The Doctrine of Suffering – Part 1

The Cross

Matt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. NIV

Phil 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. NIV

Phil 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him. NIV

Matt 24:21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. NIV

Rev 13:9 He who has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. NIV

I’ve had this impression from the Lord to write on the issue of the doctrine of suffering. This doctrine is an important principle of the faith that empowers us (believers) to face difficulty, crisis and adversity. There is no doubt that we live in times of uncertainty and human suffering, due to the current pandemic and other human crises. In terms of the spread of the pandemic, if you find yourself in a country where the infection rate is low, you have to be thinking about what the next couple of weeks and months will look like. If you are in one of the global epicenters, then you are in close proximity to human suffering – you’ve seen people getting infected (if you are not infected yourself), being taken to hospitals, and maybe even dying.

Whenever humans find themselves in difficult conditions and uncertain times, they begin to think deeply about the meaning of life – this is natural. For those of us who are in the faith, and who have accepted salvation by grace in Christ, we begin to have deeper questions about (a) our faith, (b) our doctrine (c) and the response of God in all of this. There are two realities that exist in tension and that a believer must hold in proper spiritual balance: the first reality is that we surely live in times of crisis and uncertainty. The second, and even more important reality is that we believe in God who is unchanging, in whom we have eternal certainty and who is in the process of establishing His Purposes in the earth.


The utility of Faith and Doctrine

Any faith and doctrine that we embrace must do the following:

  1. It must speak into the full spectrum of the human experience – it must help us engage the full cycle of life. King Solomon says that “there is time for everything under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). We are not always laughing, sometimes we are weeping; we are not always dancing, sometimes we are mourning; we are not always at peace, sometimes we are at war (Eccl. 3:2-8).
  2. Our Faith and Doctrine must speak into diverse, global and universal conditions of humanity – this is what I refer to as the universality of truth. Our faith and doctrine must address our personal and local conditions, while at the same time speaking into conditions that humans in other parts of the world maybe going through. If we live in prosperity, we must still have a revelation of God who is not only a Provider but also a Comforter. If we have good health, we must still possess a revelation of God who is the Healer. And if we live in just and peaceable environments, we must still embrace the revelation of God as a Deliverer.
  3. Our Faith and Doctrine must be in tune with the process of God’s salvation plan – we are not saved only to have “good life” here in this fallen order of humanity. We are saved to be restored back to our original state of immortal humanity. This presupposes the unraveling of the present order as we celebrate the restoration of the order of life we lost at the Fall in Genesis 3 – “the present heavens and the earth shall be destroyed” (2 Pet. 3:7). That is, the believer must have faith to hold the principles of establishment of new creation and destruction of old creation in proper balance in his heart. Furthermore, this presupposes that in our journey of salvation, we have already embraced the reality of crisis in our movement to the end of time.

The Universality and Contextuality of Christ

Eph 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”  9  (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.). NIV 

Rom 10:6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: NIV

Christ has “ascended on high”, and He has also “descended to the lower earthly regions”. He has filled the entire universe. The word “universe” in Ephesians 4:10 is the word “all things” – it literally means the whole or totality. There is not a single human experience or condition that is not catered for through the Cross. It is because of this very reality that we cannot think of salvation as a one-dimensional experience only applicable for certain conditions or people-groups. Christ did not only ascend on high, He also descended to lower regions, vice versa. He is therefore near us, in all our conditions, situations and seasons.

Even more importantly, is that those who administer doctrine, who hold the image of Christ before people, must do so in a manner that is holistic, balanced and complete. They must speak to the local and immediate conditions as they do to the global and universal human conditions. For this reason, a believer is not only called to be consumed by his own conditions, but he must also be able to live in the aggregated human experience.

Rom. 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. NIV

2 Cor 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. NIV

In Romans 12:15, we must rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. That is, beyond our own personal experiences (good or bad), we must find identification in the totality or aggregated experience of humanity. Our revelation of God must not begin and end with our personal-local experiences but must extend and connect to the total experience of humanity. Since we have been comforted by God in all our troubles, we can comfort others in any trouble. Our experience of God in our personal conditions is enough to empower us to extend the ministry of God to any kind of condition that humanity finds itself in, even those that we have not yet gone through ourselves.


The Cross – identification with the totality of the human experience

The fundamental experience of the Cross is that He who had no sin died for us who were sinners, so that together with Him, we might get to live in glory. Thus, the Cross is fundamentally not selfish but connects itself to the totality of what humanity is going through. Think about it – Jesus lived in heavenly glory. From the point of view of heaven, life was great. However, this was not the case for humans in the earth. God’s judgment stood against the sin of humans. There was chaos, disaster, disease and death here on earth. From an earthly perspective, things were simply not great. The necessity of Christ’s suffering on the Cross was not due to heaven’s glory, it was due to earth’s chaos. That is, there are things that we will not even begin to do until we have a perspective beyond our immediate environments. It is therefore important that church is free from the limitation of her immediate experience and homogeneous worldview – her church buildings, programs, apostolic associations etc., to see humanity from a different vantage point.


Following Jesus

Matt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. NIV

In this important statement by Jesus, there is an outlining of a process and a sequential flow to becoming an effective disciple: 1) deny yourself, 2) take up your Cross, 3) and follow. This means that effective following takes place upon the foundations of self-denial and full identification with the crucifixion. In this sense, the words of Paul make sense…

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. NIV 

Gal 6:4 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. NIV

Not only are we the recipients of the benefits of the Cross, but we are also called to be participants in the process, together with Jesus. That is, Jesus re-lives the full cycle of death and resurrection through our lives. And so therefore, you can never be a disciple of Christ without equally embracing the full cycle of the life of Christ – of death and resurrection. For this reason, the words of apostle Paul remain powerful for us:  Phil 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. NIV


Faith for breakthrough vs. Faith for endurance

It is perhaps true that in the church, we tend to talk of faith mainly in the context of breakthrough and material wellbeing. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with believing God for breakthrough, miracles and success. The Bible actually encourages us to ask so that we can be given. We must have powerful faith in the God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Eph. 3:20). The God who feeds the birds of the air with abundant resource, and who dresses the lilies of the field with beauty, has our lives and needs covered (Matt. 6:25-34). He is so intimately involved in our lives that He’s got the very hairs of our head numbered (Luke. 12:7) – He knows our prayer needs better than we do (Matt. 6:8).  So the issue is not in believing God for breakthroughs in our lives, the problem is when we have a one-sided view of faith. Not only is this dangerous for our own salvation journey, in that sometimes we walk through experiences where we feel like God is absent or does not care about us, but this can also taint and damage our view of God – our doctrine of the Nature of God. In other words, it is beneficial for us, to hold a balanced and complete view of the doctrine of faith, as taught in the Scriptures.

2 Cor 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. NIV

It is true that sometimes God responds to our prayers not by removing the challenges before us but by pouring more grace for us to face them. This is what happened to Jesus…

Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. NIV

There was no way for Jesus to pray for a “breakthrough” against the crucifixion. He needed to go through it, for the salvation of mankind. He understood this. So, heaven’s response to His prayer was not to remove the situation, rather, heaven strengthened Jesus, as the ordained participant in the situation.

Matt 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” NIV

Jesus acknowledged that He could pray for God to deliver Him from the situation. However, His next statement is quite profound: “how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”. The critical question that this statement reflects is that the higher conversation of life is the fulfillment of the Will of God. For that reason, Jesus prays in line with the Will of God. He focuses His prayers on spiritual edification than “breakthrough” in the situation. This comes about as a result of discerning God in the situation.

2 Tim 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. NIV

2 Tim 2:3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. NIV

Matt 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. NIV

Heb 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. NKJV

Endurance is the outworking of faith. Impatience is the fruit of lack of faith. He who believes does not shrink back (Heb. 10:35-39). In Hebrews 11, faith is not described for us only as instantaneous breakthrough, but also as a process of endurance towards the fulfillment of the Promises of the Lord. We must be able to endure in the situations of life, knowing that God will ultimately redeem us. The Cross required faith for endurance. Jesus needed to walk through the crucifixion, to come to the other side of joy and glory. We must therefore be able to hold these two dimensions of faith in tension and proper spiritual balance in our hearts. They are not in conflict with each other. They are the composites of the same God. There are times when God prioritizes our discipline and endurance over breakthroughs, because this always produces a harvest of righteousness. But there are times when God prioritizes breakthrough, in order to display His redemptive power in life circumstances.


Suffering – the Meaning of the Cross

We derive our spiritual meaning and doctrine of the Cross from the crucifixion of Jesus. Basically, carrying the Cross means suffering. In context, it is suffering that is induced by humans because of their opposition and rebellion to God. The messenger of God becomes the bearer of the Cross, since he is the one sent to preach and stand for righteousness. He becomes “the victim” of man’s rebellion against God.

