This week the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially raised the global coronavirus crisis status to a "pandemic" level. Even as the disease may be lessening at its source in China, it is quickly spreading globally and many say Europe is now the new China in this health crisis and global calamity.
In the United States, President Trump took the prudent and preventive steps in January to evacuate U.S. diplomatic personnel and block all visitors from China. This undoubtedly has lessened the crisis for this nation.
However, we now have over 1,100 reported cases of the disease and more than 30 deaths. Globally, there are over 120,000 cases reported in 114 countries on six continents.
Health officials and leaders at various levels have acted in an abundance of caution to postpone or cancel various events, gatherings and activities. Many who may have even been in proximity with victims have been quarantined or self-quarantined for up to two weeks, to be sure they do not have nor will spread the disease.
Discerning the Spiritual Implications
The word "pandemic" is formed by the Greek word pan, meaning "all," and the word demos, "people." It is used to identify or define an outbreak of disease occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population. A pandemic can also mean "relating to Pan," the Greek mythical god (or demon) of the forests, who supposedly frightened people with his loud roaring noises from the untamed woodlands.
Meanwhile, "pandemonium" is defined as a "wild uproar" or "tumult." Pandemic, widely-spread diseases or conditions can cause such fear among the people that pandemonium breaks out, as the Bible speaks of it in Zechariah 14:13; Mark 5:38 and 2 Corinthians 6:5. Notice our Greek/English word "demon" is found in the middle of the word pandemonium and suggests the unrest or fear is prompted by a demon or evil spirit.
We cannot ignore the potential connections of the current "pandemic" novel coronavirus with evil spirits causing disease and deaths of great proportion around the globe, even as suggested in Scriptures for the last days. There may be prophetic implications in these physical manifestations.
Jesus described (Matthew 24:4-13) social upheaval and calamities ("famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in various places," v. 7b) as part of what is to be expected to precede the end-times, which will mark the transition from this present age to the "age to come" (Heb. 6:4-6). However, He urged His disciples to "See that you are not troubled. For all these things must happen, but the end is not yet" (Matt. 24:6b).
When I think of plagues, I'm drawn to the Passover story and the plagues God poured on the Egyptians to soften Pharaoh's hard heart and force him to recognize His superior and divine power and "Let my people go!" God wanted the Israelites free to worship Him in their own land.
As we have said, the epicenter of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) is China, a nation that persecutes our brothers and sisters in Christ! Iran, likewise, persecutes believers, and it has been hard-hit with this global pandemic. From that perspective, this plague could be a judgment from God on those nations, with the intention of softening their hearts and their policies of persecution of God's people! Asher Intrater, a Messianic Jewish leader in Israel, teaches on this theme HERE.
Your Prophetic Worldview and this Pandemic
Yes, challenging times are coming to our world! Though fear is not to rule us, the "beginning of sorrows" may now be beginning, where there will be great political upheaval, social unrest and religious persecution. Many will be spiritually deceived, disillusioned and will even defect from their faith.
Jesus said of this season that "he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matt. 24:13). We need to precommit to patient endurance. This means "to hold one's ground in conflict, bear up against adversity, hold out under stress, stand firm, persevere under pressure, wait calmly and courageously. It is not passive resignation to fate and mere patience, but the active energetic resistance to defeat that allows calm and brave endurance."
Such endurance is nothing new for readers of both the Old and New Testaments. Even prophets of old were persecuted and killed for their faith. Likewise, Jesus and His apostles (Matt. 5:12, Acts 5:12, 1 Thess. 2:15) walked in the presence and power of God but also went through great tribulation.
If your understanding of future end-times living says you or your children will never suffer adverse circumstances nor go through testings and tribulation, it is not the reality of Scripture (John 15:20; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-19). Therefore, we must also "be ready, for in an hour when you least expect, the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 24:44).
Ordained to the ministry in 1969, Gary Curtis is a graduate of LIFE Bible College at Los Angeles (soon to become Life Pacific University at San Dimas, California). He has taken graduate courses at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Gary served as part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, for 27 years (1988-2015); and served for the last 13 years as the vice president of Life on The Way Communications Inc., the church's not-for-profit media outreach. Now retired, Gary and his wife have been married for 50 years and live in Southern California. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
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