Vol: 91 Issue: 27 Monday, April 27, 2009
Everybody is talking about the new strain of swine flu that has killed more than one hundred people in Mexico and is rapidly spreading around the world.
First, the facts as we now know them:
Pigs get the flu in much the same way that humans do. The develop a similar fever, including the cough, sneezing, achy joints and loss of appetite.
Humans can catch it directly from contact with pigs the same way that they can catch from contact with people. Cross-contamination with swine flu is therefore not all that rare — there are a few cases every year.
But this one is different. Technically, it’s not swine flu at all. Swine flu will also jump to pigs — this new strain seemingly only infects humans.
If anything, it is mainly what is called ‘bird flu’ –but more of a super virus that is genetically four different strains of flu combined.
The CDC says it is mainly human influenza type A with a strain of bird flu and two different strains of swine flu; an American version and an Asian version.
The CDC identifies the virus officially as Influenza A H1N1
So, how worried should we be? Nobody knows yet — except in Mexico. They are plenty worried.
As already noted, more than 100 people in Mexico are believed to have died from the new flu and more than 1,600 sickened, prompting widespread school closures and other measures.
New cases are being reported in almost every country. The global media is practically in a frenzy about it. There are six confirmed cases in Canada. There are about twenty confirmed cases in the USA.
In New Zealand there are about a dozen cases. Australia has taken the extreme position of requiring airlines to identify passengers who may be infected so they can be quarantined and examined upon landing.
“Before flights will be able to land here in Australia, pilots will have to ascertain whether anyone on board has flu-like symptoms,” announced Australia’s Health Minister Nicola Roxon.
In Singapore, the health ministry said it began using thermal scanners Sunday at Changi International Airport to check passengers arriving from the United States. Travelers with high temperatures would be given a thorough medical examination, it said.
Thermal scanners and upgraded checks for flu-like symptoms were also being put in place at main airports in Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.
Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors returning from flu-affected areas with fevers would be quarantined.
China said anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms within two weeks of arrival had to report to authorities.
A Russian health agency said passengers from North America running a fever would be quarantined until the cause is determined.
EU Health authorities are warning their citizens not to travel to either Mexico OR the US.
EU Health Commissioner Andorra Vassiliou met with the EU foreign ministers on the subject as Spain reported the first confirmed case of swine flu in Europe.
She told reporters EU citizens “should avoid traveling to Mexico or the United States of America unless it is very urgent for them.”
So far however, the only place where it has been deadly was in Mexico. Nobody knows why but there is some speculation that it is because that is where it first originated and subsequent variants may have mutated and become less deadly.
Those confirmed cases of Influenza A H1N1 in the US suffered only mild flu symptoms and recovered without further treatment. The same for the reported cases elsewhere.
Outside of Mexico, it appears that it is just ‘the flu’ — and a fairly mild one, at that.
So,where is the nexus between a case of Mexican swine flu (or influenza A H1N1) and unfolding Bible prophecy? There are actually several. Let’s begin with the media reports.
I want you to notice the naked power of the media unchained. Media reports of the illness focus primarily on the Mexican death toll, one has to read two-thirds of the way down the page to learn that nobody outside of Mexico has suffered more than a mild illness.
I’m not criticizing the media — in this case, it did its job the way it is supposed to. That’s not really the point.
The point is, before the CDC or its international equivalents had learned anything about influenza A H1N1, entire nations were implementing quarantine measures, issuing travel warnings and holding press conferences.
Why? Because of media attention. In this case, its a good thing. But it is every bit as effective when it’s not.
Everything about the last days, from the perspective of Scripture, is rooted in the enemy’s ability to use the smoke and mirrors of a pre-existing world-wide propaganda machine. When asked of the signs of His coming, the first thing the Lord said was “take heed that no man deceive you.”
Deception is the hallmark of the Tribulation.
The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Truth, for that is among His ministries to believers during the Church Age.
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me:” (John 15:26)
Notice that at the time Jesus is speaking, the Comforter is not yet come. He does not come until after the Lord Jesus leaves. The Comforter is referred to using the personal pronoun, “He”.
“He” is the Spirit of Truth, sent from the Father.
“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)
So, the Spirit of Truth was not yet come, and His ministry is to guide the Church into all truth. But during the Tribulation Period, the truth is no longer operational. Jesus warned it would be a time of ultimate deception.
Paul said God Himself would send strong delusion, “that they should believe a lie.” Paul explains the purpose of the delusion thusly: “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:12)
The ministry of the Spirit of Truth is to indwell the Church, guide the Church into ALL truth, with particular attention to prophecy and the last days. But during the Tribulation, there is no such Comforter or Guide in evidence.
Only lies, deceit, death and destruction.
Revelation Chapter 13 is all about the power of deception and the ultimate use of deception as a method of control more powerful than any military occupation could ever hope to impose. The population practically begs for more deception:
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”
“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:4,7-8)
The ministry of the Spirit of Truth did not come until after Jesus’ ascension at Pentecost. The ministry of the Spirit of Truth is what restrains unrestricted propaganda and deception. The Apostle Paul says the Spirit of Truth will continue to restrain via His occupation of believers until “He is taken out of the way” necessitating the Rapture. (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)
It is only after that, Paul says, that the antichrist can be revealed, beginning the 70th Week of Daniel, the ‘time of Jacob’s Trouble’ and the judgment for sin that will be meted out to all those that “dwell upon the earth.”
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:8)
The Truth is still with us. The Spirit of Truth continues to guide us. That is how we can know that the world has not yet slipped over into the Tribulation Period. Because the Holy Spirit, and the indwelt Church, has not yet been withdrawn at the Rapture.
I said the flu story intersects with Bible prophecy on a number of fronts. After warning against deception, Jesus went on to tell His disciples what would be the signs of His soon return.
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
Notice that Jesus didn’t say that everybody would necessarily experience these things as the time approached. Only that we would all hear of such things. They would exist, as they always have.
Wars and famines and pestilences are all part of the human condition throughout time. Jesus is addressing the widespread (in diverse places) fear (see that ye not be troubled) that such widespread reporting of these events would engender.
At no time in history did everybody on earth experience the same wars, earthquakes, famines and pestilences all at the same time. But in this generation, thanks to mass communications, it sure seems like it.
We have, in the swine flu story, a perfect example of global fear engendered by ‘hearing’ of ‘pestilences’ in ‘divers places’.
Jesus spoke of the ‘distress [fear] of nations, with perplexity [confusion]’ as part of the unfolding scenario for that one generation, somewhere in time, to whom all Bible prophecy was addressed.
Finally, a third nexus with Bible prophecy that demonstrates how close we are to that point when the Spirit of Truth must be withdrawn to permit the rest of God’s outline for the last day to run its course.
The Prophet Daniel, having just been exposed to this outline of future history from his place on the timeline some six centuries before Christ, was understandably perplexed.
Having seen the vision unfold to the end, Daniel is given his final instructions.
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)
That wasn’t enough of an answer for Daniel, but it was the only one he was going to get.
He persisted: “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?”
The angel was just as persistent: “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:8-9)
The Book of Daniel remained ‘sealed’ as a book of meaningless heads, horns, beasts and symbols until this generation, when knowledge has increased and people move ‘to and fro’ to the extent that a person sneezing Mexico can give bird flu to a person in Australia.
Finally, the Bible speaks, during the Tribulation, of a series of global pandemics very much like everybody fears this one will become.
At no time in history was it ever possible for everybody to be infected by the same epidemic prior to the last century.
But nine days ago, somebody in Mexico sneezed — and the whole world caught the flu.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)