[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
A Time of Troubles
The COVID pandemic has wreaked havoc all over the world. Think about how far reaching its effects have been, in a relatively short time. It’s destroyed businesses. It’s weakened whole economies. And stimulus packages have caused national debts to rise higher than ever. COVID’s effects have been seen in the political arena as well. COVID policies have caused controversy in local and national politics. Frustration has erupted into public protests and even riots. And of course, the disease has taken the lives of millions of people. It has caused the suffering of people in virtually every corner of the globe, being especially hard on the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
As time goes on, many are putting their hope in vaccines to turn the tide on this crisis. And vaccines are being rolled out and distributed, to the relief of many. Others are resigned to riding it out until populations reach herd immunity, when most people will have been exposed to the disease. In either case, many believe at some point things will get back to normal.
But will they?
What if the COVID pandemic goes on longer than we expect? What if new, more contagious strains develop that are resistant to vaccines? Or, what if this is only the beginning of far worse diseases we have never dreamed of?
This program isn’t going to forecast never-ending doom and gloom. That’s not our belief or our focus. There is a lot of good news to talk about. God has a plan for our world. But we also must be realistic and face the future honestly. Something that is all too rare today.
We tell you the truth at Tomorrow’s World. And that truth involves warnings about perilous times to come, and the hope that springs from the pages of your Bible.
Long Term Effects of COVID-19 on the World
At the beginning of 2020, the COVID pandemic hit with a vengeance. Within a matter of months, nations all over the world were scrambling to react to the crisis. The pandemic has been blamed for a multitude of problems, including a spike in mental illness. Notice what the New York Times magazine reported on January 21, 2021:
“Even before we entered this darkest of winters, when Covid-19 is relentlessly causing more and more sickness and death — not to mention additional stress, isolation and economic pain — there was evidence suggesting that significantly more people have thought about ending their lives during the pandemic than in recent years” (Will the Pandemic Result in More Suicides?” NYTimes.com, January 21, 2021).
Only time will tell how greatly this pandemic has affected the mental health of people all over the world. But early signs are not good.
The COVID pandemic also punched massive holes in economies around the world. How bad is it? Notice what was reported in The Economist magazine on January 9, 2021:
“The economic toll of the covid-19 pandemic is incalculable... The semi-annual Global Economic Prospects report released this week... calculates that the world economy probably shrank by 4.3% in 2020, a setback matched only by the Depression and the two world wars. But this dramatic figure still understates the cost. It measures the world economy’s fall from where it was before the pandemic, not from where it would have been had the virus not spread” (“What is the economic cost of covid-19?” Economist.com, January 7, 2021).
How bad will it get? The article goes on to say the crisis could ultimately be responsible for $10 trillion of lost revenue in economies around the world, in 2020 and 2021. These are not theoretical numbers. Most of us have friends or family who have lost businesses or wages. We’ve seen it first-hand. Or, we’ve experienced it ourselves. It’s a serious crisis.
And, of course, the disease itself has taken the lives of people all over the world. The “Our World in Data” website tracks this. According to their figures, 2.47 million people have died around the world because of COVID, as of February 21, 2021 (“Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19),” Statistics and Research, OurWorldinData.org). Most of us have been touched by this disease to one degree or another. Maybe you’ve watched a friend suffer or even die. Perhaps your own spouse, or a parent. You may have contracted it yourself. We can’t overstate the suffering some have experienced because of this disease.
We can all agree, this crisis has been a crushing blow to millions around the world. The hope is that the worst is behind us. But even if it is, even if new variants don’t arise, what about the future? Will it really be over?
As I said in the beginning, we need to look squarely at reality. Scientists expect more extreme diseases to come, from viruses we’ve never faced. Back in 2018, the Economist ran an article that talked about “disease X.” Disease X was a theoretical pathogen, named by the World Health Organization, to represent a yet unknown disease. The author states:
“By listing Disease X, an undetermined disease, the WHO is acknowledging that outbreaks do not always come from an identified source and that, as it admits, “a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease” (“What is Disease X?” Economist.com, May 23, 2018).
What a statement! Who would have known, back in 2018, what we’d be going through today. What the WHO was trying to do was prepare not just for diseases they knew about, but those that are as yet unknown. But what is that saying? What that means is they expected new diseases to arise. And the lesson recent history has taught us is a new virus can plow into the world like a tornado. What about the next one?
In more recent times, other virus hunters have echoed the same thing. Peter Piot (“Pea - Uht”), is a special advisor on the coronavirus to the European Commission President. He’s a well-known micro-biologist from Belgium who has spent much of his life studying viruses. His most notable work was playing a role in discovering the ebola virus. On September 23, 2020 an interview of him was posted by the Politico website. It was entitled, “Belgian virus hunter warns of looming ‘age of pandemics’.” Notice what Mr. Piot said in this interview:
“The frequency of epidemics is ‘really increasing,’ he noted, with many of these viruses — like SARS and Ebola — coming from animals. Viruses that might have remained local could be spreading more easily due to widespread travel, he suggested. ‘But now, something happens in a city that most people never heard of — Wuhan — and boom, goes to the whole world,’ he said... Piot said that he spent the last six years giving speeches titled: ‘Are we ready for the next pandemic?’” (“Belgian virus hunter warns of looming ‘age of pandemics,’” Politico.eu, September 23, 2020).
You may recall that our lead presenter Gerald Weston also explained the source of many of these viruses, on a previous telecast. It was entitled, “Why Does God Allow Pandemics?” In that telecast, he explained that many viruses come not just from animals, but from humans eating animals God never intended to be eaten. The Bible calls them “unclean.” If you’d like to review that telecast, you can find it on TomorrowsWorld.org.
Mr. Piot has been warning the world for years. Were we ready for COVID? Is he correct when he says we may be entering an age of pandemics?
This is not the first time we’ve been warned about diseases on the horizon. In the early 1990s, my wife had a microbiology college professor tell his class that he worried about the future. His concern was the overuse of antibiotics, and the growth of viruses resistant to antibiotics. He said, “We may come to a point where we are forced to go back to praying at the bedside of the sick.”
What a statement. Do you realize you don’t have to wait for a deadly illness to ask for God’s merciful healing?
Future Outbreaks Predicted
The experts tell us we should expect unknown diseases in the future. And frankly, they’ve been warning us for years. It’s not if, but when. And because of our modern transportation, it’s very difficult to limit an outbreak to one place. It quickly spreads all over the world.
I quoted from scientific experts in the last segment, but now let’s look at Bible prophecy. What do we learn from the Bible?
Way back at the time of Moses, God issued harsh warnings to the ancient nation of Israel if they would disobey Him. Notice what it says in Deuteronomy 28:58–59:
“If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses” (Deuteronomy 28:58–59).
Longtime viewers of Tomorrow’s World know the Bible shows many of our Western nations today are actually descendants of the ancient nation of Israel. And much of prophecy is dual. There is an end-time fulfillment, as well.
More and more Western cultures blatantly disregard biblical values of human life and sexuality and morality. Greed, pride, and violence are the norm. As our sins mount, God may allow more diseases to come on us to wake us up!
Now, does this mean every time someone gets sick and even dies, it’s divine judgment? No. We all age and will grow old if we live long enough! And all of us will suffer from SOME health issues at some point in our life. And we will even die—that’s part of life.
At the same time, we’ve got to realize, God in His word says He sometimes uses disease epidemics to get His people’s attention. Notice, going on, in Deuteronomy 28:60:
“Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the Lord bring upon you until you are destroyed” (Deuteronomy 28:60–61).
Bible prophecy also shows judgments coming on the whole world, as a result of sin. Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry, His disciples asked Him what would be the sign of His coming. After warning of deception and wars, notice what He said in Matthew 24:7–8:
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:7–8).
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pestilence as:
“[A] contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating” (“Pestilence,” Merriam-Webster.com).
Note this carefully. This is not us claiming to know what the future holds; it’s a direct prophecy coming from the words of your Savior, Jesus of Nazareth. These are HIS words, and if we are a believer in Jesus Christ, we need to take note. Disease epidemics will come.
Now, He didn’t say we should be anxious and worried about it. In fact, in verse 6 He said, “See that you are not troubled.” Through Christ, we can have peace—even in difficult times to come. But we also must take His warning seriously.
Toward the end of the first century, the Apostle John saw a vision of the future. He recorded it in the Book of Revelation. After the prophesied seven seals, and the seven trumpet plagues, we read of the “seven last plagues.” Notice how the fifth plague is described, in Revelation 16:10–11:
“Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds” (Revelation 16:10–11).
We humans can be extremely hard headed. Even when the last plagues come, to wake up a sinning mankind, some will stubbornly refuse to repent of their sins.
