Coronavirus in Prophecy

The Bible is clear: These diseases will worsen.
Gary Dorning/Watch Jerusalem
From the March 2020 Watch Jerusalem Print Edition

The outbreak of the coronavirus has shaken the world. The pandemic that started in Wuhan, China, four months ago has now spread across the planet.

When it first began, many nations were quite relaxed about the virus. But Israel took stringent precautions to prevent it from spreading. On January 30, when the death toll in China was just 170, Israel became the first nation to stop incoming flights from China. Israelis returning from China were immediately placed in a 14-day quarantine.

As the virus spread through Asia, Israel banned entrance to foreigners who had visited infected nations. On February 26, Israel became the first nation to advise its citizens against overseas travel. One day later, when Italy’s death toll was only 17, Israel became the first nation to block all flights from Italy. All Israelis arriving from Italy were instructed to enter quarantine. On March 9, Israel became the first nation to refuse entry to any foreigner who couldn’t prove the ability to home quarantine for 14 days. This decision effectively closed Israel’s borders to nonresidents.

Israel has imposed some of the most stringent quarantine requirements of any nation. If a person was on the same flight as a coronavirus carrier, or crossed paths with a carrier inside Israel, or even returned from abroad from any destination, he or she was required to enter quarantine. On March 15, all Israelis were told not to leave their homes unless it was absolutely necessary.

No nation on Earth came close to the measures Israel imposed to protect itself!

These far-reaching actions were consistent with the Jews’ historical practice of quarantine. Historically, the Jews have had a lot of success reducing the impact of disease epidemics because they followed the laws of quarantine outlined in the biblical books of Leviticus and Numbers. Passages like Leviticus 13:46 describe how to handle a person who contracts a contagious illness (in this case, leprosy): “All the days wherein the plague is in him he shall be unclean; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone; [outside] the camp shall his dwelling be.”

In the 14th century, the bubonic plague (called the Black Death) killed more than 25 million Europeans, about one third of Europe’s population. Because the Jews followed the biblical laws about quarantine and hygiene, the infection and mortality rates in Jewish communities were substantially lower. Sadly, this led to other problems, as many Europeans blamed the plague on Jews. By the end of the century, thousands of Jews had been killed and more than 100 Jewish communities had been wiped out.

Isn’t human nature horrible? Instead of considering why the death rate among Jews was so much lower, and following the example of the Jews by applying the biblical laws of quarantine and proper hygiene, people grew resentful and angry.

No nation on Earth came close to the measures Israel imposed to protect itself.

The world’s response to the coronavirus has been very different. Over the past two months, we have witnessed nation after nation close borders and order its citizens to stay home. We have seen quarantine measures applied on a global scale. These haven’t been applied perfectly. Many were applied much too late, and many people simply ignored the instruction to go into quarantine. Still, it has been refreshing to see the world employ a biblical tool to fight this global disease pandemic!

Disease Prophesied?

The coronavirus crisis has already wiped out more than $2.7 trillion from the global economy. Experts worry that the world will experience a debilitating recession. Beyond the gargantuan economic and financial cost, this uncontrollable contagion has cast a pall of fear and alarm over the world. Millions of people are terrified. Many are hopeless. Many simply don’t know what to think.

How should we respond to what we are witnessing? What is going to happen? Many are asking these questions.

It is right to be sobered by this pandemic. God is trying to get our attention. The Bible clearly tells us that He uses catastrophes, including disease and pestilence epidemics, to correct mankind. There are prophecies showing that far worse disease outbreaks are yet ahead.

Consider the prophecy in the book of Daniel, which contains prophecy for “the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4, 9). “Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, and have turned aside, so as not to hearken to Thy voice; and so there hath been poured out upon us the curse and the oath that is written in the Law of Moses the servant of God; for we have sinned against Him” (Daniel 9:11). “Israel” here refers primarily to America and Britain, but it includes the Jewish state too. Please read The United States and Britain in Prophecy to understand who comprises the descendants of ancient Israel.

Verses 13-14 read: “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us; yet have we not entreated the favour of the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and have discernment in Thy truth. And so the Lord hath watched over the evil, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works which He hath done, and we have not hearkened to His voice.”

These verses teach powerful and eternal truths. First, when evil comes upon us, the solution must be to turn to God. Second, turning to God means admitting our sins and repenting; that is, turning away from our iniquities. As long as we refuse to respond this way, the curses will continue.

