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Does God Send Plagues and Disasters? Sure Does!

Bubonic Plague Cells

Buried in this title is, Did God send the coronavirus? I believe there is enough evidence in the Bible to safely state God sent the coronavirus. It is certainly characteristic of how the Bible portrays Him.

Confusingly, however, God has been presented in America as a God of unqualified love. So, it is only natural that people should wonder how an Almighty God of unqualified love reconciles with a world filled with moral evil and natural disasters.

This is an understandable philosophical dilemma–if we do not consult the Bible. But what if we do consult it?

The Bible is clear in examples and doctrine that God sends plagues and natural disasters, and that He takes other harsh measures against people for sin that we, in our limited understanding, may summarily condemn as cruel and unjust. Despite our objections, the Old and New Testaments are filled with this evidence.

In fact, the Bible clearly tells us He has scheduled many more plagues, calamities, famines, and cataclysmic events that will close out this age before He ushers in His new kingdom. For this reason, I personally believe God sent the Covid-19 virus.

The Bible Shows God Planning Disasters

God’s usual timetable for dealing with individuals concerning their sin is months and years. His timetable for nations is decades and centuries. This is relative to their life spans.

When God promised Abraham the promised land, He told him his descendants would have to wait until His mercy for the Amorites had run out (Genesis 15:16).

We know that was about 650 years. If we fail to consider this long period of grace, we may be tempted to harshly judge God when we read that He later told Moses to exterminate those nations to make way for Abraham’s descendants (Deuteronomy 20:17).

The point I don’t want lost is that the judgment upon those dispossessed nations may look like a hasty act by a capricious deity. However, we now know these nations rejected God’s mercy for many hundreds of years before He dropped the hammer on them.

God hinted of this situation to Abraham, without revealing the details of how He would deal with the Amorites. It was a secret plan.

But it was a plan.

God is Planning Disasters Greater than Coronavirus

We saw above how brutally God crushed the Amorites. It can be easy to assume God’s judgment is for the other guy or other nation, and not for us. We’re Americans. God is American. We have In God We Trust on our money. Plus, we support Israel. God may judge others, but He’d never hurt us.

My response is, read the following threat he made to Israel and Judah:

Therefore, thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am planning against this family a calamity from which you cannot remove your necks; and you will not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time.”

Micah 2:3

We know from the Bible and from secular history, this threat came to pass. The Assyrian empire and later the Babylonians thoroughly decimated God’s people.

Question.

If God brutally judges Israel over and over throughout the centuries for their sin, how does it make sense to think He would spare us just because we’ve declared ourselves off limits? If that quality of logic were used in any kind of business, it would quickly go bankrupt.

But America isn’t the only nation that is in the center of God’s bull’s eye. Just as the Amorites’ sin made them ripe for judgment in the time of Moses and Joshua, the entire world is presently ripe for judgment.

We know this is true by the fulfillment of many prophecies that prove we are in the last of the last days. But those are other articles.

Many Judgments Will Usher in the Second Coming of Christ

The world is living under the shadow of God’s impending cataclysmic judgments. Literally billions of people will perish during a soon coming seven-year period the Bible calls “the great tribulation.”

War, famine, pestilence, and (supernatural) natural disasters will rock the world with brutal severity until God’s wrath and judgment upon sinners ends this age and ushers in a new age of direct physical rule by Jesus Christ.

However, between now and then there will be many lesser judgments. These lesser judgments will not rise to the level of those unique future judgments of the great tribulation. But they will, nonetheless, be devastating in their number, severity, duration, and reach.

Jesus called these lesser judgments “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8).

Let’s examine what may I believe is one of them: Covid-19, the coronavirus.

The Coronavirus Plague

Today is December 13, 2020. In nearly 11 months, the Covid-19 pestilence has attacked 70.462 million people in the world and has killed almost 2,000,000. Over 297,000 of these deaths are Americans.

The description that some of the Covid-19 survivors give who recovered from critical care is scary. Several described having suddenly felt as though they had been hit by a truck. Many said it was the worse sickness they’d ever felt.

Extreme weakness. Extreme muscle aches. Days-long high fever. Vomiting. Diarrhea. Headaches. “Ten times worse than the flu,” one person said.

