Coronavirus and the Forgotten Pandemic
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- Version: ESV
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The CDC reports, as of March 20th, 2020, that there have been 201 total deaths from COVID-19 in the US.1 On the same day, The Guardian reported over 10,000 deaths worldwide due to the new coronavirus.2 Meanwhile, supermarkets have been rushed and left with empty shelves, local businesses have closed, universities are moving classes online, and the government is clamoring to get a grip on the spread of the virus. The director of the World Health Organization has officially classified COVID-19 as a pandemic.3 As the virus continues to spread, these are some of the precautions recommended by the CDC4 that you should take to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors from infection:
- Wash your hands frequently. Be sure to use soap and water. Scrub thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes with your hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are exhibiting symptoms of the virus.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Discard the tissue promptly. Wash your hands after.
- Wear a facemask if you are feeling sick.
- Clean and disinfect the frequently touched surfaces in your house daily, e.g., doorknobs, cellphones, countertops, etc.
This new virus is causing panic for many, but there is another pandemic that has been forgotten by most. Consider this for a moment. Right now, medical scientists around the globe are working tirelessly to craft a vaccine to protect people from the coronavirus. They do this to prevent death and suffering, and yet, even if they succeed (and I hope they do), they will only delay the inevitable: death. This is the forgotten pandemic. It infects every human being. It has a 100% fatality rate. These same doctors and their patients will eventually die. You, one day, will die. If not from the coronavirus, then from a blocked artery, an accident on the highway, or a tired heart from old age.
Children, in their innocence, ask their parents, “Why do we have to die?” We were all like this at one time—losing a grandparent is difficult to explain, saddening, and unnatural. Then as we grow up, we realize our parents are next, then us, and then our children. As adults, many of us have chosen to ignore this pandemic of inevitable death. I plead with you now. For just a moment, with the humility of a child, consider the question again: “Why do we have to die?”
Death hasn’t always been a problem for man. When God first created man, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). God then blessed us with every good thing. Death had no part in His creation. So why is every child born cursed to grow old and die? In the original account of creation, we have our answer. It wasn’t until Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit that death began to haunt all of humanity. God commanded His creation regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “You shall not eat” (Genesis 2:17), but Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate. Because of their sin, God’s judgment fell upon them as He said:
“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis: 3:19)
This is our condition still today. Our disobedience brings the same judgment from God. All of us sin, and so all of us die and return to the dust. Even as you read this, each thump of your heart is another inch closer to death. The body you have that is full of vibrant life will soon grow still as stone and decay into dirt.
“What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol [Hell]?” (Psalm 89:48)
You may think, “I haven’t done anything bad enough to deserve God’s judgment and death.” And I must respond, how do you judge yourself to be so good as to not deserve death and judgment? Are you without sin?
You may say, “Well no one is perfect.” But you would be wrong. God is perfect, and so is His judgment. That is terrible news for one who has broken His laws. And we have all broken His laws. There is no man or woman who can honestly say, “I have never sinned.” Every single one of us has rebelled against God, resisting His authority since our birth.
You may think, “I’m not striving against God. I’m just living life, doing the best I can. I’m not perfect, but no one is.” Be careful not to justify yourself. It is difficult to see our own guilt but easy to see that of others. If you are unconvinced that you deserve death and judgment, then read this next paragraph carefully.
Your neighbor may think you are kind, but he is not your judge. God is. Do you have the confidence that before God’s judgment throne He will weigh your life, all your thoughts, actions, words, and find you sinless? Don’t guess at such an important matter! You can know today how you would do! Read God’s commands and examine yourself! Have you ever lied? Committed sexual immorality (watched pornography, had sex before marriage, looked with lust at another, etc.)? Worshipped any other but God? Denied God’s words in unbelief? Hated or mistreated another person (hatred and murder both come from the same evil in our hearts )? Rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you have great reason to be afraid, for God has said:
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
I have not even finished the commands of God, but if you think that some sins are acceptable before Him, then you haven’t heard these words of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Are you perfect? Only a liar would say yes. Now you can see why all of us die, and why all our efforts to be righteous are hopeless. Not one man or woman has fulfilled all of God’s law. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And that is why the Lord Jesus has said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)
You cannot make yourself righteous through your own effort any more than a slave carrying the weight of iron chains can break his shackles with his own strength. You must be set free. You need to be saved. My purpose in writing this is to convince you of your hopeless state and the condemnation of all of humanity. But that is not all. If I only had this bad news to bear, then I would keep it to myself. What purpose would I have in telling you of your sin and then leaving you to grief. But praise God that the curse of death is not His final word! I’m overjoyed to tell you, that despite your sin, God has not left you hopeless.
This great news is the most important thing you will hear in your lifetime. If you understand the truth about your sinful condition, then this announcement I give to you will be sweeter than news of a COVID-19 vaccine or even a recovering economy.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8, NASB)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16,17)
God, in a demonstration of His love towards us, has given His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. For His entire life on earth, Jesus obeyed God’s commands. He was perfect as His Father is perfect. He lived the life that you should have lived, in complete obedience to God. Then, He saved us from the curse of sin and death by “becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13) in His crucifixion. Jesus Christ didn’t die for His sins; He didn’t have any. He died for our sins. He paid the penalty for us with His own flesh and blood in agony on the cross. To save us, He was crucified and buried, “but God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24, NASB). Jesus Christ now lives and is seated at the right hand of His Father in Heaven. Now, there is hope for you. This hope is not found in the effort or will of man, but only in the power and grace of God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Do you recognize your sinful state before God? Have you lost all hope in your own goodness, realizing that you could never be holy by your own effort? Do you see the pandemic of death that is on us all? If this describes you, then do not think that this good news isn’t for you. Jesus said:
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
Jesus came for sinners. Please hear me. You may think, “I’ll never be good enough to please God.” And you would be right! We are too sinful to even begin to climb the ladder of righteousness and that’s why I point you to the Savior who is able and willing to save even the lowliest amongst us. Listen to the words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
As you come to Him, know what He commands of you. He commands all of His new disciples to repent and trust in Him alone.
His command to repent means to turn away from and renounce your sins. You cannot be His follower and continually practice disobedience of His commands. He warns against this hypocrisy:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
His command to believe (trust) in Him is not a command to just believe that He exists. It’s a command to believe everything He says about Himself in the Bible. Believing in Jesus means that you believe He is the only Son of God. You believe He is the only path to salvation. You believe that His sacrifice has paid for your sins. Are you having trouble determining if you believe in God? Open the book of John in your Bible and read. As Jesus speaks, do you believe? Or do you have reservations or disagreements with His words?
The genuine follower of Jesus hears His words, believes His words, obeys his words, and continues to hear, believe, and obey for the rest of his/her life.
If you have ears to hear this message, then know the LORD calls you today to repent (turn from your sins) and trust in His Son alone for salvation. Time is short for us all. Escaping the coronavirus just delays the inevitable death that will come and then the judgment.
Let this final passage settle deep in your soul. If you repent and believe in Jesus alone, then this passage will be like a shimmering wellspring in the middle of a desert that gives refreshing drink to cracked lips and a dry throat. If you have chosen your own path and denied the Son of God, then death and judgment will be like a ghastly specter walking the perimeter of your home. It hasn’t broken in yet, but the day will come when it seizes you in the night while you are unprepared. For followers of Christ, death is a passage into eternal life and joy with our Savior. For those who reject Christ, death brings you before God in judgment. The day of judgment will bring a terror so great that those who rejected Jesus will be:
“Calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb [Jesus], for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:16,17)
Have you not come to Christ? Then you still bear the guilt of your sin, death will come, and you will stand condemned before God. Don’t look anywhere else for salvation from your sin. It is useless to do so, for, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NASB).
My prayer to God and plea with you is that you would be saved. Please cry out to God in repentance and trust in His Son today and forevermore. Read the Bible daily and seek the Lord with all your heart.
1 “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Cases in U.S.” cdc.gov., last modified Mar 20, accessed Mar 20, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html.
2 Quinn, Ben. 2020. “Coronavirus: At a Glance.” The Guardian, Mar 20,. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/coronavirus-at-a-glance.
3 Dr. Ghebreyesus, Tedros. 2020. WHO Director-General’s Opening Remarks at the Media Briefing on COVID-19.
4 “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Protect Yourself.” cdc.gov., last modified Mar 18, accessed Mar 20, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html.