Corona…and Then?

Thomas Lieth

The response to the coronavirus pandemic was global, and the consequences are far-reaching. What does all this mean in light of the prophetic Word of the Bible?

By now, you’ve probably heard and read a lot about the coronavirus. And, its impact most likely hasn’t left you unscathed. As with any crisis, there are winners and losers: those who benefit from it (at least in the short term), and those who are plunged into misfortune as a result. For many, the consequences won’t simply disappear with the repeal of the ordinances: a face mask can be quickly disposed of, but some may have lost a loved one, a job, their livelihood, or even their trust in God. Further, lasting effects could include increasing restrictions on our personal freedoms, economic and political upheavals, and progressive digitization. All of these things have been going on for a long time, but after this global pandemic, they could proceed much more quickly than they had been. Yes, sometimes people have to be forced to do things “for their own good,” similar to the dreadful climate hysteria, without which electric cars would never prevail.

However, this article isn’t about showing who could benefit or draw a profit from the current circumstances. I’m also not concerned with speculations about the origin and spread of the virus. No, what both fascinates and frightens me about all this is that out of the blue, whole nations were shaken to the core, and all within just a few weeks. And not by a world war, emerging political tensions, any terrorist organization, or even by climate change, but by a completely inconspicuous virus. As if out of nowhere, borders were suddenly sealed off, curfews were imposed, stores were closed, assemblies were banned, cell phones were tracked, face masks mandated, toilet paper rationed, coronavirus jokes off-limits, disinfectants stolen, handshakes and hugs frowned upon; and, hardly to be believed, the infected are sorted into worthy and worthless life. These are scenarios that we’d previously only seen in science fiction movies or totalitarian states.

In any case, I sometimes had the feeling that I was in the wrong movie or that it was all a dream. Preventative measures are skyrocketing daily, almost hourly! Each news item that emerged intensified fears. It was very strange, exciting, and fascinating all at once. I had to think of the word from 1 Thessalonians 5:3: “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” This whole crisis has shown just how quickly we can be torn from our “perfect world,” and how little it takes to create the circumstances that the Bible has been announcing for well over 2,000 years. For example, in Matthew 24:7-8, the Lord Jesus told His disciples in the End-Times Discourse: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”

I’d like to emphasize that COVID-19 hasn’t yet fulfilled the words of Jesus, but past and present pandemics give us an idea of what’s coming in an unpunished world where judgment is inevitable. Yes, the apocalypse, as Revelation is also called, is approaching. Habakkuk 2:3 puts it, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Let’s look at another prophetic statement, the fulfillment of which is emerging before our very eyes and, step by step, could soon become a reality. Revelation 13:11-18 (excerpted) reads: “Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth…It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth…it deceives those who dwell on earth…And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark…”

These verses were completely incomprehensible for a long time, but by now a “talking picture” that can be seen and heard around the world in real time is absolutely conceivable in the age of the internet and social media. And, a mark on the hand and forehead is not only possible in the microchip era, but also has already been executed. What I’m getting at—due to the precipitating events of the past few months—is the idea that apparently, nobody can buy or sell anymore if somebody clearly knows how to prevent it. It’s already the case that those without internet access or a smartphone (or who don’t know how to use them) can’t access certain offers. At the moment this might not be so serious, so long as enough alternatives exist. But the noose, which is currently quite loose, is tightening more and more. The events surrounding the coronavirus have relentlessly disclosed this to us. What have we currently been experiencing? To protect against the spread of the virus, stores have asked customers to pay with cards instead of bills and coins. There were even stores that strictly refused to accept cash and, as a result, nothing could be purchased without a smartphone or credit card. Efforts to abolish cash have been going on for a long time, but the “incurably stupid” citizen is sometimes too attached to his paper money. Without coercive measures, it’ll take decades before cashless payments are accepted by the majority. In short, people must be forced to do what’s good for them: finally switch to cards and digital currencies. And with the pandemic, acceptance for this has surely increased, since it’s for our own protection and that of others (or, at least that’s what’s being proclaimed).

In China and the Scandinavian countries in particular, cashless payments have gained tremendous acceptance in recent years. Sweden, for example, has set a national goal of completely eliminating bills and coins by 2030. Contactless payments with mobile phones are already the preferred method in Switzerland and elsewhere. The younger generation in particular is very open to this and will ask what’s so bad about it, since it’s so convenient and has so many advantages. But be vigilant—it’s ultimately another step toward incapacitating people, leaving the door open to total surveillance. Even if that’s not necessarily the primary goal of those who are so vehemently committed to abolishing cash, it will still happen. It already has in most of China, and is even approved of by most Chinese.

The Chinese people are at the mercy of a capricious state because of cashless payments. For those who toe the line, there are bonus points and corresponding rewards. But for those who aren’t as loyal to the state as it demands, their airplane ticket purchase may be denied due to a negative item in their record. Greta Thunberg should be pleased. China is the unscrupulous pioneer in this area (and doesn’t believe in human rights anyway), but the US and Europe are also working on the introduction of so-called cryptocurrencies (digital currencies), which could eventually replace traditional bank-notes.

