For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall (Malachi 4:1,2).
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The international group Doctors Without Borders recently warned that Ebola treatment centers in West Africa have been “reduced to places where people go to die alone.” Dr. Margaret Chan, World Health Organization Director‑General, said that it has been completely overwhelmed by the disease, estimating that the virus‑caused deaths number more than 1500 throughout Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. She called it the worst Ebola epidemic in history and fretted that the world is losing the battle to contain it. First appearing in 1976 in the Republic of Congo, here are the key facts concerning the disease: (www.who.int)
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness
- EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
- EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rain
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human‑to‑human
- Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola
- Severely ill patients require intensive supportive No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
Ebola, like other recently emerged diseases — AIDS in Africa or SARS in Asia — originated in the developing world. Experts say that this is because public health systems in poor countries are either non‑ existent or underdeveloped. If Ebola had emerged in the United States, Australia or Europe it would have been contained quite quickly. A disease in a developing country within Africa or Asia can easily spread and grow into a pandemic. A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through human populations across multiple continents or even worldwide.
Pandemics in History
The first recorded pandemic occurred in the sixth century and is known as the Justinian Plague. It was followed in the 14th century by the Black Death. Both are thought to have been caused by the bubonic plague, which is spread by infected fleas that live on infected rats. Fifty to seventy million people died of the Black Death which lasted nearly three centuries.
During the period of the Black Death in Europe, advisers to popes and emperors claimed the outbreak was due to the alignment of the planets or the passing of comets. There was also scapegoating of ethnic minorities, particularly the Jews, who were falsely accused of poisoning the wells in Central Europe, leading to pogroms and massacres.
Smallpox, cholera, and the plague became worldwide diseases in the 19th century. It was not until the end of the 19th century that a true understanding of how disease is spread developed. A cholera outbreak in London was contained when John Snow mapped all the houses affected, deducing that cholera was spread via contaminated water.
Once an understanding developed of what caused disease and how it spread, modern medicine advanced quickly. The early 20th century experienced an influenza pandemic which may have been the most significant contributor to ending of World War I. By the middle of the 20th century, many diseases were no longer thought to be a threat. Edward Jenner famously developed a vaccine for smallpox; rats and mosquitoes were controlled; and public sanitation improved. The advent of penicillin led to a decline in many infectious diseases. However, the elimination of many former worldwide diseases led to complacency in world preparation, claims Professor Susan Craddock from Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota and author of Diseases: Emerging Infections in the Global City.
No More Pain
In the Bible, God is represented as a Great Physician who heals all the diseases of his people: “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3). The Prophet Isaiah foretold a time when “The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:24). He also said, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:5,6).
Pestilences are the natural consequences of sin, and the death sentence. It has accompanied the degeneration and downward spiral of Adam’s race as it has been passed down to his progeny. The people who received the benefits of Jesus’ miracles and were healed of their afflictions, all eventually died. The time had not come for these miracles to be permanent blessings. However, they revealed the miraculous power that will be used on behalf of all people in God’s kingdom.
God, who justly pronounced the curse of death upon mankind, intends to remove the curse, as promised in Revelation 22:3, “There shall be no more curse.” This is guaranteed through the ransom price provided by Jesus. At present the ransom is being used on behalf of those invited to share in the sufferings of Christ during this Gospel Age. But when the church is completed, there will no longer be a need for this present evil world and attendant sickness, pain, and death. God will reverse these conditions in his kingdom, as described in Revelation 21:4: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” The Apostle Paul says that the reign of Christ will continue until he has destroyed death. “He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25,26). The destruction of death will include the destruction of disease, which leads to death.
The due time for the world of mankind to be called forth from the grave and restored to health and life is near. The Prophet Malachi foretells that the Great Physician, “the Sun of righteousness [shall] arise with healing in his wings,” and he connects it in time to the day of the Lord, or the day of Jehovah. He says, “Behold, the day [of Jehovah] cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:1,2).
Jesus tells us that this day of the Lord (Jehovah), or time of trouble, marks the end of the age. (Matthew 24:3,21). The events of the world show that we are now in this foretold time of trouble and of the end of the age. Therefore, the time for the healing kingdom of Christ is near. When Christ’s glorious kingdom is established in the earth, all who are in their graves will come forth (John 5:28,29). Then all mankind will be granted free access to the one and only true fountain of youth, the gift of the Heavenly Father, through his Son Jesus Christ, to which they will be lovingly and patiently guided by their Lord Jesus and his bride: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come, And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
To this unmatchable promise the great and gracious God of the universe has set his personal seal. “He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:5).