Rising hope or looming catastrophe
We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. – 1 John 5:19
3 I see God moving across the deserts from Edom, the Holy One coming from Mount Paran. His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise.
4 His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden.
5 Pestilence marches before him; plague follows close behind.
In late 2020, five major companies in the West had developed effective coronavirus vaccines. Vaccinations began in earnest. The results were impressive. There was a significant reduction in both the death rate and new hospitalizations. People began to breathe a sigh of relief. Was there light at the end of the tunnel? Millions hoped so.
Viruses are always mutating and new strains develop. Variants found in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil were highly transmissible and sparked concerns that the vaccines may be less effective against them. Many feared that the worst possible scenario was a real possibility. Could the variants develop immune escape capabilities? Would they have the ability to elude people’s natural immune response and become vaccine-resistant?
Mutation of the COVID-19 virus was typical. The rate of transition was not faster than normal. However, with tens of millions of people infected around the world, the prospect of even more pernicious variants was very real.
Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said. “We need to increase our speed in which we act so that we don’t allow this virus to spread further and allow this variant to become the dominant one in circulation. The clock is ticking.”
Leanna Wen in The Washington Post wrote, “We’re caught between rising hope and looming catastrophe.” Humanity was in a race for survival. Could the threat of the COVID-19 be diminished before new variants overwhelmed the world’s population? To win the race and triumph, the transmission of the virus had to be slowed. The fewer people infected; the fewer hosts would be available to allow the virus to mutate. Was the worst behind or was it ahead? Uncertainty hung in the air.
Hope is not wishful thinking. Yet many hoped for the best without sufficient basis. Biblical hope is quite different. It is confident expectation based upon the facts of the Scriptures.
REFLECT & PRAY
Ephesians 5:16 Make the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Father, we are to walk as children of the light, wise as serpents, gentle as doves, alert and not lulled into the slumber of darkness. Make it so.
In the 21st century, it is as though humanity has been sedated through the stratagems of the enemy. Biblical truth is no longer part of the collective consciousness. Reverence for the Father, living God has waned to historic lows. The Word of God, the foundation upon which much of Western civilization was based, is no longer valued, respected, understood, or accurately taught. The Father’s revelation is no longer considered a source of knowledge worthy of consideration.
In 1995 William MacDonald presciently warned, “We might think that plagues are no longer a threat because of modern antibiotics and wonder drugs. However, the great killer diseases are not conquered but merely dormant. They can spread throughout the world as fast as jet aircraft can carry.” That is precisely what happened in 2020. Killer pathogens are lurking, waiting to be released upon an unsuspecting and unprepared world. Was 2020 just the beginning?
Throughout human history, there has been pestilence, plague, famine, warfare, and death. History is on a collision course with destiny. The Scriptures speak of a coming, unprecedented time of trouble. It is generally referred to as the Great Tribulation.
Many portions of the prophetic Scriptures speak of horrific events to come. One well-known prediction referred to as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse stands out (Revelation 6:1-8).
A drive-by, cursory overview indicates that the four Horsemen accompany the opening of the first four of seven seals. The first horseman is a conqueror with a bow and crown and rides a white horse. The second horseman has a great sword and rides a red horse, picturing war and bloodshed. The third carries a balance scale, rides a black horse, and represents famine. The fourth horseman rides a pale yellowish-green horse. The rider of the fourth horse is named Death.
Examining the fourth horse more completely, the connection between death and disease or plague becomes apparent.
Revelation 6:8 I looked up and saw a horse whose color was pale green. Its rider was named Death, Hades followed him. These two were given authority over one-fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword and famine and plague and wild animals.
Hades is the evil companion of Death. The Greek word translated death is thanatos. In the Septuagint, thanatos often translates the Hebrew word deber
which means pestilence or plague (Jeremiah 21:6).
The emphasis is on plague, more particularly, death by plague. Hades is personified and pictured following behind. It is though “Hades is on foot gathering up the corpses left by Pestilence and Death as they struck victim after victim” (Osborne). The outcome is shocking and catastrophic. One-fourth of the world’s population is decimated.
The apostle John alone witnessed these events in some type of supernatural visual preview of coming events in the distant future. However, any of us can imagine what he saw. Rather than analyzing the words in-depth, simply experience them in your mind’s eye. For a moment visualize the four riders on the four horses galloping through hapless humanity taking victims wherever they go. Experience the terror. Envision something like the dreaded ring-servants of the Dark Lord Sauron, the Black Riders, in Lord of the Rings, only a bit more colorful and monstrous.
Elements of the four seals have been present throughout history and are in the world today. During the Great Tribulation, these horrific conditions will be multiplied exponentially to unprecedented levels.
Why does the Father do this? There are numerous reasons, not the least of which is to get the attention of the human race. He wants humanity to come to grips with the truth found in the Word of God. The Father uses these crises to turn the hearts and minds of people towards Him.
2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.
3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
The Devil presents himself in disguise, using subterfuge and deceit. He has deceived the world.
1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
The Greek word translated lies in the power of is keimai. The basic meaning of keimai is to lie, that is to be in a recumbent position, to recline, to lie down. The Greek literally reads lies in the evil one. The verb is regularly used of an infant lying in the arms of a parent. It envisions the world resting in the power of the evil one, that is, held in subjection by the devil (Strong).
Thinking in physical terms for a moment, how large is the evil one, the enemy of our souls? Just suppose for a minute that he is immense. Far larger than the Earth itself. Large enough to hold planet Earth in his arms. This presents a dreadful word picture of the world itself lying in his arms. As a parent would rock a child to sleep, so the evil one is slowly but surely swaying the world and keeping it unawares, half-asleep, somewhere between a slumber and a trance.