By now I’m sure you’ve already heard all there is to hear concerning the now classified pandemic called the coronavirus that’s been taking the world by storm. People have either been panicking over the virus leading to “panic buying” where store shelves are left bare from hurried shoppers and a wavering stock market and economy worldwide. Or others have deemed it as a hoax or simply over-hyped and not as threatening as the media would make it out to be.
Whatever your thoughts are on the issue, it’s clear that this is a real threat and that many people are getting sick and dying from this virus. The focus of this article will be on the Christian and how I believe we should be looking at this issue in light of God’s word. I’ve been seeing both fear and misinformation concerning this virus and it’s prophetic implications (if any) that I want to take the time to address here.
The Coronavirus and Matthew 24
What I first want to address that seems to be partly fueling the fear of some is the fact that some Christians believe this virus started the tribulation or judgments mentioned in the book of Revelation. This is not the case. We are not in the tribulation nor were any of the seals opened. As believers we need to be careful not to interpret the bible based on current events but instead read and understand God’s word and from having a knowledge of what it says about the last days, we are then able to properly discern the events unfolding around us.
Updated as of March 14th, 2020
I addressed a similar issue in my article concerning the assassination of Qassem Soleimani back in January which sparked fears worldwide (and in the Christian community) concerning the fuse for World War 3 being lit. Something else that occurred around the same time is at the end of January when President Trump’s Middle East Peace plan was revealed, some Christians jumped to the conclusion that the deal was the Daniel 9:27 covenant and that Trump was the antichrist. These are both not true but were ideas that spread due to what I believe stems from an improper understanding of what God’s word says about the last days.
My purpose isn’t to mock fellow believers but to rather highlight a problem that I’ve witnessed occur frequently in an attempt to offer a solution, this being to read and understand God’s word concerning the last days. When it comes to the coronavirus many go to Matthew 24 in which Jesus describes events that will transpire culminating to his physical return to the earth. Specifically Matthew 24:3-8 is referenced.
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows”, (Matthew 24:3-8, NKJV).
In the passage, Jesus tells his followers a part of what will be occurring during this period of time is deception, wars, and rumors of wars, nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. Sounds a lot like what we’re seeing nowadays right? Except there’s a larger context here that some miss. Matthew 24, for the most part, is about events that will occur during the tribulation. Jesus is speaking about things that will ultimately find their fulfillment in this time period.
In a sense, what we read in Matthew 24 is a timeline marking major events that will occur from the beginning, midpoint, and end of the tribulation period. I will explain this more later in the article. Yes, many Christians (including myself) reference and have referenced Matthew 24 to speak on today’s events but the caveat that should be added is that events transpiring today are not a fulfillment of this passage.
The best way I see this passage used in light of current events is that as we see things escalating and growing in frequency and intensity, the events that mark this current age are a shadow and not the fulfillment of what’s to come in the tribulation. That is different than stating the coronavirus is fulfilling Matthew 24 in some way as some believe.
During the tribulation, these events will explode and continue to get worse up until Christ’s second coming. Jesus likens this to “birth pangs” or the “beginning of sorrows”. Logically it makes sense that as we draw closer to the tribulation and respectively Christ’s second coming that we’re witnessing things get worse and worse, but we should be careful how we interpret these events in light of bible prophecy.
Matthew 24 Parallel to Revelation 6
Aside from Matthew 24, I’ve also seen Revelation 6 referenced with the coronavirus, specifically the 4th seal judgment.
“When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth,” (Revelation 6:7-8, NKJV).
Note that some translations state “famine and plague” or “famine and pestilence” rather than “hunger, with death”. Why I bring this up is that some believe that this specific seal has been opened and the result of that has led to the coronavirus. This is also not true. In my study of the tribulation, I explain how God’s word tells us that the tribulation first starts with a confirming of a covenant per Daniel 9:27 by the antichrist.
Not only has there not been a 7-year covenant confirmed with Israel, the antichrist has not been revealed. We also see that the previous 3 seals must be opened before the 4th one, all of them having devastating global effects. Although what we’re witnessing today is unfortunate and even 1 life lost is one too many, many more people are dying of other diseases and cause apart from the coronavirus. We are not yet in the tribulation.
Earlier I mentioned how there are parallels between what Jesus says will occur before his 2nd coming in Matthew 24 and the seal judgments in Revelation 6. I touched briefly on these parallels in my article on the first 4 seal judgments as well.
|False Christ(s) and deception||Matthew 24:5||Revelation 6:2|
|Wars and rumors of war||Matthew 24:6||Revelation 6:3-4|
|Famine||Matthew 24:7||Revelation 6:5-6|
|Death/Pestilences||Matthew 24:6-7||Revelation 6:7-8|
|Martyrs||Matthew 24:9-13||Revelation 6:9-11|
|Earthquakes||Matthew 24:7||Revelation 6:12-17|
In Matthew 24: 15-22 Jesus expounds upon the Abomination of Desolation that will occur in the rebuilt third temple halfway through the tribulation (Daniel 9:27, NKJV). We see in Revelation 12 that after this midpoint, the Jews will flee (as they are told to in Matthew 24:15-18 and will be supernaturally protected for the remaining 3 1/2 years of the tribulation (Revelation 12:6, 13-17, NKJV).
Finally in Matthew 24:29-31 Jesus describes what will occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days” being celestial events, the return of Jesus to the earth, and the regathering of the Jews which we can also see in Revelation 19:11-21. The point I’m trying to express here is the ultimate fulfillment of many of what Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24 will occur during the tribulation.
Video info: With the chaos surrounding global outbreaks and stock markets drops around the world, many people are wondering: “Is this the End of the World?” In this week’s Prophecy Update we’ll be looking at what the Bible has to say about the End of the World and where we seem to be on the Prophetic timeline.
