A few days ago, life was normal. People were going to work, children going to school, and the stores had toilet paper enough to sell.
As I type this, two of my neighboring states, Illinois and Ohio, have closed all restaurants. Drive through and carryout service is still allowed, but dining rooms are empty. Our local hospital has issued a statement to not come to the Emergency Room, but, call your family doctor instead. Our family doctor, who has always accepted walk-ins (I live in a rural area), is now only accepting appointments. Also, they are moving people from the door straight to the examination room; no one allowed in the waiting room. Many churches in my area have closed. Our governor issued a decree of no gatherings of more than 250 people or more. The expectation is that the number will drop to 50 soon.
My wife is the director of a local nonprofit. Yearly, on the last weekend of April, they have an event that usually draws 350-400 people. Will the bans be over by then? Do they cancel or postpone now, to keep the waste of efforts and resources at a minimum?
What to do? What to do?
Christ gave us an explanation of what is happening and how to deal with it.
Jesus was asked by His Apostles, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” His response is lengthy – 94 verses in Matthew 24-25. The question and answer are also recorded in Mark 13 and Luke 21 but is more concise.
The start of His answer is thus, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:4-8).
His Apostles are asking for a sign of His second coming. There are many events that the Bible tells us will happen before Christ sets foot on this earth again. Many of these events are specific and overlap, but the Apostles asked for signs. That is what Jesus talks about first before getting into particular circumstances.
If you are wondering, “What do they mean? A sign?” Think of it this way – you see dark clouds and lightning off in the distance, you hear thunder; those are signs a storm is coming. The Apostles were asking Jesus for indicators of His second coming.
Jesus specifically mentions the word “pestilence.”
From the dictionary – “Pestilence: 1. A contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating. 2. Something that is destructive or pernicious.”
Whether you think society should shut down even more, or if you believe this is all blown out of proportion. The pestilence is here, and everyone has heard the crack of the thunder and seen the lightning. God, through our actions, has made this sign extremely visible.
Let us look at some things Jesus said in His response (Matthew 24:4-8).
“See that ye be not troubled” – His is talking directly to His Apostles (Mark 13:3-4). Throughout the gospels, Jesus makes similar statements, telling them not to fear, that He would send them a comforter, and so on. When it comes to the virus, if you are one of His, do not worry. Even in death, He will never leave us, and we will be with Him throughout eternity.
“All these things must come to pass” – please notice the word “must.” If we believe in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, peace should engulf us as we see the signs and realize that God’s plan for the ages is falling into place. When you see lightning and hear thunder, do not be surprised when the raindrops fall.
“The end is not yet” – This is not the end of the world.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows.” – The rapture will remove the Christians before the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth. The signs are only the beginning – the clouds and thunder in the distance. Not the beginning of the Tribulation Period, but the beginning of God setting up His return.
Is Christ your Saviour? Have you trusted Him for your salvation? If you do not put your faith in Him, well, these are the beginning of sorrows. If you are a Christian, then do not be troubled. However, this all works out for the Christian; it will work out for good (Romans 8:28).
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County, Indiana. Webpage: www.preacherspoint.wordprss.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; address: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872; all Bible references KJV.