The Bible brought the prediction that during the last days there would be epidemics, that is, diseases that spread rapidly, like pandemics (Luke 21:11). The pandemics in question are not a punishment from God. In fact, God will soon use his entire reign to eliminate all negative issues and health-related problems, pandemics included.

What the Bible says about pandemics

The Bible does not predict specific pandemics or diseases, such as AIDS, the Spanish flu, or Covid-19. However, it did announce that there would be "epidemics" and "deadly plagues" (Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:8). These phenomena are part of the sign of the "last days," also called "the final period of the world" (2 Timothy 3:1; Matthew 24:3).

Does God punish with sickness?

The Bible reveals some cases in which God brought punishment on people through diseases. For example, he struck some people with leprosy (Numbers 12:1-16; 2 Kings 5:20-27; 2 Chronicles 26:16-21). However, these are isolated situations. These were not indiscriminate pandemics that affected innocent people. These punishments were aimed at individuals who openly rebelled against God.

In our days, do pandemics characterize divine punishment?

No. Some claim that God uses pandemics and other health problems to punish some individuals. However, the Bible does not say that.

On the one hand, God's worshippers in the past and in our time have been affected by sickness. For example, Timothy, a faithful servant of God, suffered from rather poor health conditions often. But the Bible does not say that it was a sign that he had God's disapproval. Also today, faithful servants of God are getting sick. Often it is because these people were in the wrong place at the wrong time (Ecclesiastes 9:11).

On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is not yet the time for God to punish the wicked. Rather, we live in "a time of salvation," that is, a time when God invites all humans to become his friends in order to be saved (2 Corinthians 6:2). He provides this in particular through a worldwide preaching work, which conveys a revelation of a very positive character: the "good news of the kingdom" (Matthew 24:14).

Will there be no more pandemics?

Yes. The Bible announces that soon no one will be sick. When his kingdom rules the earth, God will heal all sicknesses (Isa 33:24; 35:5, 6). He will remove suffering, pain, and death (Revelation 21:4). And he will bring the dead back to life so that they can live healthy lives on earth in perfect condition (Psalm 37:29; Acts 24:15).

Bible verses about sickness

Matthew 4:23: "[Jesus] began to travel throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing all kinds of diseases and disabilities. 

Explanation: Jesus' miracles showed on a small scale what the kingdom of God will soon do for all mankind.

Luke 21:11: "There will be epidemics."

Explanation: Widespread illnesses are part of the sign these days.

Revelation 6:8: "Look! a pale horse, and its rider was called Death. And the Tomb followed right behind. And they were given the power [...] to kill [...] by epidemics. 

Explanation: The prophecy of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse indicated that there would be pandemics in our time.

COVID-19 wreaked havoc, but the Bible brought hope

Reading the Bible - along with other aspects of community and discipleship, such as going to church or participating in a small group - seems to contribute to people's sense of well-being and happiness, says Tyler VanderWeele, director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard, University's TH Chan School of Public Health.

"Churches are playing an important and profound role in contributing to the well-being of people in general - and particularly at this time," he adds.

According to VanderWeele, the results are consistent with other studies on the impact of religious affiliation and human flourishing. People who go to church and read their Bibles tend to be happier, less likely to commit suicide, and can find more meaning in their lives.

This two-phase study is unique, however, because it surveyed people before and after the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States. The first survey occurred in January 2020 and the second in June, when the total number of confirmed cases exceeded 2.5 million and the World Health Organization recorded more than 125,000 deaths in the United States.