Updated: Jan 10
Guest blogger Ian Atkin thinks we could be
2020/21 and the Covid-19 pandemic – What does it mean?
Is the pandemic one of ‘the signs of the times’ which points to the ‘end of the age’?
Matthew Chapter 24 is a key and significant section of New Testament Scripture which offers us an insight and understanding of the ‘signs of the times’ we are living in today.
Not since the deadly Spanish flu of World War 1 has there been a disease related event which has been so life threatening to so many people in the modern era.
Within a very short time period from the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, thousands of deaths occurred across the globe due to exposure to the Covid-19, SARS-Cov-2 virus.
No-one can deny that the Covid-19, SARS-Cov-2 virus pandemic has manifested as a catastrophic global event which threatens the health and wellbeing of every human being currently alive.
So, what might the significance of this pandemic be?
An examination of Matthew Chapter 24 in the Holy Bible gives some remarkable revelation and insight into what this pandemic might mean for humankind today.
The context for this Biblical chapter is an ongoing discussion between Jesus of Nazareth and His group of disciples.
Their discussion is initiated in Jerusalem near the Jewish Temple and continued later on the Mount of Olives which is located just outside Jerusalem’s city walls and overlooks the city.
In Matthew Chapter 24:1 – 2, the disciples initiate a dialogue with Jesus about the Temple buildings which are in view. Jesus informs them that the Temple standing before them will at some point be ‘thrown down’ – i.e. levelled to the ground.
From the text we see that as Jesus and the disciples walk out of the city to the Mount of Olives the issue of the Temple’s destruction is playing on the minds of the disciples –
“As Jesus was sitting on the Mt. of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately. Tell us, they said, when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
In response to their question Jesus offers a lengthy description of what to look out for in relation to the anticipated ‘destruction of the Temple’ and the ‘end of the age.’
From the narrative, it becomes clear these events will occur at a time future to them and the disciples identify that the signs of the end of the age will precede Jesus coming back again.
We know from history that the Jewish Temple was indeed thrown down- it was levelled to the ground when the Roman Army destroyed it in 70AD.
It occurred 70 years after Jesus spoke about it. An indication that what Jesus said was reliable.
We may deduce therefore that His word can be trusted, because, what He said would happen, did happen!
This being so, what can we learn from what Jesus said about the ‘signs of the times’ and ‘the end of the age’ – and a vital question to ask is ‘was He referring to the times we live in today’?
The disciples’ questioning of Jesus results in a clear connection being made between the end of the age and the return / coming back of Jesus. It is evident that both events will occur at a time future to them.
In John chapter 14:28-31 Jesus had already explained to His followers that He is going away but will be coming back. Matthew Chapter24 describes the signs of the end of the age which will be indicators of His return.
Is the Covid-19, SARS-Cov-2 virus pandemic a ‘sign of the end of the age’:
Are other current catastrophic world events, as described in
Mathew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 21, ‘signs of the end of the age’?
The dialogue between Jesus and His disciples in Matthew chapter 24 is also recorded in
Luke chapter 21 in which Jesus replies to His disciples saying.
“Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
In current times, nations and kingdoms around the world are rising against each other.
The UK is in dispute with the nations of the EU. The Scottish and Welsh Nationalists are in dispute with England. Ireland is in dispute with Northern Ireland and Britain. China is in dispute with America, the UK and Hong Kong. Russia is in dispute with the western democracies and Ukraine. Iran is in dispute with the west, the Gulf countries and Israel. Along with Iran Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinians have raised themselves perpetually against the nation of Israel.
Nations and kingdoms have risen against each other in current times as per Luke chapter 21 v 10!
Earthquakes are also a frequent occurrence.
Recently Iran, Turkey, Greece, and Italy have experienced deadly earthquakes; even Scotland experienced an earthquake recently.
Famines in Africa are currently devastating.
The New Testament is translated from its original Greek into English and in the Greek form, the word “pestilence” contains reference to plagues, contagious diseases, and organisms.
Significantly, plagues and pestilences recur in The Bible as divine warnings to humanity to return to the ways of The Lord. Their occurrence presents an opportunity for humanity to examine themselves and put right wrong living!
Throughout the Bible plagues e.g. the plagues in Egypt, symbolize God’s judgement and are used by God to warn people that their lives are ungodly.
Exodus Chapter 8:1 – 2 records a conversation between God and Moses:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “go to Pharaoh and say to him” ‘this is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them, go, I will plague your whole country with frogs.’
In Exodus Chapter 32:35 it is written:
“And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.”
