put literally tens of thousands of Jews to death.

    Then? Christians blamed Satan, Witches and? CATS. They said that Satan and Witches were using their cats to infect people with the Black Death. And? They issued an edict? To commit literal genocide against? Cats and oh yeah, they put a bunch of women they proclaimed were witches? To brutal deaths.

    BUT? IT WAS NOT YOUR SATAN, IT WAS NOT WITCHES, IT WAS NOT CATS, IT WAS NOT JEWS THAT SPREAD THE DISEASE. IT WAS FLEAS, ON THE RATS THAT CAME IN ON THE TRADE SHIPS FROM THE EAST AND FROM ITALY.

    And? Because of Christian superstition and ignorance? Millions died unecessarily. Just like? Many will die of coronavirus because of this same stupidity and ignorance of blaming either your god or Satan for this.

    Good for you Christians.

    Oh and you all keep joining together enmass in your churches and keep spreading this among you. Therefor? YOU CHRISTIANS WILL BE SPREADING THIS? AMONG YOURSELVES, NOT YOUR GOD OR SATAN THAT IS FOR SURE.

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    • Please. You make statements as if they are fact, with no supporting evidence. In other words, you have bought into a false narrative. Show me the writing of ONE Christian (not just someone who lived in a religious era) who said Jews caused the Black Plague.

      And you also speak of that which you do not know. You don’t know why infected fleas suddenly reached epidemic proportions. You are just assuming, No God, so He didn’t have anything to do with the event. But that’s your assumption!

      Again, show me how Christians had anything to do with millions dying unnecessarily. That’s just a false narrative. If you honestly study history, you will find Christians caring for the ill and infected in spite of the danger to their own lives. Here’s just one source:

      Gary Ferngren, Ph.D., made the point most emphatically in his recent historical survey published by Johns Hopkins University. He wrote:

      “The hospital was, in origin and conception, a distinctively Christian institution, rooted in Christian concepts of charity and philanthropy. There were no pre-Christian institutions in the ancient world that served the purpose that Christian hospitals were created to serve. … None of the provisions for health care in classical times … resembled hospitals as they developed in the late fourth century.”

      And actually here in the US many if not most or all churches have gone virtual. We are not meeting in a church building but online.

      It really is problematic that people speak against God so emphatically, as if in all the universe or the multiverse, fallible, limited humans can know with certainty that there is no God or satan. So much for agnosticism, I guess.

      Becky

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      • Really? where is all your positive proof that what you speak? Is the real truth. Funny Christian.

        Again? This is a fact and truth? YOU Christians cannot fathom in your blind acceptance of what you been taught.

        What? Are you scared my words that I posted, that if you actually went and looked at the descriptions and depictions of Pan and Cerennunous and then the Pagan myth of Prometheus? I might be right?

        I am willing to bet? If you actually did go look at the pics of Pan and Cerennunous and compare it to pics of your Satan? It would blow your mind how much they are just alike.

        And if you actually read the story of Prometheus? And the how Satan is chained to the rock in hell? Then you would see so many similarities? Especially since the Jews lived in those areas and like other myths of like Lilith they picked up from their time with the Summerians? And took that for their own use? Well….

        But in your cognitive dissonance to my truths? YOU close your ears and eyes. Good for you. Stay ignorant where most of your theology actually comes from now.

        Oh and let me clue you in on something Becky.

        I attended Bangor Theological Seminary for six years, earning my masters degree in biblical studies and comparative religion. I have probably forgotten more about your religion than YOU have ever learned about it.

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        • Again, I’m sorry, AMR. (May I call you AMR?) You are making outlandish claims based on what? Milton? Dante? The Bible does not give a description of Satan, apart from this: he is a fallen angel, appears as an angel of light, and then in Job described as a dragon, and referred to in Revelation as the serpent of old. Any horns or pitchforks or tails is definitely mythological, not Biblical. So I don’t know why you think you are posting some great shocking revelation that you learned in your 6 years of seminary. The only inconsistency here is your understanding of what the Bible says. You think you know, but clearly you do not.

