That One Sign Would Be the Spreading of Disease Among the Nations: For Nation Shall Rise Against Nation, and Kingdom Against Kingdom: And There Shall Be Famines, and Pestilences, and Earthquakes, in Divers [Various] Places…
And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
Luke 21:11 (KJ21; emphasis mine)
Pestilences (or pandemics) are typically viral or bacterial diseases that quickly spread by person-to-person or animal-to-person contact across multiple countries and continents. Widespread pandemics have periodically occurred for thousands of years. In times past, no one knew what caused these outbreaks. We now know they are mainly caused by microscopic, unseen viruses or bacteria of many different types (pathogens).
The viruses can be transmitted through intimate contact or by being close to someone who sneezes or coughs, or by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching a contaminated person or surface.
The bacterial infections are typically spread through unsanitary conditions or by contact with insects or domesticated animals. For instance, the Black Plague in Europe (c1347-1351) that is estimated to have killed 75-200 million people, was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and transmitted to people by the Oriental rat flea (the vector).
Coronavirus infections are nothing new in the scope of human illnesses. Most people have had a coronavirus illness at some point in their lives without ever being officially diagnosed. It’s a very common virus type that infects both humans and animals. It typically affects the nose, sinuses, and upper throat region. If you’ve had a coronavirus infection, it probably felt like a cold or flu, and you didn’t need to see a doctor or get tested for it.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is much more severe than a common coronavirus virus infection and somewhat similar to the 2002-2004 SARS and 2012 MERS pandemics, which were also coronavirus-mediated illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics for COVID-19 at the time of this writing, there were 10,317,504 confirmed cases worldwide with 505,769 deaths and over 200 countries and territories reporting illnesses (see the WHO website or the Worldometers website for the latest statistics). In the US, there were 2,651,446 confirmed cases with 128,538 deaths. The number of cases and deaths continues to increase despite months of quarantining and social distancing by countries around the world.
So given the Lord’s predictions, is the Chinese coronavirus pandemic a clear sign of the End Times? It may be, but we must also take into consideration everything that Jesus said in the prophecies quoted above. The Lord said that before the end comes there would be four terrible conditions or events which would cause distress among the nations. Each of these events is stated in the plural form, which means that there would be multiple instances of each one. Jesus also emphasized that the end would not immediately follow these events. He said, “…the end is not yet”, meaning that these events alone would not signal the nearness or the start of the End Times.
What Jesus was predicting is that wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes would all be characteristic events that would happen from His time until the Second Coming. He then went on to say, “All these are the beginning of sorrows”.
We know that sin has caused these bad events to occur in the world. They cause pain, suffering, and death in this present time, because of the world’s rejection of Christ and their constant living in open defiance of God’s ways.
However, there is more here than meets the eye. The word translated “sorrows” in this prophecy is the Greek word “ὠδίν” or “ὠδίνων”, which is transliterated as “ódin” and pronounced o-deen’. It refers to the pain of childbirth, which causes acute pain and travailing. Figuratively, this word can also refer to the pain necessary to “give birth to” or “open up” something new.
Jesus in this prophecy was thus referring to the pain that this current world will go through to birth the new world system when He comes again, which will then give rise to the glorious Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was saying that these pains of suffering would occur throughout this present time, but that the existence of any one of the events would not immediately signal the End of the Age.
Therefore, the current coronavirus pandemic is the latest of many such birth pangs that the world has endured since the Lord predicted these events. A long list of known wars, pestilences, famines, and earthquakes that have occurred throughout history can be found at these links. Some of them have resulted in many millions of deaths either suddenly or over a short span of years. None of them, however, signaled the immediate Return of Christ.
Jesus is definitely coming back soon, as evidenced by all the other prophecies discussed throughout this website. It is not that His Coming won’t be associated with wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes—it will be. See the Book of Revelation for evidence of that. It is just that this current pandemic is not directly linked to the prophecies of the End Times. It is rather part of the birth pangs of this age as it suffers through to the birth of the new age to come!
Revelation 4:1 introduces a section of Scripture that details “things which must be hereafter.” What follows are prophecies of the “end times.” We have not yet reached the tribulation, the revelation of the Antichrist, or other “end-time” events. What we do see is a “preparation” for those events.
Jesus said that the last days would be preceded by several things: many false Christs would come, deceiving many; we would “hear of wars and rumors of wars”; and there would be an increase in “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:5-8). Today’s news is full of false religions, warfare, and natural disasters. We know that events of the tribulation period will include all that Jesus predicted (Revelation 6:1-8); current events seem to be a build-up for greater trouble ahead.
Paul warned that the last days would bring a marked increase in false teaching. “In later times, some will abandon the faith, and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). The last days are described as “perilous times” because of the increasingly evil character of the man and because of people who actively “oppose the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-9; also see 2 Thessalonians 2:3). The list of things people will be in the last days—lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power—(2 Timothy 3:1-2) seems to fit our modern age exactly.
Can there be any doubt that the prophecies concerning apostasy are being fulfilled? Our 21st-century world has embraced moral relativism, a philosophy which is tainting even the church. For example, many denominations are having a hard time defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, and many religious leaders today are openly supporting homosexuality. The Bible has become subordinate to the modern church’s quest for a more appealing “truth.” These are indeed “perilous times” spiritually.
