As Corona virus rages on, I heard some pitiful comments like, ‘God is judging China’, ‘God is judging Europe’, ‘God is judging America’. Such conclusions are unwarranted because God has not told anyone why He allowed this virus to roam the earth. It behooves us well if we study the words of Lord Jesus from Luke chapter 13. Let me read from verse 1,
“There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
Here, Lord Jesus is dealing with a perennial problem in philosophy called ‘the problem of evil’. Why is there evil in this world? He described two types of evil: Human evil and Natural evil.
First the Human Evil. See what Pilate did to the protesters from Galilee. Pontius Pilate was a Roman governor ruling over Judea. The Jews were not happy with him. Some Jews from Galilee went to Jerusalem and staged a protest against the Roman governor. Pilate could not stomach their rebellion. He brutally massacred them right in the temple of God in Jerusalem. People were so shocked to see their fellow Jews being murdered on the temple grounds. They thought those Jews must be very wicked sinners to meet such a fate in the hands of Pilate. Lord Jesus told them, ‘they did not die such a horrible death because they were more wicked than others. If you do not repent of your sins, you will also perish’. We have the same kind of false theology in the church and the world today: people who suffer, they suffer because God is judging them. The fact is, we are all sinners living on borrowed time.
In the second incident, Jesus talked about natural evil. A tower fell down in Siloam, which is part of Jerusalem. Eighteen people died in that tragedy. Jesus asked them a poignant question, “Why did these 18 individuals die? Is it because they were more sinful than other people in Jerusalem? Then he answered his own question. No. They did not die because they were more sinful than others. Repent. Unless you repent, you will also perish. We should understand this great truth. Thousands of people have been dying around us as this virus marches on. People who are dying are not dying because they are more sinful than us. We are not alive because we are holier than them. We are alive because God is merciful. We are alive because God is patient.
Pandemics like Corona outbreaks help us see the reality. People who don’t have faith in God, most often, are the same people who have faith in human wisdom and progress. True, we have seen enormous progress in human society in the modern age. Countless inventions changed our lives in hitherto unprecedented ways. But we should never forget that we do not control nature. We are not masters of the natural world.
Who can stop a hurricane?
Who can stop an earthquake?
Who can stop a tsunami?
Who can stop a virus from replicating?
Our strength is limited. We should have humility to accept this truth. Recently Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India appeared in a television show entitled Man vs.Wild. He joins the host of the show, Mr.Bear Grylls and treks around Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, India. As they walk through the forest, at one point, Bear Grylls looks at Modi and says, ‘Mr.Modi, you are Prime Minister of India. You are the most powerful person in the nation. But here in the wilderness, you are by yourself. There are tigers, crocodiles, elephants and snakes. You have to protect yourself.’ Modi replies, ‘Every life depends on God’. I thought those are very humbling words. The two men go through the park for a few days. At the end of their journey, both men conclude their adventure with a prayer. Even a powerful person like Modi realized that the grace of God is essential for human survival.
Yesterday, I went to a Toyota store. Toyota is a Japanese automotive manufacturer. Every year it produces over 10 million vehicles. It has been recognized as an industry leader in manufacturing and production. They have huge production lines. They use the Andon cord system to address the problems they face in the assembly line. When a worker finds a defect or a malfunction or a safety problem, he or she will pull the cord and the production comes to a halt. The manager comes to the spot, they discuss the problem, find a solution and the work resumes. When natural disasters happen, we should pull the cord and ask God for help. Our modern life is highly ordered, systematized like an assembly line in a car factory, and we often forget that we live in a fallen world.
Yes, this is a fallen world. People often ask, ‘If God is good, why is a tiny virus killing so many people?’ We have answers in the Bible. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, nature lost its perfection. We call it the Original Sin of the Fall. When sin entered this world, nature came under the curse. The Bible never says that we live in a perfect world. This world is still under the curse. That is why we see evil all around us. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, floods, epidemics and pandemics wreak havoc all over the world in one place or the other. We pull the cord and ask God for help.
Now, unbelievers do not even acknowledge God’s ownership and sovereignty over nature, let alone ask His help in trouble. They never thank God, never worship him, never obey his commandments. God will judge them at the end. This will happen during the Tribulation Period, the seven years of great torment that will be unleashed on this world. Author David Jeremiah describes the Tribulation in these words,
“Great wars will ravage the world as nations rise up, lusting for conquest.
All peace will end, and rampant slaughter will bloody the earth.
Hail and fire will burn up the earth’s grass and destroy a third of all trees.
Intense famine will dry up food supplies.
Rivers and seas will become too polluted to sustain life.
Many rivers will dry up entirely.
The sun will scorch the earth and its inhabitants like fire.
A quarter of the world’s population will die from war, starvation, and beastly predators.
Giant earthquakes, accompanied by thunder and lightning, will destroy cities.
Mountains will crash into the seas, killing a third of the fish.
Tidal waves from the cataclysm will sink a third of all the world’s ships.
A massive meteor shower will strike the earth.
Ashes and smoke rising from its devastation will hide the sun and moon.
Swarms of demonic insects will darken the sun and inflict painful stings.
Rampant, epidemic plagues will kill one-third of all mankind.
Everyone, from national leaders to servants and slaves, will flee the cities to hide in caves and under rocks (Revelation 6:2-17;8:8-13; 9:1-20; 16:1-21)
(Is this the End? Signs of God’s Providence in a Disturbing New World by David Jeremiah)
If this does not frighten you and lead you to repentance and salvation, what will? Note those words: rampant, epidemic plagues will kill one-third of all mankind. Compared to those plagues, what we are seeing today due to Coronavirus, will be insignificant. So, when you see evil around you, repent of your sins, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior immediately. Peace!