The Psalmist states, ‘Be still and know that 1 am God, I will be exalted in the earth’ (Ps. 46:10). For the first time in modern history, the world stands still as a result of a global pandemic in the shape of the Coronavirus. Schools have been closed; churches have gone online to host services, theatres, clubs, restaurants and gyms have all been told by governments to cease business until further notice. Naturally, people are anxious about the increasing death toll and the virulence of this strain of the virus. At present, there is no known antidote or vaccine that is effective in stemming the tide of death. It is at times like this that people begin to ask profound questions about life. In this time of stillness, self-isolation and social distancing, it is good to rest upon the enduring fact of God’s sovereignty and understand that he is in full control over the present situation- indeed, Lord over all the earth.
A Need for Seers and Prophetic Discernment
In the midst of the general speculation about how this situation could have come about, there is a need for seers who understand the times and seasons. We know that there is no confusion from God’s unique vantage point. Some commentators have missed the mark by stating that the coronavirus is the direct judgement of God upon the wicked. Others overstate their case by trying to identify the coronavirus in a specific verse of the bible. Seers are those who can both sense God’s heart in a situation and interpret the word of God accordingly as a result of their relationship with God and gifting.
God rules the universe by well-defined laws and principles. Any violation of these principles invokes consequences. This is the law of cause and effect. One of God’s many qualities is his objectivity: his law applies equally to all mankind (Acts 10:34). An appreciation of some of these principles is a better starting point in conducting an analysis of the current crisis. The coronavirus indeed is a sign but perhaps can more accurately be viewed as a symptom stemming from an underlying cause. It is almost certain that the cause involves some violation of the basic laws of nature.
Times, Seasons and Symptoms
As mentioned above, seers interpret events in light of God’s laws, history and a close relationship with the Holy Spirit who has granted all gifts (1 Cor. 12:1). Historical dates and anniversaries carry particular spiritual significance and enduring impact upon the present. The Jews understand that time flows cyclically rather than linearly and that successive generations face similar issues. They believe that different generations may have their own ‘satan or adversary- whether Haman or Hitler. For example, September 11th is the anniversary of several significant battles between Islamic and European nations in history. Some scholars even postulate that this might be the birthday of Christ based upon their study of the biblical courses. God’s laws restore justice and balance over generations. The year 2020 has prophetic significance in God’s plan for the world. Prophets such as Amos and Hosea spoke about national injustice and implored the nation to return to God. We will begin by looking at this concept in order to shed further light upon the issue of the Coronavirus and see how God’s sovereignty and mankind’s autonomy interact to produce world history. God has seen the rise and fall of nations across time but shares aspects of his wisdom with his seers and prophets (Amos 3:7).
The Rise and Fall of Nations
The Coronavirus pandemic could be regarded as the fourth global pandemic. Like the second and third pandemics, the origin is thought to be from China or central Asia. Like the ancient philosophers, who described the law of cause and effect, the bible likewise mentions a similar principle of reciprocity (Prov.26:2; Gal. 6:7-9). In particular, the book of Proverbs gives general guiding principles that reflect this idea. There is the constant refrain of keeping God’s law in order for success. God, therefore, judges the nations by their deeds. The Roman empire that enslaved much of Europe was itself invaded and conquered by invading hordes from those territories. The German Empire that caused such devastation throughout Europe was eventually defeated and required to pay damaging reparations. God can use man’s foolish actions. One consequence of the last war was the establishment of the nation of Israel. Yet we see in the bible that Israel was invaded by the Babylonians as a result of breaking God’s laws and restored after a time of introspection and repentance. These laws of justice are therefore written into the very constitution of the universe and bring balance. What lessons can be gleaned from the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus and what should be the response of the nations, the world and the church? It is useful to ask these questions and explore what underlying causes might there be; what laws or principles might have been violated when crises such as this happen. This is the speciality of the seer. He or she closely observes the times, seasons, events, politics, anniversaries and spiritual issues that precipitate events.