Sometime in late 2019, a mysterious virus emerged in the city of Wuhan, China. Easily transmissible, it spread through the city like wildfire. By late January 2020, local hospitals were overwhelmed with critically ill pneumonia patients. China ordered a quarantine of the entire city – a city of 11 million people. Experts named the virus COVID-19 (a.k.a. “the coronavirus”). The quarantine of Wuhan, which now includes dozens of cities and over 700 million people, is implemented with the hope of ending all spread of the disease. If it fails, a global pandemic will strike the world.
This isn’t without precedent. One hundred years ago, the world faced a similar enemy – H1N1. Also known as the Spanish Flu, it rose from the trenches of World War I and spread to every corner of the globe in the years 1918 and 1919 – even remote Pacific islands. When the global pandemic finally ended, it had taken more lives than the Great War itself. Estimates say between 50 and 100 million people died – about 3% to 6% of the world population.
Will History Repeat Itself?
Since the 1918/1919 Spanish Flu, we’ve avoided a similar pandemic. We’ve had a number of scares – bird flu, swine flu, Ebola, Zika, and other diseases – but we’ve avoided a global pandemic. Some of this is because of what we’ve done. We have better knowledge of how viruses and bacteria spread. We know how to quarantine areas, disinfect treatment centers, and provide more effective medical care. But the number one reason we’ve avoided a global pandemic is luck. That’s right. For the past 100 years, we’ve just been plain lucky. Unfortunately, our luck is about to end.
How can I be so sure? Because what we know indicates the coronavirus is every bit as infectious and deadly as the Spanish Flu, if not more so. For instance, early studies are showing for every person who contracts the coronavirus, they give it to at least three other people. For comparison sake, only 1.8 persons contracted the Spanish Flu for every one person who got it. The coronavirus also has an incubation period as long as up to 24 days, and a person can be contagious throughout that entire period. So far, the case fatality rate (or number of people who die after contracting the coronavirus) is at least 1% and could end up being much higher.
Expect a Global Pandemic
Unless a sudden mutation makes the coronavirus harmless, expect a global pandemic. Why? Unlike more recent pandemic threats such as Ebola or SARS, the coronavirus spreads even when infected people show no symptoms. And once symptoms do appear, they’re similar to the seasonal flu. This means the coronavirus can silently spread through an entire community without raising suspicion. Only when local hospitals see a spike in severe pneumonia cases will it become clear how widespread the infection is.
In all likelihood, the silent spread of the coronavirus is already taking place. While government officials try to convince the public the virus is contained, it’s not. And they know it. Notice how every new case outside of China merits the official government response, “Don’t worry. The risk of wider spread in the community remains low.” This isn’t necessarily a lie. The key word is “remains.” The risk does remain low – until it doesn’t.
So what is the true risk? Professor Gabriel Leung, the chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University, is one of the world’s leading experts on coronavirus epidemics. He played a key role in containing the 2002/2003 SARS outbreak. According to Leung, if the coronavirus can not be contained, it could infect up to 60% of the world’s population. Dr. Robert Redfield, current Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “I think this virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we’ll get community based transmission and you can start to think about it like seasonal flu. The only difference is we don’t understand this virus.” Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said, “I think it is likely we’ll see a global pandemic. If a pandemic happens, 40% to 70% of people world-wide are likely to be infected in the coming year.”
A Sign of the Times
Hopefully, the coronavirus will die off and won’t spread to the entire world. But whether it does or not, what does it have to do with bible prophecy? After all, the Bible doesn’t mention COVID-19 or the coronavirus by name. So how can it be related to the end times? While no bible prophecies specifically point to the coronavirus, I believe it’s yet another sign the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is near. How can I be sure?
When His followers asked Jesus to describe the signs of His coming, one of the signs He told them to look for was “pestilence” (Luke 21:11). What is pestilence? Merriam-Webster defines it as “a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating.” Jesus said this pestilence will arrive like “birth pains” (Matthew 24:8), meaning it will increase in frequency and intensity in the time leading up to His return. This means, as the end approaches, we should expect infectious disease outbreaks to occur more frequently, impact more people, and be more deadly. This is exactly what the coronavirus threatens to bring – a global pandemic with the potential to kill tens of millions.
Are You Prepared?
Regardless of its role in end times bible prophecy, the emergence of the coronavirus should force you to ask this question, “Am I prepared?” Now when I say this, I don’t mean are you prepared to go off grid and wait out a global pandemic. I’m talking about something much more important. If the worst case scenario plays out, are you prepared to die? After all, it shouldn’t matter whether you die of coronavirus or peacefully in your sleep. Regardless of the circumstance, your odds of dying are quite high. After all, how many people over the age of 100 do you know? Maybe a few. How about people over the age of 150? None, right? They’re all dead, and that means you’ve got a good chance of dying one day too. When you die, do you know where you’re going?
If you place your trust in Jesus Christ and accept His sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sins, you’ll go to heaven. The Bible says if you confess Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). The Bible says all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). The best preparation for the coronavirus is to know where you stand. Jesus says you’re either for Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30). There’s no in between. So if you haven’t ever made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, I encourage you to do so right now. Do it before it’s too late. Because one way or another – Jesus is coming.
Britt Gillette is author of the free ebook Coming to Jesus as well as the books Signs of the Second Coming, Racing Toward Armageddon, and The End Times. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for free when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.