Recently I began to seek the Lord about the Coronavirus. It very obviously, and for good reasons, is a hot topic on social media. I am seeing many posts; some say God is revealing things about the current spread of this virus; others talk about revelations, which they believe that they received months or years ago.
Regardless of the timing of the assorted individual experiences, I must say that what has risen up in my heart from the Lord is a word of caution, a warning that Satan will try to use this topic to cause division in our churches.
Some believers are claiming that God has revealed to them that this deadly virus is an attack of Satan on the entire earth. They are giving instructions in how to pray against it calling for a large-scale prayer effort to take authority over this deadly disease in the name of Jesus. They feel that if we do, God’s people will be protected.
Others are claiming that this is a last day’s plague of some type, that it is God’s judgment over the sinful depravity of mankind. This Coronavirus, they believe, is a last day’s judgment, and that by thousands of people dying, that many will be driven to God and receive the gift of salvation through faith in Christ.
Others are subtler. They are simply saying that the virus is merely a symptom of our fallen world. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” They feel that we just need to accept that it is God’s will. Their attitude is fatalistic: those who live-live and those who die-die. They feel that life and death are simply God’s will, and therefore we should try not to get too excited.
Regardless of the varying opinions being expressed, I do know this for certain: Congregations around the world are going to be looking to their pastors to seek the Lord and have an explanation of the Coronavirus in their sermon on some Sunday morning in the near future. People are getting increasingly nervous about the spread of the disease.
I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to the story of Job in the Bible. It is familiar to most of us, however, I encourage you to read it through once more soon. There are three main dynamics in the story; dynamics, which I believe may well apply to our current difficulty understanding these three perspectives on the Coronavirus.
Firstly, God and Satan had a conversation about Job. God first allowed Satan to attack everything Job has, but did not allow him to attack Job physically. Satan tried to get Job to curse God but failed. At that point, God did allow Satan to attack Job physically. Satan covered Job with boils for several days but was still unsuccessful in getting Job to curse God. Job blessed the Lord in spite of his afflictions.
Secondly, Job’s wife and friends attacked him verbally. His wife tried to get him to “curse God and die” and over several days his friends try to convince Job that his calamities were due to God’s judgment on his life. Job 13:15 contains his famous declaration; “Though He slay me yet I will trust him”(KJV). So Satan looses the whole battle.
Thirdly, God vindicates Job, rebukes Jobs friends and gives Job back twice what he had before.
I am referring to the story of Job to point out that as believers, we must be very cautious regarding the things we are saying about the Coronavirus. We could say that we believe the virus is from Satan, however in the account of Job, we see everything Satan did had to be permitted by God! Or, we can be like Job’s wife and friends and say this Coronavirus is the judgment of God on a fallen world, yet the last time I checked that stops all prayer because why would you ask God to help someone you believe He is trying to destroy? Or, like the third group, we can ho-hum the whole situation and just say “It is God’s will”. If we take that lackadaisical attitude, we are like the priest walking past the beaten up man in the parable of the Good Samaritan, offering little help to those in great need. James makes it very clear that Job's story is important for New Testament believers in James 5:10,11: “ Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy that endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”(KJV)
Therefore I believe a message from God concerning the Coronavirus could be, “Yes, pray against Satan who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy, but understand this; that everything I allow on the earth, will work together for the good of those who love God and are called to His purposes. Be mindful of what manner of spirit you are of, like my disciples who wanted to call down fire on the disobedient. Then also be ever mindful of the example set before us of the Lord Jesus Christ, who taught that the greatest among you are the servants of all. Always pray for wisdom, but always in every opportunity be willing and ready to reach out with caring hearts to people who are suffering and dying in great need.”
Pastors and church leaders discourage this Coronavirus topic from causing any division in your churches. Be ready to offer a necessary balance to anyone who takes extreme positions regarding this subject. As in the book of Job, so still in these our last days here on the earth, only God knows the whole truth. I plead with my brothers and sisters of all various positions and faith’s lay down your swords and pray for each other and love one another.
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.