How can we better deal with this time of trial and stress? And where can we turn for proper understanding about the recent pandemic?
[Darris McNeely] The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hold the world in its grip. As I record this, we are looking at several more weeks of social distancing. So, let's put this pandemic in a biblical context. I think this will help you to cope with what's taking place and be better prepared when, not if, something of this magnitude happens again. Let's first look at two crisis events that we've had in the recent past.
[Bryant Gumbel] We understand that a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. We don't know anything more than that. We don't know if it was a commercial aircraft.
[Darris] That black day changed America forever and resulted in a long war in the Middle East that continues today. There was a national prayer service, and for a moment, people turned to God for answers. The crisis of 9/11 did not change the inner core of the American people, though. Great national sins of abortion and overall moral decay have continued, and while church attendance briefly surged, it soon returned to pre-9/11 levels. The second crisis to note was the financial collapse of September 2008.
[George W. Bush] The market is not functioning properly. There has been a widespread loss of confidence, and major sectors of America's financial system are at risk of shutting down.
[Darris] Major Wall Street financial firms vanished overnight, banks and markets faltered under the weight of bad loans. It was a difficult time, but America and the world did recover from this financial crisis. Now, this brings us to today. The United States' economy was doing extremely well. The stock market was at an all-time high and the country was experiencing the lowest unemployment figures ever. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. I see these events as dress rehearsals for what the Bible says will be larger, more impactful events to come at the close of this age. We are at a moment where we can learn vital lessons so we are not caught unaware when larger prophesied events occur. Let's get a biblical context for all of this.
Jesus Christ was the greatest of prophets, and this aspect of His mission as a prophet is neglected and misunderstood by those who claim to speak in His name, but never has it been more important than now for us to understand what Jesus taught about our present age. His disciples came privately to Him and asked, "Tell us when will these things be and what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?" Christ's answer began with warnings about spiritual deception, wars, earthquakes, and troubles which include famine and pestilence. You find all this in Mark 13 beginning of verse 8. Now, all these troubles like war and pestilence, they've been a part of human experience for years, and they're with us today.
In Mark 13:8 Mark 13:8For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
American King James Version×, Christ went on to say, "These are the beginnings of sorrow." Now, your Bible calls these beginnings of sorrows birth pangs, and they are a signal that a new age is about to begin. You see, a disciple of Jesus Christ reads these words and applies them to their day, whether in the 1st century or in the 21st century. Christ then went on to say, "But watch out for yourselves," and He lists persecutions and giving of testimony, He counsels endurance and He promises that He would be with His disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit. His teaching to us is this, "Take heed. See, I have told you all things beforehand. Watch and pray."
Watching has a very broad meaning that flows from the prophecies of Ezekiel where he was told that he was to be like a watchman that would stand on the walls of the city and to warn the people of approaching danger.
The message of warning then was to the people to prepare for a time of siege which would include famine and pestilence. They were to take precautions to meet the trial so that they could withstand, endure, and prevail. Christ uses this term "watch" to tell us to be aware, to be alert, and we should discern the times and understand where we are in the completion of God's purpose for this world. A disciple will strive to understand the signs of spiritual deception and warn of calamities and live a sober, holy, and godly life.
When you know there is a time of trouble coming and ultimate judgment on the world, you will live differently. You know God is real, His word is a sure guide to life, and you should take steps to live in alignment with God's truth, pray to God in a way that creates a relationship, a spiritual connection of love. Love is that core faith that allows us to manage our emotional health during a time of stress. Many of us face uncertainty in jobs and our health and we worry over the big picture of what is happening to our country and to the world. When we see nations and cities locked down under quarantine, we are seeing something that, for us, we have never experienced. It's unnerving, it's frightening, and it can cause us to come unglued emotionally. I see it in some of the strongest people I know. Worry and fear is at the door.
Through the Bible, Jesus gives us the basis to understand what this global crisis means. As you talk to Him on your knees in prayer, Christ and the Father will give you comfort and understanding rooted in spiritual truth. This is the key to this moment. God's giving the world a wake-up call, a moment of crisis that can bring clarity to life in 2020. And part of that wake-up call would be picking up the Bible to read. During this time, you would serve yourself and your family well by reading the Word of God. There, you will find comfort and courage for this time.
So, how sudden is suddenly? Well, in less than two weeks, the world went from a sense of normalcy to an urgent reaction to the COVID-19 virus, and the lives of hundreds of millions of people were changed almost overnight. It was sudden, and we had no time to prepare. In Mark 13:33 Mark 13:33Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is.
American King James Version×, Christ said to take heed, to watch, and to pray for you to not know when the time is. "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch." Christ is the master of the house, and we are the servants, each with a mandated authority and work.
"Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning." Prophecy can help you understand much about God and His plan, but prophecy should motivate you to a changed life based on the sure hope of God's guiding hand on human affairs. Here's what the apostle Peter says prophecy should do. He said, "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness." (2 Peter 3:11 2 Peter 3:11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
American King James Version×)
Peter is saying and understanding a prophecy should compel us to live a holy, godly life because we know a judgment is coming and we should prepare to meet the next moment of trial with faith and courage. Now's the time to seek God and prepare your life for the age to come.
That's "BT Extra." Join us next time.