We are currently in the midst of a pandemic—a worldwide crisis caused by a deadly disease. There has been talk about pandemics in the past, but I’ve not lived through a real health crisis like the Black Plague or the Flu epidemic in the early twentieth century, so I don’t really know how fearful this spreading pestilence can become.

And pestilence it is, though that’s not a word in common use today. We favor “pandemic,” I suppose to emphasize the widespread nature of whatever disease is moving from person to person. But pestilence emphasizes the fatal nature of the disease, and I think it’s more accurate when referring to Covid-19.

Though not a common word today, pestilence is a term used in Scripture, most often by the prophets warning of coming judgment. Jeremiah 14:11-12 is an example:

So the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. When they fast, I am not going to listen to their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I am not going to accept them. Rather I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence.”

These judgments, also recorded in Ezekiel and Habakkuk, are directed primarily at Israel because they forsook God to worship idols.

Revelation echoes these judgments but on a worldwide scale:

I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth. (6:8)

Of course, just mentioning Revelation stirs up some people. On one hand are those who want to trot out the End Times Charts. On the other are those who secretly wish (or nearly so) that Revelation weren’t in the Bible because they don’t think it adds much, being all symbolic as it is. Why bother with it when we can’t really understand it?

Well, I’m of a different mindset. I believe God speaks through Revelation as much as through any other book. I believe some is literal and some symbolic, and by relying on the Holy Spirit, we can know with a high percentage of accuracy, which is which. God didn’t give us this glimpse into the future to confound us. He wants us to know what He’s communicating.

One thing that’s clear is this: God will bring judgment on the earth because of our rebellion against Him. In the Old Testament, He brought judgment against Israel, His chosen people, in precisely the ways He’d said He would through the prophecies of Jeremiah. Consequently, I have no doubt the warning of judgment in Revelation is also true.

In fact the language in Revelation and in Jeremiah is eerily similar, both warning of the sword, famine, and pestilence. The scope of the judgment is really the only difference.

So is the Covid-19 virus the beginning of the pestilence God is sending? Are we, in fact, in the end times? Is the tribulation about to fall? (And the rapture before it, for those who hold to a pre-trib view).

Here’s where I depart from those who work out the end times charts. We simply don’t know God’s time in regard to these matters. He told us we can’t know, so I’m not sure why some people get so hung up on trying to figure out the time and sequence of all these things.

In the Old Testament, God sent numerous foreign incursions against both Israel and Judah before the two nations were taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon respectively. Which one was the start of God’s judgment? The time Egypt came in and captured Jerusalem? Or when Edom broke free of Judah’s control? Or when Aram attacked Israel?

The answer is none and all of these. God sent His prophets to warn His people and He sent enemies and famine and, yes, pestilence, to judge them, to warn them, to show them what their end would become if they did not repent and turn back to Him.

These were not the final judgment but they were judgments. So too, we can look at the wars and rumors of wars, the drought and famine in various places, the pestilence rapidly spreading throughout the world, as God’s hand of judgment, just as He said.

But is it the final judgment?

Why should we ask this question? Are we planning on waiting for the final judgment before preaching repentance to those who deny God?

In short, the Covid-19 virus should concern Christians because it reminds us that God’s judgment is sure and that many people will be lost unless they turn to the Savior. We should have some urgency about us, even as those charged with health care here in the US are in the fight against Covid-19.

But we Christians know. If not Covid-19, one day there will be pestilence poured out on rebellious humans who refuse God’s mercy. May we be faithful to shout from the mountain tops: Here is your God; lift your eyes to the One who hung on the tree so that you might be healed and repent.

This article is modified from a 2014 post entitled Ebola.

Published in: on March 25, 2020 at 5:23 pm  Comments (6)  
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  1. I’ve been reading Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and the descriptions of rebellious Israel sound like us. (U.S.) It’s been said that if God doesn’t judge America, He should apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
    Yes, the fields are ripe for the harvest – what are we waiting for?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “One thing that’s clear is this: God will bring judgment on the earth because of our rebellion against Him.”

    Clear to you Becky maybe, but most of the worlds population does not give your God any acknowledgement because many have never heard of Christianity and many other people have their own traditional gods just like yourself or no gods at all.

    “In the Old Testament, God sent numerous foreign incursions against both Israel and Judah before the two nations were taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon respectively.” 

    The world population in the time that Jesus of the Bible was supposed to exist was estimated to be about 300 million. Jesus preached within a radius of roughly a hundred miles of the place of his birth. Taking into account Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon the population at that time would not meet 3 million, so why did God pick such remote and primitive countries to force his wrath upon and send Jesus to preach in?


    • Your question intrigues me! Perhaps, because this region was where mankind first originated: the garden of Eden. Perhaps because God had chosen a small group of ‘his people’ for an example to the rest of the world in the coming centuries. And perhaps we underestimate God when in fact he was working with other great civilizations in different ways at the time! I love these in depth discussions. Thanks Rebecca! Check out my blog sometime!

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    • Do you think “most of the worlds population does not give your God any acknowledgement because many have never heard of Christianity and many other people have their own traditional gods just like yourself or no gods at all” means none of them will die. Death is God’s judgment on the whole human race.. Neither you or I or anyone else will escape it. The real issue is how to turn death into an eternal blessing. The key is making certain what comes next for us after death is . . . but why should I tell you, you are not interested in it.


      • Walt, when you say I’m not interested, are you talking to Steve? I agree with what you have said. But first the question: I think any person who has a desire to know the Creator God can and will have the opportunity to know Him. God is the one who pulls away the blinders and who puts the knowledge of God in us. But some people “exchange the truth of God for a lie.” And they are happy doing so.

        When you said, none of us will escape death, you are absolutely right. Death is the judgment on the whole human race, but there is physical death and there is spiritual death. None of us has to experience spiritual death since Jesus Christ took on our load of sin and paid the price of our going our own way so that we don’t have to pay for ourselves. That’s how death turns into an “eternal blessing” since God promises the most amazing restoration—the resurrection of our bodies into a new, 2.0 version that is better than this body and which will be free from the inclination to do wrong. Thanks for adding to the discussion.


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    • Steve, God purposefully chose a small nation, a weak nation that wasn’t rich or impressive so that the rest of the world would see Him through the ways He blessed them. In other words, Israel as a nation was to represent God to the rest of the world. Because they weren’t impressive on their own, people couldn’t miss that what they accomplished, what they became, was not really possible for them on their own. But Israel, like Adam, failed.

      Of course, other nations did hear the truth. For those of us who understand the Bible to be true, we can see that at one time all the people groups knew God. And as Romans says, some “suppress the truth in unrighteousness because that which is known about God is evident within them for God make it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, His divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.”

      The claim that God didn’t create, is just a way to assert that people are excused for not knowing Him. But that’s just one of the lies. The passage goes on to say, “And even though they knew God, they did not acknowledge Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man…” The writer was referring to idols—things made by people and worshiped as if they were greater than people. No logic to that at all, but we still do the same, just with ideas and our own perceptions instead of a physical thing. Like the sect in India that worships rats. They have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”

      Not a lot of rat worshipers today, but lots of man worshipers. All people need to do is look at the world and see that, No, humans did not make this world. And it did not make itself. Hence, God. It’s not hard, not complicated. So no one has an excuse for not recognizing Him as God.


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