Epidemics in Bible Prophecy

You are here

Epidemics in Bible Prophecy

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

The year 2020 dawned with hope and promise. Yes, there were the usual global trouble spots and troublesome leaders, but on the whole things seemed quite positive.

But virtually overnight, conditions changed—dramatically. Worrying reports began to emerge from China about a new virus that had crossed from animals to human beings, similar to earlier swine flus and bird flus. In many ways this new or “novel” coronavirus seemed similar to common cold and flu viruses. But this one was different.

Since this virus originated in animals—most likely bats—and then mutated and made the jump to human beings, the new human hosts infected by this virus had no natural immunity or defenses.

Initially China, and then the World Health Organization (WHO), downplayed the threat of human-to-human spread. But the danger soon grew too great to ignore. It could indeed be spread person-to-person, and unlike normal colds and flus, the transmission and death rates for this virus appeared to be much higher. The elderly in particular seemed prone to fatal lung infections. The death toll quickly mounted into the hundreds, then thousands.

China soon locked down Wuhan, center of the epidemic, banning all traffic into and out of the city. Its 11 million residents were ordered to stay indoors. Shortly after, other cities with millions of residents were placed on similar lockdowns. By the end of January the World Health Organization had reversed course and declared a global health emergency.

In hindsight, this was obviously too little, too late. Within weeks the COVID-19 virus had spread throughout much of the world before most people had a clue what was going on. The epidemic’s spread was greatly aided by the fact that governments were slow to shut down international travel, large numbers of infected people showed no signs of illness, the incubation period was up to two weeks long, no one was sure how the virus was spread and no known detection test or treatment was available.

All across the world, governments and hospitals were woefully unprepared for the growing flood of patients—in spite of repeated past warnings of the probability of just such a pandemic. 

Pandemics and Bible prophecy

Pandemics—global epidemics—have been with us for a long time. COVID-19 is simply the latest. Tomorrow we could as easily see another, much more severe plague emerge seemingly out of nowhere to sweep around the globe, leaving misery and millions of dead in its wake.

How does all this fit with Bible prophecy? Does prophecy shed any light on our current conditions and what we might expect in the future?

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples asked Him what “signs”—events or trends—would precede His return. In response, He listed religious deception, war, famines and pestilences. These, He said, would be “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:5-8 Matthew 24:5-8 [5] For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. [6] And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. [7] For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. [8] All these are the beginning of sorrows.
American King James Version×
, emphasis added throughout).

This would lead into what is commonly called the great tribulation—“a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again.” He then added, “If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive, but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 [21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×
, Revised English Version).

This is truly sobering to contemplate. Could mankind really face a time in which every living being on earth could face extinction? (Actually, that possibility is already here through existing nuclear, chemical and biological warfare capabilities.)

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse

Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 is a bare-bones outline of end-time trends and events. He gave a much more detailed prophecy in the book of Revelation, which we are told in its first verse is “the Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

In Revelation 6 we find the same four major trends Jesus foretold in Matthew 24—religious deception, war, famines and pestilences—repeated.

The first rider, in verse 2, is mounted on a white horse. Some assume this is Jesus Christ, but not so! Christ does return on a white horse, but not until much later in the prophetic timeline of the book. This first rider wields a bow and wears a crown. But the real Jesus bears a sword and wears many crowns. The first rider is an imposter, representing corrupted and false religion that will deceive most of mankind (see Matthew 24:5 Matthew 24:5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
American King James Version×
, Matthew 24:11 Matthew 24:11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
American King James Version×
, Matthew 24:24 Matthew 24:24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
American King James Version×
).

The second horseman rides a fiery red horse, “and it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword” (Matthew 24:4 Matthew 24:4And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
American King James Version×
). This horse represents the bloodshed and horror of widespread warfare Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:6-7 Matthew 24:6-7 [6] And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. [7] For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
American King James Version×
.

Revelation 6:5 Revelation 6:5And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and see a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
American King James Version×
describes a black horse, and the rider carries scales in his hand. A voice describes the scarcity of food that will strike the earth in the aftermath of war. This represents the famine conditions Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:7 Matthew 24:7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
American King James Version×
.

