Within less than three months of its emergence in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the coronavirus has spread to nearly all continents on the globe and has now been declared a global pandemic. Events are being cancelled, lockdowns have been imposed on different communities. Stock markets have taken a dive. People are reacting with fear and panic with many resorting to stockpiling and panic buying. `As of Tuesday, 17 March, there were 429 confirmed cases in 28 countries in Africa, representing a thirty-fold increase in just 4 days. People are getting ill and people are dying. It seems no country will be spared. We do not know what the final numbers will be, but governments world-over are taking drastic measures to mitigate the impact of this unprecedented catastrophe.
The COVID-19 pandemic adds a piece to a picture of a world that’s growing increasingly chaotic and unstable. This year alone we have witnessed devastating fires in Australia, the locust plague in East Africa and Asia, wars in the Middle East, floods, tornadoes, civil unrest and a number of earthquakes. In Matthew 24, Jesus gives a description of events in the last days. That description almost perfectly mirrors what we are seeing today. “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 24:7, 8. The word “sorrows” used here, in the original language is a reference to labor pains experienced during childbirth. Thus similar to labor pains which increase in frequency and intensity up until delivery, troubles in the last days will also increase up until the end of the world
In a short space of time the coronavirus has managed to grip the attention of the whole world. Everyone is talking about it. With the present day advanced communication technology, we have seen how possible it is for the whole world to focus on one particular issue.
In foretelling the last-day signs, Christ desired His followers alive at the time, to know that His coming is near and to be prepared so that their faith will not be shaken. After predicting the calamities to fall on the world, the Saviour, in the next verse, tells what would befall His followers. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9. Here we see that the natural disasters and calamities in the world will be succeeded by a period of persecution for true Christians. The book of Revelation tells that in the last days a “beast” power shall force people to receive its mark, such that people will not be able to “buy or sell” unless they have that mark. (Revelation 13:17). Eventually those who refuse to worship the beast shall be “killed” (verse 15). That this will happen on a global scale is evident because we are told “all the world wondered after the beast”( verse 4).
One person has said that movements in the last days will be “rapid ones” and that writer was correct. In just the past few weeks we have seen how the world has changed from a hype of activity to lockdowns, panic and fear. The attention of the whole world has been engaged. However, as Christians we need not panic nor be afraid. God is still in control. Christ assures His chosen ones that “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. As the world crumbles all around us and the future seems grim, we can have confidence in Him who holds the future. We are given the promise “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. In these troublous times we can confide in the Lord.
For nearly six thousand years our world has been infected by a virus called sin. We are told “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. But thankfully there is hope. Salvation has been provided in Christ Jesus. The wonderful promise is given “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. In choosing Jesus as your Lord and Saviour He will set you free from the guilt and power of sin and enable you to live in freedom and peace, walking in all His commandments. Choose Him today! And what more, He has promised that He Himself will come to deliver those who accepted Him to a better home. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself” John 14:1-3