Matt 27:22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” NIV

Acts 2:23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. NIV

Since humans rejected God, they inevitably persecuted the Son of God. They opted to save the criminal Barabbas so that they could persecute Jesus (Luke 23:18-25). This human hostility towards the Son of God is further captured in the parables of the tenants and wedding banquet. In the parable of the tenants, it is stated: Matt 21:38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him, NIV. The same principle is reflected in the parable of the wedding banquet: Matt 22:6 The rest seized (the king’s) servants, mistreated them and killed them, NIV.

When Jesus instructs us to carry our own Cross, He is not meaning anything else but the same process of suffering that He went through. The idea is that we, who have chosen to be the messengers of righteousness, must understand how life and the world will engage us. The issue of taking the Cross must not be confused with “false humility and a self-induced harsh treatment of the body, for religious reasons” (Col. 2:23). Salvation is not received by works but by grace (Eph. 2:8&9).


Triggers, contexts and platforms of suffering in the life of the believer…

  1. An immoral world: We live in a world that is pre-configured for self-life, rebellion against God, immorality and unrighteousness. To live for Christ in such a world or human order will inevitably result in continuous hostility and suffering. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed (1 Pet. 4:14). It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God (1 Pet. 2:19). The same world that crucified the historical Jesus still shouts against the Christ in us, “crucify Him” (Matt. 27:22&23). And Paul acknowledges that “we are crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20).
  2. Warfare for the soul: We are wrestling with the enemy who is seeking our precious souls (Eph. 6:12&13). Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life, NIV. Rev 2:13 I know where you live — where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city — where Satan lives.
  3. Mortal bodies: Although our spirits have been redeemed, we still live in mortal bodies that suffer from decay, pain, disease and death. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16).
  4. The discipline of the Lord: Heb 12:4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline (paideia in Greek: education, training, disciplinary correction), and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes (mastigoo in Greek: to flog and scourge, a whip) everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure (to hold a position for a long time) hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. NIV
  5. A groaning creation: We are engaged in a movement to the end of time, which involves the groaning of creation (Rom. 8:18-23). The groaning of creation speaks of disasters and crises in this world, due to creation’s aging and renewal process (Matt. 24:4-8). We have been told by the Lord, prior to these events, that there will be famines (economic hardship), wars (military crises), earthquakes (climate crises) and pestilences (pandemics like the current one), Luke 21:11 & Matt. 24:7&8. We therefore must expect these events in our movement to the end of time.


Matt 24:21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. NIV

We are comforted by the fact that the Lord considers both the severity of these situations and our ability to bear them. Just like He strengthened Jesus, He is supplying us with grace to empower us to face suffering.


Defining Suffering

It is important to emphasize that suffering must not be confused with “false humility and a self-induced harsh treatment of the body, for religious reasons” (Col. 2:23).

Suffering is the determination to live for Christ in the midst of adversity; the resolution to advance the Kingdom of God even when it is costly to do so; the attitude to deny yourself in pursuit of the Will of God.

The process of suffering reflects the following attitudes, motivations, mindset and positions:

  • Suffering is motivated by the love of God.
  • Inherent to the process of suffering is self-denial.
  • Suffering is the acknowledgement of the primacy and supremacy of the Will of God over self-interest.
  • Suffering is driven by the need to obey the Lord.
  • It is the understanding that life tends to be configured in opposition to the movement of the Kingdom of God.
  • It is motivated by the imperative to witness for Christ.
  • It is the embracing of the imperative of spiritual formation in Christ over material wellbeing.
  • And suffering is born out of the revelation of eternal glory in our union with God as something that outweighs earthly comfort, wellbeing and success.

Suffering therefore does not mean that we are “victims of life”. It is not a reflection of powerlessness, neither is it a reflection of lack of options. Rather, suffering is the hallmark of the life of a witness of Christ (Acts 1:8). It is a powerful proclamation by us, of the goodness of God amidst the oppositional forces of evil. This is because we understand that we are now called to live for Him who died for us (2 Cor. 5:15). Suffering is our bold partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ, where like Moses, we voluntarily choose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:24-27).


Resources to Engage Suffering

The following principles are paramount in our response to suffering:

  1. Hope and Faith
  2. Prayer
  3. Grace for the time of need
  4. Comfort through Community
  5. Greater appreciation of eternity

Hope and Faith

Hope and faith work hand in hand. Faith is the substance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1). In Hebrews 11, the generation of faith had hope beyond this material order. They were longing for a better country – a heavenly one (Heb. 11:16).

When suffering works in the heart of the believer, it produces hope…

Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. NIV

And since we have hope in the heavenly country, we do not grieve like the world (1 Thes. 4:13). We grieve according to our belief, calibrated by our doctrine – our faith in the resurrection (1 Thes. 4:14).

We have faith in God’s ability to keep us in the day of trial…

Jude 1:24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior,  Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. NKJV

Rev 3:10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. NKJV

When facing suffering, we must believe in God’s ability to keep us in the day of trial. We must believe that even though it may at times feel like He is distant, that He is in fact near us, working in our lives, and that in due time we shall see the results of His redemptive works. He is the Chief Shepherd of our souls and is working to secure our eternal union with Him. If we keep this attitude of faith in our hearts, then we will inevitably allow Him time and space to administer the affairs of our lives. This faith empowers us to cooperate with God’s divine silence because we know that silence does not mean inactivity.


Luke 22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. NIV

Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.  3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’  4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man,  5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'” 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.  7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?  8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” NKJV

The question is, what do we do when we are in anguish? The word “anguish” in Luke 22:44 defines the trembling excitement and anxiety produced by fear or tension before a wrestling match or a fight. Primarily, this word defines a place of assembly. It defines a contest for victory in public sporting events like running, boxing or wrestling. The picture in the spirit in Luke 22 is one where the enemy engages you publicly. Jesus discerned the moment, instead of allowing it to depress Him, He began to pray. If we are persistent in prayer like the widow of Luke 18, we shall get justice.

Grace for the time of Need

The grace of God is not only unmerited favor for salvation, it is also an actual resource that is supplied from heaven for our strengthening in times of need.

Heb 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. NIV

God strengthens us in the crisis…

Luke 22:43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. NIV

The grace of God will always be sufficient for the challenges before us (2 Cor. 12:8&9).

Comfort through Community

2 Cor 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. NIV

The word “comfort” means to call near, to invite, to exhort and console. This word describes both relational proximity and emotional comfort. The power of community life or fellowship in the church is the ability to produce spiritual-emotional strength in the face of suffering. Two are better than one because if one falls down, his friend can help him (Eccl. 4:9-12). The saints do not only comfort one another emotionally, but also elders or leaders of church can use doctrine to comfort the saints – in Titus 1:9, elders can exhort or comfort the saints by sound doctrine.

Greater appreciation of Eternity

2 Cor 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. NIV

The scripture gives a clear perspective of life – there is nothing that we will ever face in this earth, no matter how severe it may be, that can be compared to eternal glory. Not only are earthly troubles momentary, but they also will never outweigh our eternal reward in Christ.

Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. NIV

Since there is no earthly experience so painful as to make us rethink our eternal reward, we can in fact be faithful even to the point of death.

1 Cor 15:19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  NIV


The Cross
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24, NIV)


Robert Ntuli

Pastor – LivingStones Agency (

Visionary Leader – Kingdom Humanity Fellowship (



Please follow the links below to access other resources relevant to the current pandemic…


  1. Covid-19: A Prophetic characterization of the current pandemic (part 1)
  2. Covid-19: A prophetic characterization of the current pandemic (part 2)
  3. Restating the foundations of the New Covenant
  4. Drivers for effective life in the current season of the pandemic
  5. Doing church in the crisis of coronavirus








Covid-19: A Prophetic Characterization of the current Pandemic – Part 2


The globe with a mask

This article – a prophetic characterization of the current pandemic – is a continuation of  part 1, which focused on giving a prophetic analysis of the global disaster. It identified a whole range of factors, characteristics and manifestations of the current pandemic, beyond the realm of global public health. The first article also provided the scriptural basis of the pandemic as a “sign and a wonder” that requires mankind to enter into a season of moral reflection and contemplation. It provided examples of how ancient civilizations – kings and nations – responded to significant events by seeking the face of the God of heaven, Jehovah, the Creator of human life. Thus, the first article was written with the following categories of people in mind: The Disciple of Christ (the Believer), the Church Leader, the Citizen and those in spheres of leadership – especially political leadership.

