“They which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19).
It is not unusual, or wrong, for people to ask “Why?” Such an inquiry is a manifestation of the Divine. The Lord was the first to use the word “why” (Heb. maw) in Scripture. “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?” (Gen. 4:6). The last recorded Biblical inquiry was made by Paul in Colossians 2:20. “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances.”
During a major event in life, such as the Coronavirus, it is natural to ask “Why?” The answer, if one can be found, will have far reaching significance for good, or bad.
Certainly, there are negative political implications if a nation has unleashed a virus on the other nations of the world. There are economic repercussions from biological warfare. And there is a spiritual dimension as well.
When Christians ask, “Why the Coronavirus?” there are spiritual leaders who proclaim that the Church cannot know with any certainty what the answer should be.
Others disagree and argue that the Bible does speak directly, by way of analogy and principle, to the present situation.
By way of general principle, has God not warned nations, by the prophets and in His Word, not to forsake Him? Has the Lord not declared that those who forget Him, and violate His Moral Law will be sent a spirit of fear? Indeed, He has! “The Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: 66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life” (Deut. 28:65-66).
I tell you that God knows how to turn the thoughts of individuals from time to eternity. God knows how to humble the proud, and bring down the powerful to their knees.
“Beware, the Lord
is about to take
firm hold of you
and hurl you away,
O you mighty man.
18 He will roll you up
tightly like a ball
and throw you into
a large country.
There you will die
and there your splendid chariots
will remain —
you disgrace your
19 I will depose you
from your office,
and you will be
ousted from your position.”
(Isaiah 22:17-19, NIV)
When Christians ask, “Why the Coronavirus?”, let spiritual leaders honestly tell the Church that many people have lost faith in God and turned to a life without the Lord. Now, it is time to repent and return. The Lord will not be ignored.
When Christians ask, “Why the Coronavirus?”, let the Church hear the words of the apostle Paul saying that some things have to be, “that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
The reaction of many within the Christian community to the Coronavirus will prove to be disappointing because fear beyond all reason prevails. Individuals think that because something terrible might happen, the worse will happen, and they despair.
More than a few Christians are locking themselves up and hiding behind walls, thinking they are safe. They are not. God has appointed the hour of death for each person and it shall be according to Divine design. Until then, a Christian is indestructible. The Church cannot hide forever, nor should it ever cower before the problems of life. Rather the Church should gather to pray for the wisdom it does not have, but could have. In an instant the Lord could reveal to someone the cure for the Coronavirus.
Perhaps the cure will be in societal herd therapy, which is a well-established phenome. Perhaps the cure will come as the Lord removes the plague through the course of nature and it dies in the warmth of summer. Perhaps God will give someone an insight into the disease itself and a new vaccine will be put on the market. Perhaps the cure is already on earth and simply needs the right combination to be administered.
The promise has been given to the Church in particular, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).
In all of this, faith is being tested. “Will the Church forsake the holy assembly?”
“Will the Church bow to the Beast of Government which forbids worship?” (Rev. 13:12).
“Will the Church tremble in fear, or find a way to manifest faith and keep the Royal commandments?”
In the early Church, for a variety of reasons Christians were told they could not congregate, they could not gather for worship. To do so would be a risk to public safety. The Roman government said that if the Church gathered to pray, sing songs, encourage one another, and listen to the preaching of the Word, there would be a danger to others. So, what happened?
Some Christians in the early Church bowed before the Beast. They did not worship. The Government forbid it. Christian people hid in fear, and refused to fellowship with one another. In their hearts, the professing believers had a good reason. There was an unseen enemy that was stalking them.
But then, there were others who wanted to obey the known will of the Lord. They did not regard their own lives and went forth to preach, pray, and proclaim the gospel, though forbidden to do so, and though surrounded by danger. And some paid the ultimate price. They became martyrs.
Nicholas LaBanca has eloquently described the essence of early Christian martyrdom.
“Imagine you are in the Roman Colosseum, circa 100 AD. You’ve just taken your seat as the gates in the middle of the arena have opened. Stepping out into the sun scorched dirt is a small group of men, looking shabby and unkempt, yet strangely calm and collected. The sun bares down on the charred ground as the crowd gets to its feet and begins to roar, as they know full well what’s coming. But you don’t get up with them. You stay in your seat and continue to look on among these strange men, which people around you are starting to call “Christians”.
The bloodthirstiness in the eyes of those around you is most disturbing, but when looking upon the men on the arena floor, you feel a strange sense of serenity. Just who are these men? A moment later, the gates open again, and the lions make their move, and it becomes clear what their prey is. A few minutes later, the sun scorched ground is soaked with blood. The blood of the martyrs. Most of the crowd is in a frenzy, but for you, something is different. Something has taken root in your heart. As these men cried out to someone named “Jesus”, you begin to wonder why they so calmly met their demise. And this is why we can rightfully say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed for the Church.
When St. Ignatius of Antioch was approaching his own martyrdom in the Colosseum, he knew what he was getting into, but he had no fear. Much like St. Stephen the Protomartyr, he knew that he would be with his Lord soon:
“Now I begin to be a disciple of Christ. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Jesus Christ.”
When the Beast, when the politicians tell the Church it cannot meet for worship, what will Christians do? No doubt, many will obey. But some will find a way to obey the known will of the Lord, regardless of all the risks involved. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11).
When the Son of Man cometh, will He find faith on the earth? The Coronavirus will help to answer the question.
“Why the Coronavirus?” From a spiritual perspective, the virus is a form of judgment on the nations of earth that embrace secular humanism and not the Savior. “Why the Coronavirus?” It is an opportunity for the Church to manifest faith, not fear.
In responding to the Coronavirus, let what is done be rooted in faith and reason. The time will come when people will begin to risk their lives in order to save the national economy. Let Christians be bold enough to risk everything to save the Church.
“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus going on before
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe
Forward into battle see His banners go
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus going on before
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise
Like a mighty army moves the church of God
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod
We are not divided, all one body we
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity
What the saints established that I hold for true
What the saints believed, that I believe too
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane
But the church of Jesus constant will remain
Gates of hell can never against that church prevail
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King
This through countless ages men and angels sing.”