          It’s also sad that you believe this is all about religion. It’s about knowing God, which is not the same thing. The Jews of Jesus’s day were plenty religious and they received His most stinging indictments. So when you stack up religion against atheism, you have not accounted for God in either camp.

          Becky

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          • One of my favorite sayings goes?
            Christianity. Murdering people for 1,700 years all to teach them? Thou shall not murder.

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          • I deleted your first comment AMR. You started well, then you deteriorated into a rant. I see that you are among the group of atheists who do not understand the distinction between murder and capital punishment. As long as that is true, then you won’t understand God.

            Becky

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          • As it turns out, I had to delete the next two comments too (oops, make that NINE comments) because . . . rants! Apparently you don’t know how to have a conversation, where you say something, I respond, you give your reaction, and so forth. No, you want to ignore what I say and then post your nonsensical drivel that has no connection with reality.

            The only thing that made sense was the beginning of your first post when you told about saying there are female gods. Right there you demonstrate that you, a guy who went to seminary for 6 years, have no idea that there is ONE God who reveals Himself in three persons. And yes, I disagree with the RC religious people who chastised you instead of teaching you about God’s trinitarian nature, and explaining that, yes, God does have a “feminine side.” There are many examples in Scripture, including an analogy He made comparing Himself to a nursing mother. But is He a “female god”? Of course not or He wouldn’t have revealed Himself as Father. Again, your RC religious people failed to teach you in that moment that it is never right to take one verse of Scripture and use it to interpret the rest of the Bible. Instead, the preponderance of verses about a subject should be used to interpret that one verse.

            But since you are done posting your rants here, I suppose you won’t even be reading this response. Too bad, because it’s clear to me that you have been misled, and your own thinking has misled you. But since you deem yourself the only judge of what’s right and true, I suppose you have no interest in hearing what others tell you about issues you’ve already clearly decided.

            Becky

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  4. “The first occurrence of God saying that He would do something cataclysmic that would cause devastation is in Exodus.” Pardon the nit-picking, nut the VERY first was when God told Noah He was sending the Flood. But I digress…
    You make some good points here. Even if Satan is sending the virus, as you say, he can’t do a thing without God’s permission. I’ve been reading Ezekiel, too, and the descriptions of Israel sound a lot like America. We turn a blind eye to abuse in the Church, murder thousands of babies daily in the name of “choice,” condemn human trafficking but reward pornographers, ignoring their role in it, and I’m sure I don’t need to go on. As it’s been said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.” If America is smart, we will repent. The question is, are we?

    Like

    • Let me ask you this? Do you know that your god commanded his followers to rip the fetuses out of the wombs of pregnant Tiphurah and Summerian women? Is that not abortion?

      If your story about Noah’s Ark is true? Then your god drowned pregnant women, and? Killed their fetuses, which is abortion.

      Your own bible proclaims through your god that life does not begin until you take your first breath.

      Now, you talk about the crimes of the Church (Christians). Ask yourself. During the Christians forced conversions programs on Pagans, or Native Americans? Did not Christians put to death pregnant Pagan and Native American women thereby killing their fetuses and committing abortion?

      And did you know that according to statistics and facts? 70% of abortions performed in the United States? Are performed on women who call themselves Christians.

      So, how can you Christians say abortion is wrong, or against your gods will, when your own god? Ordered his followers to commit abortions by ripping their fetuses out of the womb of pregnant women, or committed abortions himself by drowning pregnant women, or all the abortions that Christians have committed against those they persecuted or had abortions themselves?

      The hypocrisy on the subject of abortion with Christians is never ending.

      Oh and on a personal note? I am for the woman’s right to choose, but that also? Does not make me? Pro abortion.

      The problem with abortion? Which in fact? Is going down in use?

      1. Christians leaders preach against use of contraceptives. Well? The use of contraceptives? Used correctly? If the man uses a condom and the woman is on a form of birth control? The chances of their getting pregnant and then? Having to have an abortion? Is slim to none.