Part 2 is written to take the conversation further and deeper, to provide the following: (1) a doctrinal outline of some of the questions that the church is currently grappling with, (2) and a prophetic lens through which we can view this global disaster that has overtaken the world. The disaster finds us (church) marching forward towards the fulfillment of pre-established and biblically based beliefs, hopes and purposes. We therefore must seek doctrinal-prophetic meaning of the pandemic, within a broader reality of a march that began at the Cross and that shall end when we finish the purposes of God here on earth. For us, the disaster cannot be a “distraction”, it must be a moment of re-calibration.

Every human being, people-group and culture have a lens (or a worldview) through which they interpret life. For the Disciple of Christ, that lens must come from the Scriptures. This article is therefore written to place and to frame the current pandemic within the broader grand march of the Kingdom of God to the conclusion of the purposes of God. It is written not as a “Social Media nugget”, but as a resource for the Disciple (Student) of Christ and for that Church Leader who is deeply engaged in the work of advancing the Kingdom of God.

It is clear to us all by now that coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact upon the world, the kind we have not seen in modern humanity. In engaging the sense of void that characterizes the world at the moment, and a general cessation of human activity due to multiple nations being on lockdown, at the same time – e.g. the streets are empty, there is no traffic in cities, no sight of children going to school, industries and economies are on pause, stadiums are abandoned etc. – the words of Revelation ch. 18 come to mind:

Rev 18:8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. 9 “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. 10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’  11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more…17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ 21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. 22 The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. 23 The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. 24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth.” NIV

The scripture above is a picture of life in a lockdown reality. It reflects systemic and cultural paralysis that we are seeing around us.

The globe closed - the economistThis cover page of the economist magazine is a graphical representation of Revelation 18 – the world is locked down and the human enterprise is on pause. The world is under siege and is fighting for survival. The offensive nature of the capitalist system has been broken as the world enters a season of survival.

The dilemma or conundrum of the pandemic is clear: it’s that you must lockdown the nation in order to minimize an outbreak in infections, to avoid overwhelming the public health care system and to therefore save lives. But in locking down the nation, you immobilize the economy. And when the economy is immobilized, human livelihood is threatened. The challenge faced by our political leaders is clear for all to see, just as is the sense of uncertainty faced by households.

The words of Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who heads the Ministerial Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Health in South Africa, further help us understand the moment upon modern humanity. Prof. Karim made the following statements during a webinar on Thursday 17th April 2020, “nothing prepared us for this…we were not ready for a virus like this…no one was ready…no country was”. Furthermore, statements like, “we are one humanity” and references to the pandemic as something that poses an “existential threat to humanity” are becoming common in media interviews and commentaries. This shows us the scope within which human thought is functioning, in relation to this pandemic – humans are having an “ultimate reflection and conversation” as they mobilize to save human life. If this is the case in the world, it must be even more of a reality within the House of God – we must be thinking about doctrinal-prophetic meaning of this moment, in the context of finalizing the purposes of God. We must begin to have an “omega conversation”.

In part 1 of this article, we noted that the magnitude and scale of this pandemic brings the natural question, “God, where are you?”. Since December 2019, there has been just over 1.9 million cases of infections and over 100 thousand deaths. These are not just statistics; these are real people and families that have been infected and affected by this pandemic. With this kind of agony, a sound of distress emerges from global humanity into the heavens, with the question, “God, where are you?’. This question can be likened to the cry of the Lord Jesus on the Cross, just before He released His last breath. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).  This phrase is traced back to Ps.22, a psalm of the suffering Christ:

Ps 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. 3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. NIV

Psalm 22 gives a picture of conflict between human suffering and the sovereignty of God (the God who is enthroned in heaven). And how we humans tend to measure God’s nearness or relational proximity to us, on the basis of the conditions that surround us. Thus, Matt. 27:46 gives a picture of the humanity of Jesus, wrestling with suffering and calling on God’s nearness in a time of agony. The idea is – if God is enthroned and in charge, He surely should come quickly to bring salvation to us.

And so when we consider the question, “God, where are you?”, we must reflect on the paragraph below, taken from part 1 of this article, and which brings to light some theological and prophetic nuances that we want to explore and unpack in this article:

“Looking at the magnitude, the scale, the speed and the global impact of this pandemic, ancient kings, prophets, the righteous ones and ancient societies would have concluded that something other-worldly was happening! Clearly, at least according to the news and the statistics coming through, something is indeed moving across the nations of the earth. And if God is on the other side of the line of whatever is happening, catching up with it together with us, and trying to stop it, then He isn’t as powerful as He declares Himself to be. And since we know God the Creator of the earth, Jehovah the self-sufficient One, that He is no spectator to life events, and that nothing happens to His creation at least without it earning His divine oversight and attention, because His eyes scan the entire earth (2 Chron. 16:9, Ps. 15:3, Heb. 4:13). And that this same God is so detailed that He has numbered the very hairs of our heads (Luke 12:7), that He never sleeps nor slumbers (Ps. 121:3-5), then we have to say that (1) either this pandemic is the direct hand of God or (2) He has allowed whatever is moving in the earth, to produce the level of impact that we’re seeing on our television screens. And this further raises doctrinal and prophetic questions as we seek to calibrate the lens through which we see this Creator. That is, at the core of this conversation, is the theology of the Nature of God.”


The Question of Faith

Theology or doctrine is never meant to be an abstract thing; it’s meant to give us substance, hangers and a basis upon which we can formulate a worldview and a perspective concerning the flow and outcome of life.

Belief System graphic


Any system of belief must be able to help us process three fundamental questions of human existence – (1) where do we come from, (2) what is or should be the nature of the human condition and (3) where are going? We must not only frame these questions in the context of creation, but also in the progressive flow of human life. That is, any generation or society reflects the three principles of human existence in its social dynamics: 1) human origins (historical conditions that have shaped current expressions of society), 2) the human condition (current socio-economic realities that can be weighed against God’s righteousness) and, 3) human destiny (unfolding futures). Noah was able to see future destruction of life in a time when everybody was clearly invested in life – “in those days, people were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark” (Matt. 24:37&38).

Faith empowers us to reason, understand, see and to speak! Without faith, it is not only impossible to please God, but we are left hopeless and unable to process life and reality around us. Without faith, we fall into fear and anxiety. However, faith is not simply positive thinking or the exertion of human soul and will – faith must be founded on a sure foundation of the (a) promise of the Lord and (b) the revelation of His Nature. If we know that when the dust settles, God will be standing right next to us, then we have full assurance and confidence to walk through the valley of this pandemic, without fear. Faith is important, for the following reasons…


Faith empowers us to reason

Heb 11:17-19 By faith… Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. NIV

The word “reason” means to make an estimation, to put together with one’s mind, to take an inventory, to think, reason and conclude, to do calculations or accounting. Basically, this word means to reconcile realities before you on the basis of the Nature and Promise of God to you. In this case, Abraham had to reconcile three things: the first thing was the promise he had received from the Lord about having a baby boy (the son, Isaac),  the second thing was that it was through the same son (Isaac) that Abraham would become the father of many nations, and the third thing was the instruction to sacrifice the son. Abraham reconciled these three things on the basis of the nature and promise of the Lord (that God fulfills His promise; He is not in the business of breaking promises, and yet God is to be fully obeyed), and he arrived at the conclusion that even if he sacrificed Isaac, God was going to raise him (Isaac) from the dead, since there were some outstanding things that had to be fulfilled, through Isaac. Abraham therefore understood that the command to sacrifice his son was not about taking Isaac’s life, rather, it was a test of obedience, on the part of Abraham.

We cannot reason out realities before us without a proper knowledge of God – and so therefore the theology and doctrine of the Nature of God is fundamental to the church’s ability to engage in prophetic analysis and figure out what exactly is the Lord doing at this time, amidst this pandemic.


Faith empowers us to understand

Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. NIV

The word “understand” means to consider, to exercise the mind, to comprehend, to perceive with thought coming into consciousness or to formulate new thinking capacity. Faith empowers us to understand the formation and outcome of new human realities. Hebrews 11:3 is not dealing with personal faith; it’s dealing with faith in relation to big macro developments of life. At the core of this is the understanding that “what is seen comes from what is invisible”. For us who believe, life does not begin in material realities. For us who believe, science is important but not enough to explain developments taking place on planet earth. On the contrary, we understand that human life has both spiritual origins and spiritual outcome. When we see life happening, we seek to understand the source and the cause. It is in understanding the source and the cause that we determine appropriate action. That is, in any given situation, how do we know whether to engage in prayers of intercession or warfare? How do we know whether to rebuke or affirm? How do we know how we pitch our prophetic proclamation in the earth, amidst disasters and pandemics?

