Is Ebola mentioned in Bible prophecy? And if so, is it a sign of the end times?
These are the questions many people are asking in light of the recent outbreak of this deadly disease in West Africa. As Ebola spreads to countries outside of Western Africa, many people are beginning to wonder if this virus is one of the many plagues described in the book of Revelation and the end times prophesied in the Bible.
So is it? What does the Bible have to say about Ebola and the end times?
Pestilence in the Last Days
Obviously, Ebola itself is not specifically named in the Bible. The deadly virus got its name from a river in Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1976. But just because the name â€œEbolaâ€ doesnâ€™t appear in the Bible, we shouldnâ€™t automatically conclude it isnâ€™t mentioned.
When the apostles asked Jesus to reveal to them the signs of His coming, Jesus told them of many signs to look for. And among those signs, He mentioned â€œpestilenceâ€ (Luke 21:11). So what is pestilence?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines pestilence as â€œa contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating.â€ Given that definition, do you think Ebola qualifies? I do. Right now (October 2014), Ebola is spreading through West Africa like wildfire, and between 50% and 60% of those who have contracted it have died.
But this is nothing new. Pestilence has always tormented the human race. In the 14th Century, the bubonic plague killed one-third of the European population in just a few years. From 1918 to 1920, the Spanish flu (H1N1 influenza virus) pandemic killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people worldwide.
At other times, smallpox, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases have all run rampant. But none of these previous plagues heralded the end times and the Second Coming of Jesus. So why should anyone think Ebola is any different? The answer is found in how the sign of pestilence will appear as the end times near.
An Exponential Increase in Pestilence
Jesus told the disciples to look for certain signs â€“ earthquakes, famines, wars, false messiahs, and pestilence. But these signs have always been present. So how will they be signs of His Return?
Jesus immediately provided the answer. He said these signs will be â€œthe beginning of birth painsâ€ (Matthew 24:8). In other words, just like the labor pains of a pregnant woman, these signs will appear with greater frequency and intensity as the main event (the Second Coming of Jesus Christ) draws near.
So as the end approaches, we should see more frequent occurrences of pestilence, and more intense and powerful pestilence. In the case of infectious disease, this means pandemics will occur more frequently, effect more people, and be more deadly.
Does the current Ebola outbreak meet these conditions? Not yet. But while itâ€™s too early to tell how many people will ultimately contract Ebola, itâ€™s much more â€œintenseâ€ than a normal virus. So far, more than 50% of those who have caught Ebola have died. Those arenâ€™t good odds. And if Ebola spreads worldwide, it could end up being the most deadly pandemic in all of human history.
Is Ebola a Sign of the End?
Does this mean Ebola is a sign of the end? Given the high mortality rate and the ease with which people seem to contract it, Ebola definitely qualifies as a plague of the first order. Nevertheless, we just canâ€™t know yet whether or not itâ€™s one of the plagues catalogued in the Book Revelation. Those plagues will occur during the seven year Tribulation, and as of right now (October 2014), we are not in the Tribulation.
However, that doesnâ€™t mean Ebola is irrelevant to Bible prophecies concerning the end times. Numerous converging signs point to the soon return of Jesus Christ, and Ebola is yet another reason to be alert and ready for His coming. Why do I say this? Because Jesus, Moses, and the Old Testament prophets said the time just before the Second Coming will witness:
- The re-establishment of Israel as a nation.
- The Jewish people in possession of Jerusalem.
- The gospel preached throughout the world.
- A marked increase in travel and knowledge.
- A revival of the Roman Empire.
- The rise of global government.
- And moreâ€¦
Already, many of these signs have come to pass. Taken together with these other signs, the recent Ebola outbreak is simply one more reason to believe in and prepare for the imminent return of Jesus.
A Better Question to Ask
Whether or not Ebola plays a role in the fulfillment of end times Bible prophecy, I think thereâ€™s a better question to ask: Have you prepared to die?
After all, it shouldnâ€™t matter whether you die of Ebola or peacefully in your sleep at a ripe old age. Regardless of the ultimate cause or time of your death, have you thought about what will happen when you die?
The Bible says if youâ€™ve placed your trust in Jesus Christ andÂ accepted His sacrifice on the cross as payment for your sins, then you have nothing to fear. You donâ€™t have to worry about Ebola or anything else. Why? Because death has lost its grip on you:
â€œâ€˜Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?â€™ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christâ€ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NLT)
Jesus said, â€œAnyone who believes in me will live, even after they die. All who live in me and believe in me will never ever dieâ€ (John 11:25-26). So if you find yourself living in fear of Ebola right now, God offers you freedom from that fear. The Bible tells us that God gives those who trust in Him a spirit of â€œpower, love, and self-discipline, not of fear and timidityâ€ (2 Timothy 1:7).
Those who trust in Jesus have nothing to fear. Am I saying you wonâ€™t get Ebola? No. I canâ€™t make that promise. But I can promise you this:
As a follower of Jesus, youâ€™ll face many trials and sorrows in this world. But you donâ€™t need to worry about a single one of them â€“ because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33)!
Only Jesus offers this peace. Do you have His peace in your life? If not, you can have it now. All you have to do is invite Jesus into your life, and pray this prayer right now:
â€œDear Jesus, have mercy on my soul, for I am a sinner. I repent of my sins, and I believe that you died on the cross as forgiveness for my sins. I invite you to come into my life. Fill my heart with your Spirit, and I will trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In the name of Jesus. Amen.â€
The Bible says, all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). These are terrible times. So many people live in fear. Donâ€™t be one of them. Come to Jesus, and He will break the chains that hold you in fear. Come to Him and find peace â€“ even in the midst of turmoil and pestilence.
Britt Gillette is the author of Signs of the Second Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime and Coming to Jesus: One Manâ€™s Search for Truth and Life Purpose. Heâ€™s also the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy.