It was early in the month of January—just over 4 months ago—when we first began to read about a peculiar outbreak of viral pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, China. I’m not sure I had even heard of Wuhan before then. And while updates appeared every couple of days, there seemed to be little sense of any great global urgency or concern outside of the region. In mid-January, the news reported a case in Singapore, and a week or so later we had our first reported case in the States.
Since then, as we all have witnessed, all hell hath broken loose on our little blue planet, as this mysterious virus spread from city to city, state to state, and nation to nation, and is now reported to be present—as Ryan McClure was referring to ["A Time to Grow"]—in 185 countries. According to Worldatlas.com, there are 195 countries in the world, but only 193 that the UN recognizes.
Most of those nations that have reported zero cases so far are either island nations like Kiribati, Lesotho (everybody has heard of Lesotho, right?), or Samoa, or North Korea, which refuses to admit anything is ever wrong inside its perfect little enclave.
So, apparently, this little bug has racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles, leaving very few stones unturned.
And speaking of unturned stones, Richard Ritenbaugh left very few in his last commentary and sermon over the past two services, but there were a couple of items that I found particularly noteworthy that I will quickly share with you, before getting to the meat of this message.
We’ve all likely become familiar with the daily press briefings from President Trump and his virus response team. Each day, in front of the press and network cameras, our president updates the world on the progress, or lack thereof, of our war on Covid-19.
Usually appearing alongside the president are Dr. Anthony Fauci, billed as our nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. These briefings provide a daily dose of warnings, advice, and above all, the latest updates on how many cases, how many hospitalizations, how many deaths, and perhaps even more importantly, how many more deaths our medical experts predict will occur from this invisible killer.
It was about 3 weeks ago, around the 20th of March, when, during one of these daily dog and pony shows, that Dr. Birx made a rather astounding statement. While addressing a question about the frighteningly high mortality rate predictions, she mentioned the various computer models that the doctors, research scientists, virologists and the like, were using to make these remarkably depressing mortality predictions. It is similar technology that climate scientists have been using to convince the world that carbon dioxide is our enemy.
In her answer, Dr. Birx explained that she would advise the media to use a little restraint when reporting these horrible numbers. She said—and I paraphrase—that the computer models never accurately reflect the reality of what takes place on the ground each day; that the computer predictions are far worse than the actual numbers. As an example, Dr. Birx revealed that the United Kingdom, using its own unique modeling algorithm, had earlier that day revised its national mortality predictions down from 500,000 to 20,000.
My jaw dropped. I thought, This is a real breakthrough. Here’s an egghead that wants to tell the truth. I turned up the television to hear what I thought would be a pretty interesting follow up question, but none came. In fact, the next question asked of Dr. Birx concerned a completely different aspect of the crisis and her earlier statements went entirely unchallenged. In fact, in a subsequent answer to another question, she referred again to those same computer predictions as grounds for even more caution. Again, no one called her on it. I concluded that if there is anything this nation reveres and worships more than doctors, it’s technology. And it’s obvious this world reveres both of them more than God.
My next point deals with our news programming and the so-called experts and pundits that appear each night to tell us all how to think as we endure this trial. We watch these entertainment shows that masquerade as news, imploring the pundit-celebrities and so-called experts to give us answers and solace before the next commercial break. No one wants to confess on live TV that he or she needs more data to intelligently and responsibly postulate an answer. Confessions like that don’t get you invited back on the show.
We are obsessed with compiling as many negative numbers as possible. We crave rumor and innuendo, along with the reckless accusations and dire predictions that naturally follow—they make for exciting TV and big ratings. Between cable news and social media, truth and its first cousin, common sense, never had much of a chance.
We are getting the answers we deserve, because we’ve allowed our institutions for discovering and reporting the truth essentially to collapse. We’ve created a monster that is feeding on our emotions, our fears. We are paying dearly to watch a long, slow, train wreck that only God has the power to end.
Four or five days ago, I had an enlightening conversation with Mark Schindler as we discussed our frustrations with trying to make sense of everything that Covid-19 was doing to our world, in a similar fashion and spirit to what Richard would be discussing on the First Day of Unleavened Bread. At one point, Mark mentioned how easily he found himself pointing critical fingers at the many people, players, and institutions that seem to be driving the bizarre narrative that is unfolding daily, dramatically reshaping our world against our will and better judgment. He also mentioned how he would rather be looking inward at his own weaknesses than spending so much time and energy pointing out the faults of others.
Those ideas really hit home for me and I found they influenced my thoughts as I began to see a bigger picture developing in all of this. I think most of us have been aware of the ongoing blame game that we witness in the news coverage, as well as in our own conversations and social media posts. Just who or what is responsible for all the sickness and death, for all the disproportional panic that threatens to destroy our world?
Many blame China or Russia or the Pentagon or the media, globalism, socialism, and the good ol’ liberals, our president or just all our politicians and elected officials in general! How about the Illuminati, the Elite, the Bilderbergers? Or has the Deep State, still stinging from Hillary Clinton’s defeat, finally found a way to destroy Donald Trump? How about "global warming"—why not? Or, all of the above? Perhaps the best question is, “Does it really matter?”
Besides satisfying our legitimate desire to know what is happening and why (as Richard opined on Thursday), the truth is, God is allowing it to happen, perhaps even adding His own touches, and that means it’s for a good reason and for our own good.
Consider these thoughts: What if this began as a satanic ploy to cause mankind more grief? And what if God, always sovereign, anticipated Satan’s game and allowed or hijacked it as a test for the “apples” of His eye—His church—us?
Consider for a moment—Do you think God is content with the state of His church in the year 2020? Or, because time is always growing shorter and we are still so carnal, has He decided perhaps to shake us up a bit, to humble us, to scatter or isolate us a little more? It would certainly fit a pattern!
What if He’s looking to judge our reaction? Are we griping about what is happening to us or are we willing to see what God may be doing for us?
Are we pouting, looking to place the blame and to aim our anger upon others, or are we willing to recognize that maybe, just maybe, we—because of our weak spiritual condition, our pride, and our selfish desire to maintain our way of life—what if we are actually the reason behind it all? What if we are ground zero? Are we ready to accept that?
Is it possible that God wants each of us to recognize how much we are still entwined with (and how much we still embrace) the spirit of this world? Is it a just a coincidence that the main weapons that man has devised to fight this invisible disease are face masks and social distancing? Is it possible that God wants us to be more aware of what is coming out of our mouths and of the spirit we are breathing in? And perhaps that we should practice our own form of social and spiritual distancing from Babylon; to finally heed His admonition for us to “come out from among them and be separate, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues”? Maybe this is a great blessing, a new warning, appropriately urgent for the times, but—in essence—an old fashioned call to repentance.
Of course, I can’t be sure of this. I can claim no direct revelation from God. But as we pray for Him to intervene, to mitigate the deathly potential of this virus, so that we might return to work, that we might return to church and our fellowship, that He might restore a modicum of sanity in our world, isn’t a mindset of repentance a pretty good place to start?
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