Are We Witnessing the End-Times?
Are We Witnessing the End-Times? — Jay Zinn
I’ve received numerous calls and texts from people around the world, asking me about my take on this global pandemic and its impact on the economy. They inquire because they know I’ve taught and written extensively on the book of Revelation. I’ve held off on commenting about it for several reasons, but since the requests are increasing, I’ll jump in to tackle it. This blog will be the first of several I’ll send out.
First, this coronavirus pandemic has exposed how ill-prepared the world is for a crisis of this magnitude. Panic and hysteria accelerate its global impact. This virus is a new strain of respiratory flu we’ve never experienced before, so our bodies haven’t built up the immunity to fight it. The global lockdown to slow its effects is necessary to get through this period quickly. None of us, however, in our lifetime, have ever seen a plague so invisibly and highly contagious that it can shut down everything in our daily routines—especially in the workforce and our economy. It’s been surreal. People are looking for answers, and, in our case, Christians are looking for an end-time perspective on the matter.
Jesus foresaw that infectious, fatal diseases (pestilence) would be the “beginning” of birth pangs before his return (Matthew 24:7-8 with Luke 21:11). In the wake of widespread disease, famine ensues because food supplies diminish. Pestilence always wreaks havoc with a cumulative effect. What we’re experiencing now, however, pales in comparison to the future events of the Revelation. We’re not at that point yet. This current situation is merely a test run, a precursor to what lies ahead—that is if we’re still alive then.
The events described in the Book of Revelation are both linear and literal. Revelation’s symbolic imagery is prophetic and lays out real-time experiences that the entire world will go through. In Revelation, there are seven seals on a rolled-up scroll peeled back one at a time (Revelation 6:1-13; 8:1-2). The seals are symbolic of events and circumstances that intensify over centuries from the time it was opened to the days before Christ returns. Each seal is not a “moment” in time but a “range” of time covering all the remaining years to the Second Coming.
The first four seals are symbolic images of four horsemen (Revelation 6:1-8). “Horses” symbolize a spiritual reality (i.e., supernatural powers—whether of God or Satan—used to impact humankind). Horse speaks of transport, and the number “four” is the symbolic number for “earth” or the world. These horses each carry a rider that will affect the world over the lifespan it covers.
The first horse is white, the second horse is red, the third horse is black, and the fourth horse is pale (the color of a corpse). The Pale Horse has a Rider named “Death,” and carries four instruments of death: the sword (from the cumulative effects of the Red Horse), famine (from the collective impact of the Black Horse), pestilence or plagues (of the cumulative effects of the first two horses), and wild beasts. Famine follows war, pestilence follows famine, and wild beasts—also starving—follow famine and come looking for food wherever humans live. Each seal intensifies the effects of the previous seals already opened.
What we’re experiencing today is the continuing effects of the Pale Horse—i.e., the Spirit and power of Pestilence and Plagues. Since the first and second centuries, every historical plague recorded has occurred under this fourth seal. The coronavirus is simply an expansion of this seal. The collective deaths from the outbreaks through the centuries—under this continued open seal—will ultimately kill a fourth of the earth’s population (Revelation 6:8). Not the coronavirus only, but every plague this side of the cross combined.
A fourth of the world population is not as unlikely as some might think. In 600 A.D., the earth’s population was only 200 million (in that time, the fourth seal had already opened). By 1830 A.D., approximately one billion people populated the earth—two billion by 1930, three by 1965, four by 1980, five by 1990, six by 2000, and seven billion by 2011. Given these numbers and the four instruments of death of the Pale Horse, it will be possible for a fourth of the world’s population to have died by the time the fourth seal finishes its course. If the coronavirus alone had been left unchecked, it could easily wipe out one-fourth of the world’s population.
I share these things not to scare you, but to bring perspective into today’s events. We’re witnessing a “foretaste” of what’s to come and the impact it will have on a global scale. It falls under the category of the “beginning of birth pangs,” Jesus had mentioned. How long these birth pangs will last, no one knows. But based on the forecast of scriptures, we’re not yet in the final stages of end-times. The lifespan of this current plague will end as vaccines and cures emerge to arrest it. And though I’m thankful for that, more new strains of viruses will come under the Pale Horse because pestilence and plagues will intensify as we move closer to the Second Coming of Christ.
Before we proceed, there’s the elephant in the room we can’t ignore. Are we experiencing this pandemic for the simple reason that we live in a fallen world filled with sickness and disease, or is there a spiritual component behind it? Could it be that God is judging the world through this coronavirus?
Many don’t like to hear that, and I get it. It’s understandable. Many don’t want to believe that a God of love would allow something like this. It seems indefensible to a world who would ridicule God for doing such a thing—and us for believing it. It’s one of those “uncomfortable” parts in the Bible the church mostly ignores. The uncomfortable subject of God’s judgment in the end-times. The end times, well, is better left for the end-times—you know, somewhere down the road, off in the future after we’re dead and gone. But is it that far off? With this pandemic, many are wondering now if it’s closer than we thought.
I don’t have all the answers to that question—is it God judging the earth? But there’s something in the Revelation that can’t be ignored or sugar-coated. The fourth seal that’s unleashing all these plagues—through the centuries up to now—was opened by Jesus, the Lamb of God (see Revelation 5:1-2, 6a, 7; 6:1). And it can’t be stopped or reversed until he returns. Which begs the question then, to what end does this serve?
First, we must come to grips with the fact that the opening of these seals is God’s doing and not Satan’s. Second, because God is a Judge, he progressively increases judgment—century after century—upon nations and the unrepentant sinners of the world. Why? Because of the countless transgressions repeatedly committed against humanity and God’s eternal laws. God is the judge of all the earth, and he judges the world in righteousness and equity (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 50:4,6; 82:8; 94:2; 96:13; 98:9; James 4:12a; 1 Peter 4:3-5). He is unchanging in this because he is a just God who enforces justice against punishable crimes. Corrupt judges ignore justice. Good judges enforce it. God is a good and righteous Judge.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s rule (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-15), the consequence of their sin brought death throughout time to all people in a fallen world. Just before Jesus comes back—to deal the final blow to Satan, sin, and death—the cumulative judgments of the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls of wrath will have nearly destroyed the entire population of the earth. They will end the ravages of sin corrupting the world today. The few remaining sinners, the antichrist, and the false prophet—who have survived these cumulative judgments—will all be destroyed at the brightness of his coming (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 19:11-21). God, the judge of all the earth, will purge this planet with fire (2 Peter 3:10-12) of every disease and all corruption, and restore it to its original form as in the days of the Garden of Eden.
To conclude this first blog, we are as far into the Book of Revelation as the fifth seal of martyrdom (Revelation 6:9-11). The fifth seal, too, has had its intensifying effect over the centuries up to today and will increase exponentially through to the Great Tribulation Period. The sixth seal is not open yet. When it is, there’ll be no question about whether the last days are upon us. I’ll share more about the sixth seal in my next blog and the global crisis it will create to lay the groundwork for the rule of the antichrist, just like today’s pandemic is paving the way for his rise to power.
Grace and Peace!