There was once a powerful young king in Israel – king Josiah. He did a whole lot of great things in reforming the nation and in re-establishing the law of God. However, the story of his death in 2 Chronicles 35 reflects lack of discernment on his part. Josiah decided to go out and fight the Egyptian king, Neco, who was marching to fight another king. King Neco’s words and warning to Josiah highlight the need for us to always understand the source of things and realities before us:

2 Chron 35:20 After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. 21 But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.” 22 Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Neco had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo. NIV

Sadly, Josiah was killed in this battle. Josiah! The same political reformer who changed the moral fibre of the nation of Israel? Josiah chose to be regulated by presumption than faith. He was so accustomed to being on the side of God’s favour that he couldn’t comprehend that king Neco, though a gentile Egyptian king, might have been on a divine mission, sent by God Himself. Had Josiah taken time out to do the “David thing”, of seeking the face of the Lord in the matter, he would have understood the source and the cause behind king Neco’s military campaign. The story reveals the tragedy of not taking time to discern and understand the source and origination of human events and realities. The Body of Christ simply cannot afford to do the “Josiah thing” as this pandemic plays out.


Faith empowers us to see

Heb 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. NIV

Faith is inherently prophetic. It comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). It is often triggered by the revelation of the Nature and Promise of the Lord (Heb. 6:13-15). It is geared towards a hope in God (Heb 11:1) – in other words, it is forward looking and futuristic. It never looks backwards.

The word “see” used in Heb. 11:13 means to see with perception. Faith is not simply about the preservation of current conditions of human life. Faith is about seeing or being insightful about new conditions arriving in the earth. The people of faith did not only see, they also welcomed these things. The word “welcome” means to enfold in the arms, to greet, salute, and to treat with affection.

Heb 11:14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. NIV

Sight of new conditions means that we let go of the old as we embrace “the heavenly thing” that God is doing.


Faith empowers us to speak

2 Cor 4:13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. NIV

Once we have understood the formation of new realities of life in this pandemic, and have reasoned out God’s divine outcome, then we can speak to one another as believers and to the nations of the world.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning — the first day. NIV

2 Cor 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. NIV

God’s response to the formlessness, emptiness and darkness of the earth was a proclamation of light – the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ. In this season of disaster, when we are surrounded by formlessness and emptiness, we must see new realities of life being carved out of the Rock that is Christ, and we must proclaim them upon the earth. They are the only hope to mankind.




In providing the prophetic lens through which we can view the current pandemic, we must consider and appreciate the following…

  1. Some limitations of the church: For example, some sections of the church have an  underlying, subtle suspicion towards political government. This is partly caused by a particular eschatological viewpoint, and it can affect how the church relates to political authority, especially during these times.
  2. The doctrine of the Nature of God, especially as it relates to the issue of divine judgment: there has been questions and conversations around this issue. We must go back to the scriptures to explore, examine and redeem in our minds a scriptural view of the application, purpose and redemptive nature of God’s divine judgment to man. 
  3. The doctrine of Christ: through Christ and His Cross, we see the reconciliation of two important components of the Nature of God: since the fall of man, God introduced His righteous requirements through the Old Covenant of the Law of Moses, and commanded man to perform these commands. Disobedience came with a penalty. Thus, through the Law of Moses, we see God as a righteous Judge. However, in the New Covenant, God declares that all men have sinned and fallen short of His glory, and therefore stand judged. And God takes the next step – He leaves His position of a righteous Judge and assumes the position of a convict, on behalf of humanity (Phil. 2:6-8). He comes to the earth to die for us so that we can live through Him. What we see in the story of salvation is that God is so righteous that He will not leave sin unpunished, but He is so merciful that He will pay the penalty for us. And that anybody that will still not receive the gracious gift of life still remains judged and condemned. What Christ reveals to us is the reconciliation of the two components of the Nature of God – the righteous Judge and the merciful Redeemer.

We will explore some of these topics in the near future. Moreover, to walk in the fullness of the wisdom that God has freely and graciously given to us, we must embrace the whole counsel of the scriptures – from Genesis to Revelation. The following principles around the Bible and scripture administration are helpful to consider:

  • “All scripture is God-breathed” – it was written out of divine inspiration of God upon man (2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Pet. 1:20&21).
  • The Bible reveals the Nature of God and the nature of His intervention to earthly and human conditions.
  • We are to embrace the entire Bible (Genesis to Revelation) as the whole counsel of God to man, there are no irrelevant books.
  • Old Testament books and New Testament books are not two conflicting sections of the Bible, this would make God schizophrenic. Both these sections of the Bible make up one and coherent counsel of God to man. They are both as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.
  • However, we must understand God’s shift from the Old Covenant of law (not Old Testament books) to the New Covenant of grace (i.e. we must distinguish between Old Testament books and Old Covenant on the one hand, and New Testament books and New Covenant on the other hand).
  • We must embrace the entire Bible as the whole counsel of God to man, but we must read it from the vantage point of the New Covenant of grace.
  • We must remember that what may be regarded as “irrelevant Old Testament books” was in fact the Bible that Jesus read.
  • Moreover, it was the Old Testament Books that the early apostles, teachers and church in general relied upon and used to bring the revelation of Jesus as the Christ. That is, the early church did not frown upon Old Testament books, but they embraced and understood them to bring the revelation of Jesus Christ.
  • What this means is that we are not tearing, chucking or shredding some scriptural books. All we’ve had to do is to look at the same thing but from a different vantage point of the New Covenant or of Christ.
  • Rom 10:4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (NIV). Christ reflects a shift in angles and vantage points, from law to grace.
  • The Bible and the principle of collective representation: The Bible is written by the ink of the Spirit of God as a book reflecting collective representation of mankind. That is, the sin of Adam is in fact the sin of mankind. Just as the righteousness of Christ does in fact open the window of redemption for all mankind.
  • The Bible and the principle of collective reflection: The bible is also written with the intent for collective reflection – i.e. we can never read a story about a character in the bible (good or bad) and then go on to distance ourselves from them. The Bible reveals the true nature of mankind. What this means is that we all suffer from the same things. The Bible is nothing but a collective mirror crafted by the wisdom and intelligence of Him who created us and who therefore knows us very well. When I read about Adam’s temptation to eat a forbidden fruit, I must see myself. When I read about David’s sexual lust, I must see myself etc.
  • When we consider the principle of collective reflection, then we can think of the Bible as nothing but a video camera zooming onto specific characters, people-groups, generations, situations, events and epochs, to reflect the wider, universal and trans-generational condition of mankind.
  • The human condition will never outsmart the Scriptures. There is not a single generation or human era, regardless of technological advancement, where scripture will become irrelevant in terms of providing the revelation of God, a moral compass and wisdom for human life.
  • What is even more powerful in the principles of collective representation and collective reflection, is that in Christ Jesus, we have not only the Messiah who goes to the Cross to die for us, but we also have a human being (the second and Last Adam, 1 Cor. 15:45-59) who comes to show us how we can be humans again, so that in celebrating the Cross, we are celebrating a portal into new humanity (Eph. 4:22-24, Eph. 2:14-16).
  • The Bible and the principle of universality of truth: scripture is applicable to all humans across generations, people-groups, age, gender and class groups. It is applicable to all human conditions and situations.
  • Scripture is written as a historical record to warn successive generations in terms of how God deals with the human condition (1 Cor. 10:6&11).


What on earth is happening? Looking at the Pandemic through the lens of Prophetic Scriptures


We began this article by reflecting on the doctrine of faith – faith empowers us to reason, to understand, to see and to proclaim. Faith empowers us with a kingdom worldview with which we process reality, situations and events of life around us. Faith does not only give us power to govern over our human affairs, it also empowers us with understanding and hope to be able to walk through difficult times. For instance, because we are a people of faith, “we are not to grieve (death) like the rest of men, who have no hope”. 1 Thess. 4:13-14.

What are some of the Scriptures and prophetic themes that provide a lens through which to look at the current global disaster and the pandemic? For the purpose of this article, we will identify two prophetic themes…


The Shaking of Nations

Heb 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”   27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”  NIV

Hag 2:6 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty.   9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” NIV

In Hebrews 12:25-29, we see the shaking of life. God acknowledges Himself as the Source of the shaking. There are two triggers of the shaking identified for us: (a) the refusal of the speaking of God or a turning away from God, (b) and the impartation of the Kingdom of God to the church.

To “shake” means to throw into a tremor, to put in commotion, to cause to vibrate and to be unstable, to cause to tremble with fear. The purpose of the shaking is clearly to reveal and expose an arrangement of human life built in opposition to the Kingdom of God. How do we know this? Because the scripture speaks about “the removal of what can be shaken… so that what cannot be shaken may remain” (vs.27). This means that we must ask ourselves the following questions: (a) what is being shaken in and through this pandemic? (b) And what is being established?

