Governments across the world are busy imposing restrictions and lockdowns, as infections from new variants of Covid-19 threaten to overwhelm health services. Just when the world hoped that the pandemic had turned a corner with the rollout of vaccines, now the dark days of lockdown are back. With fears that the vaccines might not work with new strains of the virus, some might be wondering if this will ever end. When will life return to normal?
We hear a lot about science: the nature of the virus, its mutations and the way it spreads. We hear a lot about statistics: the numbers and trends in cases, hospital admissions and deaths. We hear a lot about measures: risks to be avoided and precautions to be adopted. But we do not hear about the displeasure of God. We do not hear about sin. We do not hear about divine judgment. Yet these are more important than all the rest.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a judgment from God, the Creator and Judge of all the earth. Like famines and wars, pestilences break out in the world because of God’s wrath against sin (see Jeremiah 28:8). Through the worldwide spread of this virus, the true and living God is expressing His displeasure with this generation. This includes the Church, whose public worship and ordinances have been shut down and curtailed. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
The world is as sinful as ever. Atheism, false religion, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, disrespect, abortion, euthanasia, immorality, stealing, lying, materialism and pleasure-seeking have abounded for decades. During the pandemic, the world has not turned from its desire for sin even when it has been prevented from doing some particular sin. True Christian worship has been abandoned by almost everyone. Faithful preaching of God’s law and gospel is attended by very few people. Although everyone needs salvation from sin through faith in Christ, almost no one seeks it.
God drowned the whole world (apart from Noah’s family) with the Flood because of its sin, He rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom for its sin, especially the unnatural sin of homosexuality. He used Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem because of its sin, especially the sin of rejecting the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of sinners. It does not surprise believing readers of the Bible that God is sending a plague on the world at this time.
Through Covid-19, with all its impacts on our lives, God “now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). When Pilate slaughtered some people as they worshipped, and when a tower in Jerusalem fell and killed some of its inhabitants, the Saviour’s interpretation of these tragic events was clear. He warned the living, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (see Luke 13:1-5). Those who died were not worse sinners than others, just as those who have died of Covid-19 were not worse sinners than we who still live. “There is no difference: for all have sinned” (Romans 3:22,23). Sooner or later, if we do not repent, we too will die in one way or another, and if we die without repentance and without faith in Christ, we will perish in hell for ever.
Very few people enjoy being locked down, cut off from their usual activities and contacts. But a much worse lockdown is in store for all those who die without faith in Christ: an eternal lockdown in hell! A lockdown that will be truly for ever. A lockdown that will shut us out of everything we ever enjoyed in this world. A lockdown from which we will never escape. A lockdown of agony and anguish, as punishment for our sin. No vaccine will come along, to bring an end to hell’s eternal torments. Not a drop of water was given to cool the burning tongue of the man in hell (Luke 16:19-31). There is no light at the end of hell’s tunnel, for there is no end to hell. When they die, those who failed to repent and believe the gospel will go away into everlasting punishment.
While we are yet in this world, God commands us to turn from our sins in repentance. He invites us to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. The Son of God became man, and in our nature He died on the cross, punished for the sins of His people. He never sinned, but He was condemned in their place, so that every sinner who believes in Him will be saved. “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
There are many things to be said and done because of Covid-19. But more important than all the rest is to hear the voice of God speaking through it. Before it is too late, repent of sin and believe the gospel of Christ! Everyone who does not repent and believe will suffer the lockdown of hell for ever.