You should look for trends toward the fulfillment of six primary “End of the Age” Bible prophecies:
- The acceleration of natural disasters around the world, warning the world of the Wrath of Yahuah that is about to be poured out on earth (Matthew 24:7)
- The degeneration of the Christian Church into a worldly-minded, pleasure/prosperity-seeking, the apostate church (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
- The rise of a beastly “whore” nation – modern, prophetic, Babylon the Great – who both seduces and “swallows up” the other nations of the world in her attempt to establish a global empire (Jeremiah 50:23; 51:25, 44; Revelation 17:1-2, 18)
- The collapse of the world’s economies, resulting in revolutions, wars, rule of the wealthy elite through martial law, and the impoverishment and servitude of the masses (Revelation 6:2-6; 13:16-17)
- The amalgamation of nations of the Middle East and North Africa against Israel (Psalm 83:2-8; Ezekiel 38:2-16)
- First, the takeover by Islamists then annihilation by “fire” (a commentary explosion?) of the last great superpower nation – modern, prophetic Babylon – opening the door to the invasion of Israel by nations of the Middle East and North Africa (Jeremiah 51:1-4, 14, 27-28, 37, 43; Revelation 17:16; 18:2, 8)
Yahushua (“Jesus”) said, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). Was ever a kingdom or nation more divided against itself than the “United” States of America is at the present time? And that divide is widening daily. Furthermore, as is clearly prophesied in the Bible, the end of America as a free, sovereign nation is inevitable.
It is becoming more and more clear how America’s divisiveness will result in this nation’s downfall. Just like children in a divorce situation will sometimes play parents against one another to get what they want, nations like China are already playing the Left against the Right in the U.S.A. to get what they want and to eventually destroy America.
The formation of the European Union—and the fact that we have a reunified Germany—is very interesting in light of biblical prophecy. The “ten toes” of Daniel 2:42 and the ten-horned beasts of Daniel 7:20 and Revelation 13:1 are references to a “revived” Roman Empire which will hold power before Christ returns. Although the precise political structure has yet to be formed, the pieces can be seen as falling into place.
In 1948, Israel was recognized as a sovereign state, and this, too, has ramifications for the student of Scripture. God promised Abram that his posterity would have Canaan as “an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8), and Ezekiel prophesied a physical and spiritual resuscitation of Israel (Ezekiel 37). Having Israel as a nation in its own land is important in light of end-time prophecy, because of Israel’s prominence in eschatology (Daniel 10:14; 11:41; Revelation 11:8).
While there is no biblical proof that the things mentioned above are a prophecy fulfilled, we can see how many of these events are similar to what the Bible describes. In any case, we are to be watching for prophecy fulfilled because Jesus told us that the day of the Lord—His return for His own—would come like a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10), unexpected and unannounced. “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
Matthew 24:5–8 gives us some important clues for discerning the approach of the end times: “Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” An increase in false messiahs, an increase in warfare, and increases in famines, plagues, and natural disasters—these are signs of the end times. In this passage, though, we are given a warning: we are not to be deceived, because these events are only the beginning of birth pains; the end is still to come.
What signs indicate that the end times are approaching?
Some interpreters point to every earthquake, every political upheaval, and every attack on Israel as a sure sign that the end times are rapidly approaching. While the events may signal the approach of the last days, they are indicators that the end times have arrived. The apostle Paul warned that the last days would bring a marked increase in false teaching. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). The last days are described as “perilous times” because of the increasingly evil character of the man and people who actively “oppose the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1–9; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:3).
Other possible signs would include a rebuilding of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, increased hostility toward Israel, and advances toward a one-world government. The most prominent sign of the end times, however, is the nation of Israel. In 1948, Israel was recognized as a sovereign state, essentially for the first time since AD 70. God promised Abraham that his posterity would have Canaan as “an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8), and Ezekiel prophesied a physical and spiritual resuscitation of Israel (Ezekiel 37). Having Israel as a nation in its own land is important in light of end-times prophecy because of Israel’s prominence in eschatology (Daniel 10:14; 11:41; Revelation 11:8).
With these signs in mind, we can be wise and discerning in regard to the expectation of the end times. We should not, however, interpret any of these singular events as a clear indication of the soon arrival of the end times. God has given us enough information that we can be prepared, and that is what we are called to be as our hearts cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated.
Like Joseph and Daniel of the Old Testament who served secular kings, we are called to serve everyone and help them fulfill their divine destiny. Jesus made it clear that people who want to lead or be great must be the servants of all. Serving is the way of leadership in the kingdom. Forcing our way onto the world is not great leadership. Some accuse us of doing this very thing because we speak up on moral issues. It is important that we speak up on issues, but it’s also equally important that we love everyone no matter their persuasions.
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Let me make this very clear, I have a severe distrust of government. I believe it is the most inefficient and ineffective way to accomplish most things. While I strongly disagree with liberals/progressives on most political issues, and while I believe liberals/progressives are terribly misguided and naïve about what big government will eventually result in, I strive to not question their motives. At the same time, while I find myself in agreement with conservative politicians on some issues, I do not believe electing Republicans is the answer to everything. For me, very sadly, the main difference between Republicans and Democrats is how quickly they want to drive the car towards the cliff.
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