      2. Christians insist in invading our public schools and demanding that abstinence only sex education be taught to the students. Now, if you do not teach kids the real facts of sex? And how to prevent pregnancy? Then how are you going to stop them from getting pregnant and getting an abortion?

      3. We? Are already so overpopulated in this world? 12,000 children die each day. Most? From starvation. So is that what you want? Children to die slow, painful deaths from starvation because there are already so many people here that we cannot even feed them? I am not saying we start aborting fetuses, but hey, we got to get our acts together. We got to stop overpopulating this world, which? Is only leading us to pain, misery and all kinds of horrors.

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      • Sorry, but this is not a site where atheists can simply rant. You are wrong about your understanding of the Bible because you do not believe that God knows what a person is about even before they are born. You do not believe He is righteous (makes right choices) or that He should be “allowed” to judge. All the things that you find so “offensive” are not things that I understand apart from who God is. He wouldn’t say to kill someone apart from His judgment of them.

        So funny that you have such a narrow view of history. You apparently believe that the “real facts of sex” were only discovered in the 1960s. Seriously, you logic is flawed, your Biblical understanding is biased, slanted, and false. But instead of discussing things, apparently you just want to post your false narrative. For what end, I can only guess. But I’ll have to delete any more rants like this, I’m afraid.

        Becky

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        • Really? I will put up my Masters degree from Bangor Theological Seminary in biblical studies and comparative religion against YOU any day and kick your butt to boot.

          Oh yeah, we big, bad atheists? There are a whole lot of us? Who used to be? Ministers. Matter of fact? There are still? A whole lot of atheists in the pulpit lol.

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          • Atheistmilitantrising, I really could care less about your piece of paper. I care about what you know, and clearly you have errors in your understanding about the Bible. But I’m not trying to compete with you. It’s just that you arrive at conclusions that clash with what Jesus said and stood for and what His followers believed. How could that be? Not possible unless Jesus was wrong or you are. I’m going with the former.

            You can tell me of your credentials as a minister, but you apparently don’t know what Hebrews says about those who formerly had the good news and failed, first because it was not united by faith and second because of disobedience. And the conclusion: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” You haven’t apparently held fast to your confession, so clearly you are in the camp of those who heard and the word did not profit you “because it wasn’t united by faith in those who heard.”

            And Atheists in the pulpit only reinforces what I’ve said many, many times: there is a lot of false teaching coming out of people who profess to be Christians. No surprise. And not alarming. God knows.

            Becky

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        • Yeah I know how your cognitive dissonance bothers you brain-dead and brain-washed psychotic Christians who proclaim how you all know all about your gawd? But got no real clue about him? Or the facts of the Jewish religion that you idiots all changed to make a new theology of or all the false historical BS in your buybulls like Noah’s Ark and the Exodus.

          But you continue to live like the mental midget moron troglodyte idiots you all are in your cognitive dissonance.

          Like

          • OK, so no interest in really talking. So sorry. Comments that are mostly name calling will also be deleted.

            No atheist rants; no name calling. Hope that’s clear. Any other comments you want to make, you are welcome to do so.

            Becky

            Like

    • Heheh. I was waiting for someone to make that correction. When I posted to Facebook, I thought about changing it, but I thought, no this will be interesting to see who catches the error first. You win! At least, you’re the first who has pointed it out. When I realized the mistake, I initially decided to leave it because I thought, very possibly that amount of water indicates a miracle, not a natural disaster. But as I thought more, I realized, the same could be said about the plagues and so much more (Sodom and Gomorrah, for example). So it really is a mistake and I’m glad you pointed it out.

      I’m glad you said that Israel to whom and about whom Ezekiel wrote, reminds you of America. I’ve thought that before. I’d never heard the “God owes them an apology” line before. It’s a good one. I suspect we have experienced God’s judgment in many ways—hurricanes, droughts, tornadoes, fires, and more, but we just don’t recognize it. Like this virus, we explain these other things based on our human understanding. All the while God might be saying what He said to Nineveh through Jonah: God’s judgment is coming. I suspect this pandemic is another “warning shot across the bow” for the world to see, telling all of us that judgment is coming.

      Becky

      Like


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