How valid are apocalyptic interpretations about 2020?

It has been five months plus into the year 2020 and the world is riddled with crises, such as locust invasions, protests against racial injustice, and an epidemic, that are unfolding amidst a global crisis.

The global crisis, Covid-19 pandemic, has affected humans physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Millions of persons have been affected by the virus; minds have been exhausted from undesirable news stories; emotions have been elevated by fear, anger, grief, and uncertainty. And for those who are spiritually conscious, there has been an awakening of some sort.

Particularly for a section of the Christian community, the awakening has been realized in various forms such as a call to repentance, a call to fasting, and a call to prayer. Although some have examined the source of, the reason for and response to the pandemic, others see the pandemic as a spiritual attack and the method to confront it as also spiritual. 

It is, therefore, not surprising that members of spiritual sects of the Christian community, who consider themselves as spiritually aware,  view most life occurrences, if not all, with a spiritual lens

It is in this vein that some people who identify with the Christian community, such as a Ghanaian Facebook user, have further attributed all the different crises that have happened and are happening to be signs of the end of the world. 

In the Facebook user’s video post, the speaker is heard in an indigenous Ghanaian language, Twi. He narrates some incidents of invasions of locusts, hornets, and blackbirds that happened in different parts of the world and ‘diagnosed’ them to be an indication of God’s judgement on sin, and signs of the end of the world, thereby admonishing people to repent, referencing the Bible in 2 Chronicles 7:12.

Other Significant Happenings that Shook the World

Further, there are more highlights of news that have equally compelled a number of people to make apocalyptic claims of the year.

January started with the news of a potential war outbreak between the USA and Iran, following the assassination of the Iranian General Qassim Suleimani. There was also news of intense wildfires in Australia owing to climate change which consequently killed people and destroyed homes and acres of arable land. Then, basketball icon, Kobe Bryant was reported dead with his daughter and nine other people in a helicopter crash. The month ended with the Brexit announcement, which is the day the UK left the European Union.

February followed with an invasion of blackbirds in Kentucky in the U.S. The birds are reported to have darkened the sky before sunset, whitened the landscape with their poop while carrying diseases that could kill dogs and make human beings sick.

In March, the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, intensified and was declared by the WHO as a pandemic, as the virus quickly spread beyond China, affecting and killing people all over the world. This necessitated several world leaders to put restrictions on the movement of citizens through lockdown and travel ban policies, ultimately having implications on world economies.

In April, some countries in Eastern Africa, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia were reported to have had an invasion of desert locusts. This invasion is reported to be a much more aggressive swarm of locusts since the last upsurge, and is currently destroying crops and threatening livelihoods in the sub-region.

The month of May had, again, reports of locust invasion, this time, in India. This swarm locust had not invaded the country since the last 30 years and is also reported to be destroying croplands and affecting food supply in India. There were also reports of an invasion of murder hornets in the US, identified to have a negative impact on the environment and public health. 

Then, there was news of the murder of an African-American man, George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, on May 25. This has caused ongoing protests across the country, as well as in other parts of the world, in a quest to fight injustice and systemic racism against black people.

On the first day of June, DR Congo reported a new outbreak of Ebola in the country. The WHO has expressed concern as the outbreak has already claimed four lives in the western part of the country. 

Pakistan is also reported to be invaded by locusts which are threatening the livelihood of people and food security. 

For some, it seems to be getting worse by the day with an overwhelming number of unpleasant news. A study conducted by LifeWay Research in Nashville indicates that nine out of 10 pastors see evidence of end times in the current happenings around the world. 

In view of this, best-selling author, Joel Rosenberg has said that;

“For too long many pastors have shied away from teaching on birth pains and events leading up to the second coming, but the current pandemic demonstrates the need for solid, non-sensational preaching done in a biblical manner.”

What does the Bible teach on end times?

It is worth noting that, for the Christian community, the Bible is upheld as the source of all spiritual truths. Therefore, it is imperative to understand what the Bible teaches concerning signs of the end of the world and how to interpret them. 

In the Bible, Jesus Christ, the source of the Christian faith, was asked by His disciples to indicate the signs of the world (Matthew 24:3). He mentioned that rumours of war, famines, pestilences and earthquakes in different places, offences, betrayals, hatred for each other, deception, lawlessness are truly some of the occurrences which must come to pass. Yet he encouraged  his followers not to be troubled by them because it is not yet the end. He added that all these are only the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:4-13). He revealed that the end will come when the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached to everyone in every nation (Matthew 24:14).

Are these crises an indication of God’s judgment and a need to repent?

Barry Bennet, a Bible teacher and Missionary, shared his views on some of the current happenings, judgment, repentance and the end-time.

“It is concerning how many Christians want to jump to the ‘day of wrath’ (Romans 2:5) and assume that God is behind a virus. Just because plagues and viruses are predicted in Scripture does not mean they are from God, nor does it mean that we are at the end of human time. Jesus called such things ‘the beginning of sorrows’. The gospel is not about afflicting humanity with judgments and sicknesses. God is not judging regions and nations. He told us to go into all the world and preach the Good News. He is not trying to kill everyone before we get there,” Barret stated

He further explained that, contrary to what some Christians claim, plagues, viruses and other calamities are not an indication of God’s judgment of the world in order to bring people to repentance. He emphasised that God is good and instead, it is His goodness that leads people to repentance, referencing the Bible in Romans 2:4.

“The Father is judging no one. The Son came to save the world, not judge it. The Word will judge those who reject Jesus, in the last day, not before. These truths are ignored by many who run to the Old Testament or Job for their understanding of God. In the rush to attribute plagues to God, they hurdle over Jesus and the New Covenant”, as he quoted John 5:22 and John 12:47&48,” he added.

Furthermore, Barry emphasised that God is reconciling the world to Himself in Christ and not counting the sins of people against them, quoting 2 Corinthians 5:19

“God has sent His church into all the world to proclaim the Good News of reconciliation. It would make no sense for God to bring destruction to the very people to whom we are sent with the gospel,” he concluded.

The Gospel of God’s salvation and reconciliation is the very message Jesus stated in Matthew 24:14  would be preached to everyone in the world before the end itself comes.

What Do You Think?

Is 2020, for you, the beginning of the end? Do you believe your position is valid despite biblical positions on this matter?   

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