Coronavirus and the Last Days

By Gary Gibbs

Ordained in 1989, Pastor Gary Gibbs serves as president of the Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Before that, he served as the Chesapeake Conference Ministries Development director and as the vice president for the Hope Channel. Gibbs was also an integral part of the Amazing Facts ministry, including founding the Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is the author of several books, including The New Winsome Witnessing and Prophecies of Hope Bible study guides.

An article in the Financial Times hints at how global responses to the coronavirus pandemic could facilitate Revelation’s prophecies regarding the mark of the beast:

“Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service, because the risks of doing nothing are bigger.” 1

While the author is not making a biblical point, the principle of “fast-forward” is central to how Bible prophecies are sometimes fulfilled. Many are even now wondering if this global pandemic is a prophetic fast-forwarding event leading us to the time described in Revelation 13, where people will be commanded to worship contrary to God’s law. 

Could the events we are currently experiencing be what one author predicted for the last days? “Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.”2 The answer may lie in two revelations being exposed by this pandemic.

They Are Watching

Multiple news sources have reported that our personal travel is being remotely monitored in order to understand the spread of the virus.3  That your movements can be constantly recorded is prophetically relevant, as such technology could be used to determine whether a person is obeying laws to “worship the beast.” A simple analysis of the tracking data could inform authorities whether you went to church or not (Revelation 13:12). The nanny government would either economically penalize violators or worse (Revelation 13:15).

Even now, countries are tracking compliance of pandemic stay-at-home orders. In the United States, 97 percent of the population has been ordered not to go anywhere except for the most essential reasons.  Disobedience can result in “civil or criminal penalties.”5  Violators in Western Australia face a fine of A$50,000 ($32,000 USD).6 Fellow citizens are incentivized to report non-complying neighbors.

This pandemic demonstrates that authorities have the ability and will to legally prevent people moving around, buying and selling, or worshiping God in church.8 Clearly, the technology is in place to enable the enforcement predicted in Revelation 13.

Cashless Society

Combine this with a question posed in a recent Bloomberg Tax article, Why Going Cashless Has Added Value in Pandemic Age—“Do we still need cash?”This is not a new proposition. 

I recall President Ronald Reagan wrestling with how to stop the drug cartels. A secular financial newsletter that I subscribed to at the time reported that someone on Reagan’s cabinet suggested he could stop the illegal trade by removing cash from society. In reply, another cabinet member quipped, “Like the mark of the beast?” The room became eerily silent for a moment, then the president ignored the topic and pivoted to the next agenda item. 

Today, cashless transactions have grown from a frightening suggestion to a comfortable and convenient reality. In Sweden, considered the most cashless society in the world, 80 percent of purchases are made electronically.10 Even African countries use electronic currencies—more than 75 percent of adult Kenyans use a mobile-wallet service.11 India, with the world’s second-largest population, recently pushed to eliminate cash by withdrawing the most popular bills from circulation. China’s central bank announced earlier this year that it is ready to test a digital currency.12  

Advocates for a cashless society see an opportunity in this pandemic. They point out that China’s central bank is removing money they suspect is contaminated.13 Perhaps, as Bloomberg Tax suggests, this pandemic will be a fast-forwarding catalyst. “Fear of contagion could accelerate the general trend to more digital payments, according to the Bank of International Settlements.”14

There are many practical reasons for society to go cashless that transcend this pandemic. “For governments, getting rid of cash would cut minting and distribution expenses and make it easier to crack down on tax evasion and drug trafficking. Stores could save on cash-handling costs, reduce theft and possibly earn more.”15

While eliminating cash may be a practical solution for banking and business concerns, even secular sources warn that a cashless society can easily lead to tyranny, just as is predicted for the mark of the beast. “Critics say that in a digital-only economy, governments and banks could take control of your financial life, leaving you penniless with a flick of a switch.”16

Is the End Here?

With barely a protest, more than a third of the world’s population was quickly put under lockdown.17 They gave up their civil rights to peaceably assemble, privacy, and even to earn a livelihood. If one were planning a Revelation-type event to bring people into line, it would probably look a lot like this. The only thing missing is a law commanding when people must worship. 

So… is this the end?

While this pandemic could be a fast-forwarding event, it unlikely spells the imminent end. Remember, the mark of the beast concerns forced worship. This is not an element in the current pandemic. However, Revelation does predict that things will dramatically change and that worship will be legislated someday. What fast-forwarding event will be the catalyst is anyone’s guess.

In a very practical sense, it’s not the future so much that we need to focus on, it’s the here and now. People are losing jobs, bills are stacking up, and this cruel virus is robbing us of loved ones. But even as an uncertain future anxiously overshadows us, we can reach for the hand of One who will safely see us through this storm. His reassuring voice says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:1, 2 NKJV).

1. Harari, Yuval Noah. “Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus.Financial Times. (March 20, 2020).  

2. White, Ellen. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 9, page 11. (1909)

Apple using Maps data to show if people are social distancing during coronavirus outbreak
Using Location Data to Map People’s Movements, Social Distancing Efforts, and the Spread of COVID-19
Google will release maps data ‘mobility reports’ to show people’s movements in coronavirus pandemic

4. Secon, Holly; Aylin Woodward. “About 95% of Americans have been ordered to stay at home.” Business Insider. (April 7, 2020).

5. Pearl, Betsy; Lee Hunter; Kenny Lo; Ed Chung. “The Enforcement of COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders”. American Progress. (April 2, 2020).   

6. BBC News. “Coronavirus: How are lockdowns and other measures being enforced?”. (March 17, 2020).

7. Ruiz, Michael. “De Blasio: New Yorkers can report social distancing violations by texting photos to authorities.” Fox News. (April 18, 2020).

8. Dallas, Kelsey. “Yes, the government can force churches to close. Here’s why”. Deseret News. (March 21, 2020).

9. Bloomberg Tax. “Why Going Cashless Has Added Value in Pandemic Age: QuickTake.” (April 15, 2020).

10. Sweden/Sverige. “Sweden—The First Cashless Society?” (September 11, 2019).

11. Horsley, Scott. “China to Test Digital Currency. Could It End Up Challenging the Dollar Globally?” NPR. (January 13, 2020).

12. Horsley, Scott. Ibid.

13. Yeung, Jessie. “China is disinfecting and destroying cash to contain the coronavirus.”  CNN. (February 17, 2020).

14. Bloomberg Tax. Ibid.

15. Bloomberg Tax. Ibid.

16. Bloomberg Tax. Ibid.

17. Buchholz, Katharina. “What Share of the World Population Is Already on COVID-19 Lockdown?Statista. (April 3, 2020).


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