Do prophecies in the book of Revelation help us understand today's coronavirus pandemic and what lies ahead for mankind?
[Darris McNeely] My first time studying the Book of Revelation was when I was a teen. Our pastor took us through the book during midweek Bible study. Verse by verse, the book came alive with the imagery and details of this fascinating book of prophecy. We all drew the beasts of the book on large pieces of white paper, drawing the heads and the horns. The images have stayed with me all my life. I've been studying the book ever since. And today, I go through it every year with the Ambassador Bible College students in a World News and Prophecy class. I learn something new every time I teach and read the book.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many have wondered about this pestilence. You may ask how this event fits into the scenario of Revelation, the ancient prophecies, and the prophetic teaching of Jesus Christ? Well, it does fit in more ways than you might know. What I would like to do is take you through three events of Revelation and show you the relevance of this book to what is happening in the world now. You'll be surprised at the giant steps that have been taken toward fulfilling some of the key prophecies of the book.
Let's look at event number one from Revelation, the global pandemic itself. We've seen this COVID-19 virus impact more than 180 nations. It's had a tremendous impact on our everyday lives. In Revelation, the 6th Chapter, we read about a massive pestilence, a pandemic, as part of what is popularly known as one of the Four Horsemen of Revelation. "When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, 'Come and see.' So, I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beast of the earth."
This describes a global pandemic of much larger devastation than what we are currently seeing. Today's COVID-19 pandemic is not this specific event. But think about this. What Revelation describes is something far larger. These events occurred during the great tribulation, the day of the Lord, the time of trial and turmoil. Unlike any the world has ever seen, it will create a world crisis causing the nations to take unprecedented steps. What we have seen with whole economy shutdown and everyday life brought to a standstill, it should wake us up. The Bible is real and it speaks to the modern world in unmistakable language.
Let's look at a second event from Revelation. It's what we could call the surveillance of people's lives. Have you ever heard of the mark of the beast? Let's read about this in Revelation 13 beginning in verse 11, "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. And he performs great signs so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave to receive a mark on their right hand and on their foreheads and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom, that him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast for it is the number of a man. His number is 666."
Now, this prophecy, it's always carried a bit of speculation and uncertainty with it. We have felt that it refers to enforced Sunday worship by the Roman power beginning in the 4th century AD. When I was a teenager, I remember hearing people speculate that credit cards and even new ZIP codes coming out were the mark of the beast. In the modern period, others have connected high-tech innovations like chips inserted under the skin with this idea. Even smartphones, and most of us have one, are associated with this mark. But out of this pandemic has come some very interesting news about using technology to monitor our movements and habits.
An article I saw in "The Times of Londons" talked about, "In rural China where a police drone hovered over peasants barking at them to put on masks and get inside." Don't laugh." Boomed the metallic voice, "What are you looking at? Go home now." This has also occurred in parts of Europe. Drones watching people's movements. The article goes on, "Across the world, the latest technology is being harnessed for purposes that no one at the beginning of the year would ever have imagined. Data surveillance formerly used in the pursuit of terrorist is suddenly being employed to track ordinary law-abiding people because they are or might turn out to be sick. Apps are also used to trace people who have come into contact with those infected by the virus and to police their movements after they have been confined to quarantine. Credit card data is being pulled to find out where infected people went before their diagnosis. And other programs serve as a kind of passport, certifying the bearer's state of health." That came out of an April 6th article in "The Times of London."
And this is not a movie or a television script. This is actual real-life today. Imagine this being used in a future scenario to track and to control people's lives. Again, Revelation is very relevant for today.
Now, let's look at one more event prophesied in the Book of Revelation. We'll call it event number three, a one-world global order. In Revelation 17, we see described a moment in the end of the age prophecy where the world crisis comes to a point where a grouping of 10 national leaders gave control to one person called the beast, a powerful leader who promises to protect and to keep the world order. Notice, Revelation 17:12 Revelation 17:12And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
American King James Version×, "The 10 horns which you saw are 10 kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as king with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast."
What's described here is a one-world superpower. It's a dream of those who today promote something called transnational globalism. As the nations have battled this current pandemic, we have seen calls for this to happen to combat this crisis and future times apparel. Gordon Brown, the former prime minister of Great Britain has actually called for a coordinated approach among the 20 largest nations of the world to battle the pandemic. He has said, "This cannot be dealt with in only one country." He's described the need for an emergency body with executive powers to fight this medical battle and future ones. You'll see more talk like this going forward. But most interesting is an article by the former United States Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, writing in "The Wall Street Journal," Dr. Kissinger calls for plans for a "New epic in the world order." He gives credit to national leaders for fighting the pandemic and protecting citizens. He warns though that, "Addressing the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program."
Now, for diplomats like Henry Kissinger, this means a larger role by international bodies to coordinate science, medicine, and economics. He describes government's role, "To be strong enough to protect the people from an external enemy, to provide for the fundamental needs of the people, security, order, economic well-being, and justice. Individuals," he says, "Cannot secure these things on their own." Dr. Kissinger is a lifelong proponent of the world order that has included the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank. He is a global transnationalist, which means he believes the future solution for world order is a global supernational governing body. And he sees this pandemic, and the response to it is proof, that this worldview must be right. This is a worldview that is described in Revelation 17. Ten world leaders who give their national sovereignty to one powerful leader who promises security, order, economic well-being, and justice.
Think for a moment just how quickly we have seen individual citizens, you and I, and our families, and neighbors stand aside and allow schools to be shut, businesses closed, cultural events canceled, and all of us confined to our homes for an indefinite period, all in the word of experts making decisions for our well-being. Now, don't get me wrong, I want to see this virus stopped in its tracks. I want the death and the suffering to be as few and as little as possible. I'm in my home working like many of you, and I wear my mask when I have to go out. But learning from what has happened and applying a biblical worldview demands that we engage in some critical thinking to fully understand what is happening. We're living in a remarkable moment. We must watch and pray to understand this as Christ would have us do. All those years ago when I first began to study Revelation, I never knew how those prophecies would come to pass. Now, today, perhaps we see with a bit more clarity.
The Book of Revelation is a relevant book to understand our modern world. It shows us God is in control of history. We do not need to fear. Reading and understanding Revelation helps make sense of our world knowing God will intervene in world affairs. We should turn to the pages of Revelation to see the future with understanding and with hope. Christ tells us in this same book, "Behold, I'm coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
That's BT Extra. Join us next time.