Hebrews 12 is taken from Haggai 2:6-9 – the Hebrew word translated as “shake” defines a forceful and a violent, back and forth movement of a physical body by an outside force. If we consider that the natural is a pointer to the spiritual, then beyond the scientific, medical and even political issues around this pandemic, something other-worldly is indeed blowing at the system that man has built. The story does not end there, Haggai 2:7 further reveals the true intent of the shaking – so that “the desire of all nations shall come”. The word “desire” means delight, or that which is desirable and pleasant. The purpose of the shaking is to stimulate the appetite of nations towards God and His righteousness. It is to stimulate the nations to have a new hunger for righteousness, that they may come to the house of the Lord (Isa. 2:1-4). In other words, the shaking is deeply redemptive.


The Groaning of Creation

Rom 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. NIV

Romans 8 reveals some key themes for us…

Creation was subjected to frustration (vs.20): creation was subjected or subordinated to futility, vanity and purposelessness. The Fall of man in Genesis 3 did not only affect humans, but also creation (Rom. 5:12). The Fall and sin had both human and systemic effects – they affected the creation of God.

Creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into a glorious freedom (vs.21): creation is in a state of slavery to decay. The word “decay” means destruction, corruption, deterioration, a fraying and a wasting away. Since the fall of man, creation has been wasting away and being depleted, primarily because of man’s original sin but also as a result of continued greed of man. We know that at the beginning, when man fell, God did a couple of things: He set in motion anatomical and ecological curses. We who were created as immortal humans began to suffer from death or mortality. The woman would now give birth with great pain. All of this means that something changed in our anatomy or physiology. Not only that, but the ground was cursed because of the sin of man. Sin brought an ecological curse. That process has been in motion since Genesis chapter 3.

Creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth – up to the present time (vs.22): the word “groaning” means to moan or lament jointly, to grumble from impatience, to be constricted as when squeezed or pressed by circumstances.

Since the fall of man, creation has never been in a state of joy. Creation is lamenting and complaining – it is in a state of protest against the cosmic effects of man’s sin and immorality. This lamentation of creation is likened to a woman in labour – the idea is that the lamentation is increasing in intensity, resulting in all the disasters we are seeing.

Jesus helps us by explaining the exact nature of the “labour pains”…

Matt 24:4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. NIV


Luke 21:10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. NIV

The lamentation or labour pains of creation involve earthquakes, famines (economic crises), pestilences (health crises) etc.

The image below shows a range of events and situations that were taking place as we started the year 2020. Some of these events had already been taking place in previous years. I put up this slide during our first 2020 Sunday worship meeting, on the 5th of January (not so long ago), to show our church the nature of events that were in the news as we started the year. Then, we were dealing with a serious military crisis between the USA and Iran. I showed coronavirus “as one of the things taking place” (number 5 in the image). A couple of months later, the world is under quarantine because of coronavirus. But all this is a picture of creation that is in protest because of the violation of the order of God.

2020 – The State of the World - image


Why is creation in a state of lamentation? What is the hope of creation?

The answer to the question above takes us back to the doctrine of salvation. The following components of this doctrine are paramount…

  • The Fall did not only affect humans, it also affected the entire system of creation – sin entered the world (Rom. 5:12).
  • Sin did not only affect man’s heart, but also man’s anatomy and the entire ecological system (Gen. 3).
  • Equally, Jesus has not only come to save humans, but to also restore the entire order of creation so that it can be reconciled with God (Col. 1:17-21).
  • Creation was subjected to decay at the Fall, in hope that it would one day be liberated.
  • Consequently, God has not saved us simply to keep us within this fallen order of life. He has saved us with the intent to restore not only our spirits, but also our bodies (anatomy) back to their original order of immortality – this will fulfil the image of God.
  • God’s salvation plan is working out progressively towards finality – our spirits have been redeemed and regenerated (Tit. 3:5-6, 1 Pet. 1:23), our souls are being saved (1 Pet. 1:9) and our bodies (anatomy) shall be saved (Rom. 8:23, 1 Cor. 15:35-49)
  • Equally, creation must reflect the nature of God (Rom. 1:20, Ps. 19:1) – creation was therefore subjected to decay for a while, so that it would eventually be liberated.
  • Liberation of creation is the eventual destruction of all that has been corrupted, and the establishment of a new order of life (2 Pet.3:3-15)

Creation is lamenting in hope for the fulfillment of the full plan of God’s salvation…

Rom 8:21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. NIV

Triggers of the End

The Bible teaches us that mortality shall come to an end, and that the system of immortality shall be re-established. All these things that are happening cause us to begin to think deeply about the end of all things. There are three interconnected components that are at play in the church’s movement to the end:


LSA 2020 - Eschatology Image


  1. The groaning of Creation and the manifestation of crises and disasters (Rom. 8:18-25, Matt. 24:3-14).
  2. The preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations or people-groups (Matt. 24:14).
  3. Growth and development of church in the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:11-16, Eph. 5:27).


The first issue: The Groaning of Creation – We have no control over the first component. The manifestation of global disasters is something that is outside of our sphere of authority. To build an eschatological mindset where we solely depend on earthly events to determine our movement to the completion of kingdom purpose leaves us powerless and ineffective. The Bible teaches us that we can speed up the day of the Lord, meaning that there are contributions that we are expected to make in the process (2 Pet. 3:11-12).

The second issue: Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom – The second issue, which is within our means, has to do with the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations (Matt. 24:14). All nations must hear about the good news of the Kingdom of God. Church must engage this apostolic mission. The righteous, just and merciful God will not conclude His purposes without all people-groups getting the opportunity to hear about what He has done for them.

The third issue: Maturity in Christ – beyond the evangelistic, geographic spread of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, there must be a dimensional spread of the growth of the church in the fullness of the life of Christ. We must grow up to Him who is the head (Eph. 4:15&16). If we only grow geographically, without dimensional growth, we will become a global church that still has the stains and the wrinkles of worldliness.

These three components are interconnected. Disasters and crises have a way of opening territories, people-groups and cultures to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Crises often leave humanity in a state of fear, it creates a new longing for the meaning of life, the message of hope and the theology of immortality (especially when humans are faced with death). At the same time, disasters and crises open the church up to new conversations about God, His Kingdom and Purpose. This allows the church to reflect upon her building approaches, unleashing her to new dimensions of wisdom in building the things of God.




The Response of the Church




Heb 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.  38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. NIV

Church must respond in faith – and faith is the courage to engage the moment.

What are the platforms of faith that church must engage at this time?

  • Faith is to understand (it is to have knowledge) the evolution and movement of life to the end of time: church must respond with knowledge and insight concerning the meaning of the events taking place in the earth. Church must be able to frame these events within the promises of God. Jesus went to the Cross fully knowing what was happening. He was joyful at the outcomes that the Cross was going to produce in the redemption of mankind. “For the joy set before Him, He endured the Cross, scorning its shame…” (Heb. 12:2-3).
  • Faith is an action-oriented response to a discerned requirement of the Lord in the crisis: all the people we are told about in Hebrews 11 did something as an act of responding to what they believed God was doing in their time. Abel offered a better sacrifice, Noah built the ark, Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice etc. In Hebrews 11, faith is spoken of as human action offered in response to discernment of the will of God in the midst of life situations.


Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. NIV

1 Tim 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… NIV

Eph 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. NIV

  • Church must intensify intercessory prayers, to petition the Lord for the salvation of mankind.
  • The saints must intensify the cry before the Lord for the establishment of the Body of Christ (Isa. 62:6&7).
  • Church must pray for political authorities to submit themselves under the wisdom of Christ, who is the King of kings.

We must meet this current pandemic with prayers and intercession! With the prayers of the saints, God can redeem souls.



Ps 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. NIV


Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. NIV

There is a huge difference between church as a devotional service and church as a spiritual community. Church is called to be a community under the government of Christ. Community is important for the church to be able to navigate the current crisis. No one believer or leader can face this moment alone. Community is the revelation of common life in Christ. And once this revelation is established, it starts to trickle down and manifest in the socio-economic realm of the saints.

It’s going to be difficult to start now to build community life. Churches that have not been able to prioritize community life must use this period of the pandemic to reflect and begin to build around this principle post this pandemic. In that way, they will be ready for what is to come – the next constriction.

Spiritual community in churches empowers leaders to be able to continue to move forward in the purposes of God even during a national lockdown. It’s impossible to do this with “church attendees”. Churches need to be made up of fully committed believers, who are in active relationship and mutual accountability, for them to thrive in these turbulent times. In other words, community life is a critical platform upon which leaders can still “sail the ship” amidst the storm.

Even more powerful is the fact that community life becomes a platform of witnessing and evangelism, in a time when people are isolated, vulnerable and fearful. Beyond the message of salvation, we must proclaim to our neighborhoods, cities and villages by a construct of life that is appealing to the human need.


