Robert Jeffress - Is The Coronavirus A Judgment From God?
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Every time a natural disaster strikes, whether it's a raging fire, or a devastating hurricane, people wonder, "Is this a punishment from God"? Well, when the coronavirus emerged as a worldwide pandemic, earlier this year, people asked me the same question. And today, we're going to look at the relationship between sin and sickness, and see how the answer to that question ties into God's final judgment of the earth, during the end times. My message is a question, "Is The Coronavirus a Judgment From God?", on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
"Is the coronavirus a judgment from God"? Just asking that question elicits some pretty strong responses from people. If you don't believe that, just look at my Twitter feed. I couldn't believe some of the things people wrote on there. I jotted down some of the nicer things. One person, "Do you live in the dark ages? Scientists have known for over a hundred years that pandemics aren't caused by God". Another person, "This is how cavemen think". Actually, that was Amy, let's say. Another one, "What a moronic statement". Even Monica Lewinsky weighed in on the subject. Yes, that Monica Lewinsky. One of our staff members showed me one of her tweets. She had been in Dallas this week, and she was speaking, and she drove by one of our billboards, and saw the sermon title, and she tweeted it out, and then added an expletive for emphasis to go along with it.
That really didn't concern me nearly as much as why was one of our staff members following Monica Lewinsky on social media? An investigation is forthcoming. Now I promise, we're going to answer that question, in just a few moments. But to provide a context for it, I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Revelation 15, Revelation 15. In our year long study of the Book of Revelation, we're in that section, chapters 6 through 19, that describe the last seven years of earth's history. It's a time we commonly call the tribulation, when the one world dictator, antichrist will rule. It is a time when God pours out his final judgments on the earth, before the visible return of Jesus Christ, at the end of chapter 19.
Now, you know these judgments God's sends were actually a series of three judgments. And to help you understand the flow of this section of Revelation, think of a play that has three acts to it. And each act has seven scenes. And after each act, the curtain comes down, and there's an intermission in it. We've already seen act one, that's chapter 6, the seal judgments. And after chapter 6, the curtain comes down, and in chapter 7, John explains something else we need to understand about Revelation. Then the curtain goes up for act two, in chapters 8 and 9. We call those the seven trumpet judgments. And then at the end of chapter 9, the curtain goes down, and we're right now in another intermission, before the final act of the play, the bowl judgments in chapter 16.
So when we come to chapter 15, we're in those final moments, when we're peeking behind the stage curtain, if you will. We're watching the actors get on stage for the final act of this play about God's judgment, and the return of Jesus Christ. That's where we are right now, in our study of Revelation. Now, when we get to chapter 15, before the final judgments, John is going to describe three things that he saw. First of all, notice in verse 1, what he says, then I saw another sign in heaven. Let me stop there and remind you, there are three signs John talks about, he saw in heaven. In chapter 12, the first sign, chapter 12 verse 1, he saw a sign of a woman who was about to give birth. This is a picture of Israel, about to give birth to Jesus. And then in verse 3, he said I saw another sign. That's the second sign, a dragon who represents Satan, trying to devour the woman, Israel and her child, Christ, and those who belong to Christ.
And now when we get to chapter 15 verse 1, John says I saw a third sign, and the sign he sees is going to be the judgment of God, that destroys Satan, the dragon, and all who follow after him. These three signs in and of themselves tell the whole story of mankind. John says I saw another sign, the third sign in heaven. And notice the two words he uses to describe the sign that we're going to look at this week and next week. He said this sign was great and marvelous. That word great, in Greek, is the word maga, M-A-G-A, maga, great. Don't worry, I'm not going there, okay. You understand the word great, maga, it's a word that means incredible, important. The second word, Greek word marvelous, which he's astonishing. John says what I am about to show you is incredible. It is absolutely astonishing. It was seven angels, who had seven plagues. These are the final judgments. We called them the bowl judgment, that consists of seven plagues against the earth.
Now, let me stop here to talk about plagues for just a moment, and to answer our question of the day. What is a plague? I want you to write down this definition. It's not on your outline. A plague is a natural disaster, that is supernaturally timed, as a manifestation of God's judgment. Let me say it again. A plague is a natural disaster that is supernaturally timed, as a manifestation of God's judgment. They're all kind of natural disasters in the Bible, earthquakes, volcanoes, sicknesses, pestilence, all of these things.
