These questions arose out of teaching offered on March 29, 2020 in the Gather Worship service of Christ Community Church (Ames, IA)
#1 Did God send this plague, or did He allow it?
This kind of question arises when we try to figure out whether or not a good God would be behind what we consider to be “bad things.” Christians who want to think that God, who is the source of all goodness and love, could not directly be the cause of something terrible like a deadly flu virus, but would allow a secondary agent (like Satan) to inflict this on the world
We also get this kind of a perspective from reading the book of Job. Satan complains to God that he has (Job 1:10) “built a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns”…Satan then dares God to “Stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face” (1:11) Verse 12 notes that God puts “everything Job owns in Satan’s power” – thus the idea that God did not strike Job’s children and possessions, but allowed Satan to do so.
So we wonder…with our current novel coronavirus plague, is God directly doing this to humanity or is He granting permission for Satan to do it.
QUITE FRANKLY….SCRIPTURE SEEMS TO INDICATE BOTH. Here’s what I mean:
There are times when the Biblical description puts God Himself as the direct agent, and what He does are judgmental acts
- The ten plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-12) have the language “The Lord did this…” or “The Lord sent this…”
- When Israel sinned in worshipping the golden calf, Exodus 32:35 “The Lord inflicted a plague on the people…”
- The prophet Joel prophesies a judgmental plague of locusts that will eat up all vegetation
- Clearly, in the book of Revelation, when Lion which had been slain as a lamb breaks the seals of the scroll, he releases deadly forces over the planet and upon the earth’s population.
But, of course, as Job reveals, the Lord God can allow Satan to be the agent of death and destruction as well. Clearly, that was Job’s experience. God was allowing Satan to test Job’s faith in God. What happened to Job was not judgmental, but it was an experience to test and deepen his faith. And yet it was measured…it was measured by what God in His ultimate control would allow.
SO IS GOD BEHIND THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC? We can say this
#1 God is SOVEREIGNLY, PROVIDENTIALLY having this happen in our world. We do not have a clear word from any “prophet” that the novel coronavirus IS a specific judgment upon the world, so we cannot say that. But because God is sovereign (free to do and allow what He pleases), such a virus should remind us that our lives are fragile, and what is most important is to be in a right relationship with Him through faith in Christ.
#2 SUCH A DEADLY VIRUS LIKE THIS is evidence of a crippled creation, still under bondage to decay and death. We should always be humbled and sobered by the destruction that sin.
#3 A CALL TO REPENTANCE -- Paul reminded the philosophers in Athens that God works among the population groups of our world, determining their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live “so that hey might seek God, and perhaps reach out to Him and find Him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27)… “In Him we live and move and have our being,” Paul continues, and God is “now commanding that all people everywhere repent, because He has sent a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man He has appointed” (17:30-31).
I think we need to say this humbly, but also clearly. God uses such things in our world to call peoples around the globe to repentance. People are more likely to repent when they realize that God actually has control over their lives and their being…even the length of their days. That realization is a call to REPENTANCE, so that everyone is ready for the judgment day.
#2 So many shrug off what passionate environmentalists are saying about global warming. My heart says these are birthing pains of the earth. Am I off base in my thinking?
I think this statement and question raises an interesting discussion. We know from Genesis 1-2 that God put the treasure of this outfitted-for-life planet under the care and responsibility of the human race. Adam and Eve, made in God’s image, were to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” God goes on to state how he has “given you (Adam and Eve)” all the seed-bearing plants and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you.” In Genesis 2, God gifts a developed “garden” for Adam and instructs him to “work the ground,” to “work it and watch over it” or cultivate it.
And yet soon after Eve is created and the task of managing God’s creation is to begin, they sin against God and plunge the physical creation into the frustration and futility of the consequences of sin. The ground is not cursed and works against Adam. Hostility between humans and animals soon comes into play. And over the centuries – and perhaps specifically in recent centuries – it’s a fair question: Has humanity mismanaged the gift of God’s creation? And is that mismanagement evidenced in global warming? Is global warming and its destructive results (polar caps melting, more intense, destructive storms, etc.) an expression of the ‘groaning of creation’? Perhaps it is.
But I’ll add this – The Hebrew prophets foretold of a day, the Day of the Messiah, when the effects of God’s curse on the earth (because of Adam’s sin) will be reversed. You can read about this day in Isaiah 2, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 60-66. The day of the “freedom of the glory of the children of God” is on the way. Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus.
#3 I was very sad and disappointed when Pastor David was giving the death rates from tragic historic events, he had the opportunity to include number of deaths from abortions…but didn’t take it (i.e., the opportunity).
I wrote this questioner and thanked her for her comments. Of course, in the time I had on March 30, I could have spent several hours citing ALL the ways that our world and universe evidences the crippling frustration and futility of sin.
From a SCIENTIFIC-PHYSICAL LAW perspective, I could spoken of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which reminds us that our entire universe is “winding down,” that all things left to themselves are progressing from “order – to – disorder,” that the amount of available energy in our universe is being spent and diminished, not increasing…a physical evidence of the “futility” embedded in even the physical nature of our current home.
And, I could have cited countless MORAL evidences that we live in a sin-crippled world, including humanity’s increasing penchant to transgress God’s moral laws and destroy one another – whether it be through SEXUAL PROMISCUITY, whether it be through murdering children in the wombs of their mothers through the horrific practice of ABORTION. One estimate suggests that since the Supreme Court decision in ROE vs. WADE, 61,628,584 children have been slaughtered in the womb. For every 100 pregnancies, 18 children are murdered. 40% of those infants are being burned to death in the womb through chemicals.
This is an unspeakable tragedy in our nation. Our country, our leaders, the church should be thoroughly ashamed at 62 million aborted children…and then we wonder if God is fair in allowing us to come under the scourge of the coronoavirus. His scales of justice have not yet seen the full expression of His wrath about our national sin in this matter.
Abortions going down, yes. Last year from 650,000 to 635,000.
But 635,000 murdered infants is still way too many. One is way too many!
#4 Have you seen these teaching points modeled well in others during the crisis?
These 5 teaching points are an attempt to put a Biblical framework around the current crisis we are facing, or more largely, whenever we face “threatening times”
- Creation in futility
- Christians groaning, yet hopefully sojourning
- Sojourning with God’s supernatural resources
- Our Father controlling our days
- Trust more, fear less
I’d love to see more discussion and encouragement about these key ideas. I believe they can afford us who follow Jesus much more internal peace and heart stability, but also provide a framework for talking with others about our HOPE…and how HOPE IN JESUS CHRIST is available to anyone who will listen to God and His Word.