Discipleship and Equipping

Matt 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” NIV

Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. NIV

Churches will not be able to confront moments like this pandemic with simply “church attendees”. Churches can only walk through this storm with disciples or students of Christ who have a clear obligation to live for the Lord and to journey with fellow believers.

Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. NIV

These believers have been trained and equipped to walk in Christlikeness. They have revelation, spiritual energy and humility to stay connected and to remain accountable even when in a state of isolation. They are living for the Lord; they are not doing this for a show. They have faith and the courage to not retreat in the crisis. And they know how to draw deep within the vulnerability of their soul to rise up in prayer before the Lord. They have seen Him work in their lives before, helping them to “kill the lion and the bear”, and so they have faith that God will keep them.


It is time for the church to intensify efforts of evangelism and the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rom 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  NIV

Like Noah, we must be messengers of righteousness in our generation.

2 Peter 2:5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others… NIV

Eph 3:7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Not only mut we proclaim in word but also in deed, to express the manifold wisdom of God that sustains our lives in the midst of the conditions of the world – our individual lives, our families and our faith communities.


Ministry of Love and Mercy

Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn. NIV

Gal 2:10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. NIV

We must engage in practical ministries of Christ, to touch the brokenness of humanity and minister the love of God. As humanity breaks under the pandemic, we must stand in communities with the word of Christ, the healing anointing and material resources that the Lord has blessed us with, to minister to humanity. We must bring the word of hope, truth and deliverance to communities.


Engaging the Government and Political Leadership


2 Sam 7:1 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” 3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” 4 That night the word of the Lord came to Nathan… 17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation. NIV

This is the story of prophet Nathan providing prophetic and insightful support to the desires the king had in the development of the nation. Church must actively seek to resource and cooperate with the government, in its (government’s) efforts to secure human wellbeing amidst this pandemic. Here are some ways in which the church can help…

  • Over and above praying for those in authority, church must sit at the “table of the king” to provide critical wisdom and insight in the strategic direction of the nation.
  • Church must mobilize its own resources, including human resources, talents and skills in the process of mitigating the crisis.
  • Church leaders must shepherd their faith communities towards responsible and kingdom oriented citizenship, it must create a platform of advocacy, educational campaign and awareness to help direct the flow of human life towards a desirable end.


The globe with a mask
The world is on lockdown


Please follow the links below for other resources around the pandemic:


  1. Covid-19: A Prophetic characterization of the current pandemic (part 1)
  2. Restating the foundations of the New Covenant
  3. Drivers for effective life in the current season of the pandemic
  4. Doing church in the crisis of coronavirus


Robert Ntuli

Pastor – LivingStones Agency ( 

Visionary Leader – Kingdom Humanity Fellowship (

Covid-19: A Prophetic Characterization of the current pandemic

Covid19 image 2It was not uncommon in ancient times for nations and kings to seek to understand the cause, prophetic meaning and future implications of significant events. This spiritual-prophetic thinking was embraced, embedded and entrenched in ancient civilizations, both in Jewish and Gentile cultures. Sometimes God would send prophets like Jeremiah or Ezekiel to the Jews, with some form of dramatization of divine communication, knowing that the people would naturally seek to understand the prophetic meaning behind the drama.

Ezek. 24:15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. 17 Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food [of mourners].” 18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. 19 Then the people asked me, “Won’t you tell us what these things have to do with us?” NIV

When the prophet Ezekiel did not mourn the death of his wife, people knew that beyond the prophet’s personal situation of grief, there was a message for them. The amazing thing in this story and others, is that even when the Jews or any other ancient nation found themselves in a state of disconnection from God, they had an eye to see God through events around them. In the context of church, we talk of “signs, wonders and miracles”. The word “sign” means an indication. As a verb, it means to indicate or point out something. The word defines a miracle with a spiritual end and purpose. It speaks of a miracle that leads to something out of and beyond itself. The word “wonder” is closely associated with the word sign. It speaks of that which is startling, and that which leaves a permanent mark in the memory of man. And the word “miracle” speaks of acts of divine power – a disruption of rational and scientific norms.

Heb 2:4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. NIV

The purpose of “signs, wonders and miracles” is to lift human awareness, perception and consciousness to higher and often moral realities of life. That is, a sign or a wonder is designed to disrupt the conversation of humans and secure their attention to something they were previously not aware of. For those of us who go to church gatherings, we may be used to signs, wonders and miracles mostly in the context of personal healing etc. But actually, a sign or wonder is not only related to God’s acts of personal redemption, but it also refers to macro, global and cosmic actions of God. As an example, Jesus referred to His death on the Cross as a sign given to man (Matt. 16:1-4). In Acts 2, the birthing of the church and the release of the Holy Spirit to mankind would come with “wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below” (Acts 2:19-20). The Scripture here is clearly referring to both astronomical and environmental, climatic occurrences. This means that we must broaden our understanding of signs to realities bigger than Sunday morning gatherings. Again, this idea was so entrenched in ancient civilizations that the magi or the wise men from the east understood the appearance of a star (an astronomical and even scientific occurrence) to represent something divine – the birthing of the Christ (Matt. 2:1-3). The wise men asked, “where is the One who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star and have come to worship Him”. Not only so, but even Herod was not dismissive of the magi’s account – he called special conferences, instituted new policies and put his region under some form of state of emergency (obviously for evil reasons), on the account of what the wise men said to him.

If we go a little further back in history, we see kings like Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar calling conferences to process dreams and political issues that troubled their minds.

Dan 2:2 When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he (Nebuchadnezzar) said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” NIV

The word “troubled” means to tap regularly; to agitate. The word also means to stir into action. King Nebuchadnezzar gives another account in Daniel 4…

Dan 4:4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5 I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. NIV

In the scripture above, the king refers to “thoughts (images) on my bed” and “the visions of my head” (NKJV). The word “thought” means mental conception. In its root meaning, it defines a situation of being pregnant with child. In the context of the scripture above, this word (thought) therefore refers to the process of formation of new mental burdens and agenda in relation to the process of governing a nation. The word “vision” means sight, to gaze upon, and to contemplate. Furthermore, the king uses the phrase, “I was terrified”, to describe the outcome of his feelings. The word “terrified” is an Aramaic word that means to be disturbed and to be in a hurry. This means that God also speaks to us or to humans through divine disturbances of the mind. We must note the context in which the dream found the king – he was at home feeling content and prosperous. He had a feeling of peace, safety and prosperity that was perhaps based on his own sense of success in what he had built. The king’s response to this inner feeling again shows us how prophetically inclined ancient civilizations were. The king commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before him to interpret the thoughts of his mind (Dan. 4:6).


What is clear as we consider ancient civilizations is that, 1) they understood the intimate relationship between spirit and matter, and that earthly occurrences had spiritual origins, spiritual meaning and spiritual outcomes, powerful enough to impact on the affairs of man; 2) they had no problem fusing and blending science and spiritual-prophetic insight – they did not see science as an enemy of spiritual-prophetic knowledge. The advent of the European Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment changed this reality, as humans sought to create distance and hostility between science and reason on the one hand, and faith and spirituality on the other hand. Fast forward to modern day life, spirituality has been reduced to a devotional experience, often on a particular day of the week and in a building that is often removed from life. The point here is not to speak against the idea of public gatherings for the purpose of worship, but where this is not integrated with life, then our order of church is against the order of Creation, where the administration of life, romance, family and spirituality were all one coherent reality (Gen. 2). The idea of spirituality as the foundation of morality, reason and insight has been lost. The Bible for instance, is not simply a personal-devotional book, it’s also a book of wisdom or philosophy, history, science etc. – in the main, the Bible is a book that deals with the enterprise of human life. It is a book from which humans, families, politicians, business people etc. can learn about life and their various sectors.

Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. NIV

The problem with this “enlightenment” type thinking is that present day nations understand faith to only be a personal devotion phenomenon, and not something that can help us develop a worldview to understand macro, socio-political and cosmic events of life. In the process, we’ve lost the God of Nations! The problem with this is that there are realities – social, economic and political – that we will continue to misunderstand due to our limited human wisdom.

When we consider all these issues, we must realize that just like ancient kings “jumped out of their comfort” when they were confronted by a sign or a wonder, to discuss and understand occurrences of their day, so must the present-day political authorities and nation-states consider (1) the possible cause of the current pandemic, (2) the context and conditions that have resulted in the incapacity of nations to deal with the pandemic, (3) and the nature of life after the pandemic. In considering these three fundamental questions, like Nebuchadnezzar, political authorities must “hurry up” to see how they can mitigate the damages caused both by the current and future “pandemics”. In other words, this is not only a time for medical interventions and humanitarian efforts, it’s also a time to see the future (to have insight and foresight) and to consider new structural reforms that can produce new systemic realities.


