Unless you live under a rock (a big rock) in the middle of a desert (a big desert), you’ve probably been introduced to a new way of life sometime in the past few weeks. I mean, two months ago, most Americans weren’t worried about their stockpile of toilet paper in case of an extended national quarantine; they were trying to make it through their workday until it was time to go home and watch the most recent sports program.
Well, guess what? Now a lot of people aren’t at work, the NBA has cancelled the season, and panic is running rampant. And Walmart is out of toilet paper.
And it’s all thanks to this thing called the coronavirus, or, more specifically, COVID-19. This “invisible enemy” as U.S. President Donald Trump has called it, is a very real problem that the whole world seems to be facing at this point in time, and there’s a lot that needs to be said about both the disease itself and the way people are handling it.
However, since I’ve touched on a few of those other things in previous articles (here and here), I’m going take this whole post and tackle an important question that has come up during this pandemic: Did God create the coronavirus?
To get to the right answer, we must start where we must always start—Scripture. And, as with most things, it’s always helpful to begin at the very beginning.
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:27-28 (NASB)
You might be wondering why we began at the creation of man and woman. Well, because right after this is where we find the answer to our coronavirus question, and we need to know where we are in the creation narrative before we can go any further.
Okay, so we have man and woman now. Everything is great in the garden of Eden—until you get to chapter three.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden…
Then to Adam He [the LORD] said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”
…therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:1-8, 17-19, 23-24 (NASB)
There it is. The whole reason for COVID-19 is contained in just that one chapter. God created man. Then man sinned, disobeying God and beginning the futile rebellion against the holy Sovereign of the universe. God judges man, and man must face the consequences of his sin. And so we begin the downward spiral of mankind deeper and deeper into our abyss of darkness and depravity.
That’s why we have sickness. That’s why we have death. That’s why we have cancer, genetic diseases, AIDS, the common cold, the coronavirus—you name it. Because we sinned, and God pronounced a curse on man because of our blatant disobedience and rebellion against His holy throne: “For you are dust, And to dust you shall return…”
To any rational person, it’s pretty obvious that the devil (who was in the form of the serpent) was not telling the truth about the fruit, the tree, or why God said what He said. But Satan didn’t just lie about why Adam and Eve weren’t supposed to eat the fruit; he also lied about what would happen if they did eat the fruit. Since the Fall, man does not just know evil, as the serpent said they would—man is evil, and loves to sin and rebel against God. From the very core of his being, man is fallen and depraved, and his will is free only to do wickedness. He is utterly incapable of turning to God because he does not want to turn to God. All of mankind is evil, and it’s all because of our sin.
So this coronavirus pandemic isn’t God’s fault. It’s ours. We’re the ones who sinned; God simply remained faithful (as He always does) and judged us for that sin. We’re the ones to blame, and it is not only irrational, but blasphemous, to try to lay any of that blame on our Creator.
But, like our ancestors before them (including Adam and Eve), a lot of people are going to try to do that anyway. Since God is the Creator of all things and “apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3), there will be those who say that that means that God created all the evil in this world, including the coronavirus.
Biblical answer: No. He didn’t.
And the rejoinder comes back, “But if He created everything, and the coronavirus is something, how is God not at fault for this deadly virus?”
Because Scripture tells us clearly that while God often uses sin to shape men and women (Job 1-42), to bring us to a greater knowledge of Himself (Genesis 45:4-8; Acts 2:22-36), or bring judgement on a sinful, obstinate people (Isaiah 10:1-19; Numbers 11:31-35), He never sins in doing so. Yes, He creates calamity (Isaiah 45:7), but it is for the purpose of displaying His gracious healing (Isaiah 45:21). He sends hardship and trouble and death, but it is to show us that we are but men, and that He is the only living and true God.
God uses that which He hates—sin and evil—to accomplish that which He loves—putting on display the attribute of kindness, the attribute of mercy, the attribute of grace… In other words, God uses sin, sinlessly, to accomplish a greater good.Todd Friel (Wretched Radio)
If you’ve paid attention to the people around you, it’s not hard to see that a lot of idols are being toppled by this coronavirus outbreak. The sports fanatic’s favorite teams have cancelled their seasons; the workaholic’s job has been altered or maybe even lost altogether; the Midas among us has watched the stock market fluctuate from an all-time high to a frightening low and back again in just a matter of hours. And maybe more significantly than all of that, the average human being has been forced to come to grips with the fact that they do not control their own destiny and that they are merely mortal; that death could come at any moment, and that they are powerless to evade that fatal, final hour.
Maybe that’s why God has visited this plague upon humanity—to strike down our precious Dagons and show us that our Baals are nothing but worthless piles of dung. Maybe He is using this as a warning, reminding us that the end of His judgements will be far worse than the beginning, that the idols that we have set up to worship are as profitable as dead blocks of stone and wood. As the Scripture says,
18“What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it,
Or an image, a teacher of falsehood?
For its maker trusts in his own handiwork
When he fashions speechless idols.
19“Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’
To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’
And that is your teacher?
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
And there is no breath at all inside it.
20“But the LORD is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth be silent before Him.”
Habakkuk 2:18-20 (NASB)
When our idols crumble to dust, our pride is crushed along with them, and we are left with only two options: despair or repentance. If we turn to despair and blame God for our problems, we sin, and will have the lake of eternal fire as our reward (Revelation 21:8). But if we repent of our sins and rebellion against God and turn to Him alone for salvation, we will be saved, and even though physical death will eventually come (Gen. 3:19; Psalm 89:48), the second death (i.e., hell) will not be able to touch us.
Even when He sent judgement upon them, God did not leave Israel without hope of salvation (Isaiah 10-11), and in the same way, He does not leave mankind without hope, even in the midst of all the trials He sends upon us. The call of Christ still rings out over humanity, the call to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and the Lord still is patient with us. Yes, the coronavirus is here, and it’s bad—but God has not destroyed us yet, and there is still time for men, women, and children to turn to Him for salvation. There’s still time for His people to warn others of the Final Judgement (which will be infinitely worse than this virus), that perfectly just and terrifying judgement which awaits those who refuse to come to Christ for deliverance.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:1-9 (NASB)
There’s still time, and there’s still grace. Let’s use it as He has commanded us, and praise Him for His mercy, holiness, and justice as we do.
 This using of sin by God for His perfect purposes is called the doctrine of theodicy, and while we will never be able to fully wrap our mind around it, we must believe it, because it is revealed by Scripture and declared by God Himself. Click here for a more thorough explanation of this doctrine: https://youtu.be/WgoQ0TBWes8
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