Think of the flood in Genesis 7, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which very well may have been a volcanic explosion, an eruption, that resulted in the fire and brimstone coming down. You know, when I was in college, I had these, might as well be pagan religion teachers, because they, all they did was try to explain a way the miracles of the Bible. You know, "Oh, well, this are just natural, in that part of the world, to have an earthquake, or a volcano, or locusts, or so forth". Look, the point is, the miracle is not that these things occurred, but they occurred at the precise timing God was sending a judgment. That is the miracle, it's a natural disaster that is supernaturally timed.
I was running this week, and listening to somebody preaching on this topic. I listen to as many different people as I can in a week, if I'm preparing to preach on something. I read as many commentaries I can. And this teacher was talking about natural things, like earthquakes that are supernaturally timed. And a few seconds later, the congregation broke into raucous laughter. I thought, "What is going on"? The teacher got on, said, "Those of you listening to this are probably wondering what is happening". He said, "Just as I started talking about earthquakes, we felt a tremor of an earthquake underneath us, that was going on in our city". That's what you call a miracle. It's a natural disaster, that is supernaturally timed. You've had these plagues all throughout the Bible.
Now, sometimes a plague will be extended, like the flood in Genesis 7. It lasted 40 days, it rained for 40 days, but the earth felt the effects of it for a year. We've already seen, in Revelation 8 and 9, the trumpet judgment, the locusts, these other judgments that occur, occur over a period of months. Sometimes, plagues are very quick, and the ones we're going to look at next week, these final seven, the word plague literally means wound or blow, it is God striking the earth, very, very quickly. They happen very, very rapidly. But whether a plague is extended, or short, the question that we're looking at today is, is the coronavirus one of those plagues that is talked about in the Bible. Is it God's judgment against the earth?
What I've done on your outline is I put a section there called plague theology. And I'd like to submit to you four truths about God's judgment, that might help you evaluate this, or other events in the world, or in your life, as well. Four statements I wanna make, and don't judge these statements until you hear the last one.
Number one, all natural disasters can be ultimately traced to sin. All natural disasters, whether we're talking about earthquakes, volcanoes, cancer, influenza, can all ultimately, and that's the operative word, be traced to sin. What do I mean by that? The world we live in right now is not the world God designed. God never designed the world to include floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, cancer, influenza, coronavirus. That was never part of God's original plan. God created this world perfectly. But it's when sin entered the world, through Adam and Eve, that this world was corrupted, and became the world in which we now live.
Paul explains that in Romans 8:19 and 22, he said for the anxious longing of creation waits eagerly, somebody has translated that the whole creation stands on tiptoe with expectation, awaiting the revealing of the sons of God, for the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him, God, who subjected it. God is the one who pronounced a judgment against the earth. But there's hope, in hope that the creation itself, one day, will be set free, from its slavery to corruption, into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
One day Christ is coming back, and the world that we live in now will be changed, and we'll be forever rid of this judgment against it. But until then, verse 22, for we know that the whole creation groans, and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. This whole world is groaning, awaiting that time when Christ will come, and deliver the new heaven, and the new earth. This world is not the world God created, and thank God this world is not the world that we will always live in. All sin can ultimately be traced to sin, not necessarily specific sins of individuals, but to the original sin.
And that leads to truth number two. Some disasters are related to specific sins. Sometimes God does use natural disasters and sickness as a specific judgment, for a specific sin. Now, some people say, "Well, I just don't believe that. The God I serve would never send sickness as a judgment". Have you ever heard people say that? Or, "The God I serve would never send anybody to hell". I love David Jeremiah's response to that. He said when people say that to him, he says, "You know, you're right. The God you serve wouldn't do that, because the God you serve doesn't exist. The God you serve is an imaginary God, instead of the God of the Bible".
If you believe the God of the Bible, you believe that God does use judgment against sin. And sometimes those judgements include natural disasters. Genesis 7, God sent a flood, because of the world's wickedness. Genesis 19, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, don't let anybody rewrite that for you. He destroyed those cities, because of the sin of homosexuality. God has sent judgments against Egypt, and Israel, for their disobedience. God sent leprosy to Miriam, the sister of Moses. In Deuteronomy 28:27, the Lord will smite you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors, and with the scab, and with the itch, which you cannot be healed from.
