Home > Bible Prophecy, Christian Authors, eschatology, premillennialism > Reflections on the Pandemic, and Signs of the Last Days

Reflections on the Pandemic, and Signs of the Last Days


What a year this has been.  It was a year ago, March 17, that I and co-workers first started working from home due to the pandemic lockdown, and we are still working from home for the foreseeable future.  As I reflect back on all the events of the last year, I frequently think of the term “apocalypse” in its broader, general meaning — as a “revealing,” and the revealing of the hearts and minds of people as a result of particular trials and afflictions, such as what the events of the last year have revealed.  

The people of Israel in Exodus 4:31 heard from Aaron and Moses, and believed them.  Yet one chapter later, in Exodus 5:21, the same people (a group within the overall group from Exodus 4:31) declared that the LORD should judge Moses and Aaron, for putting a sword in the Egyptians to kill them.  The different circumstance brought out a very different response. Likewise, in our day, the unusual events of the last year have been a revealing of people’s hearts under afflictions and difficulties.

A recent Wall Street journal article has considered how the pandemic has affected people — and the comments section at the Facebook posting also reveals the divide in the country and the experiences of many more.  A recent report from the Business Insider tells of at least a few cases where church pastors have left their congregations, due to radicalized conspiracy followers, and notes the high percentage of professing church-goers who hold to conspiracy ideas such as QAnon.  When fewer people returned to church services last summer and fall, it was speculated by those who were still attending (often at churches that considered face coverings optional) that the people at home viewing online would decide they preferred that instead of meeting in person.  Yet as noted in a recent survey, and observed locally, the vast majority, over 90%, do plan to return and already are returning to in person, now that a medical treatment, a vaccine, has become available.

A resource I’ve read from time to time over the last several years, the SGAT — the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony — has published a booklet, based on a set of sermons delivered on January 3, 2021, called “Where Are We In God’s Calendar?”  The booklet can be ordered online (I received it in the postal mail along with the latest two newsletters), and the original sermons, with some of the same content are online here, part 1 and part 2.  From the booklet comes this observation, regarding the signs of the times, and Christ’s Return:

Creeping Awareness

Is there not a creeping, growing awareness of things prophetic amongst a remnant?  …  Is there not a growing consciousness amongst true believers of the deepening apostasy, the universal rejection of God’s Word amongst those nations privileged for centuries to hear it proclaimed, and a recognising that, as never before, men are embracing everything that is unholy and ungodly?
There was a slow awakening to the wickedness of the World Council of Churches amongst evangelicals and likewise to the wicked departures of Billy Graham but light did finally dawn!
The darkness reigning over the nations is seen in that nothing seems to have been brought home to the multitude by this ‘Coronavirus’ plague.
Only a few have noted the ‘spirit’ of this day!
In the midst of the pandemic, the deaths and sicknesses, there has been little or no public reference to God.  Political leaders have purposely avoided any mention of Him altogether while the so-called ‘church leaders’ in the mainline churches have made such scant and irrelevant mention of Him, silence on their part would have been more beneficial!
Pulpits in evangelical assemblies are also largely silent on the matter, many with contempt dismissing the Covid virus as a mere ‘flu!
I believe that the events that are revealed by the opening of the first seal indicate the great need of this hour–a revealing of the approach of the Saviour’s return.
It is something for which we ought to be praying!  I will not be dogmatic about this but I think that what I say is worthy of some consideration.  If I am correct in suggesting that we are near to the opening of the first seal and the revealing and emphasising afresh to God’s people the great doctrine of the Saviour’s return in glory, then soon there will follow the events shown us here under the likeness of the opening of the pages of a book.  

God’s word tells us we should not be surprised, when we see ever deepening and widening apostasy, as we continue in these general “last days” and as we approach the days just before Christ’s return.  Just as the Jews of Jesus’ day were more focused on Christ’s Second Coming, His coming to rule and reign, so the NT church has focused mostly on His First Coming.  In Luke 18 Jesus observed, ‘when the Son of Man comes [His Return], will he find faith on earth?’  As I’ve been studying through the gospel of Luke, it is refreshing to read J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, which has many great observations concerning our attitude toward Christ’s Return, and how we should be living, in light of this great truth. 
 