Then the biggie—shortness of breath. Shortness of breath to the point of needing a respirator to do their breathing for them—or face certain death. And thousands have died despite medical care.

It appears that no one is biologically beyond this plague’s grasp. The elderly and others with underlying health conditions have been hit the worst. But healthy and young people have also felt this disease’s deadly power.

This brings up the inevitable question: Why would God allow such a thing? Or an even more troubling question: Would God send a plague?

Would God Send a Plague?

This question reveals something about the person asking it. This will sound provocative, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s just that often the truth is inherently provocative because of how it obliterates falsehood.

And often, the only way to make it less provocative is not to speak it at all. Or to communicate it with such vagueness that its power to bring light and change is compromised.

In light of judgment day, I’ve chosen both to speak it and to speak it clearly. Here goes.

The person who asks whether God would send a plague does not know God as he or she should.

I say this without qualification of those whose allegiance is to ungodliness, and consequently to Satan. They are ignorant of the nature of God, and do not know God at all. We would expect people who do not know God to ask such a question.

But, ironically, it is not only sinners who do not know God. This can also be said of saints who have a hard time believing that the Lord Jesus Christ would send Covid-19. Let me explain.

I am not saying the disciple who asks this question doesn’t love the Lord. Or more precisely, I am not saying the person doesn’t love the Lord he or she knows. What I am saying is they don’t know the Lord they love as much as they should.

Loving the Lord and knowing the Lord are two different things. We often love what we know about Him. But we don’t know there is so much more to Him than what we know.

Levels of Knowing God

God is infinite; we are not. Therefore, no matter how much we know of God, there will always be infinitely more to discover. So, it is accurate to say none of us knows God in totality. Yet, this does not mean we are to be ignorant of that which He has revealed about Himself.

Here is just one passage of many where God speaks of His expectation that we should know the elements of His character:

Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not the rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declare the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

This is what I am speaking of. The infinite God doesn’t expect us to know everything about Him. But He does expect us to deeply know and understand His lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness.

Often our mistake is to major in the Lord’s lovingkindness at the expense of His justice and righteousness, or vice versa. We simply find it easier to accept part of what God reveals about Himself rather than reconciling everything He reveals about Himself.

The Error of Accepting Only Part of What God Reveals About Himself

Many things play a part in whether we accept all or just some of what God says about Himself. Our natural temperament. Our life experiences. Our religious training. Our ulterior motives.

All of these things play a role in whether we acknowledge the obvious, or even whether we are able to see the obvious.

I am speaking of the spiritual dynamic of damaging and lessening our ability to accurately see and hear God by participating in willful ignorance:

…for this people’s heart has become dull, and their ears are hard of hearing. They have shut their eyes so that they might not see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.

Matthew 13:15; ISV

And perhaps a reminder of the willful blindness of the apostles will help you understand the power of not wanting to acknowledge a painful truth. How many times did Jesus tell His disciples He was going to die only to be rebuffed by them?

Many.

How many times did they hear Him tell them plainly that He would die, and they’d turn to one another in secret and say, “What do you think He meant by that?”

On one such occasion, Peter even rebuked Jesus for prophesying of His death (Matthew 16:21-23). And we don’t have to guess why Peter (and the other disciples) chose to reject the clear words of Jesus concerning His death.

Jesus told us why Peter rejected His words: “For you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.” This was the attitude not only of Peter, but of all the apostles. If the handpicked apostles of the Lord were not immune from willful ignorance, why should we think we are automatically exempt?

The possibility and probability of willful ignorance among us is dangerously high.

What is the Bible’s Clear Message About God’s Judgments?

I say this because the facts that God hates sin, and that He unapologetically and severely judges sinners, is crystal clear from Genesis to Revelation and every book in between. It is not an obscure truth.

It doesn’t require one to grab a verse in one book, pluck one from another, and grab a few more and creatively interpret them. Nor does one have to resort to the nuances of the Biblical Greek and Hebrew languages to strengthen a theologically weak position.

The doctrine of God’s inflexible hatred of sin and of His determination to crush unrepentant sinners is as well established in the Bible as is His unfathomable love and His determination to justly save as many sinners as possible from eternal damnation.

