>> Joel will discuss Inside The Revolution, Bible prophecy, and the threat of a global pandemic — followed by an extended Q&A session – at McLean Bible Church on Friday, May 1st, at 7:30pm. Click here for more details and to register.
Jesus said in the last days “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors.” (Luke 21:10-11)
UPDATE: As of Friday at 11:00am eastern, there have been 504 confirmed cases of swine flu in 11 countries — including 133 cases in the U.S. — and 11 confirmed deaths so far. However, the Mexican government says 176 people have died from the flu in its country alone.
That said, the head of the World Health Organization says the world now stands on the brink of a global pandemic. She is urging governments and health professionals to act quickly to stop of a terrible plague that could cost many lives, given how horrific past pandemics have been.
“Governments around the globe have moved swiftly and aggressively against the fast-spreading A/H1N1 flu virus,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “But should it evolve into an especially deadly strain, the consequences will likely overwhelm even the most advanced health systems in the U.S. and other Western countries. By one important measure — stockpiles of antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu — the U.K. is among the countries best prepared to cope with the emerging pandemic. It has enough of the medicine on hand to treat 33 million people, or 54% of its population. France is also a leader, with drugs also to treat 54% of its people, as well as one billion surgical masks in its stockpile. Austria, with antivirals for 40%, and Japan, at 28%, are close behind.”
Skeptics say the U.S. and other governments are overreacting and that they threat of a pandemic is minimal, at best. Let’s hope they are right, but at this point, hundreds of businesses, schools and public events in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico are being shut down out of an abundance of caution.
Excerpts from remarks by Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general: “Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously, precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world. For the first time in history we can track the evolution of a pandemic in real time. Influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behaviour. All countries should immediately now activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia….Based on assessment of all available information and following several expert consultations, I have decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5. This change to a higher phase of alert is a signal to governments, to ministries of health and other ministries, to the pharmaceutical industry and the business community that certain actions now should be undertaken with increased urgency and at an accelerated pace.”
A few thoughts:
We need to pray that the Lord would heal and comfort all those affected with the flu, and that He would be merciful and stop this potential pandemic dead in its tracks. After all, “the Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:8-9)
We need to pray that people would realize that God is shaking this world geopolitically (wars & rumors of wars), geologically (a steady stream of serious earthquakes), medically (plagues and diseases), and financially (the global economic crisis). Why? To get our attention. To get people to turn away from their own selfish paths and to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, to be forgiven of their sins and adopted into His family, according to the Scriptures. God loves us too much to let us be lost. He wants to refocus our priorities. He wants us to realize we are lost — now, and forever — without Him. And He wants us to realize that Jesus Christ conquered death by dying on the cross and then rising again on the third day. People who have received Christ into their hearts by faith needn’t fear today or tomorrow, because we have a God who defeated death and He is offering eternal life as a free gift to all who will receive it. Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” What words of hope in a time when people are fearing for their very lives. ”And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 5:11-13). In John 1:12 we read, “But as many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believed in His name.” Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord? Here’s a wonderful summary of the gospel message I would encourage you to read and follow.
We need to pray for followers of Jesus Christ not to be fearful during these times of global crises, but to be strong and courageous. The Bible commands us more than 300 times not to be fearful but to trust the Lord. In Joshua 1:9 we read, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” And, of course, Jesus said in John 14:1-3, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
PLAGUE HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- Swine flu: ‘All of humanity under threat’, WHO warns: The World Health Organisation has warned that “all of humanity is under threat” from a potential swine flu pandemic and called for “global solidarity” to combat the virus
- WHO warns global swine flu pandemic imminent
- Swine Flu Case in Spain May Point to Global Pandemic, WHO Says
- Vice President Biden: Stay Off Subways During Swine Flu Panic World Health body raises alert to level 5, one notch short of full pandemic
- Mexico orders economic shutdown; pandemic imminent
- Swine Flu: face masks will not stop the disease spreading, experts warn
EARTHQUAKE HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- Associated Press: ‘It feels like the Apocalypse:’ Earthquake strikes reeling Mexico after swine flu outbreak
- Pope Visits Devastated Earthquake Zone
- Earthquake jolts India-controlled Kashmir
WARS & RUMORS OF WARS HEADLINES: