I have been working through the Old and New Testament, identifying the various interpretative “glosses” that have led to the mystery of God’s munificent providence being sustained for so long. But in view of the epidemic that is sweeping the world causing misery and death for so many, I will briefly comment on this phenomenon. For after all, such a crisis does pertain to our subject matter being divine providence – God’s foreseeing protection and care of His creatures.
I imply in the post’s heading that this medical and (likely) economic catastrophe should not entirely bemuse the Christian – and here’s why. Jesus places such events in the context of the so-called tribulations which He describes as birth-pangs that are to proceed His return. In Luke chapter 21 Jesus speaks of events occurring which will “cause people’s hearts to fail them for fear of what they see coming upon the earth” (v26). But He goes on to say “When you (My disciples) see these things, look up, lift up your heads for your liberation draws near” (v28). Paul in Romans chapter 8 writes concerning the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain pending the revelation of the sons of God (v19), being God’s elect (v14). He indicates in that passage that not only they but the whole creation shall be delivered from corruption into the liberty of God’s children (v21). The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the fact that it was fitting even for the Son of Man to suffer, not only to pay the price for human sin but His own perfection and preparation for glory (Heb2:10-11) – the indication being that suffering is a prerequisite to future glory Of course, should the virus directly impact upon ourselves and those we love our faith may well be tested but hopefully not in the sense of feeling forsaken by God or doubting His providential care. Everything remains under control.
The origins of disease
The biology and outworking of viruses, cancers and the like is ingeniously malevolent. Who or what is behind them? Jesus again provides a clue:
The Lord answered (the ruler of the synagogue) and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, WHOM SATAN HAS BOUND – think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:15-16NKJV)
The Bible-hub study website comments on this passage “The words imply the belief that there was another source than mere bodily disease for the infirmity–in part, at least, the belief that all disease–or very many forms of it–is directly or indirectly traceable to the power of the enemy”. And as the writer to the Hebrews affirms, Satan’s realm and authority extends to death itself (Heb2:14). Extraordinary as it may seem, God’s arch-enemy and ours has been granted substantial authority in the affairs of this world in the current age, which is why Jesus designated him “archon tou kosmou” – prince of the world order, in which sickness and death along with what Paul refers to as spiritual wickedness in high places invariably play a part (Eph6:12). That will be the case until Jesus returns in glory in spite of the fact that He has already done everything necessary (at Calvary) to defeat such evil in principle (Jn12:31). Why our loving God should permit these continuing disasters is also alluded to in Romans8:20-21 and considered in detail in the final chapter of The Little Book of Providence, a free PDF is available HERE