THE WAY OF DEATH: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE EVOLVING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Early during the COVID-19 pandemic, around the beginning of 2020, I had a dream in which I was part of a throng of people advancing along a dedicated and bounded lane of a highway. The entire area and everyone in the throng were ominously covered with black powder. Then a realization hit me in the dream and I said to myself, “This is the way of death.” I subsequently stepped out of the throng to seek a way to redemption through an open area adjoining the highway. After my initial draft of this article, my mind was quickened to how this dream was reminiscent of Rick Joyner's “The Hordes of Hell Are Marching” .
Although it may have broader applications, I believe that my dream (Acts 2:17) is primarily related to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has been globally confounding and disruptive in unprecedented ways. Our collective understanding of what is going on is disturbingly limited and, by ourselves, we remain highly vulnerable to the scourge. Under these circumstances, we should beware of intellectual presumption and spiritual recklessness and be careful about what we promote or propagate. This is because we could be damaging lives in incalculable ways and we should not presume that providence would hold us guiltless (see Revelation 11:18).
Most imperatively, this is not the time to weaponize faith, conviction, or ideology but to reach out to a suffering and staggering world with genuine love and hope (Matthew 9:36; cf. Mark 8:36). The professing Christian should particularly seek ways for saving souls, authentically transforming lives, and making the world a better place, rather than heating up the polity with unnecessary rhetoric and self-serving tirades in the guise of contending for the faith. He should beware of attempting to exploit the moment to gain sociopolitical ascendancy, which is contrary to true Christian conduct (John 18:36; 2 Timothy 2:4).
Vaccination and Issues of Personal Conviction
An integral aspect of the ongoing pandemic is the question of vaccination. However, it is not so much a question about who is correct between the pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination camps. It is indisputable that COVID-19 vaccines are very effective for curbing the spread of the coronavirus. But the fact remains that some have real concerns about taking them. It would be uncharitable to lightly dismiss the fears of the latter, especially considering that it has been sufficiently strong for them to continue to hesitate about vaccination in the face of the visible deadly effects of the scourge. You may consider the thoughts of the “vaccine hesitant” as irrational but that still does not change them, and the appeal is for those who consider themselves strong to bear with the infirmities of the weak (Romans 15:1). What we urgently need is empathy.
Presently, many have been liberated by vaccination-enabled immunity, but others have also taken their chance against the coronavirus to acquire natural immunity. And if the whole truth should be told, things have not turned out quite well for some on both sides of this divide. We are thus left with the counsel of Romans 14:1-4, which teaches that there are some issues on which individual conviction must be respected without attempts at blackmail or arm-twisting. While we appeal for individual sacrifice for the common good, we cannot conscionably require a person to do something that he fears could harm him. We are only required to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). This bottom line becomes more pressing when we consider that no one who has spoken out so far seems to have an absolute handle on the nature and ultimate outcome of the pandemic. The “anti-vaxxer” that the “pro-vaxxer” derides as “bull-headed” and “ignorant” may be equally convinced that the latter is simply “reckless” and “shortsighted.” Continuing the debate only creates a vicious cycle.
Except you are part of the mythical cabal intentionally using the pandemic to reset the world for your grand plan, you cannot definitively predict the direction or aftermath of this global scourge. We should therefore humbly and earnestly seek the mercy of God and the welfare of our planet and exercise reasonable faith in the innate goodness and oneness of humanity. There is undeniably so much wickedness in the world and many are decidedly vile, but in the midst of this is a resilient thread of God-imparted goodness and a sense of human responsibility that is capable of holding the center together as we hope for and await universal redemption (Romans 8:19-22). God has not saved some to make then troublemakers among mankind, but peacemakers and agents of reconciliation (Matthew 5:9). We are dealing with a global pandemic and the eyes of the Almighty are upon His entire creation; He is good to ALL and His compassion is upon ALL that He has made (Psalm 145:9).
Government Authorities and Mandates
Despite the foregoing, the Christian should realize that there are some people who are divinely saddled with the responsibility of governing human societies and managing our response to threats like the present pandemic, and they are accountable (Romans 13:1-5; cf. Hebrews 13:7). These government authorities have deliberated on the pandemic and adopted vaccination as the official method for curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Those who for any reason choose not to take the vaccine should be ready to honorably deal with the consequences. We are free to choose but choices are accompanied by consequences.
If your decision not to be vaccinated is based on your Christian conviction, be encouraged that this is an opportunity for you to practice the Lord's words to you in Luke 9:23 and you can trust in His promises (e.g., John 16:33; 2 Cor 4:17). Your biggest problem would only be about to begin when you decide to fight the system. And you cannot possibly win, not while you are resisting God by such action (Romans 13:1-2). This biblical order remains valid even if by some means the vaccination drive is “wrong,” “dangerous,” or represents a rebellion against God, for that also could be part of the divine purpose. The stubborn Pharaoh whose actions destroyed his great nation was raised by God for that purpose (Romans 9:17). The decision about how the society deals with this pandemic is simply not ours to make – at least not beyond the vote we may have on who occupies the seat of government.