Both Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 show that God uses disease to admonish mankind, and especially those people He has worked with closely. “The Lord will make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until He have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest in to possess it. The Lord will smite thee with consumption, and with fever, and with inflammation, and with fiery heat, and with drought, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish” (Deuteronomy 28:21-22).

Ezekiel 5 is a prophecy about the nations of America, Britain and the Jewish state and the terrible suffering that comes upon these nations before the Messiah comes. Verse 12 says, “A third part of thee [these three nations] shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee; and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and a third part I will scatter unto all the winds, and will draw out a sword after them.” The Hebrew word for pestilence means plague. The Prophet Jeremiah delivered similar warnings to the end-time descendants of Israel and Judah.

The Bible is clear: God allows disease and pestilence epidemics to come upon us. Why? As Daniel wrote, “… that we might turn from our iniquities, and have discernment in Thy truth” (Daniel 9:13). God wants crises like the coronavirus to humble us, to cause us to seek His truth, and to change the way we live and think. Has the coronavirus had this effect on you?

Consider too the prophecy in Zechariah 6. The events described in this chapter unfold just prior to the coming of the Messiah. This passage describes four chariots, spirit beings with the appearance of horses, that have been “presenting themselves before the Lord” and receiving clear instructions about how they should proceed. They are “of heaven.” These spirits in Zechariah 6 originate from God’s own throne room, and their chariots are commanded to go “to and fro” across the Earth, into the four quarters (verses 5, 7).

Notice verses 2 and 3: “In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; and in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grizzled bay horses.” The black horses here are a representation of the violence, famine and pestilence that come upon the world.

Zechariah 6 is discussing a worldwide effort that will occur just prior to and during the Day of the Lord prophesied in Joel 2:31. Angelic beings are already being positioned and instructed for these catastrophic events! But God is in close control over exactly how much devastation these beings are allowed to unleash. He is not destroying indiscriminately: He is punishing the world in love and in measure—to help mankind turn from the paths of destruction to the way of truth and peace! God will allow the diseases and other afflictions represented by these horses to affect mankind to precisely the degree needed to help them repent—no more, no less.

These passages in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel and Zechariah are not dusty old prophecies. They are mostly for our time today! They are dramatic, dire prophecies whose fulfillment lies directly before us! Multiple millions of people are prophesied to perish from sickness and disease. What will it take for more people to simply believe God?

The coronavirus is merely a glimpse of what is to come in the future. We should expect diseases like this new Wuhan coronavirus to get worse, and to eventually spread like medieval pandemics and kill millions of people. It is unlikely this specific new outbreak will cause such ruin, but these prophecies are sure.

The Stampede Will End!

Where is this leading? We are already experiencing the preliminary stages of what the Bible terms “Jacob’s trouble” in which one third of the populations in Israelitish nations will die—before being directly attacked by foreign enemies (Jeremiah 30:7; Ezekiel 5:1-2, 12).

The horses of Zechariah 6 are going to stampede over the Earth! God is already beginning to send a number of globe-rattling events our way! Coronavirus and other diseases that are breaking out today are only the beginning. God is determined to let the world see where its evil ways are leading.

We frequently emphasize in Watch Jerusalem and our other literature that the loving God takes no pleasure in seeing men suffer. It pains God to know that the suffering is about to get much, much worse. In Ezekiel 33:11, God says, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

God punishes people in the hope that they will repent and turn from their wicked, rebellious ways! He wants people to prosper and be full of health. In Exodus 15:26, God specifically promised the people of ancient Israel that if they obeyed Him, they would never have to suffer any diseases.

But too often the people of ancient Israel did not obey God. Instead, they rejected Him and His law of love. The same is true of the nations of modern Israel and the rest of the world today. So instead of prospering and being in health and having real, abundant life, people suffer.

This coronavirus, and all the other terrible curses that will continue to afflict us, is part of God’s plan to teach man the absolute necessity of obeying His law. And scripture after scripture shows that God’s plan will succeed!

This world, with its horrific diseases and countless other troubles, will soon be replaced. At His coming, the Messiah will accomplish what the most brilliant doctors, scientists and other experts have utterly failed to do: He will bring lasting peace and perfect health to all men, women and children. Deadly diseases like the Wuhan coronavirus, typhus, bubonic plague, tuberculosis and all others will vanish and never return.

We must remember that God is accomplishing something wonderful and positive through the coronavirus. He sends these angelic beings out with specific jobs, all in preparation for the Day of the Lord and the coming of the Messiah! God is already preparing for that crisis of crises!