There is a biblical principle which reveals that God uses plagues as a means of warning to and judgement of human beings.
This is farther referred to by John in Revelation Chapter 15:1 in which John says:
“I saw in heaven another great and marvellous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues – last, because with them God’s wrath (judgement) is completed.”
With Luke Chapter 21 and the covid 19 pandemic in mind, the Covid-19, SARS-Cov-2 virus certainly is “a pestilence / plague in various places”! it is everywhere!
Throughout the last year we have seen many fearful events throughout the world:
The forest and bush fires in Australia and America look like the fires of hell on earth, floods in Britain, Asia, and the Far East look like the flood as in the days of Noah. Anarchy in the USA, near anarchy in Austria, Holland and East Germany and violence in Myanmar and Hong Kong looks like ‘the man of lawlessness’ and human lawlessness are hard at work.
TV footage show journalists describing such events as ‘biblical,’ ‘apocalyptic’ and ‘unprecedented’!
It is exactly as the Bible says:” unprecedented things will happen in the last days”
2 Thessalonians Chapter 2:1-12 says:
v1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.
v3 Do not let anyone deceive you, …, that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed.
v7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work.
v8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow by the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendour of His coming.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 says:
v1 But mark this. There will be terrible times in the last days………………
And Matthew Chapter 24:38-44 explains:
v38 No-one knows about that day or hour……. only The Father.
v39 As it was in the days of Noah so it will be at the coming of The Son of Man.
v44 So you must be ready because The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.
And so, we might ask:
“As all these events are happening in the current time, the times we are living in today, are they collectively the -
‘signs of the end of the age’!?
Are they the signs leading up to?
the coming back again / the return of The Lord Jesus Christ!?”
Many may respond saying “past generations have said the end is coming and the Lord is returning BUT it has never happened.” This also fulfils the word of the Lord as is written in
2 Peter 3: 1-13:
Verse 3ff …. You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing, and following their own evil desires. They will say “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised?”
They ask (scoffingly?) “Why should it be different in relation to today’s circumstances?”
Very importantly, Matthew Chapter 24:32-34 reveals a key event which has not happened in past generations BUT is happening in this one:
v32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree.
As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.
v33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, right at the door.
v34 I tell you the truth, this race will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened”.
The key factor in identifying that the times we live in today are indeed the biblical “end times” or “end of the age is to learn the lesson from “the fig tree”!
Throughout the Bible ‘the fig tree’ symbolizes the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.
Historically, we know that since the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70AD the Jewish people have been dispersed out from the land of Israel – they have travelled out to all parts of the world leaving only a remnant in ‘the land’ (i.e. Israel).
For the last 2000 years, the Jews have been victimised and hated in the places they settled in – historical attempts to systematically eradicate the Jewish race are known to us all. During this time ‘the figtree’ – i.e. the Jewish people and the land of Israel looked dead! And indeed, many throughout the world had written the Jews off as a people and a nation.
However, the times we live in today are hugely significant because for the first time in the last 2000 years, the Jewish people are returning from all the places they have settled in throughout the world to the Land of Israel, their ancestral homeland.
The preservation of Israel as a nation; her return to the promised land, albeit in much opposition, is amazing. The revival of the Hebrew language as good as dead; the victories in conflicts with nations much larger and numerous are miraculous.
Israel as a nation is thriving and prospering.
With reference to Matthew Chapter 24 verses 32-34 the return of the Jews to Israel and the prosperity of the nation of Israel equates to ‘the leaves of the fig tree coming out’ – the fig tree is blossoming – i.e. the Jews are returning to their land and Israel is established.
As verses 32-33 poetically describe it – “Summer is near”!
The chapter in verse 34 goes on to say:
When you see all these things – He is near – right at the door!
We are seeing all these things in the days we live in today and so He, the Lord Jesus is near, He is at the door – He is ready to come back! He is returning!
AND, despite opposition to the very existence of the Jewish race and horrendous attempts to destroy them “this race has not passed away.”
This chapter and these verses in the Book of Matthew describe events occurring in the times we now live in and so we must seriously weigh up these things and consider the fact that we are indeed approaching ‘the end of the age’ and the time of ‘Jesus coming back.’
Bearing in mind the Covid-19, SARS-Cov-2 virus pandemic and recent world events, together with these Scriptural verses, perhaps it is true to say:
Normal is not returning – BUT Jesus is!!?
What do you think?
Next time: Why is Messiah Jesus coming back?
What will happen when He, The Lord, returns?
Should I do anything about it?