A prominent church where I live put up a billboard that drew citywide attention: “Is the coronavirus a judgment from God?” This is the most common question I’ve been asked since the pandemic began.

It’s easy to quote the Bible in support of such positions, from plagues in Egypt to the destruction of Jerusalem to the Book of Revelation’s prediction that the world will be judged with “pestilence.”

However, these are not those days. We can know this for two reasons.

First, biblical judgments through disease are supernatural in origin.

When God sent “boils” on Egypt, they broke out instantly “on man and beast” throughout the land. The “pestilence” of Revelation will come by one of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse,” not a wet market in Wuhan.

Everything scientists can tell us about COVID-19 is that the virus evolved from other viruses. It is natural, not supernatural. God did not cause this virus or the pandemic it has created. Like other natural diseases and disasters, it is a consequence of living in a fallen world.

Second, biblical judgments are against specific sins and sinners.

From Pharaoh’s obstinacy to Miriam’s racial prejudice to Herod’s prideful idolatry, divine judgments of the past and future come to those who refuse his word and will. Throughout Scripture and history, God deals with us as gently as he can or as harshly as he must.

No specific sins caused this virus. Nor are those who are afflicted with it more sinful than the rest of us. God loves the Chinese people just as much as he loves Italians, Koreans, and Americans. He loves the elderly and those with preexisting conditions just as much as he loves the ...

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