The Chinese Coronavirus
‘Pestilence’ as seen in the Bible?
All the daily news is about the Chinese Coronavirus spreading so rapidly since only a few weeks ago in and around China’s Wuhan Provence. This outbreak qualifies as a ‘pestilence’ so I thought I’d look into similar occurrences of pestilence in Bible history, and in Bible prophecy concerning that which is to come in “the last days” as judgements. These last day judgements will come upon “the whole world” that “lies in the Wicked One” because at that time, but the believers of the church that is simply called “the body of Christ” will already have been Raptured to heaven, saved out of the world, never to see “the wrath of God.”
Pestilence is a deadly disaster, usually a disease, that affects an entire community. Pestilence is contagious, virulent, and devastating. For example, the Black Plague in Europe that killed over thirty percent of the population during the late Middle Ages was a pestilence. In the Bible, pestilence is usually a sign of God’s judgment on a nation or people group (Deuteronomy 32:24; 1 Chronicles 21:12; Ezekiel 7:14–15).
The God who protects and blesses is also the God who sends disaster and pestilence when it accomplishes His righteous purposes on earth (Isaiah 45:7; Ezekiel 5:16–17; Amos 4:10). Pestilence is promised as part of God’s final judgment on the world and in particular upon ‘the corrupt, evil one world Satanic religious system’ of the last days, as note din the verses below.
8 Therefore shall her [Mystery Babylon the Great] plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. Revelation 18:8 (KJV)
“Mystery Babylon” is a religious system and mercantile system or commercial business of great wealth, as well as a major city that “sits on seven hills.” She has committed fornication with the world and appears to be the “False Prophet” that will lend religious credibility to the Antichrist and so is referred to here as that “Great Whore.”
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters [worldwide]: Revelation 17:1 (KJV)
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Revelation 17:5 (KJV)
The word translated “pestilence” (KJV) is often translated as “plague” or “disaster” in new versions of the English Bible. However, because the word is often paired with both of those, it may imply a greater devastation than mere physical disease.
Jesus forewarned of pestilence when He described the end times (Luke 21:11) when the wrath of God is poured out in the time of vengeance. While the King of Kings has been in exile from this sin-laden planet, permitting time for souls to be saved, He has been holding back His “wrath to come.”
After David’s disobedience in taking a sinful census (1Chronicles 21:1), the Lord brought judgment upon Israel in the form of pestilence:
“The Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men” (2 Samuel 24:15, ESV).
God had also sent pestilence in the aftermath of Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16:49) and as a judgment for Israel’s immorality at Baal Peor (Numbers 25:9), but the epidemic recorded in 2 Samuel 24 was the most deadly ever to hit the Israelites. Then God had mercy and halted the judgment:
“When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand’” (verse 16).
Our sovereign God is Lord of any pestilence (Habakkuk 3:5). He promises protection for those who trust in Him: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.” (Psalm 91:5–6). Whatever happens, the children of Israel then did not need to fear.
Jesus Christ is our protection against the righteous judgments of God. Though we all as believers still will suffer that which comes upon all men naturally in this world, we as believers will never see the angry face of God … this because Jesus Christ has paid our sin-debt in full at the Cross. For everyone who received the “free gift” of salvation by His grace through faith in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9), God has
“canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).
Those who are “in Christ” need never fear pestilence or any other end time “wrath of God.”
Among the various forms of judgment that God brings upon the unrighteous and rebellious is pestilence. Not every epidemic is the direct judgment of God, but the Bible indicates that some instances of pestilence in history have been a punishment for sin. God sent pestilence to punish the Israelites for their ongoing idolatry and disobedience (Deuteronomy 32:24; Jeremiah 42:22), and during the tribulation He will send ‘pestilence’ to punish the unrepentant:
“The first angel went and poured out his bowl [of judgement] on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast [Antichrist]and worshiped its image” (Revelation 16:2; cf. Revelation 18:8; Matthew 24:7).
While we as saved believers do suffer, as all men do, in our day to day sufferings of living in corrupt world and in declining physical bodies of sin, we never have to experience God’s pestilential judgment of that day if we will believe to receive His salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- Arthur J Licursi