Some would suggest that the current coronavirus pandemic is a message from God. Perhaps it is a harbinger of the end times, or a warning of divine judgement. We have certainly learned how easily mass panic can be engendered in the age of the internet and the constant bombardment of “news,” and how easy it is to get people to fall in line with growing governmental involvement in their lives when it is presented as necessary for their own good and the perceived good of the community. But a “sign of the times?” I don’t think so; there are no “signs of the times” to look for. Christ will come suddenly for His Church, and then the prophesied events that precede the second coming and the establishment of the kingdom will come to pass. But nevertheless, there is a profound reminder of scriptural principle for us in the situation.
My wife and I often have occasion to watch our little granddaughter. Both parents are employed, and we split daycare duties with the other grandparents and have done so since our daughter returned to work from maternity leave. As the baby began to become mobile, first crawling, and then crawling faster, now toddling, generally during the day we have kept her in our family room most of the time. The room is never too hot or too cold, always just right. Her diaper is checked and changed regularly. Bottle feeding was administered per her mother’s instructions, and now at some fourteen months old she is given age-appropriate nutritious food, and water is almost always available. Toys and books are readily available as well as someone to read to her or play with her almost constantly. Naps when she is tired are facilitated and encouraged. Grandpa often carries her around the house, showing her “baby” – pictures on the wall, most featuring her, the baby. Yet, invariably, she attempts to disregard the barriers to her exit from the room. She attempts to escape and crawl up the stairway to the upstairs and has always been intercepted and scooped off the stairs, with, in my case, a pronouncement of “Not Yours.” Attempts to get to something that might harm her, or to “mess up” something in the house, are met with “Not Yours.” She wants the television remote, the lamp cords, anything placed out of her reach. Taken into the room full of her toys and stuffed animals and books and told that “These are Yours,” she will soon attempt to escape to what is “Not Yours.”
She has enjoyed going outside in recent weeks and loves it. In our back yard, we let her toddle around for the most part at will. She may be met with “Not Yours” when she puts plant material in her mouth, but otherwise we enjoy watching her explore. It is natural and healthy for her. Over coming weeks, months, and years, we will enjoy watching her grow and explore. That is what should happen. That is for her enjoyment and benefit as well as for the profound pleasure of those who love her.
The Bible affirms that God created man for His own divine purposes. He created the world around us explicitly for us. The writer of Genesis, the Psalmists, the Old Testament prophets affirm the glory of creation. From the subatomic particle to the vastness of outer space, God created a perfect world, immensely beautiful and complex, a display of his grandeur, a place for people to explore and learn from. The Edenic environment was perfect for the first created humans. It was no doubt stimulating and awe inspiring, an environment in which humans could grow and explore and have fellowship with their Creator.
But the unimaginable happened. Mankind rebelled and sinned against the Creator. The principle of “Not Yours” was violated. God, for His own unfathomable purposes, had created humans with the ability to disobey Him, and they did. Their nature fundamentally changed. They no longer had unimpeded communion with God, and in fact even their relationship with their world, with self, and with each other was damaged. We can infer from Scripture that cataclysmic change occurred throughout the natural world when sin came. And now everywhere we look, we see the glory of creation juxtaposed with the destruction of sin and rebellion against God. There was no death in Eden, no pain, no tears, no suffering. Mankind was created with a perfect environment. But displaying their own will, the first humans rebelled against God. Flood and drought. War. Misery. Disease and pandemic. Above all death. All obviously allowed by Sovereign God, none part of His original creation.
The world didn’t merely become “broken.” My granddaughter has some Lego-like plastic blocks. Sitting on the floor with her, I can assemble a few into a shape. She takes apart what I put together – she breaks it, the blocks easily reassembled or assembled into another shape. A while back I attempted to glue back together a Christmas ornament that fell and broke, a ceramic egg picked up as a travel souvenir. Almost as good as new, missing just a few tiny pieces, seams showing just a little glue and fitting almost but not quite perfectly. That is “broken.” But the Fall is something far beyond that. The rebellion of creature against Creator was and remains something more massive, with consequences displayed everywhere we look. Creation and the Fall. The first two parts of God’s great plan for humanity.
The apostle Paul reminded in Romans 5:12-19,
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
The fallen nature that we inherited from Adam plagues all humans. Even my granddaughter. The principle of “Not Yours.” But the story does not end there. As the Romans 5 passage reminds us, Christ came and has overcome the consequences of the Fall for us. Rebellion against God required a solution of nothing less than Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, coming to earth as man to die on the cross for human sin. The third part and culmination of God’s great plan for mankind that is explained in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the salvation that Jesus accomplished for us. He made a way for us as sinners to return to fellowship with holy God. It is incumbent on humans to be born again, to respond to the gospel and to the Spirit and recognize that we have by nature and by choice violated “Not Yours,” to turn in faith to Christ, to end our rebellion and call out to Him. The necessary atonement for human sin has been made by the Second Adam. Centuries after the Cross, we live in a world still plagued by the effects of the Fall, by disease and disaster and death, but we can individually know redemption and restoration. The first Adam sinned and brought destruction and ruin; when we go toward what God has told us is “Not Yours” it brings problems to us individually. God’s divine purpose is to call out people who are in violation of “Not Yours” and save them if they will turn to Him in faith. Christians eagerly await the final part of God’s great plan, the end of the age and the eternal state, the restoration of all that was lost in the Fall. An eternal age when we will know Him as Creator. An eternal age when we will know Him as Redeemer.
An eternal age when there will be no more pandemics.