16 May Can COVID-19 Be Seen As A Judgment?
Every time when Calamity or Pandemic struck the world, the human mind will be drawn to the causality. “Who brought about this Calamity, what resulted in this Pandemic?” And of course, the study of science will only restrict us to a natural cause. Say with the Covid_19, most people will attribute that to some viral transmission from some animals, or a research that could have gone wrong. Yet, when enough have been said, it is in man to yearn for a supernatural cause, esp when it comes to things that has widespread consequences. Be it a natural disaster that kill thousands or a pandemic that infected millions, the human heart needs an answer that goes beyond science.
So in this Covid_19 pandemic, we will tend to see religious people start drawing conclusion to whether this could be a judgment against the sins of men. Could it be a judgment to a particular country or to a certain race of people. Of course, there might also be some who question whether God exist, and that if He is, where is He in this suffering? Or if He is a good God, how would he ever allow such a widespread pandemic to befall this world?
Now, today I would like to draw a passage to help us explain this dichotomy, and at the same time give suggestions about what COVID_19 could mean to a world who needs answer.
Let’s turn to <Luke 13:1-5>: Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Now, if you read this in context, Jesus was earlier talking about judgment. And with the notion of judgment, people’s mind are easily directed to misfortune, or calamity, bad things that seemingly happened by chance, and by chance befall certain groups of people. So if that happens, does it mean these people are exceptionally guilty? And in this case, there were some Galileans were cruelly slaughtered by Pilate and whose blood were mixed with the sacrifice. I mean that’s a terrible death and after-death treatment. And there were another incident where eighteen people were walking by the tower in Siloam. Well they could be there for some sight-seeing, or innocently walking by, and then the greatest misfortune happened, the tower just so happened came crushing down on them. I mean that as such a devastating moment! And everyone witnessed that. Now, we see these things happened all the time. For example, someone board a plane for the first time and the plane crashed. Someone just happened to go to the Twin Tower on 911, and came the calamity. So with what happens to the Galileans or those eighteen who were crushed by the tower, it was a trip down the memory lane for everyone who knew about that incident, and most people attribute that to a form of divine judgment.
Now, what was Jesus’ view about that matter? First, He wasn’t drawn to those devastating incidents in drawing a conclusion about judgment. Rather, he was talking about a more universal and horrific judgment that is to come, and that is the judgment of sin upon all mankind. For <Rn 3:10> says: There is no one righteous, not even one. <Rn 3:23>: For all have sinned. <Heb 9:27> says: Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. Now my dear friends, who can stand before the judgment throne of God if every inclination of our thoughts and every of our deeds done in secret are laid bare? So that’s why to people who witness a calamity and say: “Oh fortunately, it hasn’t happened to us, rather it happened to someone else”, and who went on thinking: those people must have done something really wrong, or they must have had more guilt in their lives”, our Lord Jesus shut them up by revealing the impartiality and wide extent of God’s judgment: “Do not think these people are more guilty, but unless you repent, you too will all perish”, our Lord said. So do not think that the Chinese are more guilty because the Covid_19 came from them? Do not think that the Americans are more guilty just because they seem to be the epicenter of the coronavirus now. Unless you repent, you too will all perish. As we could see, the virus are striking people of all race, religion and standing. There is a divine call for repentance for mankind. Why? Because there is a judgment that is far worse than this current pandemic.
Now, some of us may be troubled about the extent of this pandemic and question God’s goodness. Now that could probably be the reason why a lot of atheists particularly are questioning the existence or goodness of God in this pandemic episode. Let me answer by saying that God has allowed a far great deal of good things in our lives. It has been a long while where this world has enjoyed peace and prosperity. Yet, because of our fundamental sins, those good things and good times doesn’t fill our hearts with gratitude towards God. Rather, they produce contentious desires in us. It makes us proud, it makes us self-centered, it makes us ungrateful, discontented, abusive, manipulative, instead of thanking and worshipping God, who gave all good things. Now, think about this my brethren, my friends, does the good things in life humble us to think: “Hey, I don’t deserve this, I don’t deserve to have people love me, I don’t deserve such a great marriage, I don’t deserve to do so well in life”. Now a lot of times we don’t think that way. Rather, we became self-entitled, we felt contentious. We get jealous of what others have. And we began to devour one another, and now we are being devoured by the virus. And there you see big nations lose millions and billions of dollars. The rich fear for their wealth, the proud is being humbled, and those who trust in men turn helpless. The world is simply lamenting. Now, isn’t this a glimpse of the final judgment? So what am I saying here my brethren?
What I am saying is COVID_19 is not a particular judgment in itself. It merely brought out the judgment that we’ve already been subjected to. The coronavirus reveals the sinful and fearful state of our hearts. It brought out the many consequences of sins which we’re already living under, and at the same time warn us about the ultimate judgment that is to come. Yet, my dear friends, be assured that the ever-loving God has prepared a salvation for all those who trust in Him. Even as His judgment is nearing, the call of His salvation is ever nearer, my friends.
Now, with calamity and pandemic, it is easy for men to understand the notion of evil, yet rejecting the reality of their sins. They would want to see evil apart from their sin. They will see it as, “Oh, it is some cosmic evil that brought about this”. Or “it is the evil intentions of some people that brought about this”. Or “it could be some group of people who are really evil, and that is why God send the virus over them”. Now, we seem to have attributed calamity and pandemic to evil in such a way that we downplay our sin and guilt. No wonder our Lord said: “Unless you repent, you too will all perish”. Unless you put your faith in the redemptive work of the Son of God alone, you will not survive the final judgment. And if you have put your faith in Him, do not fear of any consequences that this pandemic will bring. Because just as the pandemic reveals an ultimate judgment that is to come, it is also meant to give you a window period to testify about the redemptive grace of God.