In recent weeks, the world has witnessed a global phenomenon that is unprecedented in human history. National governments, businesses, churches, and local communities have responded to the COVID-19 Coronavirus epidemic with, what appears to be, a sudden and severe suspension of people’s individual liberties. National borders are closed, travel is restricted or completely suspended, businesses are closed, and planned public events are canceled. One of the sad results of this global crisis is the panic-driven purchasing of essential goods by a bewildered public who have been forced into unwanted and unprepared isolation. At this point, it is very hard to discern what is really going on.
As I am writing this article, I have been communicating with friends in Italy, where they have been told that all citizens must remain in their homes until further notice. Limited to “essential errands,” the Italians are forced to remain in isolation. One gentleman told us that he was not allowed even to cross town to visit his own family. Restaurants are closed, coffee bars are silent, and streets are empty.
In the midst of these initial chaotic days, I was faced with a nagging question of “How did so many give up so much so quickly?” The speed of this blitzkrieg has surprised even the most pessimistic conspiracy-theory advocate. It has been said that Knowledge is Power. Therefore, it would appear that an informed and powerful elite can easily control an ignorant public if fear blinds the minds of the masses.
Now, the purpose of this article is not to debate the reasonableness of these actions or reaction as they are related to the current WHO declared pandemic but to examine a possible Biblical perspective that might give us insight into this current social phenomenon. In other words, is there a future parallel to the coming subjugation of the whole world as predicted in Scripture?
The Coming of the Lawless One
Prophecy buffs are very familiar with the Biblical predictions concerning an anti-Christ that will arise and lead the whole world into its final age of rebellion against God. As you begin to read and collect scriptures that relate to this character, you are constantly confronted with the fact that he becomes a world-wide leader with what appears to be, irresistible power and authority.
In chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation, John calls him “the beast.” The beast is given power by Satan himself. The “beast” will be unbeatable. “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?’”
The Beast’s Control of Commerce
This beast will be joined by another who will perform, in the presence of the beast, many amazing signs and wonders in the sight of all mankind. An image of the beast will then be constructed and brought to life. Worship of this image of the beast will be mandatory. It is at this point that we are told,
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
Over the years of reviewing these predictions, I have wondered how this would actually take place. Given all of the national, cultural, religious and individual differences in the world, how would anyone be able to enforce such an edict as is described in verses 16 and 17 of Revelation, chapter 13? As we can see, history is riddled with accounts of regional despots attempting to exercise their dominion over a conquered people. Ultimately, the dictator is deposed, and the cycle starts again somewhere else on the planet.
The quest for liberty has compelled mankind to attempt to cast off the shackles of draconian rule and to seek individual freedom. Why then do we see the world described in Revelation chapter 13 as willing to worship and submit to this beast? Simply put, I believe that FEAR will be the motivation that most will have to drive them into submission. We certainly have seen the fear-factor at work today as it has enabled these latest world-wide restrictions to be enforced so quickly and easily.
The Beast and Armageddon
The end game of the beast is not mere world domination but to finish the work of rebellion that was started in Genesis Chapter 3. His objective then is the same as his objective now, to separate mankind from their relationship with a loving God. Out of fear, a desperate and deceived world will follow this man of sin in his final attempt to resist the God he has known since before the world was created.
“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
This gathering will be the last time the world is united against God. “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” A united world will make one last stand for independence from God. This is very sad given the fact that the God of the Bible desires to free mankind from the bondage to one who will now lead them to certain defeat. With their blinded hearts and minds they follow to their own destruction.
The end result of this rebellion is clearly predicted in Scripture:
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
2 Thessalonians 2:8-10
Fighting Fear with Faith
For informed Christians, none of these current events should leave us in a state of confusion or fear. Jesus told His disciples of the end-times condition of the world, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Fear is the byproduct of ignorance and helplessness. As Christians, we need not stumble into either of these snares. As children of Light we need to “walk in the light as He is in the light.” Therefore, we should stand firm in faith in our sovereign God, who is still on His throne and directs the affairs of mankind from His throne of mercy and justice. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” During these troublesome times, we need to focus our mind on the things that are eternally true. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
“Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The World is Watching
As the fabric and foundation of our world is being tested, many are seeing their livelihoods and lifetime ambitions wiped away in a heartbeat. In their struggle to gain some kind of balance, I believe many will be looking for answers to the deeper things of life. Therefore, Christians can be ambassadors of hope to a world that are lost on the raging sea of uncertainly. Jesus told us what to do in times of darkness.
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”