So we know in the past, if we believe the Bible, that God sickness as judgment. We know that in the future, God is going to use sickness as a judgment from him. In Revelation 6:8, remember under the seal judgments, John says I looked and behold, an ashen horse, and he who sat upon it had the name death, and hades was following with him. Authority was given to them, over 1/4 of the earth. 1/4 of the world is going to be destroyed through this one judgment alone, to kill with a sword, that is war, and with famine, a natural result of war. And with, underlying it, pestilence, that's sicknesses. And part of the sickness will be the result of 1/4 of the world's population being slaughtered, they won't be able to bury all of the bodies that are the result of the warfare of this time.
And when you have decomposing bodies, and don't dispose of them naturally, they're all kind of things, like bubonic plague, and dysentery, and hepatitis, that are result of that. And notice he says, and by the wild beast of the earth. Whether or not these are animals that are actually devouring people, some people believe it is animal born plagues, like swine flu, or other things, or possibly something like the coronavirus that may be animal born as well. Here's my point, in the past, God has used sickness and natural disasters as his specific judgment. In the future, he's going to do the same. So it's not an unreasonable question to ask, is what we're experiencing right now, a judgment from God?
And that leads to a third statement. And that is, we dare not speak what God has not spoken. We dare not speak what God has not spoken. Any time we speak what God has already revealed in his word, we are being obedient. Any time we speak something that God has not already said in his word, we are being presumptuous. And the Bible warns against trying to speak for God, when God himself hasn't spoken. We dare not speak anything that God has not already spoken. In Deuteronomy 18:20, here's a strong warning from God, "But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in my name, which I've not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other Gods, that prophet shall die".
There's a strong judgment against anyone who claims to speak for God, when God hasn't spoken. Let me give you an illustration of that. I can stand up here in the pulpit, and say with full confidence, that God hates abortion. The reason I can say that is what God's word already says. Thou shall not kill. The Bible equates an unborn child with a born child, in Luke 1, the Greek word brephos is used to describe John the Baptist, in Elizabeth's womb. And that same word, brephos, is used to describe the little children who came to Jesus, who had already been born. God sees them exactly the same, the unborn and the born. And God hates the murder of anyone, including children who are born or unborn. I can say that. Secondly, I can say with all the confidence in the world, that God will judge a nation that kills its own children. I can say that again, because God did that with Israel.
In Jeremiah 1, when he saw how the Israelites were offering their children as burnt sacrifices, he said, "It never entered my mind you would do such a detestable thing, but because you have, I will send the Babylonians to take you captive". I can say God hates abortion. I can say God judges a nation that permits and celebrates the killing of children. But what I cannot say is the coronavirus is God's judgment against America, for the sin of abortion. I just can't do that. That is being presumptuous. And that's what we've gotta be careful of, when we get to something like the coronavirus.
I've heard a preacher just this week, say, "If you wanna be protected from the coronavirus, pay your tithes to your church, and you will be protected". How I wish I could say that. But I would be in danger of being struck dead by God, for saying that, because God hasn't said that. We dare not speak what God has not spoken.
The final truth is we can say with confidence that the coronavirus is not one of the plagues in Revelation. It's not one of the plagues we're looking at in chapter 6 - 19. How can I say that with confidence? That's easy, because we're not yet in the tribulation. There is no antichrist ruling over the world. There is no 10 nation confederacy. There is no temple, that which he is going to defile. And most importantly, there has been no rapture of the church yet. We're still here. So this coronavirus, whatever it is, is not one of the plagues mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
"Well, pastor, how should we respond to this plague? How do we avoid what I call the pandemic panic"? You know, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind. If you have panic in your life over this, or something else, that is just paralyzing you with fear, you can't even move, you're scared to death, it's all you can think about, that doesn't come from God, God doesn't do that. That doesn't come from God.
You know, the Bible, I think gives us two ways to handle a crisis like this. One way, the first way, is through prayer. Philippians 4 says, don't worry about anything, Paul wrote, instead, pray about everything. Christians are not to worry. We are to pray, pray for yourself. Pray for your family. Pray for your country. Now I know, to unbelievers, that sounds like foolishness, but prayer, although it's the first thing we should do, it's not the only thing we should do.