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PLAGUES & PESTILENCES

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” Luke 21:25-26 (Emphasis mine.)  Distress of nations and men’s hearts failing – certainly sounds like today.   

Does God want us to be fearful?  Let’s look at what Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” – John 14:27.  Paul said: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.   And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” – Philippians 4:6-8.

What does this mean for us in this current situation?  We must remember that God is Sovereign, there is nothing that catches Him by surprise.  He is the God of Job who tells Satan – this far can you go, and not one step further – and Satan obeys (Job 1:12 & 2:6).  He is the God that Paul speaks of when he said: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose…  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Romans 8:28, 35-39.  What things work together for good?  All things.  What can separate us from God? Nothing. 

So what should we do?  On a physical level we should follow the directions we have been given.  Practice good hygiene, wash your hands frequently, make sure that you practice Social Distancing when you leave your house, and only leave when necessary.  But the most important thing we need to do is TRUST GOD: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;  Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday” – Psalm 91:1-6 (Emphasis mine).  

Most Coronavirus Deaths in U.S. Projected to Occur in Next Few Weeks

April 1, 2020 — Voice of America News  reports: “The United States should be prepared to endure 100,000 to 240,000 deaths from the #COVID-19 coronavirus over the next two months even if Americans continue to keep their distance from each other.

The peak number of deaths will come over the next two to three weeks, according to the White House coronavirus task force.

‘Our country is in the midst of a great national trial unlike any we have faced before,’ said U.S. President Donald Trump as the White House on Tuesday formally introduced its extended 30-day social-distancing guidelines based on statistical models.

‘This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country,’ Trump predicted.

For the most part, the two physicians on the podium with the president and Vice President Mike Pence administered the bitter medicine to the American public.

‘This is a number we need to anticipate, but we don’t necessarily have to accept it as inevitable,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of the anticipated 100,000-plus fatalities.

‘There’s no magic bullet,’ said Dr. Deborah Birx, an immunologist who is the response coordinator on the White House’s coronavirus task force. ‘There’s no magic vaccine or therapy,’ just behaviors that can change the course of this viral pandemic…”  (The struggle with Covid-19 has been described as a war, and at the beginning of World War II, C S Lewis preached a sermon in the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford, and he spoke of enemies one faced in a war  – including fear, the fear of death.  He stated: “What does war do to death? It certainly does not make it more frequent; 100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased. It puts several deaths earlier; but I hardly suppose that that is what we fear….Yet war does do something to death. It forces us to remember it… War makes death real to us; and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past. They thought it good for us to be always aware of our mortality. I am inclined to think they were wise.” 

Should the Lord tarry, death is certain for all of us.  But with the focus on the lethality of this disease what should our response be?  “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” – I Peter 3:15.  As people are coming face to face with their mortality we need to be sharing the Gospel with them and give them peace and hope.)

Dr. Deborah Birx: Incomplete Chinese Data Misled Experts on Seriousness of Coronavirus

April 1, 2020 — Breitbart.com reports: “Dr. Deborah Birx on Tuesday said that medical experts failed to understand the seriousness of the coronavirus because of incomplete data coming out of China.

‘I think the medical community interpreted the Chinese data as that this was serious but smaller than anyone expected,’ she said. ‘Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data.’

Birx spoke about the experts’ relationship with the data during a White House press briefing on Tuesday evening.

She acknowledged frankly that when she saw early data from China reporting only 50,000 cases of the virus among the 20 million people in Wuhan, China, and the 80 million in Hubei province, she felt that the threat was similar to that of SARS, which had 8,098 cases globally and 774 deaths.

The devastation hitting countries like Italy and Spain and South Korea gave the experts much more complete data, helping them draw models that were far more alarming…”  (The true death toll in China may never be known.  The Washington Post reported that Wuhan (where the disease first appeared) officially reported 2,500 deaths, but 5,000 urns were delivered to one mortuary over a two day period, and Wuhan has seven other mortuaries.  Radio Free Asia gives an estimate based on the cremation capacity of the funeral homes in Wuhan with a total of 84 furnaces with a capacity of 1,560 cremations in a 24 hour period – which would total 46,800 deaths in that one province.  See the next three reports.) 

China censored virus news for weeks, say researchers

March 4, 2020 — TerraDaily.com reports: “China began censoring online discussions on the new coronavirus weeks before officially acknowledging the scope of the disease, according to a report published Tuesday.

Although Chinese authorities did not publicly acknowledge the severity of the virus until January 20, censorship began as early as December 31, said researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

Even general terms such as ‘unknown Wuhan pneumonia’ and ‘Wuhan Health Commission’ were deemed taboo in the early weeks of the epidemic, said the report.

More than 3,100 people have died and over 90,000 have been infected worldwide by the virus.

Citizen Lab said its research showed at least one social media platform in China was blocking some virus content three weeks before the government confirmed it was spreading between people.

That ‘strongly suggests that social media companies came under government pressure to censor information at early stages of the outbreak,’ the report said…”

Residents: ‘Nobody in Wuhan Believes the Official Numbers’ of Coronavirus Deaths

April 3, 2020Breitbart.com reports: “Multiple reports published on Wednesday quoting residents of Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus pandemic originated, found extreme skepticism among locals that the Communist Party’s official coronavirus death toll truly reflects the disease’s impact on the community.

Dictator Xi Jinping declared Wuhan on the road to recovery in mid-March, visiting the central Chinese city for the first time despite evidence that the pandemic began there as early as November 2019.