Then we come to the fourth horse and rider. The apostle John describes it as “a horse whose color was pale green. Its rider was named Death, and his companion was the Grave” (Revelation 6:8 Revelation 6:8And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says this about the pale green color of the fourth horse: “‘Pale’ (chloros) denotes a yellowish green … the paleness of a sick person in contrast to a healthy appearance.” Put bluntly, this horse is the color of death—which is the name of its rider.

In Jesus’ prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, in the wake of religious deception, warfare and famine, another wave of disasters will strike the earth—“pestilences” or disease epidemics (Matthew 24:7 Matthew 24:7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
American King James Version×
).

Ominously, John tells us in Revelation 6:8 Revelation 6:8And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
American King James Version×
that “power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”

And besides disease will come other plagues. Jesus further mentioned great “earthquakes” (Matthew 24:7 Matthew 24:7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 6:12 Revelation 6:12And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, see, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
American King James Version×
)—a term that, in the original Greek, can also apply to other natural calamities such as great storms and tsunamis.

Amid such horrors, disease epidemics will take the lives of hundreds of millions of people. All told, the death toll will be unlike anything anyone has ever seen!

To grasp how devastating and deadly these plagues can be, let’s briefly review some of the horrendous epidemics of our past.

Plagues that changed history

In terms of impact, nothing has matched the “Black Death” or “Black Plague” of the 14th century. This outbreak of bubonic plague apparently started in Asia and marched its way westward into Europe, where it spread rapidly and ferociously. It is thought to have killed a third of the world’s population.

As was typical of diseases at the time, there was no known prevention or cure. Social structure broke down. Populations panicked as entire towns were wiped out. Families were decimated as parents lost children, children lost parents, and men and women lost their spouses.

Yet this was neither the first nor the last time plague would make its deadly march across civilization. Eight centuries earlier, in A.D. 541, an outbreak of plague in the time of the Emperor Justinian shattered his dreams of reestablishing the might and glory of the Roman Empire. Hordes of flea-carrying rats spread the plague through the Byzantine Empire, killing about a fourth of the world’s population—some 50 million people. 

In 1894 another plague outbreak in Hong Kong and Canton (or Guangzhou) killed an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people, then spread from Chinese ports to the rest of the world, bringing 10 million more deaths.

Bubonic plague, though, is far from the only mass killer when it comes to epidemics. In 1817, the first of seven cholera pandemics over the next 150 years started in Russia and took a million lives. Cholera spread to India where millions more died.

Smallpox, leprosy and measles are other diseases that have claimed millions of lives. In 1520, smallpox helped bring down the mighty Aztec Empire in what is today Mexico.

Today epidemiologists are greatly concerned about pandemics like COVID-19—zoonotic viruses that jump from animals to human beings through mutation. HIV is one such killer, and it has claimed some 35 million lives over the last 40 years. Ebola is another, killing its victims so quickly that they most often die before they have time to spread the virus to others.

Just over a century ago, a strain of flu crossed from birds to human beings and took an estimated 50 million lives during its deadly march around the globe.  

Today one must also take into account the possibility, if not the probability, of biological weapons being used against other human beings. The idea has been around since the 1300s when Mongol invaders catapulted plague-infested corpses over the walls of cities to let the plague do its killing for them. Anthrax and cholera are only two of a number of deadly infectious agents that we know have been converted into bioweapons by national governments and terrorists.

God’s warning to man

COVID-19 has brought much of the world to a state of near-panic. Entire nations have been shut down due to the disease. Government-ordered closures of many thousands of businesses have thrown millions of people out of work. It remains to be seen whether such steps are out of proportion to the danger posed by the virus. However, the economic impact of business shutdowns may well bring a worldwide recession if not another worldwide depression like that of the 1930s.

Yet these things are only a foretaste of catastrophes to come, which Bible prophecy indicates will be multiple magnitudes worse. Can we imagine a world in which we see hundreds of millions of deaths?

This brings us back to God’s message to mankind through the four horsemen. The horrors that they represent—false religion, war, famine and disease—are the consequences of mankind rejecting our Creator and choosing our own way to live—which, as all of human history has shown, results in death (Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
American King James Version×
; Proverbs 16:25 Proverbs 16:25There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
American King James Version×
).

The Bible is full of warnings and pleadings from God to turn from our sinful ways and “seek the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version×
). He wants us to live righteously according to His laws, which show us how to love Him and our fellow man. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
).