In fact, the doctrine of God’s severity so fills the pages of the Old and New Testaments that for a Christian to be ignorant of it can only mean one of four things (that I can think of):

  • The Christian is a new convert and has not yet read beyond the first two chapters of the Bible.
  • The Christian is not a new convert and has read beyond the first two chapters of the Bible, but lacks the capacity to understand.
  • The Christian is not a new convert and still has not read the Bible, and therefore is unaware of what it says about God’s severity.
  • The Christian has read what the Bible says about God’s severity and has chosen to dismiss it, or to creatively interpret it away because it goes against what he or she wants to believe about God.

Hopefully, the following will be enough to convince each group that the Lord Jesus Christ can be terrifyingly severe in His dealings with rebels.

What Do We Do with the Bible’s Record of the Severity of the Lord?

The Bible is filled with examples of God’s severity. Here’s a few examples:

God Sends a Killer Flood on the World

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

And the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land…”

Genesis 6:5-7

We all know about this story. But do we seriously consider its implications? We don’t know the population of the world at the time of the flood. But if we consider that the average life span was in the several hundreds of years, there may have been millions or tens of millions of people who perished in the flood.

This included women, children, grandparents. Everyone except eight people.

God Sends a Killer Fire on Several Cities

And the Lord said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave…Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven,

“And He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities and what grew on the ground.

Genesis 18:20, 24-25

Here’s another story that a lot of us are familiar with. But, again, do we grasp the terrifying spectacle of God destroying several cities with fire and brimstone from heaven?

God Sends a Death Angel to Kill All of Egypt’s Firstborn

And Moses said, Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharoah who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.

Exodus 11:4-5

Well, here’s familiar story number three. Who hasn’t heard of God and Moses whipping up on Pharoah and Egypt? But have you considered how devastating it was for God to kill every single firstborn person in a nation?

There are 330 million people in the U.S. How many of us are firstborn? I am. And there’s probably tens of millions of other firstborn Americans. What if Pharoah’s Egypt lost only ten percent of their population in that plague?

Is that fifty thousand? A hundred? Whatever it was, it was a lot.

But Those Judgments Were Upon the Wicked

Okay, you got me. I knew I couldn’t get this past you. The world in Noah’s day, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the nation of ancient Egypt were wicked. They had it coming, you say.

I won’t press the point that I’m unaware of any place in Scripture that says everyone in Egypt was wicked. Yet, for the sake of progressing in our discussion, I’ll go along with the assumption. So, what’s the point of the “But they were all wicked” argument?

This could only mean that you’re conceding that there’s no way around the explicit biblical records that God has in the past sent cataclysmic judgments on the wicked. But what if I told you that He also sent cataclysmic judgments on His own people?

A Few Examples of Judgments God Sent on His Own People

What kind of God would the Lord be if He severely punished sinners for their rebellion, but He looked the other way when His own children rebelled against Him? Wouldn’t those who were punished then have a legitimate claim against God’s justice?

God feels they would have a legitimate claim of hypocrisy. This is why there are many Scriptures in the Bible similar to this one:

And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.

1 Peter 1:17

And I suppose it would be a disservice not to quote one of the more direct Scriptures on this topic:

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

1 Peter 4:17

Now let’s examine a few stories to see what that judgment can sometimes look like.

God Sends Fiery Serpents on His Own People

Jesus had spectacularly delivered the Jews from Egyptian slavery by miraculous signs so dramatic that we are still talking about them thousands of years later.

Imagine standing before a sea and watching in awe as two strong winds moving in opposite directions part it so you may escape an advancing army. Imagine watching as that same army enters behind you and is swallowed and drowned by the sea’s walls of collapsing waters.

It doesn’t get more dramatic than that!

So, it wasn’t hard for the rescued Jews to conclude that they were God’s favored people. It never entered their mind that Jesus was capable of doing to them what He had done to the Egyptians. Soon they would learn on several tragic occasions that the Lord is an impartial judge.

Fast forward to one such occasion.

The Jews were tired of walking around in the wilderness. They were also disgusted with the Lord’s selection of food for them. “Pizza is good. But, really, Lord? Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Every day?”

Would Jesus send a plague?

Let’s continue with the story:

And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.’

