The Covid-19 pandemic has been around for a year now. Until today, its origin remains to be a matter of opinion, nothing conclusive or official. Just when vaccines are set to roll out, a couple of new variants or mutations of the virus have emerged and is now spreading, even as the original strain remains uncontainable. So once again Christians, especially among futurists camp, have asked, “Aren’t we now in the time of tribulation?” (see blog entitled “The Eschatological Divide” to understand the different perspective on the study of the Last Things)
What is a virus?
Viruses are microscopic parasites, generally much smaller than bacteria. They lack the capacity to thrive and reproduce outside of a host body.
Viruses teeter on the boundaries of what is considered life. On one hand, they contain the key elements that make up all living organisms: the nucleic acids, DNA or RNA (any given virus can only have one or the other). On the other hand, viruses lack the capacity to independently read and act upon the information contained within these nucleic acids.Source: LiveScience
Science or virology, the branch of science that deals with the study of virus has no definite answer on the origin of the virus (click here to read) except that virus is part of nature. But the COVID-19 virus or any other viruses that causes illness is a mutation not innate in itself. So, though everything has its beginning with God’s creation, and virus may be part of nature, the COVID-19 virus, same with the HIV-Virus or Swine-flu (H1N1 virus) is not a creation of God but a mutation from His original creation. As Christians, we need to see the importance of such difference. For God is good, everything He created is very good, no evil or harm could originate from Him.
See this BBC Documentary entitled “Understanding Viruses” produced in 2017. A couple of years before the emergence of COVID-19 virus, that documentary video was made to explain the possible causes of pandemics, like what we are experiencing today. For a shorter version of the explanation, click here. Epidemics or pandemics caused by viruses are man-made, not from God.
Travels, explorations, deforestations and many other human activities could be a trigger for dormant viruses to enter the human body, be its host, then mutation occurs until it becomes a deadly transmissible virus. It would be prudent then not to blame or make God the cause of the COVID-19 virus, but simply see that it is due to human error – intentionally or unintentionally.
Now on the merits that the new strain is further proof that we are in the tribulation period of the last days. Again, my short and repeated answer is “NO, NO WAY ARE WE IN TRIBULATION.”
Now, if by “tribulation”, you mean a great time of trouble due to the deaths, sickness, and the accompanying economic hardships, make no mistake we are in a difficult times. What I reject is the idea that this COVID-19 and its accompanying hardship are the alleged signs spoken by the Bible connected to Matthew 24:21. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” The great tribulation, as it has been discussed today among Christians, is believed to be a 3-1/2 years of trouble, a prelude to a Second Coming of Jesus Christ? It’s a myth that has been repeated, therefore becoming a trend, which no Bible-loving Christian should even consider.
See the explanation of GotQuestions.Com regarding the “Great Tribulation“:
The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan: 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 – 18). The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27; also see the article on the Tribulation). The Great Tribulation is the last half of the Tribulation period, three and one-half years in length. It is distinguished from the Tribulation period because the Beast, or Antichrist, will be revealed, and the wrath of God will greatly intensify during this time. Thus, it is important at this point to emphasize that the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are not synonymous terms. Within eschatology (the study of future things), the Tribulation refers to the full seven-year period while the “Great Tribulation” refers to the second half of the Tribulation.
The above explanation is basically the teaching of modern-day Christianity, the futurist view. As you can see, they have verses of Scripture supporting their position or teachings, which was mainly from Daniel 9:24-27. But before we dig into the passage, let us determine its context or background. See Daniel 9:1-2.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
In Daniel 5:30, Scripture said Darius ruled over the kingdom of Babylon after he had defeated Belshazzar the Chaldean king (Babylonian king). Daniel previously had prophesied about four Gentile kingdoms ruling over Jerusalem (Daniel 2:27-45). The four Gentile kingdoms were namely Babylon (Daniel 2:37-38; 7:4); Mede-Persia and Greece (Daniel 2:39; 7:5-6; 11:1-2); then Rome (Daniel 2:40; 7:7-8; Revelation 13:1; 17:7-12). We know the fourth kingdom was Rome, for it’s the city seated on seven hills (Revelation 17:9). Click on the link “Rome” to see the validity of its claim.
Daniel mentioned Jeremiah’s prophecy – “seventy years must passed before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem”. See Jeremiah 25:8-9,11.
Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Because you have not obeyed My words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the LORD, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation … This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste.
Now back to Daniel 9:1-2. The Seventy Years Babylonian Captivity was over, so Daniel confessed Israel’s sin, and he pleaded and prayed for God’s mercy and restoration and the rebuilding of the temple (Daniel 9:17).
The LORD God replied in a vision, the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 – “the time for God to end the transgression of Israel and the holy city, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophets, to anoint a most holy place.” Jesus actually quoted Daniel 9:26 in Matthew 24:15-21. See and compare below.
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (Daniel 9:26)
So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. (Matthew 24:15-21)
Isn’t it ironic for Daniel? He pleaded for God’s mercy, restoration and the rebuilding of the temple (Daniel 9:17), yet though God did talk about a rebuilding (Daniel 9:25), He also spoke of a final destruction (Daniel 9:26), so until today the temple remains desolate.
See Daniel 9:25 – rebuilding of the temple.
Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince [Hebrew 5057], there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
See Daniel 9:26 – a second and final destruction of the temple.
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince [Hebrew 5057] who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
Go on and research about “Julian the apostate”, emperor of Rome. He ordered the rebuilding of the Jewish temple but failed. That was long before the Dome of the Rock was built on the temple site. No, he wasn’t a believer of Christianity; hence he was called an apostate. His sole purpose for rebuilding the temple was to disprove Christianity – Jesus Christ and His promise to return in the generation of His disciples destroying the temple (Matthew 24:1-3, 15-28).
Now back to our discussion on Daniel 9:24-27. It is important to understand that the “prince” of verse 25 is also the “prince” of verse 26; both refers to the “Anointed One,” the Christ or Messiah. Such a reading of the Scripture is in accordance to the basic principle of hermeneutics, the science of interpreting Scripture. But the futurist teaches that the verse 25 “prince” refers to Jesus Christ, while verse 26 is the anti-Christ, even if both are the same Hebrew noun. You may want to ask your pastors to verify if indeed that’s how they interpret it.
Messiah comes from the Hebrew word mashiach and means “anointed one” or “chosen one.” The Greek equivalent is the word Christos or, in English, Christ. The name “Jesus Christ” is the same as “Jesus the Messiah.”
Jesus fulfills the role of Prophet, Priest, and King, which is further evidence to His being the Messiah. He is a prophet, because He embodied and preached the Word of God (see John 1:1–18; 14:24; and Luke 24:19); a priest, because His death atones for our sins and reconciles us to the Father (see Hebrews 2:17; 4:14); and a king, because after His resurrection God gave all authority to Him (see John 18:36; Ephesians 1:20–23; and Revelation 19:16).Source: GotQuestions.Org – the Anointed One.
Though it’s true that historically the Romans attacked and destroyed Jerusalem and burned down the temple in AD 70, it was to fulfill the Day of God’s vengeance; see Luke 21:20-24.
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The “times of the Gentiles” refers to the four Gentile kingdoms ruling over Jerusalem – again namely, Babylon, Mede-Persia, Greece and Rome – prophesied by Daniel, and he clearly explained that during the reign of the fourth kingdom – Rome – the kingdom of heaven would appear and be established (Daniel 2:36-45). In the New Testament time, both John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-2) and Jesus Christ proclaimed “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Fact is, Jesus Christ declared before the Pharisees, the kingdom of heaven has arrived. See Luke 17:20-21.
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He [Jesus] answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!‘ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
Many have speculated about a revived Roman Empire in an effort to align their beliefs and teachings with that of Daniel 2, so that their futurist view on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ could possibly stand. But it could not be sustained simply because it’s not from the Word of God, rather an invention of man. Nowhere in the Bible did it spoke of a revived Roman Empire.
Take note that Luke 21:20-24 is similar to Matthew 24:15-21; both spoke of the desolation of Jerusalem. Also, just as Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was servant of God for His judgment against Jerusalem. Rome serves the same purpose in the second and final destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem (Romans 13:1-4).
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Who was the governing authority at the time of Paul? No other but Rome.
Now, see again Daniel 9:25.
Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
The “seven weeks” spoken along with the Anointed One, Jesus Christ refers to the Day of Pentecost. See Leviticus 23:15-16, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.
You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD.
Pentecost is significant in both the Old and New Testaments. “Pentecost” is actually the Greek name for a festival known in the Old Testament as the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9). The Greek word means “fifty” and refers to the fifty days that have elapsed since the wave offering of Passover. The Feast of Weeks celebrated the end of the grain harvest. Most interesting, however, is its use in Joel and Acts. Looking back to Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28–32) and forward to the promise of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s last words on earth before His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:8), Pentecost signals the beginning of the church age.Source: GotQuestions.Org, Pentecost
Interestingly, Daniel 9:26 said: “And after the sixty-weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off [Hebrew 3772] and shall have nothing.”
The Complete Word Study Bible Dictionary said “cut off [Hebrew 3772]” is a verb meaning to cut off, to cut down, to make a covenant. This word can mean literally to cut something down or off, as grapes (Numbers 13:23, 24) or branches (Judges 9:48, 49). It can also be used figuratively, as with people (Jeremiah 11:19; 50:16). Another important use of this word is to make a covenant (lit., to cut a covenant), perhaps deriving from the practice of cutting an animal in two in the covenant ceremony. God made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18); Abraham made one with Abimelech (Genesis 21:27). Finally, this word can also mean to destroy, as in Micah’s prophecy (Micah 5:10).
Amazingly, the apostle Paul spoke of the same idea – that is, being cut off from the New Covenant. See Romans 9:1-8.
I am speaking the truth in Christ— I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
See also Romans 11:13-24.
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches [Jews] were broken off, and you [Gentiles], although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
How then should we understand Daniel 9:26? It’s about Christ Jesus’ offering of the New Covenant – salvation by faith, not by circumcision – but since the Jews rejected and crucified Him, they ceased to be God’s covenant people, except of course those who have believed in Him.
In the next verse, Daniel 9:27, it was Jesus Christ then who made a strong covenant with many for one week. Again, not the anti-Christ as alleged and taught by the futurist. The one week is what remains for the completion of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 24, which actually was about Jesus Christ and His salvation and judgment. See again Daniel 9:27a.
And He [Jesus Christ] shall make a strong covenant [eternal covenant; Hebrews 13:20] with many for one week, and for half of the week He shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.
The half of the week obviously refers to Jesus’ first coming; His sacrifice, death and resurrection made the Old Covenant law on sacrifice and offering obsolete. See Hebrews 8:13.
In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Next, Hebrews 9:15-26.
Therefore He [Jesus Christ] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Did you notice what Hebrews said? The coming of Jesus Christ was the end of ages. It was therefore truly the last days, not an unending last days if we follow the futurist idea of the Second Coming. You may want to read my blog entitled “The Unending Last Days”.
Now, continuing on Daniel 9:27b, see explanation in Luke 21:20-24.
And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.
It was God who made Old Covenant Jerusalem desolate, but of course historically it was the Romans, the people of the Prince – the Anointed One, Jesus Christ. Just as Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon was God’s servant for His vengeance against Jerusalem during its first destruction.
In conclusion, since the “seven weeks” of Daniel 9:25 refers to the Pentecost, the last of the four Jewish spring festivals, fulfilled by Christ Jesus at His First Coming. Daniel 9:26-27 then fulfilled the last three Jewish Fall Festivals – namely, the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25), the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32), and lastly, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacle (Leviticus 23:33-43).
It should be noticeable that with the fulfillment of the three Jewish Fall Festivals, it also fulfilled Daniel 9:24:
- The Jews and the holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin – that’s God’s Final Judgment (Matthew 24:29-31), the Feast of Trumpets.
- To atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness – that’s the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), the day of Atonement.
- To seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place – that’s the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2-6), the Feast of Booths.
It therefore makes no sense believing that the present COVID-19 pandemic is a proof that we are in the time of tribulation. Let me narrow down my arguments to two points:
First, according to Jesus’ own words, the great tribulation refers to the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Is there presently a temple standing to be destroyed that we should be misled into believing we are at the time of tribulation?
Lastly, when John wrote to the seven churches of Asia, the apostle clearly said he was in tribulation, which was millennia ago. According to the futurist teaching, the tribulation is a period of seven years, not two thousands years and continuing.
To end, allow me to quote Jesus’ words.
Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.Matthew 5:14
Do not blindly follow and listen. Study the Bible. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd of God’s flock, in Matthew 24:15 said, “Let the reader understand“. Don’t you yet understand? If you wish to understand better, reach out to us here. We would be more than willing to help.
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