The antidote to end-time plagues

Do we have an antidote to the fourth horseman of disease and death? Yes we do, and any of us can claim it.

When God brought His people Israel out of Egypt, He told them: “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26 Exodus 15:26And said, If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and will do that which is right in his sight, and will give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases on you, which I have brought on the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that heals you.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

But if they disobeyed Him, this is what they could expect: “If you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you … The Lord will afflict you with diseases until none of you are left in the land … The Lord will strike you with wasting diseases, fever, and inflammation … The Lord will strike you with madness, blindness, and panic” (Deuteronomy 28:15 Deuteronomy 28:15But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come on you, and overtake you:
American King James Version×
Deuteronomy 28:21-22 Deuteronomy 28:21-22 [21] The LORD shall make the pestilence stick to you, until he have consumed you from off the land, where you go to possess it. [22] The LORD shall smite you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish.
American King James Version×
, Deuteronomy 28:28 Deuteronomy 28:28The LORD shall smite you with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Yet after the devastating ride of the four horsemen, the book of Revelation shows the rest of the story—God’s merciful intervention both to correct as well as save the human race from extinction. God will bring peace and freedom from death and disease to the earth in His wonderful Kingdom—but not before mankind has learned the lesson of where our human ways lead us.

The story of mankind doesn’t end with the last of the four horsemen of Revelation. John saw not four horsemen but five. And mankind’s hope lies with the fifth horseman, Jesus Christ, whose ride in Revelation 19:11-16 Revelation 19:11-16 [11] And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. [12] His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. [13] And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. [14] And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. [15] And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. [16] And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
American King James Version×
to intervene in world affairs marks the end of mankind’s misrule on the earth.

This is mankind’s real hope. This and this alone will be the real end of disease and deadly pandemics. The coming of the King of Kings will bring an everlasting Kingdom of peace, plenty and bountiful blessings for the entire human race.

But you don’t have to wait until then to experience the blessings that can come from knowing and having a relationship with Him! Why not act now? Why not dig into God’s Word to learn what He really wants and expects of us, and how you can avoid the horrifying times to come on our world? The choice is up to you!

 

 


 

 

Plagues and Other Disasters: A Biblical Perspective

How should we view tragedies, accidents and disasters, regardless of their scale or circumstances? Here are some keys to a proper biblical perspective:

1. God has said in Bible prophecy that terrible disasters, including pestilences or disease epidemics, would grow in frequency and intensity as the end of the age approaches—to shake people out of their complacency and lead them to seek Him (Matthew 24:7 Matthew 24:7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
American King James Version×
; Luke 21:11 Luke 21:11And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 6:7-8 Revelation 6:7-8 [7] And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. [8] And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 16:2 Revelation 16:2And the first went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image.
American King James Version×
, Revelation 16:8-11 Revelation 16:8-11 [8] And the fourth angel poured out his vial on the sun; and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. [9] And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which has power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. [10] And the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, [11] And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
American King James Version×
).

2. Ecclesiastes 9:11 Ecclesiastes 9:11I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.
American King James Version×
reveals that God allows many events to run their course according to “time and chance.” This means that many tragedies are, for those affected, accidental and unforeseeable.

3. Christ made it clear that those who die in accidents or terrible disasters are not necessarily greater sinners than those who survive (Luke 13:1-5 Luke 13:1-5 [1] There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? [3] I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. [4] Or those eighteen, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelled in Jerusalem? [5] I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
American King James Version×
).

4. Personal tragedies or calamities are not necessarily the result of one’s sins (John 9:2-3 John 9:2-3 [2] And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? [3] Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
American King James Version×
).

5. Plagues and other disasters should humble us and lead us to repentance, helping us to see our dependence on God to sustain and deliver us (1 Kings 8:37-40 1 Kings 8:37-40 [37] If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague, whatever sickness there be; [38] What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all your people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: [39] Then hear you in heaven your dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart you know; (for you, even you only, know the hearts of all the children of men;) [40] That they may fear you all the days that they live in the land which you gave to our fathers.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 16:8-11 Revelation 16:8-11 [8] And the fourth angel poured out his vial on the sun; and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. [9] And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which has power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. [10] And the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, [11] And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
American King James Version×
).

