Pandemics are scary things. The Coronavirus has put everybody on edge. First, the media coverage has been quite extensive. That’s good for preparedness and bad for the anxiety it creates. Coronavirus is also unusually problematic in that people who have the virus are contagious but don’t show symptoms for two weeks. This makes isolating the virus particularly difficult. As far as being easy to contract, there have been worse. The same is true for the mortality rate. Coronavirus kills about 2% of those who catch it. That compares with 20% mortality rate of the 1918 Spanish Flu, 50% for Ebola and 60% for Bubonic Plague back in the day.
Pandemics are not uncommon. Every year some variety or multiple varieties of the flu come around and kills thousands. We don’t seem to get that excited about that. Many don’t even get a flu shot. Incidentally, flu shots take two weeks to develop immunity in the body. Another important shot, the pneumonia shot, can also help to ward off things like strep. History has also documented other mass killers: Cholera, Yellow Fever, etc.
Are pandemics foretold in the Bible? If so, why would God allow such a thing? In Revelation 6 there is an account often referred to as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. The horsemen represent various disasters that present as natural disasters but actually have supernatural cause. One horseman, on the pale horse, represents death by the sword with famine, pestilence and wild beasts. The Black Plague is sometimes blamed on rotting corpses from war (again near desert regions of China), that bred bacteria, that infected fleas, that rode on rats until they found a susceptible human population.
The reason and the timing of the four horsemen is a little vague. They come because Jesus (the Lamb of God in Revelation 5) has broken the first four seals on a scroll. Breaking the seals is a good thing, because the scroll unlocks God’s good plan for His people. Who sealed it in the first place? Most assume it was God, and the consequences of breaking the seals are God’s wrath against those who reject Him. Pandemics are non-discriminatory, however. They attack all people. The timing of the horsemen is not necessarily tied to the end of time. It would seem that the horsemen are around from the time of Christ until the end. Their work could be tied to certain events and for certain times of God’s wrath, however.
It would be wrong to think of God as primarily wrathful. God has shown great favor and patience with human beings. Despite our willful rejection of our Creator, God has created a path of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life at great cost. Jesus’ life and death were given out of love, not wrath. God is also very explicit in saying He takes no pleasure from the death of the wicked. His goal is repentance. If He cannot move wicked people to recognize that their lifestyle or worldview is wrong through positive means, then negative ones that make you confront death are better than never seeking reconciliation with God at all.
Is Coronavirus a wrath of God thing or more the result of God not micromanaging nature as part of what the Bible calls “the curse”? I would guess the later. It will be interesting to see if there are any longer term impacts of virus on the world. God can use bad things in clever ways. The problem isn’t initiated by God, but it is still used for an ultimate good.