Coronavirus: Is it an act of God?

1st Corinthians 10:26 “For the earth is the Lords, and the fulnesse thereof.”

People are also asking why is God allowing the current Chi-Comm Wuhan Coronavirus, Covid-19 to happen. The answer is the same for any calamity or event. A Sin sick world! Go read Why does God allow Bad Stuff to Happen?

From the Jewish Perspective

Jerusalem Post – The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the whole world and raised the deep theological question of whether to blame God for the catastrophe.

Disasters have attacked human beings and nations – not least the Jewish people – throughout history. They tended to come in two forms: “natural” and moral.

Moral disasters are hard to cope with but at least we know that they are the result of human beings wrongly using their free will to harm other people (and themselves).

“Natural” disasters are another matter. They include the three Fs – flood, fire and famine – as well as tsunamis, earthquakes and pandemics. There are sophisticated lines of reasoning and research in relation to some, but the lawyers look for one-liners and call them “acts of God.” Our problem is how literally to take this rather strange phrase, how seriously we should view its theological undertones, and whether to aver that these are tragedies which man should directly attribute to God.

If we say the catastrophes have been caused by God, we want to know His motives. At the very least we want to know whether He could have prevented the evil. If He lacks that power, it seems we are thrown back upon the old dualistic theory that there are rival forces outside (and opposed to) Him, so that there is an eternal struggle between light and darkness: sometimes one force wins, sometimes the other, and we are left (as Arnold Toynbee wrote in A Study of History, as victims of a cosmic joke.

Either this implies that He has been defeated in combat, which contradicts the psalmist’s doctrine that “the Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24), or that He has decided to abdicate and withdraw from the scene of history and no longer bears responsibility for the world, which contradicts the equally constant religious tenet that He is the Lord of history and the world, which to use the rabbinic phrase, is not hefker (ownerless, rudderless).

Isidore Epstein points out in The Faith of Judaism that God’s hand in history is “the dominant note of Biblical history.”
Isaiah 45:7 is adamant that God creates both what we perceive as good and what we perceive as evil. Even what we perceive as evil is from Him, and somewhere, somehow, it has its place in His plan. In the Torah, everything He made is called “good” or “very good.” Targum Onkelos translates tov me’od, very good, as stable and firm, part of the pattern of a functioning universe.

SO WHAT are we to say about the pandemic? Let’s consider eight possibilities:

1) The evil is God punishing us. Too harsh. The world is guilty of many kinds of mischief but He has promised not to destroy it (Genesis 8:21-12). Eliezer Berkovits, the modern theologian, writes concerning the Holocaust that anyone who suggests that we are sinners and the Holocaust was our punishment, is simply being obscene.

2) God has no control over the disaster. Impossible. By definition He is all-good – He wants the best for His world. He is also all-powerful and is capable of preserving His Creation.

3) Man is at least partly responsible because he didn’t protect the world properly. True, man could and should work harder to tend the universe, but why absolve God of His share of blame?

4) We cannot explain the evil but we can alleviate the pain and lessen the suffering. True, we should care better for other people, but this is a moral judgment and challenge which still leaves the problem intact.

5) God shares our pain (as Psalm 91:15 says explicitly). But doesn’t He do more than feel bad about it? Harold Kushner says in When Bad Things Happen to Good People that God sits shivah with us. But maybe there is a case for saying that sometimes God has to use the Yom Kippur phrase Himself and say Hatati aviti pashati, I too have sinned.

6) Maybe it’s not a perfect world. The philosophers agree that God has no duty to make a perfect world, but the beginning of Genesis says that everything He made was good. Nothing is said about defects or flaws.

7) Disasters must be seen in perspective. Is there is more good than evil in the world? We should constantly count our blessings, but can we let God off the hook?

8) We have to keep believing, praying and hoping for the messianic redemption. True, and God will help us along. But the psalmist is right to ask, “How long, O Lord, how long?”

One day we will come closer to an answer to the current pandemic. In the meantime, the human mind, implanted by God, is capable of even greater bursts of effort to overcome this grave medical, social and economic problem. We hope that God will arise and assure us – in the words of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev – so that our suffering is for His sake.

The writer is emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney.

Now here is the Answer from a Christian Perspective

“Why does God allow natural disasters, i.e. earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis?”

Got Questions – Why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, wildfires, and other natural disasters? Tragedies cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Genesis 1:1). Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.

The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Colossians 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? Yes, as we see in Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17. Numbers 16:30-34 shows us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Revelation chapters 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not.

In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.

We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow a tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why does God allow hurricanes to destroy the homes of thousands of people? For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. 

What we do know is this: God is good! Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ! God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies (Romans 8:28).


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Feasting on just Milk and Junk will eventually cause you great harm, you can count on it!!
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