Turning to God for Healing—How Strong is Your Faith?
So, what should we do?
Let’s face it, we are all physical. We all are subject to the ravages of time, age and at some point, disease.At some point we will die. It’s the normal cycle of life and death. But because we are physical, and our God is loving, He has also given us the blessing of divine healing.
When Jesus began His ministry, He immediately began preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. But He also cast out demons and healed the sick. People came from all over to be healed. He saw their suffering and had compassion on them.
Let’s look at one particular case. A ruler came and asked Him to help his young daughter. She was sick and close to death. Jesus agreed to go with him, but on the way, something else happened. This is found in Mark 5:25–26:
“Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:25–26).
There are always those who are ready to prey on the vulnerable. That hasn’t changed, has it? At the same time, we know of outstanding examples in the medical field today who use their expertise and training to really serve their fellow man. Many of them have put their lives on the line in this time, fighting infectious diseases; for that, we’re grateful.
But think about it. No matter how dedicated physicians may be, they are still limited. There are times when they have done all they can do, and can do no more. They cannot heal in the ultimate sense. Only God can heal. And Jesus did heal this woman. Mark 5:27:
“When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well”” (Mark 5:27–28).
And He did make her well. That’s the power Jesus had. That’s the power of your and my Savior. And He still does heal—I’ve personally witnessed that in my life. And maybe you have, too. That needs to be real to us. Because He is real.
Jesus proceeded to the house of the ruler who had requested His help. When He got there, He heard the sad news: the little girl had already died. In fact, there were already mourners in the house. We pick up the story in Mark 5:36:
“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe.’… Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly.… But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying” (Mark 5:36, 38, 40).
Notice, when Jesus healed, He didn’t make a big show of it. There was no fanfare, no spotlight, no sleight-of-hand. In fact, as we see here, He made all those who were wailing and carrying on leave the house. Then, those remaining were just a few, with the parents. It was a quiet, private matter. And this is what He did, as told in Mark 5:41:
“Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat” (Mark 5:41–43).
He healed her. Actually, He raised her from the dead! Not with a lot of noise and production. In fact, He told them, don’t make a big deal of this to others! He wasn’t seeking a crowd. Healing was a part of His MINISTRY, as a sign of Who He was. And, He did it simply out of compassion for these desperate people.
Does God heal today? Absolutely. Notice what James 5:14–15 says:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:14–15).
The Living Church of God has dedicated ministers around the globe. One of their duties is to pray over the sick and anoint them with oil. It’s not a strange or unusual ritual. It’s just a simple, quiet prayer with the one who is sick and the anointing of the person with a tiny bit of olive oil. It’s done just as it says here in James 5:14. God does heal. I’ve seen it myself, with my own eyes.
Now, are there times when we ask for God’s healing and we don’t get better immediately? Absolutely. We must understand, God has a plan for us. And His ultimate priority is to get us into His kingdom. And that means He sometimes allows us to suffer, to learn about trusting Him and having faith in Him. Paul learned that when He asked God for deliverance from a trial and was not delivered. Notice the answer from God to Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:9:
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We sometimes learn the most by learning to wait and be patient. Even so, God does want us to ask when we need help.
And notice something else. As it describes in Acts 19:11, there were times when Paul could not pray over someone in person, and in those cases he would pray over and anoint a cloth that would then be sent to that person, who would then apply the cloth to themselves in prayer. Let’s read it together:
“Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11–12).
The Living Church of God follows that practice as well, sending out anointed cloths to those who ask, in genuine faith, to be healed.
Jesus Christ Cares About Your Health and Future
Earlier in today’s program, I mentioned the micro-biology professor saying there would come a time when we would again have to pray at the bedside of the sick. But think about it; Are we only going to do that when we are absolutely forced to? Or, can we begin to seek God now, every day, to guide us and teach us—and heal us—when we’re sick? The answer is obvious; God wants us to seek Him now.
In John 10:10, notice what Jesus Christ said, as recorded by the apostle John:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
God wants to give us eternal life, through the resurrection. But He also wants us to enjoy the blessings of life now—and that includes divine healing.
Look to God. Realize that COVID may just be a blip on the radar. But we can be prepared for whatever comes next, if we have faith and trust in God.
Hey, it’s me again! Thank you for watching and remember to subscribe so you don’t miss another Tomorrow’s World video, and if you’d like a copy of our free booklet Does God Heal Today? go to TWtv.org/heal or click the link in the description. See you next time.