First, I apologize. As you sit under “house arrest”, it is quite likely that the last thing that you want to hear about is Covid-19. Like a dense fog, Covid-19 fatigue has settled on us all. The fog engulfs us all day, every day. And so, it is possible that some of us just might become violent if one more person dares to tell us to wash our hands for 20 seconds, and to make sure we stay 6 feet away from those disease-bearing friends and family members. And, by the way, don’t forget to wear your mask and latex (or non-latex) gloves. The good news here is that this short article is not about any of the above. But all of the above have produced an amazing crop of prophetic weeds. And I do sense that we might need some theological “Round-Up”. I would like to add some points to the discussion we had last month on this matter, since prophetic type articles, blogs and whatever keep on appearing, even from some folks that we might consider reliable.
These voices, for example, inform us that we are “dangerously close” to the beginning of the Tribulation; or, the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem is a sign of the end times; or, the earth is experiencing the beginning of the “birth pains” that Jesus spoke about. And there are dozens more like these. But as we hear these statements (and most likely will continue to hear them) and as we evaluate them, we do need to remind ourselves of some fundamental truths. Let me share a few while we, of course, stay six feet away from one another.
- Jesus could return at any moment. This biblical truth is true no matter what is going on in this world. This is the “blessed hope” of the believer in Jesus (Titus 2:13). No event or series of events must come first, nor is there any event which signals that Jesus is coming for His bride at the Rapture event. We ought to be among those who “love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8); that is, we really want to see the Savior and be with Him. As was true at His first coming, so it will be true at His return; at just the right time Jesus came into the world (Gal. 4:4). He might return today, but coronavirus is not an indicator of His coming.
- The USA is not a prophetic indicator. It is natural for us to look at moral decay, church apostasy and other circumstances in America and think that these kinds of things point to the end times. They certainly point to what happens to a nation when it decides to abandon the standards of God’s Word. But we need to reflect on the fact that the Bible does not see or use the USA as a prophetic indicator (even if we do live here!) Nations have come and gone in the last 2000 years and when they walk away from the true God, certain negative things take place. So, while we are rightly disturbed and angered by the killing of babies, terrible crimes and immorality, and the obliteration of the family unit as God gave it, these realities simply do not tell us that we are in the time of the end. We might be near it, or maybe not. What happens in the USA is not that which tells us we are in the last days.
- The nation of Israel is the prophetic indicator. This is not the place to expound on the many biblical passages where the restoration of Israel back to their land is the sign of the end times. But it is. After millennia away from the Land, the Jewish people in their unbelief have been coming back, from over 80 different nations. In the OT, God repeatedly said “I will” do this thing. I will bring them back to the Land and then I will bring them back to Myself. Israel is the great indicator that we are moving towards the climactic end time events when God will save His people and millions of others in this world. And it is then that King Jesus will come to establish His messianic (millennial) kingdom on this present earth. God’s working among His people Israel is the end time indicator.
- The concept of “birth pains” is tribulation truth. “Birth pains” is an OT phrase used by Jesus and Paul that pictures the judgments that will take place during the tribulation period. They picture these coming judgments as becoming more intense as the tribulation moves along. And as they take place, they will occur closer and closer together. But these “birth pains” are tribulation judgments not present-day events. And it is not correct to say, as many are, that the current pandemic or some recent earthquakes are indicators that birth pains have begun. These today are neither the tribulation birth pains, nor are they “pre-birth-pain” birth pains. Mankind, unfortunately, has had these kinds of events, along with famines and war, as a part of living in this fallen world. History has recorded a multiplicity of times when pandemics, earthquakes, famines and warfare have rocked the world. However, the birth pains of the tribulation are uniquely intense and destructive. Jesus and several OT prophets have declared: “there has never been a time like this and there never will be again.” Simply put, these birth pains are totally unique in the experience of mankind.
- Present events can be illustrative. As noted in last month's article, the current coronavirus pandemic does not indicate that we are in the end times. But it can supply an illustration of what these kinds of things might look like. We can get some idea of how destructive some events might be in the end of time. In our day, we have video footage of tsunamis, caused by earthquakes, killing hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of hours. Those images are imprinted on our minds. In World War II, we have seen how famines can kill millions of people and how war itself eliminates tens of millions. So, with our technology recording these events, we have a pretty good idea of how destructive these forces can be. And they are really just mild forms of it. When we read in the Scriptures of the presence of these destructive judgments during the tribulation time, which clear well over 50% of the earth’s population, we can now better imagine what it will be like. We have seen similar kinds of things, but these things were not tribulation “birth pains.”
- Control what we can. Most of us are smart enough to realize that there is so very little in life that is actually within our control, or often, even our influence. But there is something we can control; namely, how we live today. As stated last month, this current pandemic did not blindside the omniscient God who is our Father in heaven. He not only knew about it but He in some way has a hand in it, for His own purposes. And because we happen to be alive at such a time as this, the Lord undoubtedly has things for each of us to do. We are to represent Him in a culture that is increasingly denying Him. We can speak and be more than a silent witness. I do believe that since you and I are still breathing, He has something specific for us to do. It probably is not something spectacular which will put us in the news, but under His direction it is valuable and it is most likely eternal.
We really shouldn’t let this crisis “go to waste.” Our objective ought to be to serve Him right now, and allow Him to guide us into His purposes for us during Covid-19. Though the Lord Jesus could come back at any moment, this pandemic is not an indication of that coming. There are a lot of nervous and stressed people around us who might need a word or act from us. And I can imagine that the Holy Spirit, who does personally guide us, perhaps has some specifics in mind.