I want to ensure that we grasp the full scope of what we are looking at here. Perhaps you are a unique messenger of God sent to “speak truth to power,” like Elijah. That still does not take away the governor’s divinely established power, and he may use it to come after and deal with you if he decides that you are out of order. It is part of the “call” and walking your talk. When the showdown begins, you either call down fire from heaven to authenticate your “commission” or you flee into the wilderness for refuge. However, when you attempt to hide behind the provisions of the same system you are attacking to escape the consequences of your actions, you only expose the falsity of your profession.
Whatever your claims or spiritual aspirations may be, I earnestly hope you would not be the Judas that betrays and brings the Great Tribulation upon the people of God. That predicted terrible time must come sooner or later but “woe to that man” whose rebellious or reckless conduct ignites the conflagration (cf. Matthew 26:24; see also Luke 17:1).
My Experience with the Coronavirus
I have never been against vaccination and I had been wary of the many conspiracy narratives about the pandemic, some of which are simply ridiculous and are accurately captured in Jude 1:8-13. However, my circumstances were such that I had not been vaccinated until I was caught in the inferno of the coronavirus and eventually diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia. Specifically, this was after about two months of health complaints that diverse tests could not account for, during which time I could not have taken the vaccine. My life was seemingly falling apart before me and I discerned that I was on the “stormy banks of Jordan.” I perceived that this was something I providentially had to pass through.
A call for emergency medical service on the evening of the last Sunday in August 2021 was to begin exactly seven nights and seven days of my severe battle with COVID-19 and the induced pneumonia at Baptist Health Louisville, KY. While I am immeasurably thankful for the unmistakable divine intervention and the extraordinary people who took care of me through a body- and mind-racking steroid-based treatment regime, the experience was no less terrible. I literally walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” and it was not a rote recital of Psalm 23. The experience has profoundly impacted and regenerated me, spiritually and otherwise, with the words of Job put in sharp relief before me: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5, NKJV).
The Way of Death
It should be obvious now that the way of death that this article alludes to is neither pro-vaccination nor anti-vaccination. Rather, this way of perdition is signposted by a DARK spirit that a person lends himself to at this time of global pain and uncertainty, depicted by the deathly BLACK powder that covered the advancing throng in my dream. It is the prideful and supremacist attitude that a person exhibits that makes him insist on his view as the correct one and that it is “either my way or the highway.” Do you see it? It is the state of mind in which a person is consumed with himself and careless about how his choices impact others. He refuses to make any sacrifice for the common good and all that matters to him is the protection of his interests and “rights.” As implied, this attitude is found among members of both the pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination camps, and while it is sometimes subtle, it is no less insistent and dangerous.
The throng on this way of death represents one of the greatest threats to humanity in this hour of global distress. Moreover, the current pandemic is only one of various issues of their manifestation. In “The Hordes of Hell Are Marching,” which is primarily concerned with the manifestation of this death throng within Christianity, Joyner had this to say: “The main assignment of this army was to cause division. It was sent to attack every level of relationship – churches with each other, congregations with their pastors, husbands and wives, children and parents, and even children with each other. The scouts were sent to locate the openings in churches, families or individuals that rejection, bitterness, lust, etc., could exploit and make a larger breech for the divisions that were coming” .
Joyner continues: “The most shocking part of this vision was that this horde was not riding on horses, but on Christians! Most of them were well-dressed, respectable, and had the appearance of being refined and educated. These were Christians who had opened themselves to the POWERS OF DARKNESS [emphasis mine, for correlation with the “BLACK powder” of my dream] to such a degree that the enemy could use them and they would think they were being used by God. The Accuser knows that a house divided cannot stand, and this army represented his ultimate attempt to bring such complete division to the church that she would completely fall from grace." This is a tragic scenario that we see replicated in other sectors of society.
An Encouraging Outlook
I would never forget what those healthcare workers at Baptist Health Louisville did to rescue me from the jaws of death. They risked their lives to snatch me from the fire, though they did not have to, just as some of their professional colleagues had chosen to stay away. They gave no thought to the color of my skin nor my religious or ideological affiliation. I was simply a fellow man in distress and need of their help. To the extent that I could determine, they were White, Black, Asian, Christian, and Muslim folk, but they worked in coordination to save a fellow man. It was in that hour, while at the intersection between life and death, that I stepped out of the deathly throng to seek how I could better serve my God and humanity.
One thing we can be certain of in the midst of the present global crises is that God is too big to be defeated, manipulated, or caught off-guard by any human invention or agenda (Psalm 2:1-5; Isaiah 46:9-10). We can therefore disabuse our minds of the destructive influences of the endless speculations and conspiracy narratives about the pandemic that we encounter. For all that we know about this global scourge, we might as well be dealing with a DIVINELY INSTIGATED act (see 1 Kings 22:20-22 for an example) as the Almighty prepares to exhibit and vindicate Himself in our world and time in a definite way. “Look among the nations and watch — Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you” (Habakkuk 1:5).
God bless you.
David Olawoyin is the writer and publisher of THE KINGDOM HERALD (www.thekingdomherald.org) and the author of the book THE GLOBAL DESTINY PEOPLE: REDISCOVERING THE ARMIES OF HEAVEN AND THE BIBLICAL PROMISE OF THE MILLENNIUM (www.davidolawoyin.com). He is a final-semester graduate student at Southern Seminary, Louisville, KY, and can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Rick Joyner, “The Hordes of Hell Are Marching,” MorningStar Prophetic Bulletin, https://www.morningstarministries.org/publications/hordes-hell-are-marching.