BIRD FLU, A SIGN OF END TIMES ?
by Mark Hitchcock -
Events have kept our focus almost exclusively on the Middle East for more than a month. There are other things of prophetic interest and importance happening, as Mark Hitchcock reminds us in this update on the Bird Flu virus.
This past week the Bird Flu or deadly H5N1 virus has grabbed the headlines again. In the past few weeks the dreaded disease has infected poultry virtually all over the world. Experts have reported outbreaks in Iraq, Egypt, and Europe. France, Europe's top poultry producer, has just reported its first case of the lethal virus. France has now joined Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine as a nation with the deadly bird flu.
And the virus has now showed up in India triggering mass slaughter of birds. More than 200,000 chickens have been killed in Navapur and the total of slaughtered birds is expected to rise to 500,000.
Thus far, the bird flu has only killed 91 people, mostly in Asia, but there are growing fears that the disease could spread to humans and set off a worldwide pandemic.
The Associated Press reported on February 20, 2006,
Humans risk being overrun by diseases from the animal world, according to researchers who have documented 38 illnesses that have made that jump over the past 25 years. That's not good news for the spread of bird flu, which experts fear could mutate and be transmitted easily among people. There are 1,407 pathogens, viruses, bacteria, parasites, protozoa and fungi that can infect humans, said Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Of those, 58 percent come from animals. Scientists consider 177 of the pathogens to be "emerging" or "re-emerging." Most will never cause pandemics. Experts fear bird flu could prove an exception. Recent advances in the worldwide march of the H5N1 strain have rekindled fears of a pandemic. The virus has spread across Asia into Europe and Africa.
This chilling report reminds me of Revelation 6:8, and the fourth horsemen of the apocalypse, which says that during the coming tribulation, one-fourth of the earth's population will be killed. The fourth horseman of the apocalypse, the pale rider, wipes out one-fourth of the world's population by several means including “pestilence” (death) which most likely refers to worldwide plagues that will sweep the globe during the coming seven-year tribulation period. Revelation 6:8 also says that another means of the death in the tribulation will be "the wild beasts of the earth." In light of the fact that so many human diseases come from wild animals, bird flu could fit this prophecy to a tee.
Let me make it clear that I don't believe that bird flu or any other potential plague that we currently see is the direct fulfillment of the Bible prophecies in Revelation 6:8. However, a pandemic like the bird flu does strikingly foreshadow what lies ahead for planet earth during the dreadful days of the end.
Decades ago it was much more difficult to have global plagues that would kill millions around the world. With lack of global travel, diseases were pretty much contained in limited geographical areas. But all that has changed dramatically in the last thirty years. Rapid means of world travel provides the perfect environment for plagues to spread quickly around the world.
We don't know what great plagues will sweep the earth in the end times, but if the Lord's coming is soon, this present, potential plague could be a part of the final scourge.
To read more about the impact of modern pandemics, read John M. Barry's book The Great Influenza (Viking Penguin, 2004), or check the PBS website for information from the American Experience film about it, or do a search on "the great influenza."