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COVID-19, Revival, and Awakening?

volume 19, number 12, March 19, 2020

“And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” -Esther 4:14

Knowing and believing that God is sovereign in all the affairs of this world,[1] that ultimately He is the One who brings calamity and hardship,[2] that He is constantly revealing His wrath every day throughout the world because of our sin,[3] how then shall the Christian and non-Christian view our present distress?

Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman, rose to a place of remarkable status in the Medo-Persian empire, having been appointed Queen by King Ahasuerus. Wicked Haman sought to turn the King against the Jewish people and have them annihilated. Mordecai, a very good Jewish man, found out about the plot and made it known to Queen Esther. She was urged by Mordecai to enter the King’s presence and intercede for the Jews. The problem, however, was that anyone who entered the king’s presence must be shown the golden scepter of acceptance. Without it the person would surely perish. To this Mordecai’s message came to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13,14). Esther did enter the king’s presence and was shown the golden scepter and the Jews were spared. God sovereignly placed her as Queen to save His people. 

How shall we view our present distress? Clearly COVID-19 is a plague or pestilence potentially of Old Testament proportions. What shall we do? First, I suggest you “live” in Psalm 91 for a while. This psalm can give great comfort for believers. Basically the message can be boiled down to this—those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. You are in God’s hand and you will not die one moment before or after God’s appointed time. Therefore do not fear. The Psalmist proclaims that God delivers His people from the snare of the trapper (like a bear escaping a trap hidden on the trail), and from the deadly pestilence. . . Therefore we should not be afraid of the terror by night or of the arrow that flies by day, of the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, or the destruction which lays waste at noon (vs. 3-6). These threats pretty much cover every enemy which can come against us.

Does this mean, then, that if you really love Jesus then you are immune to COVID-19 and will not contract it or die from it? To put it another way, if a professing Christian contracts the virus and dies from it, does this then mean that he or she was never a true believer in the first place? Charles Spurgeon says that the message here, for those who are truly and earnestly seeking God, is that there is never any reason to fear.[4] You are in God’s hands and He loves you and will never leave you or forsake you. 

Strong believers in Jesus probably have already died from COVID-19 and there likely will be many more deaths. After all, Jesus made clear that the sun rises on the evil and the good and that God causes the rain to fall on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). Plumer tells us that if any evil was not under God’s control, it might defeat His most glorious purposes. . . the protection of the Lord is all sufficient and we need not seek any other.[5]
Second, what is the word for the unbeliever? People everywhere are having their worlds rocked. We are forced to slow down. People perhaps are more fearful of dying than usual. The eternity which is written on their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) is now bubbling to the surface. Good gospel conversations can be had if you are looking for them. Even if you cannot visit someone in person, you can surely call your unbelieving friends and ask how they are doing. Ask the Lord to give you an open door for gospel conversations. Show them that the believer need not fear anything, even death, that they can have the same faith and comfort if they run to Jesus for refuge. 

And third, the word for the believer is revival and awakening. I remember several years ago walking around Sea Island, Georgia, looking at the beautiful multi-million dollar homes and thinking, “I know God can instantaneously bring revival to His people and awaken the unbeliever from his spiritual sleep of death. However that seems highly unlikely to me. God usually works through catastrophe to get a family, a region, or a nation’s attention. Though I do not want to experience a great calamity this might be what God uses to draw our nation back to Himself.” 

Could it be that God has raised up COVID-19 for such a time as this? Could it be that He will revive His people, forcing us to be done with lesser things like our hobbies, sports teams, 401K, our work, and our obsession with health? Use the time God is giving us to pray, to read and study your Bible more, to have lengthy conversations with your family, and to ask God to give you a zeal to see revival come to our nation. I have long said that without revival, I see no hope for us. 

And could it be that God will bring another great awakening to our nation, like He did in the 18th and 19th centuries, where millions of people are born again and begin to live Godly lives and once again transform our nation? Look for it, expect it, pray for it. 

1  O Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will give thanks to Thy name; For Thou hast worked wonders, plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness, (Isaiah 25:1). 2  I am the Lord and there is no other; the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these (Isaiah 45:7). If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it (Amos 3:6). 3  I will deal with the judgment of God next week in a post entitled “Is COVID-19 a Judgment from God?”4  The Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon, volume 2, page 90.5  Psalms by W.S. Plumer, page 850.

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