The magnitude of the pandemic

Looking at the magnitude, the scale, the speed and the global impact of this pandemic, the ancient kings, prophets, philosophers and ancient societies would have concluded that something other-worldly was happening! Clearly, at least according to the news and the statistics coming through, something is indeed moving across the nations of the earth. And if God is on the other side of the line of whatever is happening, catching up with it together with us, and trying to stop it, then He isn’t as powerful as He declares Himself to be. And since we know God the Creator of the earth, Jehovah the self-sufficient One, that He is no spectator to life events, and that nothing happens to His creation at least without it earning His divine oversight and attention, because His eyes scan the entire earth (2 Chron. 16:9, Ps. 15:3, Heb. 4:13). And that this same God is so detailed that He has numbered the very hairs of our heads (Luke 12:7), that He never sleeps nor slumbers (Ps. 121:3-5), and that He knows the future beforehand, then we have to say that (1) either this pandemic is the direct hand of God or (2) He has knowingly allowed whatever is moving in the earth, to produce the level of impact that we’re seeing on our television screens. And this further raises doctrinal and prophetic questions as we seek to calibrate the lens through which we see this Creator. That is, at the core of this conversation, is the theology of the Nature of God. It is good for us to ask questions because they take us out of our comfort zones and lead us back to God. When we consider the theological principle, that nothing happens in life outside of the scope of God’s eyes – then at the very least, this pandemic must leave us confronting and engaging God in one way or another. After all, it is the glory of God to conceal the matter, and it is the glory of kings to search it out (Prov. 25:2).


The Character of the Pandemic

The one other thing that we see in Biblical-Prophetic language is usage of illustrations like animals to describe signs, wonders and supernatural movements. This is very common but not limited to the Books of Daniel and Revelation. King Pharaoh saw an image of animals (cows) and plants or vegetation that spoke to the seven-year cycle of his economy. Prophet Zechariah also saw a lot of images that characterized life in his days. So this happened to kings and prophets, Jews and Gentiles, and to believers and non-believers alike. The issue is not to be obsessed with images or visions; the issue is to find words and language to understand, capture and analyze occurrences at play before us.

What are some of the characteristics of this pandemic? And what are their implications to the nations of the world?


This pandemic has speed

It was in December 2019 that we started hearing about “this disease” that affects the respiratory system of the human body. This was happening in Wuhan, China at the time. As we stepped into the months of February and March 2020, we started to see global infections taking place at a high speed. Presidents and Prime Ministers would have delivered their state of the nation speeches around February, and this would not have necessarily featured in their plans and concerns (perhaps it was a boardroom conversation at the time). We are now in April and are faced with having to re-prioritize our budgets around this pandemic. There is no doubt that governments and public healthcare systems around the world have been ambushed by this pandemic. There has not been enough time to do proper preparation and allocation of resources. Health care workers across the nations of the world (rich and poor) are in need of protective gear. The world has been overtaken by the pandemic and is now having to catch up!


Implication: governments must always be ready when it comes to policies, resources and protocols of saving human life. Our first rule of government and of economics must be in preserving the breath of life in human bodies. Government sectors and industries that are involved in the business of human life are paramount.


This pandemic has global reach

This pandemic is unlike a tsunami or war taking place in some region – it has come to the doorsteps of continents, nations and households around the world. Those who have not yet seen a significant rise in their regions and nations still have to live with a degree of uncertainty. This is not a regional problem! This is a global problem that has been facilitated by global transportation systems – the virus has been moving through the human agency. Although China has had the advantage of being ground zero, meaning that they had a specific region to lockdown to contain this virus, the rest of the nations could not apply the same strategy because they were the recipients of the disease. This means that as people traveled back to their countries of origin, they landed in different parts of their countries causing widespread infections, leading to national lockdown measures. The global nature of the pandemic shows us that we live in the environment and age of global intimacy. Physical distance and time zones are increasingly becoming non-factors in the proximity of nations.

Implication: governments and nation-states are entities that exist within an interconnected global system. There are no distant conditions anymore. Increasingly, citizens must elect political leaders who don’t only understand the global implications of their local actions, but who also have foresight to see the local implications of global developments. Politics truly cannot be left to politicians and political parties.


This pandemic is non-discriminatory

We have seen the rich being infected alongside the poor; those in positions of power alongside ordinary citizens. We’ve seen infections across race-groups, ethnic groups, gender and age groups. Wealth and access to security resources mean absolutely nothing when you are confronted by a microbiological enemy that you cannot see with your naked eyes.

Implication: the world is used to class-oriented socio-political problems. As we move deeper into new territories of climate and biological challenges, we must realize that we are dealing with a “new normal” in which conventional means of security will increasingly have no effect.


This pandemic has global coordination with shifting epicenters

Not only is this pandemic global, it’s also moving with a sense of global coordination. All nations and systems of the world are paralyzed and in quarantine at the same time. Even those not yet affected are tracking the situation closely and some have already taken precautionary measures of lockdown to protect lives. There also has been a continental shift in epicenters. In December 2019 and January 2020, all eyes were upon China (Asia). Then we moved to Italy (Europe) and now the eyes of the world are upon the USA (North America). Governments of nations in the remaining continents must use the time they have wisely as they prepare themselves in case of outbreaks in their regions.

Implication: living in a globalized world means that we are dealing with social conditions at a bigger scale than our national borders. Not only does this require a new age of cooperation between nations, but it also requires nations to develop policies, protocols and resources that are pre-configured to dock especially in a time of crisis.


This pandemic has systemic and dimensional reach

Not only does this pandemic have a global reach, it also has systemic reach. There is not a single system of life that has not been affected – from political, economic to social systems. The politics of opposition has been suspended as governments and political parties make effort to be united under the priority to save human life. Businesses have had to shut down to allow citizens to be home to observe containment laws and measures. Cultural systems have also been affected as humans re-orientate themselves on new measures of social distancing. On the one hand, humans in general have a deep need for social life – self-isolation measures bring some deep psychological implications. On the other hand, cultures that are deeply communal and intimate are going through some form of culture shock.

Implication: political, economic and social systems of nation-states have no value outside the sanctity of human life. Nation-states must revisit the ideal of promoting the wellbeing of the human.


The pandemic has put the family-household system under the spotlight

Although the family-household system fits within the broader social system of nations, it’s important for us to specifically acknowledge the level of pressure upon families at this moment. This pandemic has resulted in containment measures as nations put in place lockdowns. But here is the reality – a national lockdown is not possible without families and households. When a government tells people not to move around, then those measures must take place upon the shoulders of the household system. As a result of this, we are now seeing reports of increased levels of gender-based violence. The reality is that a fragile family cannot withstand the pressure of an extended lockdown.

Implication: the family is the core unit of society upon which all systems of nations depend. It is in the interest of governments and nation-states to promote the sanctity of family, and to drive laws that produce stable families.


This pandemic is characterized by both softness and brutality

This pandemic is both soft and brutal. There are people that emerge out of it asymptomatic when others end up in Intensive Care Units or even dying. The medical system has not figured out the pathogenesis of the virus – that is, the origination, development or pathological process of the disease has not yet been comprehended. In other words, science is not currently able to help us understand the prognosis or the medical outcome based on the nature of the virus on the one hand, and on the health profiles of people on the other hand. Currently, science is not able to help us fully make sense of what is going on. Two people can be in the same health profile but can emerge with different medical outcomes out of this virus. This makes us think about the plague of the first born in Egypt (Ex. 12).


Ex 12:29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. NIV

On the one hand, the pandemic of the exodus affected Egyptian families only, and across the social class of the Egyptian society. On the other hand, the first born of the Jews were not affected. You could have had two males of the same age, one Jewish and the other Egyptian, and only find that only the Egyptian male was affected by whatever disease that was unleashed that evening. There are certain theological streams we can follow in this story. But for the purpose of this article, the point in view is that in the history of mankind, we’ve had a situation of a pandemic whose pathogenesis we didn’t understand. And that in the context of the story, this was understood to be a sign and a wonder of some kind.

Implication: science is useful to mankind as it helps us do a whole lot of things. In creating life, God has in fact given us the blessing of scientific ability to understand a whole range of issues, including His very nature (Rom. 1:20, Acts 17:26-28, Ps. 19:1). That is, God and science are not enemies, for if the creation of God requires scientific ability to comprehend, and if God has left scientific trails and evidence for us to understand Him, then God must be the very Source of scientific knowledge. But science can sometimes fail to help us process realities at play before us, or put differently, God has chosen other media of knowledge and understanding, other than science. There are therefore human experiences that require us to tap into non-material realities of hope and faith, to seek to understand what it is that God is doing in our lives and times. And that in this age of “rationality”, we must re-embrace spirituality not only as a devotional experience, but also as a source of knowledge and wisdom in the process of administration of human life. This is what ancient kings did very well!


