This summer I’ve watched several episodes of a new cable TV series called “The Last Ship”. The premise of the show is that a deadly virus has spread around the world, decimating the population, and a doctor on board an uninfected U.S. naval vessel is the only hope of developing a vaccine to save the world.
The plot twists and challenges arising in each episode recalls the original “Star Trek”, but the reality of the current Ebola outbreak in Africa forcefully reminds me that the show is only fiction. This current epidemic is a very real danger that can’t be solved before the next commercial break.
I had to ask myself, have we gotten so used to fictional solutions for problems that we fail to think properly about real ones? The virus on TV is one that I can forget about when I hit the “off” button. It only kills fictional people who normally don’t even appear on screen. However the current Ebola outbreak has already killed several hundred people who ARE real—even though they are far away and also normally don’t appear on screen.
It would be easy to assume that the disease won’t come to the West and affect us, but that would be a mistake. The epidemic is only one plane ride away. In 1918 a world-wide flu epidemic brought on by WWI troop movements killed more than half a million Americans, and possibly as many as 100 million individuals around the globe.
In watching the show, I’m certain that the doctor on “The Last Ship” will develop the needed vaccine; that’s the way it works on TV! Real disease often doesn’t work that way, though. Doctors have been trying to find a cure for Ebola since it first appeared in 1976 and killed 90% of the people it infected. Fortunately, earlier outbreaks have faded—and hopefully this one will too. But it has not been because of human efforts.
What is the solution for an epidemic that is real and not on TV? The Bible taught the old-fashioned practice of quarantine long before scientists had learned how bacteria and viruses spread disease. That is still the best way to stop sickness from spreading.
However, Bible prophecy tells us that in the time before Jesus Christ’s return pestilence (another way of saying disease) will rage all around the world (See Matt 24:7). That could include Ebola and/or any number of other deadly bugs. Fortunately, scripture also tells us that Christ will return to save mankind from extinction (Matt 24:22). As much as I enjoy a happy ending on TV, this real life happy ending is going to be so much better!