Every time there’s a crisis you’ll find well-meaning Christians attempting to link it to a Bible verse (carefully plucked out of context, of course), and the end of the world. The current crisis with Covid-19 is no exception.
Someone contacted me on Messenger last week suggesting that, because Corona means “crown” (which it does in Latin), it refers to the first of the horsemen of the Apocalypse. The horseman was given a crown and sent out to conquer. The four horsemen “were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth” (Rev 6:8).
Isaiah 26:20 is doing the rounds at present, “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.” The inference by those who quote this verse is that Covid-19 is an outpouring of God’s anger on sinners. But hang on, I thought Jesus settled that on the cross. Never mind that. The verse seems to fit, so let’s use it, right?
Then there’s Luke 21:11, “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” You might like to check out Jeremiah 29:17 and Ezekiel 5:12 as two more examples of verses being linked to Coronavirus. And then there’s my favourite, James 4:8, “Wash your hands, you sinners.”
Needless to say, there are some Christians who delight in every catastrophe, crisis, and calamity that befalls humankind. And they are ready with their proof text taken out of context.
End Time Predictions Nothing New
Doomsday prognostications are nothing new. Cyprian, a bishop of Carthage (a city in Tunisia), described the epidemic of 250-271 as signalling the end of the world. The Plague of Cyprian, as it came to be called, is estimated to have killed 5,000 people a day in Rome alone.
Humanity has been fascinated with the end of the world since its beginning. The oldest surviving prediction of the world’s imminent demise was found inscribed upon an Assyrian clay tablet, which stated: “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common.” (Ref: Book of Facts by Isaac Asimov). This could have been written yesterday, but it comes from 2,800 BC.
In the year 1666, a date containing the figures commonly accepted as the biblical Number of the Beast and following a protracted period of plague in England, it was little surprise that many should believe the Great Fire of London to be a herald of the last days. In 1794, Charles Wesley, the founder of Methodism, maintained that the world would come to an end that year. Notwithstanding his brother’s erroneous estimate, the Methodist leader John Wesley expected the End Times to commence in 1836, with the appearance of the Great Beast of Revelation. The 17th and 18th centuries were a time of protracted pandemics, which no doubt led these great men to arrive at their erroneous conclusion.
When I became a Christian in the late 70s, all Christians were abuzz with the world ending in 1982, when the planets lined up and created magnetic forces that would bring Armageddon to the earth. I was swept up in this, too, spending time reading Revelation, Bible prophecy, and books like “The Late Great Planet Earth.” We were wrong!
There were other books like “88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988” by Edgar Whisenant, who was quoted as saying, “Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong!” Whoops! He blamed the calendar and God for his false predictions! Whisenant also predicted the end of the world for 1993, 1994, and 1997. Then he gave up predicting – there was no future in it!
But still, some Christians persist with making predictions of doom for the planet’s end, and the current crisis is no exception. The danger here is that we’ve cried wolf too many times. People have become hardened to a message they actually need to take seriously. The Gospel of Jesus gets drowned out by all this pseudo-prophetic mumbo jumbo. People need to hear the good news, but it gets obscured by a pop-theology based more on books and movies than on God’s Word.
Effects of The Fall
The world has experienced pandemics, epidemics, and plagues for thousands of years. They are, sadly, part of the human experience. Christians refer to this as “The Fall”, the belief that God’s creation is in a flawed state because of human sin. Throughout history, nothing has killed more people than infectious diseases (many times more than war or natural disasters). Even though significant medical advances have been made, especially in the past century, the current Covid-19 crisis shows how vulnerable, fragile, and mortal we really are. (See article)
A Sign of the End?
The question remains is Covid-19 a sign of the end of the world? Ed Jarrett from Christianity.com says there is very little evidence to support the claim COVID-19 is biblical. He said: “History is replete with plagues, wars, and natural disasters that kill large numbers of people. But none of these has been a sign of the end.” I agree.
It’s interesting to note that the Bible doesn’t once mention the “end of the world”. It declares “the end of the age” (Gk. aion; English: eon). At the end of this age, Christians believe Jesus will return to establish his kingdom, which will usher in the next era. The vast majority of Bible prophecies concerning the end of this age deal with how we are to live in the present time.
And so, share the GOOD NEWS about Jesus with people who are open to hearing it; live a genuine, consistent, and productive life that makes this world a better place, love your neighbour as yourself, and wash your hands! Resist getting sucked into baseless and pointless predictions, and look for the real Christ, not the anti-one!
While Covid-19 is probably not the end of the world, it will take the world to end it!