So, the Lord [Jesus] sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

Numbers 21:5-6

Some Bible translations use “poisonous” or “venomous” instead of “fiery.” Fiery probably has more to do with the effect of the snakes’ bites rather than the snakes themselves being composed of fire.

Nonetheless, whichever is the more correct rendering, this was a plague of snakes.

God Sends a Plague on King David and Israel

King David was Israel’s greatest king. A mighty warrior. A standout prophet. A writer of Scripture. Then his greatest accomplishment. He was declared “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

Nonetheless, at the height of his accomplishments he committed a sin that provoked God’s judgment. Here is a pertinent snapshot of that incident:

So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.

2 Samuel 24:15

I don’t know what kind of plague that was that killed 70,000 people in three days (over 23,000 a day!). But that is exponentially worse than Covid-19!

Understanding the Severity of King David’s Plague

Let’s get a clearer understanding of the severity of that plague. We’ll do so by computing how many people that would be if God sent a plague of similar severity to our nation.

We must guess at Israel’s population at the time. But according to King David’s own census, he counted 1.3 million men over age twenty (2 Samuel 24:9). So, let’s say they had five million.

A plague that kills 70,000 of 5,000,000 kills 1.4% of the population. If God killed 1.4% of America’s population that would be 4,620,000 people—in three days. Over one and a half million people every day!

So, before we ask ourselves would God send a plague on America that kills two or three hundred thousand people, we should consider that He is on sacred record as having sent a plague on Israel that killed 1.4% of their population, the equivalent of 4,620,000 people of our population.

The obvious answer is that the God who would send a plague that kills 4,620,000 people would certainly send one that kills 200,000 – 300,000.

(Note: The duration of the execution of David’s sinful order was nine months and twenty days (2 Samuel 24:8). This classifies as persistent sin.)

But Would God Do That in the New Testament? We’re Under Grace, Not Law

Concerning the grace versus law debate, we must be careful to understand that our Biblical record of God from Genesis to Revelation is one of grace and law. He has never been only a grace God or only a law God.

These theological constructs that pit one against the other are rarely useful without considerable explanation, which usually is not included when they are used to describe either different eras or different attributes of God.

Another point to consider is that there is only one God, and He never changes (Malachi 3:6). There is no such thing as an Old Testament God and a New Testament God. There is also no such thing as a mean God of wrath, and a nice God of mercy.

We must reconcile all that the Bible says about God and see that He is eternally a God of wrath and mercy. For both Old and New Testaments are filled with His wrath and mercy.

God Kills Two Christians in the New Testament

Acts 5:1-11 records a terrifying event that happened among the saints shortly after the church was founded. A spontaneous movement of sacrificial giving started among the Jerusalem saints. Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple, saw this as an opportunity to appear more spiritual and dedicated than they truly were.

They conspired to sell a plot of land, give part of the price to the church, and pretend that they had given the full amount.

Here is how the New Testament God of “grace” dealt with this sin (grace emphasized for the sake of those who exalt this attribute over His attribute of wrath):

But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own: And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God’

And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last…

Acts 5:3-5

Later his wife showed up and carried on with the lie. Bad idea.

Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out as well.’ And she fell immediately at his feet, and breathed her last…

5:9-10

Of course, someone may say, “But were they really Christians?”

What? You have a hard time believing Christians can or will sometimes lie and act in hypocrisy? If this behavior is impossible among the saints, the Holy Spirit sure did give the church a lot of New Testament Scriptures warning us to stop doing the impossible.

God Kills a Lot of Christians in the Corinthian Church

The Corinthian church had a reputation for two things. One, they were passionate about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They excelled in prophecies, visions, and tongues. Two, they had supremely raggedy lives. They excelled in strife, pride, and sexual immorality.

It’s not a popular subject in American churches that God disciplines and judges Christians for presumptuous or persistent sin. But this doesn’t make the reality of divine discipline and judgment any less real.

Eventually, the sins of the Corinthian Christians caught up with them. What sins were these? The absence of obvious outrageous wickedness may surprise you.

The occasion was the memorial of the Lord’s supper. In the early days of the church, what we call communion, they called the Lord’s supper. They didn’t eat a wafer that tasted like plastic and drink a dab of juice or wine. They had a full memorial meal.