As indicated in texts such as Luke 18, also other accounts that describe even the people of God as “sleeping” and unaware and not looking for Christ’s Return, as the time lengthens and He has been gone for a long time — so it has unfolded in church history, that most are not looking to Christ’s Return in glory, nor thinking about the things that must take place before then.  It is said that dispensationalism has an imminent return of Christ, that He could return at any time, nothing has to take place before the ‘rapture of the church;’ the dispensationalist has some awareness of end times things that must occur, such as Israel back in the land — but tends to think that he/she will not be around to see all of these things that will take place.  The post-millennialists (a rare group nowadays, unlike the pre-World War I era) are looking for the world population to come to Christ, to become a Christianized world, a ‘golden age’ before Christ returns.  The amillennialist, and particularly the common form of preterist amillennialist, is the one with a strong “imminent” any-moment return of Christ, since in this view most of the “prophetic texts” have already happened, in the first century, and — in an odd way they have this much in common with dispensationalist — Christ can return at any moment: and even more so for them, no reason to look for the “general season” of things that will occur shortly before the Second Advent. 
 
Historic premillennialism, the view I hold to, affirms a non-imminent return, that certain things must take place before Christ’s Return:  at first, such things as Peter’s death prophesied, and the gospel going forth to other lands, and time to allow for prophecies indicating wars and rumors of wars; then, other “stage-setting” events that are implied in the descriptions of texts about the Lord’s return:  Israel regathered in unbelief, and a world with great technology such as we now see for our own eyes.
 
Among the prophetic texts are some lesser known passages that describe things that, if taken in their normal, plain language sense, could very reasonably occur in our day, with our 21st century technology.  For example, Revelation 11’s description of the two witnesses laying dead for 3 1/2 days and their bodies observed by people from all over the world, and the people of the world rejoicing and exchanging gifts with each other, all in the space of 3 1/2 days, could very well occur in today’s instant worldwide communication, a literal fulfillment that Horatius Bonar thought, based on 19th century technology, could not really mean 3 1/2 days.  Likewise, Revelation 13’s description of technology that limits people’s ability to transact business, is already occurring in some form, for some types of transactions, in China and possibly other totalitarian government countries.  It’s also interesting that at least some evangelical leaders are also realizing at least this much — such as a clear statement from Al Mohler in a podcast interview last fall, stating his belief that the technology exists today for the literal fulfillment of the biblical prophecies.
 
Another interesting thing I’ve observed recently in the overall culture:  people who do not even recognize and acknowledge anything of the providence of God, of “acts of God” events — such as weather storms or the spread of new diseases around the world.  As one example, the recent winter storm here in the American South, of a severity not seen in a lifetime, was actually considered by some TikTok users a “fake” storm perpetrated by the “powerful left” who somehow created something that looked like but wasn’t really snow.  The fact that some people actually ascribe such powers over the weather, or at least the ability to create a “fake” snowstorm — to mere man, rather than recognize what society has always understood as an “act of God,” is telling.  It appears that, more and more, our technological age has brought about what has been called the “social imaginary,” to the point where some are denying the reality of actual events that have occurred — a pandemic that has caused soaring hospitalization rates and higher than normal levels of death, and even severe winter storms — instead ascribing these to “fake” events caused by mere human political actors.
 
These are just some thoughts to consider, regarding the times we now live in.  In closing, a few selections from J.C. Ryle, from his Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke:
The disciples and all the Jews of our Lord’s time appear to have seen only one personal coming of the Messiah. They expected a Messiah who would come to reign, but not one who would come to suffer.
The majority of Christians, in like manner, appear to see only one personal coming. They believe that Christ came the first time to suffer. But they seem unable to understand that Christ is coming a second time to reign. Both parties have got hold of some of the truth, but neither, unfortunately, has embraced the whole truth. Both are more or less in error, and the Christian’s error is only second in importance to that of the Jew.
Also
It is well to know that He lived for us, and died for us, and rose again for us, and intercedes for us. But it is also well to know that He is soon coming again for us! … The course of this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder, confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin shall not always cover the face of the earth. … Let us wait patiently when we see wickedness triumphing in the earth. The time is short. There is One who sees and notes down all that the ungodly are doing!   
. . .
When the Lord Jesus left the world, He ascended up into heaven as a conqueror leading captivity captive. He is there sitting at the right hand of God, doing the work of the High Priest for His believing people, and ever making intercession for them. But He will not sit there always. He will come forth from the holy of holies to bless His people. He will come again with power and glory to put down every enemy under His feet, and to set up His universal kingdom on earth.
. . .
Jesus’ coming in person the first time to suffer, and Jesus coming in person the second time to reign are two landmarks of which we should never lose sight. We stand between the two. Let us believe that both are real and true.
  1. Frank Schlernitzauer
    March 22, 2021 at 6:22 am

