100 Answers in 100 Days

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Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Is Ebola the End of the World?

To be honest, I haven't read any hype saying that Ebola is the end of the world… the fourth horseman of the apocalypse some such? But neither have I been looking for such articles. Still, the thought can't help cross one's mind. The news reports sound just like the introduction to one of those post-apocalyptic, Planet of the Apes style movies. A virus wipes out all of mankind leaving a tiny remnant of a population who happened to be immune or some such. Or maybe the virus was let loose by the Illuminati as they plot to destroy all of mankind, save the super elite who will have exclusive access to the antidote, which they already have? Like I said, I haven't been reading the theories, but I'm guessing there are some out there that go something along these lines. Well, I not prepared to stand up and say "The end of the world is at hand!" but I do want to say that an end is coming, and whether this is it I don't know. What I do know is that whether it comes now or hundreds of years from now, an end is coming and we must all be ready. When a crisis such as this arises, there is no shortage of people who will say "This is the end of the world!" But that just proves the point that a crisis like this reminds us of how feeble our existence is, and the fact that Man has survived so many of these close calls is testimony to the fact that there is a God who is in control of all things.

The Book of Proverbs, which epitomizes God's wisdom, says:

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. (Proverbs 22:3)

Throughout the Bible, God presents to us the danger over and over again; that is, the theme of a judgement to come, and we can either be prudent and wise, or "simple" as in the proverb. Noah believed God's warning and so built an ark to hide in (Hebrews 11:7). And when the angels came to Lot, living in Sodom, they warned the whole family. But his soon-to-be sons in law scoffed at the news. They perished when the hailstones fell. The warning of danger came to these people, and each one had a different response. Similarly Jesus warned us:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:26-30)

We don't even have to get caught up in technical matters of a Great Tribulation and the Rapture. All we need to notice here is that a future end is still to come, and we can have the response that has proven to fail from these two examples of Noah and Lot (which are only two of many), or we can have the response of faith which, like the faith of Noah and Lot, saved them.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The wisdom of this statement is evident to anyone, but the problem for many is that they don't see the danger. They don't see it because they don't believe Jesus. Is Ebola the end of the world? I don't know. But we've been through world wars and we're still here, nuclear missile crises and we're still here, environmental disasters and we're still here. But how foolish it is to think that we survived these things because we are invincible? Any of these could have been our end. How close to destruction do we have to get before we'll take God's warning seriously? My fear is that when the Ebola virus is contained, people will say to themselves "Hooray for mankind! We're so clever that nothing can defeat us!" And they'll forget that all of mankind could have suffered an "end of the world" devastation. They'll forget that the reason they Googled "Is Ebola the end of the world?" is precisely because at one point they started to wonder... maybe the Bible's warnings are true? Whether Ebola is the end of humanity or not, it should indeed remind us that our very existence rests solely in God's hands - we are powerless to circumvent His will. And we should realize that God is not about making idle threats but even Ebola is a serious warning from God. Whether it is, in fact, a plot by some secret organization, we are powerless to stop it. If it is the angel of death, like in the days of King David's census, we are powerless stop it. Powerless, that is, unless we repent.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. In this sense, the prudent sees the danger because they believe God's Word. If you don't believe God's Word you won't believe that the Ebola danger is in God's hands, but rather in the hands of scientists in a lab. No wonder the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But repentance, which is evidence of belief in God's Word, can save us. There is something we can do to "hide ourselves" from the danger. When Nineveh repented, God spared Nineveh. When Josiah humbled himself, God delayed the captivity. And God says explicitly:

If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. (Jeremiah 18:7-8)

True repentance is not just turning away from the evil deeds themselves, but away from the very heart of evil; and that necessarily means subjecting one's self to God. An atheist will say "I'm moral", but but by what standard is he moral? His own. And he can define morality any which way it suits him. No, believing that there is an end for those who harden their hearts toward God, you must also submit yourself to God. Sodom and Gomorrah is explicitly called an example of what is to come, as we have seen, yet Jesus said "And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." (Matthew 11:23) In context, the implication is that they would have remained because they would have repented. If Sodom is a forewarning of what could happen to us, then so is the message that if we would repent we might be spared.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. (Hebrews 12:25)

For he will hide me in his shelter 
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
(Psalms 27:5)