As I said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s ultimately a steppingstone to what Revelation already predicted 2,000 years ago, which will be abused by the Antichrist. Anonymous transactions—which are still possible with cash—will not only become increasingly difficult, but will be impossible in the future. A system designed to prevent money laundering, curb tax evasion, and combat illegal payments will also affect honest, ordinary citizens. What you consider to be your property today can be quickly expropriated by the state. The money under the mattress and banknotes in the pillowcase won’t have value when cash is abolished, and citizens will be made completely dependent on the benevolence of the banks and the valid state. The valid criticism of this development is that people don’t have any alternative. Anyone who is in favor of digitization should by all means participate. But those who, for whatever reason, don’t want to or perhaps can’t, won’t have any other options if they want to buy and sell. The following quote from a chairwoman of Deutsche Interim AG fits with this concept: “When the last teller is closed, even the biggest digital holdout won’t be able to avoid online banking.”

I’ve said it before: people have to be forced to do things “for their own good.” Yes, we’re living in an exciting time, in which the puzzle of biblical prophecy is taking shape. But, it won’t be long until the time when you can no longer buy and sell against the will of the state. China and freedom send their regards; that was so two days ago! Incidentally, this is the flip side of the popular and much-touted digitization, which undoubtedly has its advantages, but which increasingly deprives citizens of their individual freedoms and self-determination, making them easier to control. The more digitization advances, the more transparent people will become—and they’ll accept it, because the pros outweigh the cons and they benefit from it. At least that’s the perception; time will tell as to whether that’s actually the case. Here a quote from a management consultant: “The more benefits an innovation promises, the more data and privacy protection concerns will take a back seat. People function according to the pleasure principle.”

We Christians should be sober concerning this matter. We don’t have to speak out against every advance (although they can also set us back!) or refuse to make any changes. By no means: we may very well use these things (as many ministries have moved their activities to online because of the pandemic). But, we should be vigilant and keep ourselves from getting caught up in all this. We live in the world, and many things will be unavoidable. But, we should and must show people where the Bible says everything will lead: that it will come to a terrible end for those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ, and who allow themselves to be seduced by the world’s temptations. Both digitization and globalization can be a blessing for the spread of the Gospel, but they will also prove to be a great curse when the anti-Christian forces are fully revealed.

Additionally, the measures taken because of COVID-19 have revealed global surveillance, which has sometimes been wanted and even approved of for protection of citizens. The Federal Minister of Health in Germany has proposed tracking mobile phone location data (for example, to monitor quarantine and travel restriction compliance). Interestingly, there was little resistance, whereas when it comes to preventing potential crimes, personal rights and data protection are reflexively demanded. Above all, people are vehemently drawn to the concept that no one should be pre-judged and put under general suspicion. In short: under normal jurisprudence, no one can be monitored without plausible suspicion, although this can make police work more difficult when investigating possible terrorists or criminals. But since the coronavirus pandemic, it’s generally accepted that John Smith’s phone can be tracked to be sure that he doesn’t meet up with friends over coffee.

I’m not concerned with evaluating what’s legitimate and sensible to prevent the spread of a virus during a pandemic. I’m simply amazed at what’s possible, very quickly accepted, and even approved of by the general public. The demand for unlimited freedom currently has its own limits when someone is displeased by another’s freedom. Yes, if a person can personally benefit from all these restrictions, he doesn’t care about freedoms and individual rights (especially someone else’s). It’s also interesting that, on the one hand, globalization has led to numerous difficulties; while, on the other hand, it’s precisely this same globalization that’s advancing because it’s intended to collectively tackle the world’s problems. It gives the sense that we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Both climate rescue and pandemic control are global tasks that will force individual nation states to give up their national independence. For example, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for a temporary form of global government, because the coronavirus pandemic “is not something that can be dealt with in one country. There has to be a coordinated global response.”

These developments and the demand for a “world government” aren’t anything new, but the flames are being rekindled, setting the stage for the coming anti-Christian world ruler.

Let me conclude by stressing that I can’t by any stretch of the imagination estimate when, what, where, and how groundbreaking and historically relevant things will occur in the coming years. Cash may remain with us for a while longer, and the first attempts at making digital currency socially acceptable may fail. The nation states will be able to hold their own for some time, and the EU may have to reorganize. What will happen in Israel? Over the next year, perhaps nothing will come of everything that we’re afraid of today. But thanks to the coronavirus, I was given a fresh look at how quickly things can develop that we couldn’t ever have imagined. Who knows what will shake the world next? Yet I know one thing for sure: the Bible will always be right, because “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt 24:35). In all of this, we who believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, can look confidently and assuredly into the future with a joyful heart, because God is approaching the goal, and we are with Him as well: “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5). “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me…He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:12, 20-21).

Midnight Call - 10/2020

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