Summary: This is a summary of the Reflections on coronavirus so far (series A and B). I will follow with a series based on the New Testament excluding Revelation, and then another on Revelation, in the coming weeks.
Today we’re at a milestone in our Reflections. We’ll be leaving the Old Testament! Do I hear ‘hooray’? 🙂 After a short break we’ll move on to the New Testament. A milestone is a good place to take stock. It’s probably impossible to summarise 23 Reflections in a short space but I’m going to attempt it…
My first five Reflections were about our general response to coronavirus. We go to God. We pray. We grieve. We are sensitive and empathetic, as Jesus was to a leper. But we should also ask questions. Is God doing something? Is God saying something?
In the following 18 Reflections I started to look for answers.
Some people have asked why we need to ask such questions. Maybe God isn’t doing anything or saying anything. But the world is clearly very ill, and not just with coronavirus, so it would be surprising if the great physician had nothing to say about it. I believe we need to ask and answer those questions if we are to fit into God’s purpose and support God’s message to the world.
But can we answer such questions? Probably not with 100% certainty. But if coronavirus, climate change, and so on fit with how God judges and/or ‘End Times’ then we might assume there is a connection.
So, what have we learned? I can’t do more than give a few main points here.
Thinking about how God judges, the first Old Testament story we looked at was the plagues of Egypt. God acted in judgement for the good of his people to deliver them from slavery. That’s an important point. God’s purpose in judgement is good! God acted against Egypt, but he did so as gently as possible. The Israelites had been slaves for some time before God acted. Moses delivered God’s message to Pharaoh. Pharaoh rejected it. God then sent 10 plagues which steadily increased in intensity. God gave Pharaoh every opportunity.
In the prophets we saw that God judged his people because they abandoned him and went after other gods. God judged other nations for their pride and arrogance. That’s important. We don’t need to be serial killers for God to judge us! God initially acts in judgement to call people to repent. However, if warnings are not heeded, God doesn’t simply say, ‘Oh, never mind.’ The story of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians shows what God does if people do not heed his warnings. That is a very, very, very important point. People need to hear God’s warnings when he gives them – and that means that we, God’s people, need to listen.
God uses a number of ‘standard’ means of judgement such as the sword, famine and pestilence. In addition, God judges through acts in the environment. That is important. Coronavirus fits.
Thinking about ‘End Times’, prophecies of global environmental destruction in Isaiah 24 and Daniel 7, and Daniel’s prophecy of persecution of God’s people are either already true or rapidly coming true. Daniel’s vision of a fourth beast is true today if we take the beast as the Roman Empire and the ten horns as the westernised nations. This is important. If we are in ‘End Times’ then we should expect acts of judgement by God. In that case it would be more likely that coronavirus is one.
God’s acts of judgement will be hard for everyone. But as the Old Testament prophets look forward to ‘End Times’ they see a time of joy for God’s people. That’s important. Although there will be pain, it will be followed by something very good.
We haven’t fully answered our questions yet but we’ve made a start. The first indications are that coronavirus fits with the way that God judges, and the situation in the world today corresponds in many respects with what we expect to see in ‘End Times’. No doubt we’ll find more information in the New Testament. I believe that if we stick the course, we can come to a reasoned view of whether God is speaking to the world through coronavirus and the other events that are happening today and, if God is speaking, what he is saying. That, in turn, will guide us to know what we should do!