    What a nonsensical reality for believers to accept. Covid is as real as the annual flu for sure but rest of it, the social distancing, the masks, lockdowns, the numbers too (my wife’s aunt passed in Dec 20, she was 93 and of course frail, we learned after her death she died of covid they told us, which of course is nonsense), and most certainly the vaccine are entirely political fodder being used to subdue and control US, even the world. Here in America we have lost our Constitutionally guaranteed rights as well as due process. Fear is tool of tyranny, no one thinks aright when they are in fear.

    As for returning to church no we will not be returning to a church that was taken by this great deception, or even played along so as to not offend the maskers in their congregation.

    The churches should of refused to close and searched out preached truth, his truth as well as the truth of the political ruse, covid lies we are being drowned in still to this day!

    • March 22, 2021 at 9:52 am

      This comment just proves my point, the great “revealing” of hearts as a result of the pandemic. Many of the churches did indeed refuse to close, or opened back very soon, all asserting “my rights!” rather than showing regard for the 6th commandment and concern for their neighbors. Covid has killed far more, and worldwide not just in the US, aside from your 93 year old aunt. The number of hospitalizations alone, maxing out the healthcare workers’ ability to treat them, is something not seen every year from the annual flu.

      But just as some people really think that political forces have the ability to ‘fake’ natural disasters, so in this case, many people deny the plain evidence of the pandemic, another event sent by God.

      I am reminded also of 2 Thessalonians 2: as part of this “apocalypse” revealing, for the people who do not love the truth, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they may believe what is false. I’m not saying that what we are seeing now IS that specific ‘powerful delusion’ of 2 Thessalonians 2. But recent events certainly illustrate the point of what a strong delusion looks like, of what it actually means for people to so strongly reject the truth, instead preferring and believing what is false.

  2. March 22, 2021 at 9:10 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    • March 22, 2021 at 9:30 am

      Thanks for the reblog, Vincent!

  3. March 23, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Very interesting, Lynda.
    May we all be watching and praying and waiting (may it be — by God’s grace — with eager anticipation) for the return of Jesus Christ.

  4. March 23, 2021 at 9:01 am

    Lynda, is not one of the (main?) factors of the cause of such fragmentation into sects/parties in the (visible) church over current events (e.g. coronavirus, etc.) is what news sources we trust to give us accurate/true information?

    • March 23, 2021 at 9:27 am

      Hi Robert,

      Yes, in terms of the immediate, secondary causes, the different news sources providing different information, has definitely contributed to the fragmentation. Though, even that phenomenon, of the differing news sources, has its causes that go back even further.

      • March 23, 2021 at 10:22 am

        Thanks Lynda. As an amateur student of the culture and current events… if you are of the mind… I would be very interested to know what you perceive to be these “causes that go back even further”. Thanks!

      • March 23, 2021 at 11:40 am

        Hi Robert. Well, that’s a different topic and could be a very long answer, going beyond the scope of this post –but a few, brief, thoughts.

        Aside from the overall general backdrop of sin, and God’s decree for it to happen this way – American Christianity has been in decline for a long time, starting with the influence of Charles Finney and his false teaching, carried down through later generations; and the apostasy, liberalism of New England churches (at least in part due to Finney). During the later 19th and early 20th century, classic dispensationalism made huge gains in the US — radical discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments, as to remove covenantal concepts; and dispensationalism’s antinomian teaching that we are no longer under God’s moral law. American individualism in the religious marketplace – all the cults that arose in the 19th and into the 20th centuries, as well as the many Christian sects; worldliness in the church, and the devaluing of the Lord’s Day Sabbath. This lawlessness throughout the visible church is a big factor.