Although the coronavirus and other events occurring worldwide may be seen as “precursors” to how close the tribulation is to us, they are not a fulfillment of these events. What will transpire during the tribulation is far worse than anything that’s happening now.
The Move Towards a Cashless Society
Although I don’t believe the coronavirus or any other virus or disease now is the ultimate fulfillment of what we read in Matthew 24, I do believe however that what the coronavirus may be used for is prophetically significant.
In the March 3rd article Banknotes may be spreading coronavirus, World Health Organisation warns, by Yahoo Finance, the article states that the “World Health Organization (WHO) has advised people to use contactless technology” instead of cash to prevent spreading the coronavirus and also presents the dangers of infected cash,
“The infectious COVID-19 virus could be carried on the surface of banknotes for several days, the WHO warned on Monday night…The Bank of England also recognized that banknotes “can carry bacteria or viruses” and encouraged frequent hand washing” (1).
The LA Times reported similar fears concerning the likelihood for coronavirus to be spread via cash stating, “Fear of paper dollars is now palpable in the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus. And across the financial industry, rigorous debate is brewing over how to address the public’s mounting concern that greenbacks might transmit COVID-19” (4).
From these articles, it’s clear that there’s concern over the use of cash as a less hygienic method of payment during these times of uncertainty. I believe that the coronavirus pandemic could be used as a reason for nations to move closer and closer to a fully cashless system. This being done over the fear that the virus can survive on cash for several days at a time, adding to the issue.
We know from passages in the bible such as Daniel 7:7-8, 23-27 and Revelation 13:16-17 that there will be a one-world government and one-world financial system that will be set up during the tribulation – right before Christ’s millennial kingdom which will destroy it. What I believe is that the coronavirus could be one of many things used to move closer and closer to this system.
In my articles on the mark of the beast I look at China’s current surveillance society and social credit system, Sweden’s embrace with cashless payment methods and RFID chips, as well as Amazon’s hand scanning technology allowing users to pay with the wave of a hand. I believe all of this may play a role in the coming cashless society and an eventual mark of the beast system. How far the virus could be used as an excuse to push nations towards a cashless society is still to be seen but is something we should keep our eyes on.
The same fears (although not from a biblical perspective) were mimicked on ZeroHedge,
“…the globalist push toward a ‘cashless society’ has been underway for years now, having had its biggest successes in Scandinavia. Sweden has gone virtually “cashless”, and in such a short time…A viral outbreak is a significant danger to us all, but an even greater threat is the supposed cure. Trading our economic and social freedom in the name of stopping the coronavirus? No matter how deadly the bug, it’s just not worth it” (4).
The Believer’s Response
So is this the end of the world? Are we currently in the tribulation? Have any of the seals been opened? The answer’s no. The reality is that we are in a fallen world and events such as a pandemic, wars, famines, natural disasters will happen. Not every occurrence of these events is a direct fulfillment to prophesy but when we look at all of these things together we know they act as precursors to the tribulation period which looms over the horizon.
As we see the tribulation cast its shadow on our time, we can also rest in the assurance that the rapture of the church is that much closer! Till then, what should be the believer’s response to all these things? The same as always: trust in God. Now that a pandemic has captured the fears of many worldwide doesn’t mean God is in less control than before. He’s sovereign over all, the coronavirus included.
As usual, we should be smart, follow necessary procedures to stay healthy, and be prepared, but ultimately we should rest in the assurance that our hope is in the Lord and not fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7).
Just like our brothers and sisters in Christ in China are doing, we should also occupy till he comes and uses this opportunity to share the hope that we have to a lost and panicked world, “At the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, surgical masks are being used in two ways to further the spread of the Gospel. First, Christians wear the mask themselves as they talk about Jesus to people on the streets. This not only helps prevent disease but can also prevent prosecution by the Chinese government since the masks help conceal a person’s identity. Second, Chinese Christians are handing out masks to people on the street. Along with the masks, they’re also handing out Gospel tracts” (6).
To me, this is amazing and humbling news. Despite the terrible news we’re seeing coming from China and other parts of the world that’s affected by the virus, this is great news! Our prayer, in the midst of difficult situations and tribulations of the world, should be that God can use the situation to bring hope through the gospel.
Hopefully, this is encouragement for all of us to be bold and share the gospel just like our brothers and sisters in Christ in China who are not only being heavily persecuted but may also face risks of catching the virus. Let’s keep them in our prayers as well as all of those affected by the coronavirus around the world and in our own communities!
If you’re interested in other articles like this, navigate to my commentary page and follow me on my social media platforms to stay up to date with the latest news. These are amazing times we’re living in as we see Bible prophecy unfolding right before our eyes and the world stage being set up for the fulfillment of many prophecies. Time is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Make sure you’ve made the right decision about Jesus today! It will be the most important decision of your eternal life.
Image from pixabay
- Banknotes may be spreading coronavirus, World Health Organisation warns (March 3rd, 2020) – Yahoo Finance
- Federal Reserve To Quarantine Dollars From Asia On Covid-19 Transmission Concerns (March 6th, 2020) – ZeroHedge
- With virus spreading, WHO declares COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic (March 11th, 2020) – The Times of Israel
- Fear of coronavirus-tainted dollars opens a new front in the war on cash (March 12th, 2020) – LA Times
- Trump declares virus pandemic a national emergency; Pelosi announces aid deal (March 13th, 2020) – The Times of Israel
- Christians Boldly Share the Love of Christ on the Streets of China’s Coronavirus Hot Zone (February 5th, 2020) CBNews
- Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak (March 4th, 2020) – Foreign Policy