Stafford Christadelphians

The Christadelphian ecclesia (church) in Stafford, England

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries globally. At the time of writing (23 May 2020) there have been more than 5.2 million confirmed cases worldwide, with 338,000 having lost their lives to it. The actual number of cases is sure to be much higher.

Here is a small collection of articles and comments related to the current crisis. They represent the views of individual Christadelphians, based on their understanding of the Bible.

Coronavirus, AD70 and You

23 May 2020

One might have some difficulty in seeing the vital connection between the viral pandemic that is sweeping the world and the year AD70 – BUT the connection is very real and it does matter!

Let's start by considering what was happening in the year AD70. In that year the Jewish rebellion against the Roman Empire was decisively and conclusively crushed.

In what is commonly known as ‘The Olivet Prophecy’, Jesus Christ gave warnings about things that were about to happen to the people around him. Largely his warnings were ignored by his generation. He also gave stark warnings about the end of another time period.

Sermon on the Mount, by Carl Bloch (1877)

Today we believe a parallel set of events are taking place, which will culminate in the end of our age.

We are living in unprecedented times full of fear that we, and many thousands of others, will die from the virus that now is rampant in the whole earth. A lot has changed since the end of last year.

Let's have a look at an overview of ‘The Olivet Prophecy’ as given in the Gospel record of Luke. As Christadelphians we believe that the Bible was written by men under inspiration from God for our instruction (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Jesus is asked by his disciples in Luke 21:7, two important questions:

  1. When will the total destruction of Jerusalem be?
  2. What will be the sign that this destruction is about to take place?

Jesus sets about answering these questions and it is a dark picture for the people of his day. In Luke 21:8-13 he gives the signs that would show the nearness of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, namely

  • The rise of false Christ's (v8)
  • Rumours of wars & instability (v9)
  • Wars between nations and kingdoms (v10)
  • Earthquakes (v11)
  • Famines (v11)
  • Pestilences or disease (v11)
  • Persecution of the early believers (v12)

In the years leading up to AD70, the Jews revolted against the Roman Authorities culminating in war, revolt, persecution of the early believers and during the siege of Jerusalem itself there was famine on a grand scale along with disease.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, by David Roberts (1850)

In AD75, the Roman historian, Josephus wrote;

“Thus did the miseries of Jerusalem grow worse and worse every day, and the seditious were still more irritated by the calamities they were under, even while the famine preyed upon themselves, after it had preyed upon the people. And indeed the multitude of carcases that lay in heaps one upon another was a horrible sight, and produced a pestilential stench.”

Josephus: Wars of the Jews, Book 6, Chapter 1 section 1

Luke 21:20-23 describes this siege as the Romans came to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. Luke 21:24 describes how the Roman Armies would overrun Jerusalem and that the city would be occupied by Gentiles or non-Jews. The Jews were also to be taken into captivity and dispersed throughout the World. But this would only be until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled, or come to a conclusion. In AD1967 Jerusalem was recaptured by the Jews and the times of the Gentiles came to an end. The Modern era has also seen the regathering of the Jews from all nations with nearly 7 million Jews now living in Israel.

This brings this prophecy right up to date into the 21st Century. Luke 21:25-26 predicts that in this modern era there will be signs in the heavens. The verses also describe the nations being in a state of perplexity or quandary, with their hearts failing them for fear or dread of the things that are coming upon the earth. Besides being literal signs in the skies above our heads, this is mainly a reference to the political heavens, or the Governments of the nations of the world. The situation will be such that there will be seemingly no way out of the crises that will be happening, like the sea and waves roaring, they will be agitated.

Russia along with her Allies are being lined up for the next siege of Jerusalem as prophesied by Ezekiel 38 and Zechariah 14. As we have discussed elsewhere (see this article), their positions as required by prophecy are nearly in place. In society around us we have seen many worried over the things that are coming upon this earth, just as prophesied. You may easily be one of those who worry. These worries include:

  • Nuclear war and disarmament
  • Many Civil Wars with the famine and disease that follow in their wake
  • Collapsing economies and stock markets
  • The rise of deadly viruses like Coronavirus COVID19, SARS etc.
  • Fear of personal attack
  • The rise of violent & sexually driven crime

We worry about ourselves, our friends and families, and what the future holds for us all. The present pandemic is a good example of this. However Luke goes on to say in verse Luke 21:27 that the Son of Man, or Jesus Christ, will soon intervene in the world's affairs for the improvement of society (see also Zechariah 14:3-4)

As the events of AD70 unfolded in precise fulfilment of Bible prophecy, likewise we can be sure that prophecies concerning our own time period will also come to pass.