6. Plagues of disease and other disasters have sometimes been the direct judgment of God on rebellious humanity and nations (Genesis 6:11-13 Genesis 6:11-13 [11] The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. [12] And God looked on the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. [13] And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
American King James Version×
; Genesis 18:20 Genesis 18:20And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
American King James Version×
; Genesis 19:24-25 Genesis 19:24-25 [24] Then the LORD rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; [25] And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 9:13-14 Exodus 9:13-14 [13] And the LORD said to Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, Thus said the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. [14] For I will at this time send all my plagues on your heart, and on your servants, and on your people; that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 32:35 Exodus 32:35And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
American King James Version×
; Leviticus 26:14-16 Leviticus 26:14-16 [14] But if you will not listen to me, and will not do all these commandments; [15] And if you shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that you will not do all my commandments, but that you break my covenant: [16] I also will do this to you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
American King James Version×
, Leviticus 26:21 Leviticus 26:21And if you walk contrary to me, and will not listen to me; I will bring seven times more plagues on you according to your sins.
American King James Version×
, Leviticus 26:25 Leviticus 26:25And I will bring a sword on you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when you are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
American King James Version×
; Numbers 16:46-50 Numbers 16:46-50 [46] And Moses said to Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly to the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. [47] And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the middle of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. [48] And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. [49] Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. [50] And Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 28:58-62 Deuteronomy 28:58-62 [58] If you will not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; [59] Then the LORD will make your plagues wonderful, and the plagues of your seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. [60] Moreover he will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt, which you were afraid of; and they shall stick to you. [61] Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring on you, until you be destroyed. [62] And you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
American King James Version×
; Ezekiel 14:21 Ezekiel 14:21For thus said the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments on Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?
American King James Version×
; Revelation 9:20-21 Revelation 9:20-21 [20] And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: [21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
American King James Version×
).

7. Some calamities are made worse by man’s poor judgments and age-long rejection of God and His laws, resulting in worsening environmental, health and economic conditions (Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
American King James Version×
; Proverbs 22:3 Proverbs 22:3A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 7:24-27 Matthew 7:24-27 [24] Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house on a rock: [25] And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell not: for it was founded on a rock. [26] And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened to a foolish man, which built his house on the sand: [27] And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
American King James Version×
).

8. God is a truly loving God who is working out a great plan for all humanity (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
; 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
; 1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×
; 1 Corinthians 15:22-24 1 Corinthians 15:22-24 [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. [24] Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
American King James Version×
).

9. Converted Christians who die in disasters securely await being raised to immortality in the first resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 57:1-2 Isaiah 57:1-2 [1] The righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. [2] He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.
American King James Version×
; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 [51] Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
American King James Version×
; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
American King James Version×
; Revelation 20:4-6 Revelation 20:4-6 [4] And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×
).

10. Non-Christians who die in disasters, those who never had a genuine understanding of God or real opportunity for eternal salvation, will be raised in the second or general resurrection to live again in the flesh with their first real opportunity to learn God’s way, repent and be saved (John 5:28-29 John 5:28-29 [28] Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, [29] And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 12:41-42 Matthew 12:41-42 [41] The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. [42] The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
American King James Version×
).

11. The multitudes of humanity who are raised in the second or general resurrection will experience joyful and abundant life under the rule of the Kingdom of God (Ezekiel 37:12-14 Ezekiel 37:12-14 [12] Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. [13] And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, [14] And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
).

12. The sufferings experienced now in “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
American King James Version×
)—this era of man’s self-rule under the influence of Satan the devil—are writing a lesson of experience about what it means to live in a world cut off from God and His ways.

13. We don’t know all the reasons God brings or permits specific calamities or why particular people are made to suffer by them, but we should trust that in God’s omniscience and ultimate wisdom He knows how to work out what is best for everyone in the end (Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×
; 1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×
).

14. Jesus Christ will eventually return to usher in the rule of the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×
; Daniel 7:14 Daniel 7:14And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
American King James Version×
), under which disasters, sickness, financial devastation and fear will no longer plague mankind.

15. When all of repentant humanity is at last glorified, there will be no more pain, suffering, sorrow or death (Revelation 21:4 Revelation 21:4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
American King James Version×
).

16. All the sufferings of this brief present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory we will ultimately experience for all eternity to come (Romans 8:18 Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
American King James Version×
; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
American King James Version×
).

— Tom Robinson