The Pandemic and the Return of Christ

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC affected the whole world. It has been described as an ‘unprecedented public health crisis’. Many governments have been criticized for the ways in which they responded. There is a formal enquiry in the UK, and other countries have criminal investigations of their leaders.

Books have been written about the many prior warnings that were ignored, and lessons that we should learn.

It is a sad fact that, even though scientists had warned about a possible pandemic, we were not ready. There were false assumptions about its likely nature (‘it will be like flu’), and unrealistic confidence in our preparedness to handle it. There were millions of deaths, many of which could well have been avoided.

Being warned can mean being fore- armed, but this is not always the case. Jesus warned the Jews about the impending destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20–21), but most of them were still taken by surprise when the Romans besieged the city.

Arrival of the Bridegroom

Jesus told a parable about ten young women waiting to greet the bridegroom to a wedding. They all knew that he was coming. They had all been warned and told what to do. But only five were ready when he actually came (Matthew 25:1– 13). At the end of this parable Jesus warned his followers:

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour (Matthew 25:13).

This parable is about the return of the Lord Jesus to set up God’s Kingdom on earth. Its message is that even some professing Christians will be taken by surprise and will not be welcomed into the Kingdom. For in the parable only five of the virgins were accepted by the bridegroom: the other five were rejected in very cold words:

Truly, I say to you, I do not know you (Matthew 25:12).

Later, the Apostle Paul warned that this ‘day of the Lord’ would take many people by surprise.

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3).

Importance of Preparation

We cannot be certain that the human race can prepare adequately for another pandemic. There are so many aspects which are difficult to predict. Scientists do their very best, but they are only human. In contrast, in the Bible, God gives us warnings to be ready for the coming of Jesus. He also tells us what to do in preparation.

There is a saying: “Every disaster movie starts with someone ignoring a scientist.” More seriously, it is true that “every judgment of God starts with someone ignoring His message”. There is another sober saying: “The only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.” This was largely true of the Jews, who continually ignored God’s warnings to turn back to Him (Luke 11:47–49). Let it not be the case with us, for the return of Jesus will have more far-reaching consequences than the pandemic. God has warned us. He has told us in no uncertain terms. Let us resolve to read the Bible, to understand its warnings and to take its advice. Only then can we be ready for what is coming on the earth.

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