Cultural Apostasy, Judgment, the Coronavirus
I want to discuss what I might call “the elephant in the room.” This “elephant” is not only being ignored by the secularized world we live in, but by most of the Church as well. I know that addressing this issue will not win me any friends, and I know that some fellow believers will be offended. Nevertheless, I want to put my cards on the table and raise the question: Is the coronavirus that is sweeping the world the judgment of God?
Before I speak to that allow me to lay out some basic Biblical concepts:
First, we must establish that God is good. He is not the author of evil and tempts no one:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13)
Second, we must understand that in his sovereignty he subjugates evil to his own purpose:
“this Man [Jesus], delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Acts 2:23)
All of creation – including evil – serves God’s good purpose. History has been called forth from eternity to fulfill his plan. There is, therefore, nothing outside of his sovereign control.
Third, we must also understand that God’s dealings with man are covenantal.
Our first parents were created as covenant creatures with religious and ethical obligations. By obeying the Creator-God, Adam was to enjoy the covenant blessings and thereby fill and subdue the earth. God’s command was for the purpose of extending Eden and thus human flourishing to the whole earth. If he rebelled, asserting himself as a would-be god, he would instead experience the covenant curse of death. This he did by his disobedience and decreeing his own law and reality in place of God’s. And this also is our choice, we either worship the Creator or the creature. (Romans 1:25)
By virtue of creation, therefore, all of life is religious. There is no secular/sacred divide—the earth is the Lord’s and is Sovereign over-all. There is, therefore, no neutral realm in which man is independent of God. Our obedience to God and his covenant, consequently, plays out in every aspect of life. This means that we cannot confine “religion” to merely matters of personal piety. The crown rights of Christ the King – as the Creator-God – must be asserted over every area of life, from the personal to the cultural.
As Henry Van Til famously said, “culture is religion externalised”. The ultimate reference point of a society will determine its social morals and laws, whether it be the false gods of secular humanism or of the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As a culture, therefore, we face a choice between the Creator-God and his covenant-law or the gods that are no gods and their laws. This is the bottom-line issue of the culture wars and of our cultural apostasy: man’s law versus God’s law.
Western Nations, Covenants, and History
Not only is man in covenant with God by virtue of creation, the Western nations, in particular, have historically enacted national covenants with God. And this, in response to the Gospel of Christ, for the advance of the Kingdom of God.
For example, the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, enacted by Parliament, covenanted England Scotland, and Ireland to the Lord for the promotion of the Gospel. The constitutional preambles of Australia, Canada and Ireland, and numerous European and formerly colonial nations, invoke the Christian God as the basis of their legal existence.
The Scriptures tell us that “to whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)
The formerly Christian civilization of Europe and the West is now being held to account.
For the past three hundred years, the West has gradually committed cultural apostasy. Rejecting its heritage it is now reaping a whirlwind of judgment. Note a sample of the death toll of the last 120 years:
World War I – 20,000,000
Spanish Influenza – 50,000,000
World War II – 50,000,000
Not to mention the 60,000,000 who died under the reign of Stalin and Mao. Obviously, I could make reference to others including the 60,000,000 + infants in our nation as a result of abortion.
Judgment and the Coronavirus
God does not judge with immediacy. He is slow to bring judgment and sends forth many calls for repentance through His prophets. It is a “slow train coming” but His judgment does eventually arrive.
Note what the Lord declares in Leviticus 26 after rehearsing Israel’s salvation history and the blessings of obedience, the Lord declares to Israel:
“But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.” (vs. 14–16)
“Panic, disease, and fever” are the direct result of broken covenant.
However, panic and fear will only take hold of a society that has lost its fear of God. The society that fears the Lord will be secure in him and within the bounds of his moral constraints.
God’s people need not fear what the nations fear:
“For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:11–13)
The Mercy of God in the Midst of Judgment
A phenomenon of God’s activity in history is that His judgment and his mercy often travel together. As the prophet cried out, “In your wrath, remember mercy!” (Habakkuk 3:2). History shows us that revival and judgment are often fellow travellers.
It is crucial, therefore, that we interpret God’s judgments accurately. They are designed to be restorative—to arrest our attention and drive us back to him: “For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:9)
Repentance must begin with the people of God (II Chronicles 7:14). It is the Church that has failed to be the “salt and light” we have been called to be. We have failed our leaders in the Western nations by playing politics rather than being the prophetic voice to the nation we should be.
This could be the greatest time that the Church has seen in the past 150 years if we arise to the occasion, and cooperate with the Holy Spirit, to restore the nations of the earth to God’s covenant. Let us each repent and do our part as the Army of God.