What is God’s perspective on judgment? Is disease a judgment of God because of unhappiness with our behavior? Perhaps. He’s done it in the past. But is this pandemic a sign of the Apocalypse? ◊
This week I read an international article with a headline as follows: “Coronavirus – Is God Unhappy with Mankind?” Interesting how the topic of God gets raised up during times of a global or national crisis. While God is present in and around times of peace and prosperity as well as times of war and famine, He is also around during times of plagues and a modern pandemic like the Coronavirus.
But is this virus some special curse of God? Not necessarily. Is this the beginning of the end of world? No, I don’t believe so. Is this part of some epic punishment mentioned in Biblical literature as part of the apocalypse? No.
This Coronavirus is a newly identified virus originating from Wuhan, China in late 2019. It is highly contagious, easily transmitted, and has an apparently higher mortality rate, particularly among the aged. Like many other viruses in past and modern times, it will wreak its havoc over a period of a few months and be gone. Regions and nations that contain the spread and manage education and their treatment response will fare better than others. Financial markets will rise and fall and stabilize accordingly until order is perceived to be maintained.
The world will go on.
While we can and should be cautiously optimistic, we should not believe that God cannot and does not bring judgment at any time upon any one or any nation. He’s certainly done it in the past. We would be foolish to underestimate the power of God and His evidently heavy-hand that has been played throughout human history.
Though we need not necessarily see a Biblical apocalypse in this modern virus.
God’s Judgment Past?
To be clear, the Bible states that God judged, judges, and will judge the world. Here are a few major examples of where God’s justice appears in the Old Testament. Read these Bible chapters to understand the full context of these dramatic acts of God in judgment reflecting His justice:
- Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) – They chose to disobey God’s direct instructions for their own purposes. They were expelled from Eden and an essentially heavenly relationship with Holy God. God expects obedience from His created Mankind. Christ was destined as the long-term atonement justice for this original sin of disobedience.
- The Pre-Flood World (Genesis 6-8) – The corrupt and violent people of the world drowned at the time of Noah. Noah and his family were saved from this global flood in the Ark vessel and a new generation of mankind was spawned.
- Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19) – The decadent and violent people in these cities and region at the time of Lot and Abraham were decimated for their flagrant sin and wickedness. Even so, God would have spared them “For the sake of ten [righteous people]” which He could not find.
- Egyptian slave masters (Genesis 15:14, Exodus 7-12) – The ruthless and godless rulers over the Hebrew people in Egypt were predicted to be judged hundreds of years earlier at the time of Abraham. Their demise came while under the leadership of the hard-hearted Pharaoh while pursuing Moses and the Hebrews the Egyptians abused.
- Worshippers of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-35) – There were 3,000 restless and disobedient Hebrew people who manufactured and worshiped a molten golden calf as they assumed their leader Moses was not returning from his trip up to Mount Sinai. These rebels of God were put to the sword at the instruction of God through Moses.
- Achan (Joshua 7) – a Hebrew man and his family were stoned to death because he stole spoils of war in direct violation of God’s instructions to the Hebrew people. Be clear that the Hebrews were living under a direct theocracy as God was deliberately developing a separated people through whom’s lineage would come the atoning savior of the entire world, Jesus. Old Testament law and justice must be understood in that light.
- Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar (Daniel 4:5, 27, 34) – These polytheistic Babylonian kings who conquered Judah (southern kingdom) based in Jerusalem were toppled unceremoniously from their peaks of worldly power by the One True God who raises up and takes down kings and nations.
Here are some examples where God acts as judge in the New Testament. Again, read these chapters to get the full context of God’s judgment:
- The Jews for the rejection of Christ (Matthew 21:43-44, 24:34,1 Thessalonians 2:14-16) – The disbelieving generation of Jews and their leaders who killed Christ in Jerusalem were amply warned of their coming punishment for their rejection of Christ as the Messiah. The nation, the Jewish temple, their leaders and up to 1 million non-Christians were slaughtered by the Romans in AD 70.
- Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10) – This dishonest couple in the early Christian church lied about their possessions and dropped dead in front of Peter. This was a powerful demonstration of the power of the newly given Holy Spirit to the early Church as described in Acts.
- Herod Agrippa – (Acts 12:21-23) – The evil son of Herod the Great who killed James and imprisoned Peter. Her was smote by an angel of the Lord and eaten by worms.
- The church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:29-32) – Paul tells this group of believers in Corinth that we Christians are judged and chastened by the Lord for our behavior.
God’s Judgment Now and in the Future?
It should be clear that God doesn’t mess around. He is serious, while mankind may not take Him seriously, be simply self-focused, or flagrantly disobedient. But given these examples in the past, along with current evidences all around us, we can be sure that there is still today ongoing blessing and judgment by God around the world. One doesn’t even have to acknowledge or believe in God to experience it. And we know He will judge again, even ultimately as a final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) before the re-creation of a new heaven and new earth.
And just as God can allow or cause the seas to rise or winds to blow or fires to burn or anyone to die quietly or violently, God can produce or allow a virus to permeate a global population. He can shut it down in a heartbeat as well. Our trust and attention should be in seeking Him in the midst of our worldly tribulations, even in this time of uncertainty about a fast-spreading virus. Again, He is God and has revealed His awesome and overwhelming power, love, purpose, and holy character throughout human history and in His revealed Word, the Holy Bible.
In the meantime, stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit, keeping your faith and trust in the One who is everlasting and worthy of our focus.
Is your faith in God or mankind?
“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.” – Matthew 24:3-4