This weekend, the government opened Wuhan’s subway system to customers for the first time since the lockdown there began in January and began allowing the families of the dead to pick up urns holding the remains of their loved ones. The number of urns handed out at Wuhan’s seven funeral homes, multiple reports found, is somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000, suggesting that the real death toll of the coronavirus in Wuhan is at least ten times what the Chinese regime claimed it was.

Speaking to the Spanish newswire service EFE, Wuhan residents who declined to give their names out of fear of reprisals from the government said they knew of no one in the city who believed the Communist Party’s estimates…”

China county in lockdown as fears grow over second wave of virus

April 3, 2020 — TerraDaily.com reports: “A Chinese county of around 600,000 residents has gone into lockdown after a woman who visited the area tested positive for the coronavirus, underscoring concerns over a second wave of domestic infections.

The tightening comes as China reported 35 new confirmed cases on Thursday, drastically down from the peak of the crisis.

But they were all imported, bringing the tally of such cases to 841 and adding to fears about infections brought in from overseas.

Jia county in central Henan province said in a social media post Wednesday that it was tightening restrictions on villages and residential compounds, and was not allowing people to enter or leave their homes without the relevant authorisation.

Employees will also need permits issued by their companies in order to go to work, and vehicles can only be used on alternate days depending on their number plates…”

Islamic State Asks Allah to ‘Increase Coronavirus Torment’ of Infidels

March 25, 2020 — Breitbart.com reports: “Proving that nothing is so awful that the Islamic State cannot make it even worse, ISIS on Sunday reportedly published an article in one of its newsletters asking Allah to ‘increase the torment’ of infidels from the coronavirus while sparing faithful Muslims.

The Al-Naba newsletter, as translated by the typically pro-Bashar al-Assad Al Masdar news service, celebrated the coronavirus as an act of divine judgment for idolatry. According to ISIS, Allah has ‘imposed something of His painful torment on the nations of His creation’ by conjuring the epidemic.

‘We ask Allah to increase their torment and save the believers from all that. Indeed He is harsh of punishment against the one who rebels against Him, and merciful to the one who obeys Him and stands with Him,’ the jihadists wrote.

The terrorists also praised what they saw as a military retreat by ‘crusader nations’ because their soldiers were supposedly needed to maintain order within their own nations during the coronavirus epidemic. ISIS looked forward to ‘a great economic catastrophe’ befalling the West due to the virus…”  (Allah is incapable of judging or rewarding – “For all of the gods of the nations are idols; but the LORD made the heavens” – Psalm 96:5.  See the next three reports.)

Taliban: Coronavirus ‘a Decree of Allah … Because of the Sins of Mankind’

March 20, 2020 — Breitbart.com reports: “The Taliban, which considers itself the legitimate government of Afghanistan, released a statement on Wednesday urging Afghans to ‘recite effective prayers’ against the Chinese coronavirus, calling it a ‘decree of Allah.’

The Taliban has also repeatedly lobbied the Afghan government to release its Taliban member inmates, citing the possibility that they are a high risk of contracting the virus in the closed quarters of a prison.

Voice of America, noting the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on ongoing negotiations between the Taliban and the U.S. government, which mediates on behalf of Kabul, relayed part of a Taliban statement. The Taliban urged followers to pray for an end to the pandemic and lamented the virus as a ‘decree of Allah … because of the disobedience and sins of mankind or other reasons.’

Pakistan’s Daily Times translated a longer portion of the statement that showed the group appeared to posit the theory that the virus was a punishment as merely one potential explanation.

‘Our Muslim nation must consider this disease a decree of Allah (SwT) and deal with it in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),’ the Daily Times translation read. ‘As per the directives of scholars – people should recite effective prayers and astaghfar (seeking forgiveness) frequently, increase the reading of the Holy Quran, give in alms and charity and turn to Allah (SwT) in repentance for their past sins.’…”

Coronavirus ‘is one of Almighty Allah’s soldiers’

March 12, 2020 — Israel National News reports: “Before the coronavirus disease had reached the Palestinian Authority, a preacher on official Palestinian Authority TV taught that the virus is ‘one of Almighty Allah’s soldiers’ and that Allah is punishing the sinners – ‘those who attack His believers’.

In his sermon that was broadcast on official PA TV and discovered by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the preacher further explained that epidemics are ‘a trial for the believers and a punishment for the sinners.’ To underscore this religious view – that epidemics are a punishment – the preacher quoted Islam’s ‘prophet’ Muhammad and his uncle Ibn Abbas who both explained that plagues are the punishment for people in places where ‘abomination’ and ‘corruption’ occur.

However, since Muslim believers are also dying from coronavirus, the preacher added that believers who die from the epidemic are being tested and ‘if they have stood firm and place their trust in Allah, then they will receive an enormous reward, and whoever dies in the epidemic merits the reward of Martyrdom.’…”

Allah may inflict coronavirus on Muslims who live with infidels, says N.Y. imam

March 29, 2020 — WND.com reports: “A prominent imam in Syracuse, New York, is warning that Allah could punish Muslims who live in the lands of infidels with the coronavirus.

Khadar bin Muhammad, the imam of the Bilal Ibn Rabah mosque, said that ‘when Allah decides to punish the infidels on their land, he may destroy anybody who is on that land,’ according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.

MEMRI said the imam warned that Allah may punish them by such means as COVID-19 for ‘just chilling’ while they are surrounded by sins such as fornication, homosexuality and alcohol consumption…”

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