And ourselves? Where do we fit in?
Luke goes on to say that when these things begin to come pass then our redemption is close at hand. Notice how Luke says these things begin to come to pass. These things have begun to come to pass, so we need to act now and search for the salvation that God, through the Lord Jesus, offers to all who believe in the Gospel message.

Now is the opportunity, tomorrow may be too late.

Predicting the future

23 May 2020

On 23 March 2020 all non-essential travel was banned and all pubs, clubs and open spaces were out of bounds. There was the sudden realisation that things had changed! When we look back we see that man’s history has been characterised by such unpredicted events. We might wonder - what now is to follow?

Man, though good at recording history, has been a spectacular failure at predicting the future. Albert Einstein in 1932 wrote:

“[There is] not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”

Similarly, Scientific American in 1909 reported:

“The automobile has practically reached the limit of its development.”

So what does the future hold for us now? If you search on the Internet for “Nebuchadnezzar’s dream”, you can find an article containing this information:

“The dream featured a huge, glorious statue of a man. Its head was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. The first four kingdoms have been identified as the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. This identification has come from the workings of history matching further prophecies.”

www.gotquestions.org/Nebuchadnezzars-dream.html

How accurate were the words of Daniel! He wrote around BCE 600 and forecasted to the end of the Roman Empire in 465 AD, over 800 years subsequently. He also predicted the coming of a fifth world Empire, which is still future to us:

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

Daniel 4:22 NKJV

So what does the future hold for us now? We can confidently envisage the fifth world Kingdom coming soon. Reliance on the ability of Daniel’s predictions of the first four great Empires, is surely to be preferred to trusting newspaper headlines, which change from week to week!

Why we need the Bible

17 May 2020

We are all waiting anxiously for scientists to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 to help the world return to some kind of normality. However, we believe that there is a wider issue, an even more threatening malady to be cured. God, in the Bible, offers a cure to old age and even death. There follows a summary of the main points of this part of God's message. You can find more details elsewhere on this web site or in the free literature we offer. Most importantly, you can find it in the Bible.

Without the Bible we wouldn't know what God is planning.

  • God does exist. Details of unlikely prophetic events recorded thousands of years ago in the Bible have provably been fulfilled in modern times.
  • The Bible records an astonishing discussion between God and a man:

    “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”

    Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

    People all over the world are to be made happy (blessed) by God's great nation.
  • Abraham did what God asked but has not yet received the reward. Towards the end of the Bible, 1500 years later, we find:

    “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised”

    Hebrews 11:39 NKJV

  • The reward promised to Abraham is available to everyone. It was Abraham's faith that made him special. The time when “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” is still awaiting the return of Jesus to the earth. At that time, Abraham and all true believers, including ourselves if we live in faith as he did, will be raised to life and participate in the Kingdom of God and eternal life on earth.

Hygiene and separation

7 March 2020

The present threat from coronavirus started off mildly but with each day its threat grows more worrying.

There are now more than 100,000 cases worldwide and over 3000 deaths. It has been likened to a full reservoir with the sides beginning to crack and unleash this epidemic worldwide. The implications for the world economy and employment are only beginning to be imagined. Where will it all end?

From the outset we have seen:

  • Affected areas and persons isolated
  • The need to sanitise our hands etc. to limit the spread of the virus

These basic procedures are a common way to prevent the spread of disease. In 1847 Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis made observations on his ward in Vienna and later in Budapest. His observations and practices conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by his medical contemporaries. Later, after his death in 1865, they were proved to be scientifically accurate and now form the basis of hand disinfection on hospital wards. Regular hand washing is necessary to prevent cross-contamination of infection.

Yet Dr. Semmelweis discovered nothing new. In the Old Testament, instruction was given by God to Moses concerning the regular washing of hands and clothing in water after handling the dead or the infected living, followed by a period of self isolation away from others:

“Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening. And the one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening.”

Numbers 19:7-8 NKJV

When Moses led Israel, some 2 million people to their new land 3,500 years ago, God had provided them with a detailed code of hygiene. The use of running water for washing was urged as was the threat to be avoided from passing on of contagion by touch. The importance of quarantine when disease occurred allowed it to be kept in check. Moses was also given a list of animals which were “unclean, not to be consumed”. Amongst these is the bat, which significantly, is thought to have played a part in the development of this current scourge.

The Bible enlightens us not only about the roots of current problems but also about their causes and future elimination when Jesus Christ returns soon in his Kingdom which we each are invited to share.

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