“When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’ When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:5-8, NIV).
Right in the middle of a devotional series on the Book of Revelation that I have been posting the last several weeks, the world has suddenly been struck with a worldwide pandemic–the Coronavirus and a significant downturn in the global economy.
It almost seems providential that I just posted a devotional on the opening of the seven seals, which reveals a series of worldwide calamities that will take place at the beginning of the end of the world as we know it!
The third seal in Revelation 6 unleashes a rider on a black horse causing economic collapse across the world possibly due to drought and food shortages. During the opening of the fourth seal power is given to the rider of a pale horse over a fourth of the world to kill people by sword, famine and plague!
These prophecies seem to beg the question, “Is the CoronaVirus pandemic the fulfillment of end-time prophecies described in Revelation 6?
I don’t believe that the Coronavirus pandemic is the fulfillment of the opening of any seals described in Revelation. But, I do believe that the opening of the seals described in Revelation 6-8 has certain similarities to what we are now experiencing with the pandemic and maybe there are some biblical lessons to learn about how we should react to this global crisis.
First, we see with the Coronavirus that a pandemic doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The Coronavirus pandemic isn’t just a health crisis, it’s a health and economic crisis at the same time. A large number of people getting sick and spreading the illness to others also causes significant economic instability–food and supply shortages, price gouging, unemployment, bankruptcy.
It’s the same with the calamities we read about in the opening of the seven seals in Revelation 6-8. These Revelation calamities probably don’t happen in isolation from one another (although we sometimes read it that way). These global catastrophes are inclusive, interrelated. Famine and disease and war cause economic distress and vice versa.
Second, the Coronavirus pandemic demonstrates what happens when we lose control (or reaffirms that we are not in control). Human beings like to think that they are masters of the universe. Then, a global catastrophe like the Coronavirus pandemic comes along and reminds us how very much not in control we are.
That was the outcome for the world leaders, the rich, the powerful and every other person on Earth who thought they were masters of the universe when the calamities of Revelation 6 begin: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Revelation 6:15-17, NIV).
Finally, calamity, catastrophe, adversity, tragedy serve to turn the hard of heart to faith in God and strengthen the faith of the already faithful. In other words, times of tribulation can ultimately build hope out of hopelessness when we realize that only God is truly in control of our individual and collective destiny.
So, if you’re feeling a lack of control, then trust in the One who is in control. Let this current tribulation persuade you to trust and follow Jesus.
And, if you are already a follower of Jesus, then let this current tribulation become a faith-building experience because you already know that God is in control.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)