With the spread of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, some people are saying that this disease is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. They suggest that this virus is a pestilence, as in Matt 24:7. A pestilence, by definition, is a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent (on a rapid, severe, destructive course) and devastating. So, let’s see what the Bible has to say about pestilences and compare that to what is going on with this virus.
Coronavirus apparently started at the end of 2019 in a live animal market in Wuhan, China. From then until March 15, 2020, there have been a total of 169,232 cases reported. 86,123 are active cases and 83,109 are cases with an outcome. 92.2% of the cases with an outcome have resulted in recovery and 7.8% have resulted in death. In the United States of America, as of March 15, there are approximately 3,500 active cases, 10 of which are considered serious. China has, of course, had the highest incidence, followed by Italy. In Italy, the average age of those who have died, thus far, is 81. As you can see, the vast majority of people who have had the virus have recovered.
While it is very sad, indeed, that people have died from this virus and while it is pandemic, it doesn’t equate to a pestilence. For comparison, let’s look at some pestilences in the Bible.
In Num 16:41-49, following the destruction of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who led many in the wilderness to follow them instead of Moses and Aaron, the people murmured and complained. God responded by killing many of them with a plague. When Aaron stood between the living and the dead, the plague was stayed. 14,700 in Israel died that day in this plague. There were none who were taken with this plague that recovered.
In Num 25:6-9, God punished Israel with a plague for committing whoredoms with the daughters of Moab and for eating things sacrificed to their gods. By the time Phinehas intervened and killed Zimri and Cozbi, 24,000 in Israel had died. According to 1 Cor 10:8, 23,000 of these died in one day. This plague was certainly pestilent, rapid, severe and destructive. There were no recoveries.
In 1 Chr 21:12-14, 70,000 died in Israel in the three-day pestilence sent by the Lord, after David numbered Israel. God stopped the pestilence at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, where David offered a sacrifice. This is the place that God chose for the temple that Solomon built.
In Ps 78:48-52, every single firstborn male of every man and beast in Egypt died in a one-night pestilence sent by the Lord. Only the firstborn males of the children of Israel survived because they applied the blood of the passover lamb to the doorposts and lintels of the houses where they were.
As you can see from 2 Chr 7:12-14, when God sends a pestilence only he can stop it. He stopped the plague in Num 16, when Aaron intervened. He stopped the plague in Num 25 when Phinehas intervened. He stopped the pestilence in Israel when David intervened. He protected the Jews from the pestilence in Egypt by the blood of a lamb. And he agreed, in 2 Chr 7:12-14, that he would stop future pestilence in Israel, if his people would humble themselves and pray.
Frankly, the most pestilent thing in the world is sin. It is contagious, it is an epidemic, it is severe and destructive, it affects 100% of the population, and it is 100% deadly. It kills everybody. Thankfully, there is a cure for sin. Jesus Christ gave his life to save us from sin. You can be saved from sin by trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior.
And all people who trust Jesus Christ as their Savior will escape the worst pestilences and destruction in the Tribulation that this world has ever seen. In Rev 6:8, by means of the sword (war), hunger (starvation), death (pestilence), and beasts (animal attacks), one fourth of the world’s population will be killed. At current numbers, that’s 1,750,000,000 people. That seems unbelievable. But you can escape death by these means, because all who have trusted Jesus Christ will go up to heaven in the rapture before the Tribulation begins.
Those who escape death in Rev 6:8 will face it again when the fresh water supplies are poisoned by Wormwood in Rev 8:10-11. Many men will die of the waters at that time. And those who escape death in Rev 8:10-11 will face it again in Rev 9:15-16. A third part of men will be killed by horsemen. If this third part of men is a third of all who have survived to this point in the Tribulation, then by Rev 9, half the world’s population will be dead. You can escape all of this by trusting Jesus Christ now. He’ll take you to heaven before the Tribulation begins.
The panicked reaction to coronavirus and the stringent level of response in the USA seems disproportionate to the effects of the disease. I understand that we don’t want to get sick and we certainly don’t want to die from this disease. Obviously, we need to be prudent and follow safe hygiene to protect ourselves. Nevertheless, if you escape death from this disease, you are still going to die from something. Everybody does. That’s a fact of life. Wouldn’t you think it prudent to protect yourself for all eternity from sin and death?
If you meet someone who converses with you about coronavirus, recognize that their concern over the spread of this disease provides you with a good opportunity to tell them about another pestilent “disease” called sin and the cure for that “disease” in Jesus Christ. In the meantime, realize that there is no need to panic. We are not dealing with a Biblical pestilence here.