Many Christians have made this mistake, and sadly there are even pastors (men who are the Lord’s true servants, not the hirelings occupying most pulpits today) who have not thought this through properly and have rushed into pulpit and print to say that it is. They have erred. It is not. It is appalling, this knee-jerk response.
Of course it is absolutely true that God controls all things, including all diseases, so that none of them occur except by His sovereign will; and at times He punishes men for their sins by permitting them to be afflicted with terrible diseases. This we do not deny, for it is thoroughly biblical. But the question to be answered is this:
Is the coronavirus a judgment from God, in the sense of being a divinely sent, catastrophic plague to smite and destroy large numbers of people because of their sins?
And to this question we must answer a categorical No. The reason being that the coronavirus does not meet the definition of a plague or pestilence, neither in the biblical sense of these words, nor even according to the dictionary meaning of them.
Definition of a Plague
The dictionary definition of “plague” or “pestilence” (often used interchangeably) runs along these lines: An epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating, and that kills large numbers of people. Well then, by this definition the coronavirus is not a plague. The Black Death was a plague. The Spanish Flu was a plague. The coronavirus is not. At the time of writing, over 3 million people have contracted the virus worldwide, and over 200 000 have died. That may sound like a huge number. But the world population is almost 8 billion! 200 000 deaths out of almost 8 billion is not a plague. That many people, and hundreds of thousands more, die of all kinds of diseases every single year. And 3 million out of 8 billion people merely having the virus, with over 1 million of those on the recovered list, is not a plague either.
And when we consider the plagues and pestilences described in the Bible, the coronavirus is definitely not a plague. What the land and people of Egypt experienced prior to the Exodus were plagues, and these plagues utterly devastated Egypt and laid it waste. Plagues were also experienced by the Israelites themselves at times, as judgments from God, and they were severe and deadly to large numbers of people. A biblical plague was a “smiting”, a great destruction, as the following Scriptures show: Exod. 12:13; Num. 11:33; Num. 14:12; Deut. 28:21,61.
Yes, the coronavirus is afflicting people worldwide. But considering that: 1) it is nothing like real plagues of the past; 2) only a tiny, tiny percentage of the human population has died as a result of it; and 3) the vast majority who contract it only experience mild and temporary symptoms – considering these facts, this virus is not a plague in the biblical sense, nor even according to the meaning of the word (even a milder definition, such as a widespread affliction, does not fit, considering the size of the world population compared with those who have it). Given that the world population is close to 8 billion, only if multiplied millions of people died from it could it be described in truth as a plague.
Every single year, worldwide, millions die from cancer, heart disease, and numerous other illnesses – but we don’t call these things a judgment from God in the sense of such deaths being a plague. Nor do we call the hundreds of thousands of deaths every year worldwide from the common flu a plague. If tens of thousands die from the coronavirus in a population of one million, this would be a plague. If hundreds of thousands die in a population of a few million, this would be a plague. And only if multiplied millions worldwide die of the coronavirus, could we legitimately speak of a worldwide plague, considering the world’s population.
Those pastors, therefore, who speak and act as if this is a plague, a sweeping disease-judgment from God, are not speaking according to the Scriptures on this matter, and have fallen for the lies of their governments, the media and the World Health Organisation.