This pandemic has immobilized the economic system

This generation has in the main lived in the era of the supremacy of economics. We think in economic terms. We make value judgment through the lens of economics. Capitalism is not simply some academic theory or ideology for economists and politicians, it is the very lens through which human beings engage with life. Watching this pandemic unfolding, it’s been clear that governments have had to make judgments to put in place containment measures against the drive for economic productivity and expansion. Now, economics is important for the livelihood of people, neighborhoods and nations. But economics takes place upon the foundation of sanctity of human life. Simply put, we cannot do economic activity with sickly or even a dying society. What we are seeing in this pandemic is that not only does economics produce human wellbeing, but human wellbeing is in fact the foundation of economic activity. Perhaps in some economic schools of thought, the view is that it is through economics that nations secure human wellbeing – not so true, at least according to the dynamics of this pandemic.

And so this pandemic has forced nations to put containment measures. Here is the reality, to save lives you need to lock down the nation. To lock down the nation is to keep human beings at home, and to keep humans at home is to immobilize the entire economic system. Perhaps what this allows us to rethink is the very objective of economic activity – if economic activity is geared towards human wellbeing and not towards the greed of the few, then this produces a philosophical framework that allows us to navigate difficult moments like the current pandemic.

Jer. 29:4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. NIV

To “plant gardens and eat what they produce” means that the purpose of economics is human wellbeing – this is the economics of human wellbeing.

Mal 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty. NIV

This scripture in Malachi is often used in church in the context of tithes and offerings. Beyond that, the scripture perhaps helps us to see into the mind and nature of God in terms of how we must engage economics and systemic life in society. In Biblical thinking, a house is understood to be a family – a human community living together with a sense of common identity and livelihood.  The New Testament uses the word “oikos” which means “a dwelling and a family”. The word oikos is related to the word “oikonomeo” which is the word “economy”. This word means distribution of resource, the administration of a household, the arrangement of an administration. Theories, ideologies and schools of thought are not simply academic concepts , they are mechanisms by which we arrange and administer the flow of human life. God’s preferred theory, ideology and arrangement is one in which we engage economic activity (in the fields) to bring back food to the house (house here referring to the community that we are a part of). The objective of economic activity is the wellbeing of the household – the wellbeing of the collective. God says that when we engage in the field and fail to bring back the returns to the house, we are like thieves – we are stealing from the rest of society.

Implication: although in pure capitalistic thinking, life is on a standstill currently, but according to the economics of human wellbeing, life is in fact being preserved and sustained for the future. This is not a time of lack of productivity. This is the time to preserve the futures of humanity, so that we can go back to the fields again, at a later stage, when it is safe to do so. The economic worldview of humans as simply a production machine for those who own capital is certainly being challenged. But the economic worldview of economic productivity as a means for human wellbeing is being established, in the sense that within this view, your cardinal reference point is the wellbeing of society, and not the profiteering of the capitalist.


This pandemic brings the Social Contract between governments and citizens under a new spotlight

The concept of Social Contract speaks of the agreement that exists between a government and the people it’s governing over, the idea that citizens can give the government the right to govern their lives, provided that the outcome of the process of government will establish human rights and human wellbeing. At the centre of the social contract is the law (constitution) and policies of the government. The natural tension implied in the social contract conversation is one of the rights of the State to govern over the individual human.

For the sake of this article, we will stretch this principle further back, beyond the Age of Enlightenment and Greco-Roman civilization, right back to Creation.

Gen 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” 18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” NIV

Before there was any ideological and academic conversation on the issue of the social contract, there was God creating human beings and instructing them on how to be human. The very first command that ever came to our ancestor Adam when he came to consciousness, brought definition and framework on human life. It gave details on what to do and what not to do. The Fall is in fact the result of the tension and attitude that existed in human heart towards the government of God.

Gen 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. NIV

One day, Adam and Eve gave in to what they perceived to be their individual right over God’s government. In the process, not only did they bring chaos to their lives and immediate environment, but also to the rest of mankind. Jesus, on the other hand redeems and restores the social contract that exists between God and man. When Jesus is confronted by the need to obey the command of God in the midst of hostility, shame and pain, he clearly defers and gives up His individual right by upholding the responsibility to obey.

Luke 22:41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. NIV

Jesus understood the severity of the moment and the shame that would come with the crucifixion, but He made a conscious choice to obey the command of God and fulfill the mission.

Now it is important that we understand that the social contract tension between God and man is one of the major themes of the Scriptures. On the one hand, God declares, “I am God, beside me there is no other… and you shall have no other god beside me”. Such a statement leaves us with no other option but to embrace Him who is the Creator of life and obey His commands. But, on the other hand, we humans are constantly choosing to follow our own evil human desires. Jesus settles this tension both through His own example of how He relates with the authority of God, and by reconciling the idea of love with the idea of ruler-ship.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. NIV

However, if there is this disequilibrium in the social contract between God and man, then certainly that would naturally play out in the social contract between the State (which is sometimes imperfect) and the citizen.

The tension that exists in the social contract conversation is born out of the following realities: a) governments can and have abused their rights and powers, b) citizens do not understand that according to God, the Creator and Architect of human life, the purpose of government is not to give privileges to a few politicians, but it is to promote and establish human wellbeing – issues of peace, prosperity and justice. Frankly, outside of this framework and divine mandate to governments, citizens have no obligation to submit to the authority of the State. In fact, in cases of abuse of State powers, God is often on the side of the revolution – this was certainly the case during the oppressive Pharaoh who provoked prince Moses into a liberator.

The mandate and framework of the government is clearly outlined in Romans 13:

Rom 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. NIV

Several issues are outlined for us here:

  • The ruler (or the government) is the servant of God and of the people (Rom. 13:4). The word “servant” means an attendant, one who waits at the table, a deacon of the people.
  • The mandate of the ruler is to do good to the citizens – to borrow the words of 1 Timothy 2 verse 2, the ruler must establish “peace in the land”.
  • The ruler is equally an agent of wrath or an agent of justice. Another bible translation says that “the ruler is the avenger who executes wrath” (NKJV). The word “avenger” means one who carries out justice.

The objective of the State and therefore of a government is clearly to establish peace, prosperity and justice. The scriptures highlighted above, clearly indicate to us that God has established the principle of government in human creation – that whenever and wherever there is a human community, there must be political authority to establish order, peace, prosperity and justice.

However, as governments put containment measures in place, to lockdown movement of citizens, and to even prohibit activities of faith and worship, the social contract conversation has once again resurfaced. There is a silent conversation taking place behind locked households concerning the right of a government to prohibit human movement, public gatherings etc. Partly, this conversation stems from the fact that the modern-day citizen, a) does not understand citizenship as a political reality within the machinery of the State, b) governments have not established citizenship education, to help citizens understand the very principle of social contract. If the scriptures we’ve highlighted are anything to go by, then actually, governments must put measures in place to save their citizens against this ravaging microbiological enemy called novel coronavirus. However, citizens, as well as human rights institutions, must remain vigilant to ensure that a) governments do not engage in unwarranted solutions, b) that there is no abuse of power, c) and that governments are not unduly infringing on the privacy of their citizens.

Implication: there is a great need for citizenship education for the modern-day citizen, to establish the proper understanding of the relationship between the State and the citizen. Such education will go a long way in 1) helping the process of government especially in times like the current pandemic, 2) in securing cooperation between governments and citizens, 3) and in safeguarding against abuse.


In summary, we can say the following:

  • There is something happening in the world, and it is indeed other-worldly.
  • There is no way that God is pushed to the corner and left trying to come back for another round to prove Himself amidst this pandemic.
  • This pandemic has a character that the nations of the world must investigate and understand, to prepare for the future.
  • This pandemic has exposed the true conditions of the systems of human life. The words of Dr Anthony Fauci (the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the USA) are applicable here, “…sometimes when you’re in the middle of a crisis, like we are now with the coronavirus, it really does ultimately shine a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society”. The question is, to what extent is this statement applicable to other systems and sectors of life, other than public healthcare systems (political, governmental, socio-economic, family and including church)?
  • Governments have an obligation from God to put measures in place to protect and promote human wellbeing.
  • Citizens, on the other hand, have a moral obligation to cooperate with governments in the process of administrating human wellbeing.
  • The nations of the world must prepare to step into a new era of humanity post this pandemic.



Below are the topics and links of other articles on the current pandemic:


  1. Restating the foundations of the new covenant.
  2. Drivers for effective life in the current season of the pandemic.
  3. Doing church in the crisis of coronavirus.


Robert Ntuli

Pastor – LivingStones Agency

Visionary Leader – Kingdom Humanity Fellowship