Apparently, they’d gotten into the habit of committing two sins at these memorial suppers (1 Corinthians 11:18-22).

The first sin was they treated God contemptuously by turning a sacred event that was worthy of reverence and devotional contemplation into a common event that was not unlike a fleshly party.

The second sin was they treated one another contemptuously by selfishly feasting in the face of poor saints in attendance who had meager or non-existent food portions. (This apparently wasn’t a potluck. Every man for himself!)

Discipline and Judgment Falls on the Corinthian Church

Paul explains in detail the context of the judgment that came upon the Corinthians, as well as the judgment itself:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. [Here’s the judgment.] For this reason, many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

1 Corinthians 11:27-30

Weak.

Sick.

Sleep. Come on Holy Spirit, we know sleep means dead.

It doesn’t appear that this discipline and judgment of the saints rose to the level of a plague. But “many” Corinthian saints were weak, sick, and even dead by the hands of their God.

God Threatens to Send a Plague on the Church in Thyatira

Sometime around 96 A.D., the church of the city of Thyatira (a city that was located where modern Turkey is today) was threatened by God. The account is given to us in Revelation 2:18-23:

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads my bondservants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.

And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

God gets a little poetic in His speech to this church, but not so much that His message is obscured.

He commended them for the good stuff they were doing. He threatened them for the bad stuff they were doing.

The offense was church leadership allowing a false prophet to teach sexual immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols. The threat for this offense was sickness, tribulation, and death through pestilence, or plague.

What’s the Point of These Examples of Discipline and Judgment?

The point is to answer through Scripture whether God would send a deadly plague. And, specifically, to give biblical proof that God could very well be behind Covid-19?

We saw in the Bible that God sent a cataclysmic flood on the entire world (Genesis 6:5-7). We saw that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and other cities in the region with fire and brimstone from heaven (Genesis 18:20, 24-25).

We saw God devastate ancient Egypt through a plague that killed all of its firstborn people and cattle (Exodus 11:4-5).

We saw that judgment begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

We saw God send a plague of deadly snakes upon His people in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-5).

We saw God send a plague on King David and Israel, in which 70,000 people were killed in three days (2 Samuel 24:15). We showed that the plague’s equivalent today in America would be 4,620,000 deaths in three days.

We showed that God killed two apparent Christians for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). Then we showed that God judged (or if you’d rather, disciplined) many Corinthian Christians with weakness, sickness, and death (1 Corinthians 11:18-30).

Finally, we showed that God threatened a New Testament church with sickness, tribulation, and death through pestilence (Revelation 2:18-23).

God Sends Calamities

All of this is to prove to you that God sends calamities into the world as acts of judgment for individual and national sins. And these judgments aren’t limited to the Old Testament, or what we might consider the “Bible days.”

The “Bible” days don’t conclude until Jesus physically returns to earth to destroy sinners and to set up His one thousand year physical government. At its end, He will judge sinners at the great white throne judgment, where they will be formally condemned to the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:11-15).

Between now and then, we are in Bible days, and you can expect God to continue sending judgments into the world as retribution for sin. But underlying these judgments is a divine hope that people will turn from their sins and escape the greatest judgment yet to come.

God Has Planned the Greatest Calamity in All of History

All of human existence and activity is leading to an event so terrifying that there aren’t words adequate to describe it. This is the day God has chosen to formally sentence the eternal souls of sinners to the eternal lake of fire, where they will be tormented forever.

Many Christians are ashamed of the severity of this judgment and seek to present it in a way that minimizes God’s involvement in the affair. It’s as though He’s just a spectator watching from the sidelines as sinners hurl themselves into the lake of fire for their sins.

Others present the event as though God waxed Himself into a corner. Apparently, He created the lake of fire for the devil and his angels and found out only later that humans would also have to go there.

But the truth is God created the lake of fire knowing fully well who would be cast into it. Either God is all-knowing, or He isn’t. This fact, coupled with all the Bible says about the day of judgment, leads us to the inevitable conclusion.

God planned it.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Would God send a disaster? A pestilence? A tragedy?

And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened;

and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15

Eric M Hill

Eric M Hill is an author, blogger, YouTuber, and Bible teacher. He has written sixteen books. He is a member of the Authors Guild and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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