        Also technological factors, and the move from rural to city life. Then, the huge cultural shift that started after WWII. This essay, from 2005 — https://www.firstthings.com/article/2005/08/against-eternal-youth — makes some great observations. I’ve read this several times over the last 15 years — regarding what happened with the WWII parents and how they parented the Baby Boomer generation, and the consequences even to the children of the boomers and where society was at even 15 years ago.

        Then, as a result of how the Baby Boomers were raised, came the cultural clash of the 1960s and the advancement of liberalism starting at that point, and later it entered into the political sphere. Along with the technology and expressive individualism, came radio talk shows starting perhaps in the 1980s and definitely the early 1990s (Rush Limbaugh era), and then even more commercial development of these radio and TV shows with the conservative political view, and the entry of Fox news and its niche market. The actual reporting of the news has become quite commercialized and propagandized, with an ideology on the left (what started with our original basic news media) and then a reactionary ideology (and money to fund it) on the far-right.

  5. March 23, 2021 at 11:55 am

    Interesting and cogent explanation Lynda.
    I have clicked on that link and plan to take a look at it.
    If you haven’t read it, you might find interesting, the book “Revival and Revivalism” by Ian Murray. Best regards.

    • April 19, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks Robert, including mention of the Ian Murray book ‘Revival and Revivalism.’ I also heard recommendation of this book, soon after your comment here — in one of Alan Cairns’ messages in his ‘Millennial Milestones’ series. I’ll keep that book in mind, if I ever have opportunity to acquire it.

  6. alf cengia
    March 24, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Great article, Lynda. I’m guessing you mean “imminent” rather than ‘immanent”?

    You briefly mention post-millennialism as being a rare group now. In fact, and oddly enough, I’m seeing a rise in people who hold to it. I guess this is from my own anecdotal observations of people I listen to and follow on social media, and based on a recent Twitter poll. Of course I follow a lot of Reformed folk.

    Interestingly enough I believe James White has moved from amil to postmil. If so, this wasn’t a surprise to me based on his eldership at Apologia.

    • March 24, 2021 at 9:11 am

      Thanks Alf, and yes, I meant imminent – spelling now corrected.
      That’s interesting about the new interest in post-millennialism. I’ve heard of a new variation of postmill that is different from the ‘classic post-millennialism’ of the Jonathan Edwards era, but don’t know that much about it, as to what the differences are. Also interesting about James White, he was 1689 Baptist amillennial last I heard; but then I’m no longer really following James White or what he is saying and teaching.

  7. Gerry
    March 25, 2021 at 9:07 am

    ¶ “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
    2 “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
    3 “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,
    4 “but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
    5 “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
    6 ¶ “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;fn go out to meet him!’
    7 “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
    8 “And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
    9 “But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
    10 “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
    11 ¶ “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
    12 “But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.

    Hmmm…

    So it would seem that “oil in The lamp”, is not enough.

    Only “oil in the vessel” will make the cut.

    How many, I wonder, of those you rightly write of in this post possess that oil?

    In Him
    Gerry

    • March 25, 2021 at 9:55 am

      Yes indeed, and these events have revealed that many have a profession only, the ‘oil in the lamp’ but not true saving faith, regeneration, the oil in the vessel. As we’ve discussed before (offline), at least some key prominent evangelical leaders appear to be such a case — teachers who may be self-deceived, those who lacked the oil (or maybe wolves that are not self-deceived), and quite likely also true of quite a few of their followers.

      The wheat and the tares will continue to grow together, until the end, when it will become manifest to all, when the tares are gathered up to be burned, and the wheat gathered into the barn.

    • April 19, 2021 at 4:02 pm

      And from additional info I’ve learned recently, another analogy would be to the wolves in the church, who disguise themselves (at least in our day) as spiritual leaders. Yet their characters, and history of their nature, reveal that they have always been wolves, the “born wolf” type.

  1. March 22, 2021 at 9:11 am

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