In Luke’s gospel the Lord Jesus warned us that there would be wars, rumours of wars, nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom and great earthquakes, famines and pestilence in various places and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:10-11) In Matthews gospel He said that these ‘signs’ were the beginning of “birth pains.” (Matthew 24:8)
He also mentioned false prophets, those empowered by a false spirit, persecution and spiritual deception. At present we see the Coronavirus spreading across the globe. No one knows where or when it will end. There is even those within the medical field telling us that there is possible a risk of being re-infected and if this is the case they are saying there is no antidote.
From the second century onwards there has been terrible pestilence that has claimed the lives of unnumbered millions of people. There were two major ones that killed millions of people. Firstly you had the Black Plague that was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351.
Secondly you had the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, that infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans. This plague killed more people than any pandemic disease before or since, including the sixth-century Plague of Justinian, the medieval Black Death, the AIDS epidemic or Ebola.
The Lord Jesus said that these plagues or pestilence along with the other ‘signs’ He mentioned were “the beginning of birth pains.” When a pregnant woman goes into labour the contractions have started and as the birth of the baby gets nearer the contractions get more frequent and more intense and when they are coming one upon another you know that the baby’s birth is imminent.
So the Lord Jesus is telling us that when these ‘signs’ are happening one upon another we know that His Second Coming is about to occur that will bring about the birth of His Messianic Kingdom on earth. The Coronavirus, like the MERS Epidemic and the other plagues since the second century AD, are the beginning of these birth pains. They are the harbingers of what is to come at the end of this age. According to the Bible the pestilence that is coming along with famine, scarcity, and violence and people being killed by wild beasts will be like nothing that has ever happened on earth before. (Revelation 6:5-8) (Revelation 9:13-21)
When these things occur on a global scale, leaders of nations will be in anguish and perplexity not knowing the way out as the nations are tossed about like a surging stormy sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world. Even the heavenly constellations themselves will be shaken. After that the Lord Jesus will return for the sake of His elect saints, both Jewish and gentile believers, and to save the world from annihilating itself. (Luke 21:25-27) (Matthew 24:21-22) In that day Israel will also be secure and no one will make them afraid. (Micah 4:4)
As believers in our Lord Jesus He also gave us a strong word of encouragement as we see these “birth pains” starting to escalate and intensify. The Lord Jesus told us that when these things begin to happen we need to stand up, not buckle over at the knees with fear, but to lift up our heads towards the heavens because we will know with anticipation that our rescue is imminent! (Luke 21:28)
He also told us not to be caught with our hearts weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and with the anxieties of life so that the day of His Second Coming will not take us by surprise as it will for all on earth who are not saved. He said we are to watch and to pray that we will be able to escape God’s wrath that is coming on a Christ hating, Christ rejecting world. (Luke 21:34-36) When God sends His judgement it is to bring about repentance and reconciliation with Himself. However, when He pours out his wrath there is no reprieve as we saw in the flood in the time of Noah.
The wonderful truth is that as bond-slaves of our Lord Jesus the Messiah we will experience much tribulation (thlipsis) in this life but through it be prepared to live with God and with His eternal family in the heavens for ever and ever. (Acts 14:22) While we cannot avoid trouble and afflictions and temptation and persecution or even sickness and death in this life, we will never experience the wrath (thumos) of God because it is written; “God has not appointed us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus the Messiah…who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9) The reality in this life is “whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord!” (Romans 14:8)